Sixty Six To Timbuktu
Leave it to Robert Plant to release a career-spanning compilation with a twist. There's a broad selection of very un-Zeppelin-like songs, a few missed hits and early stuff the bootleggers didn't even know about. Sure, you get cuts like "Big Log" and "Little By Little," but where in the hell is "In The Mood" or, for that matter, "Burning Down One Side," "Pledge Pin" or anything from Plant's solo debut Pictures At Eleven? Frankly, if you're expecting a greatest hits package, take another train. Of the 16 tracks comprising disc one, five are from 1993's Fate Of Nations, which, for all of its virtues, is hardly regarded as the definitive Robert Plant album. Disc two is much more interesting and offers a rare glimpse into the singer's beginnings as a member of other groups including the Band of Joy (featuring John Bonham), who recorded an astonishing version of Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth."
From there, the disc fast-forwards to discarded post-Zep outtakes, many of which wield intrinsic value in determining the direction of Plant's career. Still, some of the synthesized experiments of the late 80s, i.e., "Red For Danger," might have been better left on the cutting room floor. On the whole, Plant's try-anything-once approach exposes some peculiar and intriguing excursions. "Darkness, Darkness" and "29 Palms," among others, are ripe with Middle Eastern influences, which first revealed itself on Led Zeppelin IV. In the end, however, tracks like "Sea Of Love," "Ship Of Fools" and "Song To The Siren" ultimately capture Robert Plant's unwavering gift as a unique and timeless vocalist.
~ Shawn Perry