Robert Plant’s success at creating and sustaining a solo career with none of the hysteria that enveloped his time with Led Zeppelin is quite remarkable. His intermittent (14 albums in 40 years) forays into his idiosyncratic folk-ish roots with groups of anonymous musicians has produced one of the more intriguing music catalogues.
You might sometimes wish for a more accomplished musician who is able to draw more out of the singer and/or the song – a Robert Fripp, say – but that isn’t Plant’s way. There have been dalliances of course, but these have been rigorously excluded from this two-CD set. In the case of Jimmy Page collaborations this is understandable, although an exception could have been made for Tall Cool One.
The ban appears to extend to anything ‘tainted’ by celebrity, so there is no Sea Of Love by The Honeydrippers. More controversially, there’s nothing from Raising Sand, his album with Alison Krauss, which must rank among the most significant Robert Plant albums.
Instead the five tracks from 1993’s Fate Of Nations are the best indication of Plant’s own preferences. It’s his most personal album (I Believe is about his son) and his most political (Great Spirit, included here as an acoustic version). There are also four tracks from 1983’s transformational The Principle Of Moments.
Completists will need this collection for the three unreleased tracks, including a duet with Patty Griffin (who is obviously not a celebrity) and maybe the rare Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down (from the Boss soundtrack album).