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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Page and Plant

Walking into Clarksdale

Review by Gary Hill

This second album from Led Zeppelin partners Jimmy Page and Robert Plant holds onto elements of their first reunion album (No Quarter), but in many ways really feels like the return of Led Zeppelin. It seems that many Zep fans were disappointed with No Quarter, because it was not enough like Led Zeppelin, while Page and Plant were trying to move on in new directions, out from the shadow of the band. This album seems to be an answer to both of those quests.

This one might not really fit into the progressive metal banner, but it does have elements of heavy metal and progressive rock, therefore, I have included it here. The musicians playing on this are Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Charlie Jones and Michael Lee.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Shining in the Light
Based in a solid rocking, but acoustic mode, Shining in the Light contains nice keyboard layering and some elements that call to mind Led Zeppelin`s third album. There are guitar chordings here which are trademark Jimmy Page bits.
When The World Was Young
A very nicely sedate and mellow piece with some hard rocking elements in moments of tasteful distorted guitar work. This song, again, is full of Jimmy Page trademarks. Later portions of the track show harder edged Zeppelin elements, and the bass work even reflects that old Zeppelin sort of sound. The piece does still include modern tones and stylings.
Upon A Golden Horse
A driving bass line and guitar chordings in the style of In Through the Out Door comprise the early portions of this song. Later on a more complex arrangement and at times an almost frantic string section gives a solid progressive texture to the tune. This is a standout number, and abruptly drops into Blue Train.
Blue Train
A laid-back bluesy bass and drum combo serve as the intro to this cut. Eventually, guitar and vocals join in, the blues mode dies down a bit. However the texture is still quite laid back. The lead guitar line here wanders in intriguing patterns, and moments of the song take on more heavy rocking modes.
Please Read the Letter
Being one of the more catchy songs on the album, this has a definite solid Zep feel with a very strong hook. Rockabilly elements mix with vintage Led Zeppelin sounds.
Most High
Some unusual percussion work begins this cut, but the guitar work is in a classic Page tradition. This piece combines the ethnic sensibilites that were prominent on the album No Quarter with more classic Zeppelin sounds. The result is a very cohesive and convincing composition.
Heart in Your Hand
This song has a bluesy mood and feels rather like a Robert Plant solo number with some very tasteful guitar work.
Walking Into Clarksdale
A quite metallic Zeppelin type of pattern gives way to a fairly basic power trio feel. These sections alternate with solid rock segments and more traditional Zeppelin chordings (at times quite reminiscent of In Through the Out Door). This track takes lots of unexpected turns in a very interesting arrangement.
Burning Up
This starts off rather in a Presence mode, perhaps calling Nobody`s Fault But Mine to mind a bit. Burning Up seques nicely into When I was a Child, and fits into the metal banner in many ways.
When I Was A Child
Another piece which is very Zeppelinesque, this is a balld with an echoey feel. The number combines a classic, slow pattern with new and original elements. When I Was a Child contains and infectuous hook.
House of Love
Although a good song, this piece is not a standout track. It is a competent Zep influenced rock and roller.
Sons of Freedom
Being a hard rocking, metallic number, Sons of Freedom is based solidly on a Led Zeppelin format. This is a very quirky track and my favorite song on the album.
 
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