Thursday, October 28, 2010

CD of the Day: ‘Shaken ‘N’ Stirred,’ Robert Plant (1985)

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.

When this album originally came out on vinyl, I don’t know why anyone would bother listening to Side A.

“Shaken ‘N’ Stirred” is easily Plant’s worst release of the 1980s. The most offensive track is the pseudo-rap disaster “Too Loud”; I can’t imagine ever voluntarily listening through this song again, but the rest isn’t much better. “Hip to Hoo” and “Kallalou Kallalou” is standard, synth-laden ’80s pop fare that could’ve been produced by any male on the scene at that time; the latter even features a “Miami Vice” knockoff bass line. “Pink and Black,” meanwhile, is like Huey Lewis and the News without the knowing wink and smile.

The second half is much better, thankfully, held up by “Little by Little,” a song that dares to have a personality and mood of its own. The same is true for the album’s momentous closing track, “Sixes and Sevens,” whose sparse, bluesy arrangement captures the essence of ’80s pop rather than simply mimics it. “Easily Lead” is the purest rock-and-roll track on the album and holds up well, leaving the ridiculously titled “Doo Doo A Do Do” as the only blemish on this half.

Perhaps if I’d been of music-appreciating age in 1985 “Shaken ‘N’ Stirred” might mean something different to me, providing that nostalgia factor I get from late-’80s pop. But in listening through all of Plant’s albums from this decade, the cream rises quickly and clearly to the top. “Shaken ‘N’ Stirred” has the least of those songs from this period in his career.

Grade: C-

Favorite Track: “Little by Little”

Other Favorite Track: “Sixes and Sevens”

Least Favorite Track: “Too Loud”

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