Monday, October 25, 2010

CD of the Day: ‘The Honeydrippers: Volume One,’ Robert Plant (1984)

Author’s note: In honor of Robert Plant’s new album, “Band of Joy,” I’m going back through his entire solo career to see how he got to this point.

I ignored Robert Plant’s solo career for most of my life. If it didn’t have anything to do with Led Zeppelin, I didn’t want to have anything to do with him.

And then I heard “Raising Sand.” One of my favorite albums of all time, “Sand” sent me diving back into Plant’s work; I hadn’t heard much other than “In the Mood,” so I was hopeful there would be a few hidden gems I had no idea even existed.

“The Honeydrippers: Volume One” is one of those.

Playing with an all-star cast that includes Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, Plant embraces his inner Elvis fanboy with this painfully short five-song EP of shimmying ’50s-era rock and roll. A luscious cover of “Sea of Love” was the big hit from this outing, much in the same way Pearl Jam found unexpected success with “Last Kiss” back in 1999. But every song is great, most notably “Rockin’ at Midnight,” the R&B explosion that caps the disc.

My only complaint about this one and only Honeydrippers effort is the tantalizing title: Why tease us with “Volume One” if you’re not going to follow through? Plant would’ve been better served devoting more time to music like this than the schmaltz he delivered next, 1985’s “Shaken N Stirred.”

In a way, though, this disc foretold of greatness to come. It may have taken him 20 years, but Plant eventually came back to his roots in the new millennium with projects much like this. As he rediscovered the music he loves, he rediscovered his artistic vision, as well. The Honeydrippers were apparently a very early preview.

Grade: A

Favorite Track: “Rockin’ at Midnight”

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