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Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Walking Into Clarksdale (1998)

Jimmy+Page+&+Robert+Plant+-+Walking+into+ClarksdaleFrom amazon.com

Review The first thing you notice about the record is the way it has been recorded. It is certainly not a slick, polished, radio-friendly production, and in a sense is perhaps an audiophile’s nightmare. Frequencies sometimes sound indistinct, and many of the vocal takes are recorded very dry, whilst the instrumentation is enhanced by merely room ambience, rather than excessive use of plug-ins, digital reverbs, compressors, EQs and the like.

In reality though, it is this dynamic and organic approach to cutting tracks that the record benefits from. Frequently the band swing from passages so quiet and gentle you fancy you can almost hear Plant breathing into his mic, to powerfully loose sections in which Page is often inspired to produce fretwork that is magnificently understated, beautifully executed and very moving. The rhythm section combine to subtly underpin the melodic passages and drive the harder sections with a dynamic aggression; they’ve never sounded better, and Page and Plant have never been more ably supported.

Throughout the recording Page makes subtle use of effects to enhance his guitar playing – a touch of tremolo here, a dash of tape echo there – and it sounds as though most his overdrive comes from careful use of his guitar’s volume control rather than pedals or rack effects; once again it’s this natural approach to playing that makes it rank amongst his best on record.

The songs themselves are amongst the finest that Page and Plant have written together. Plant’s lyrics are straightforward and resonate with an honesty that is refreshing and rewarding to listen to time and again. His more poetic side is beautifully balanced, for the most part not drifting into pastiche. The melodies are interesting, and often a song will traverse several moods with musical twists and turns along the way, never becoming formulaic. What they do require is time and effort – time to actually sit, listen and enjoy. There are one or two exceptions – Burning Up, House of Love and Sons of Freedom sound to me as though a few riff driven rockers were urgently needed and had they been consigned to the b-sides collection, I wouldn’t be complaining.

A reviewer below questions Albini’s involvement and suggests his presence is hardly felt. In so saying, he has completely missed the point of Steve Albini and good producers in general. Albini was not brought to the sessions to make Page and Plant sound like Nirvana, (for which we are all no doubt, very thankful), but what he has done is what every good producer strives to do – get the best out of the band and onto tape. If a record sounds like a producer has left their muddy footprints all over it, then it becomes the producer’s record, not the band’s. This is the sound of a band playing together in a room, and Albini has captured it well.

I understand why some people haven’t taken to it. It doesn’t have the immediacy of some of their earlier recorded output, nor the weight and urgency. It is understated and reflective, and that’s exactly what I love about it, and what many, it seems, hate about it. Well, that’s OK, I guess, each to their own! But, overall, in my opinion, this is an excellent record, expertly performed, beautifully recorded and well worth the money.

Review I avoided this one when it came out, wary of the possibility of an embaressing superstar-reunion-type situation. I bought it used, on a whim, not really expecting much. But I’m eating my words with a spoon. This is truly one of the finest albums I have ever heard. Each of the songs is strong, and together, they create a powerful collection, completely deserving of the Grammy won in 1999 (for “Most High”).

Jimmy Page’s performance is a terrific surprise. While no one can fault his godlike capability with his instrument, many of his post-Zep solo efforts have seemed a little cold and clinical. Here, he weaves a lush wall of sound that is not only a mindblowing ride up and down the fingerboard, but is also warm, passionate, yearning, experimental. Plant’s voice has retained its visceral beauty; this album expands his thematic and emotional ranges.

The songwriting is powerful: solid, mature lyrics paired with impeccable musical composition. It’s like Zeppelin all grown up — this is what the band *could* have achieved if not for John Bonham’s untimely passing. The only way it could have been improved (not that it needs improvement) would be if John Paul Jones had made an appearance. For anyone who hasn’t checked out JPJ’s solo work, especially the eponymous “Zooma”, you’re missing out.

If you enjoyed the “No Quarter” version of “Nobody’s Fault but Mine,” and Plant’s latest, “Dreamland,” you will *love* this album.

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May 18, 2013 Posted by | Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Walking Into Clarksdale | | Leave a comment

Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Walking Into Clarksdale (1998)

Walking-Into-Clarksdale-coverFrom mouthshut.com

In 1968, Jimmy Page was recruiting members for a band called New Yardbirds. This was when a few people joined the band, included in whom were, bassist John Paul Jones, drummer John ’’Bonzo, the Beast’’ Bonham and vocalist Robert Plant. This band soon changed its name to Led Zeppelin and went on to change the face of music …..forever. They dominated the music scene with one chartbuster after another for 12 years and gave hits like Stairway to Heaven, Black Dog, Whole Lotta Love, Over the Hills and Far Away and the list goes on. Till date the Led Zeppelin albums record one of the highest sales every year. They are ageless, timeless and the best thing that happened to Rock. Infact their popularity gave rise a rumour that the band members had sold their soul to The Devil. In 1980, the band suddenly stopped their conquests after tragic death of drummer John Bonham.

What followed was, each of the guys taking their respective ways never to combine together again. Plant developed a succesful solo career, John Paul worked for some time with Diamanda Galas and Gibby Haynes. While Page formed The Firm with former Bad Company singer Paul Rogers before pursuing his own solo path.

Page and Plant briefly reunited a few times, including a stint in the all-star band the Honeydrippers, and appearances on stage together at Live Aid in 1985 and Atlantic’s 25th Anniversary Concert in 1988.

In 1994, fourteen year after Led Zep broke up, they officially reunited under the apt name Page and Plant and announced some tours and an album called No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded, made up mostly of unplugged versions of their earlier classics. In 1998 they released Walking into Clarksdale , the album that we’re gonna be talking about today .

I think the first and foremost thing that you should keep in mind while going through this album is that, this is not Led Zeppelin, as simple as that. No more soul – searing screams from Plant and drop – dead good looks of Page. That has been replaced by a calm restraint and a sense of reflection and survival. Its as if the guys have achieved salvation and reached the destination they have been looking for, all these years. This is a mature and tranquil effort, with vivid imagery and great lyrics, from the granddads of Rock and Roll.

Before I get too carried away with Page and Plant, let me first mention the two other guys who form a part of this band and co-write all the songs. Bassist Charlie Jones and drummer Michael Lee go a long way in supplying that fresh, young feeling to the band.

Jimmy Page mellows down a little and often assumes the role of the rythm guitarist. However, there are a few occasions when he churns out some killer licks from his axe and gives us a glimpse of the old Zeppelin days.

Robert Plant sings a few octaves lower than he usually does. But whatever he does I guess Plant will always be Plant, the very best. For a man of his age, his voice is strangely youthful in this album, yet riddled with nuances that come with time and experience.

The songs are different in character from Led Zeppelin creations yet contain the same inspiration, diversity, and power. The album opens with Shining in the Light based on solid rocking, acoustic mode with a nice keyboard layering. Guitar chordings are trademark Page bits. Its upbeat acoustic and catchy chorus might remind you of Over the Hills and Far Away. The tracks that follow like Heart in your Hand, House of Love, Sons of Freedom are usual metallic Zeppelin styled renditions with complex arrangements and at times an almost frantic string section that gives a solid progressive texture to the tunes. Upon a Golden Horse is a standout number which suddenly drops into Blue Train which is a laid back bluesy – bass kind of number interluded by some rocking modes. It’s got extremely inspired lyrics from Plant, with smooth, eloquent delivery and Page playing a beautiful rhythm behind the http://lyrics.

Most High was a big radio hit. It is a cohesive composition with the Arabic influences from Zep’s hypnotic Kashmir, complete with an exotic riff and a unique keyboard solo in the middle.
This along with Please Read the Letter are two of the most catchy tracks on the album. However, my favourite track on the album is When the World was Young. This track is reminiscent of what these guys were all about, some years back. Its a sedate and mellow piece with some great distorted guitar works which are the tasteful hardrock elements of the track. Burning Up and Walking into Clarksdale, the title track fit the metal banner in many ways. They have some traditional Zeppelin chordings (at times quite reminiscent of In Through the Out Door). When I was a Child is again a Zeppelinesque ballad with an echoey touch.

What Page and Plant must have meant by their title is the notion of revisiting a mythic past – in this case their own ecstatic dancing days. Seems like Page and Plant have made peace with ’’peace’’ at last. This is a great album with a Zeppelin like feel running throughout its length. I guess you can take out Page and Plant out of Led Zeppelin but you can never take Led Zeppelin out of Page and Plant. If you don’t already have this album go out and get it. I assure you you’d like it unless you have a personal vendetta against the band.

March 2, 2013 Posted by | Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Walking Into Clarksdale | | Leave a comment

Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Walking Into Clarksdale (1998)

Walking-Into-Clarksdale-coverFrom dailyvault.com

You really do have to feel sorry for Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. No matter what they do with the rest of their musical career, it’s always going to be held up for comparison to their former band Led Zeppelin.

Plant rose from the ashes of the former supergroup the easiest, recording albums that were a little jazzier and less bombastic, as if he wanted to put that portion of his life behind him. But even he found himself re-embracing the Zeppelin ghost on Now And Zen, which paired him up again with Page on two tracks. Page kept a low profile, releasing only the soundtrack to Death Wish II and his 1988 solo effort Outrider – reuniting him with Plant on one track. (Page also entered into a partnership with Whitesnake lead singer David Coverdale in a project that – thankfully – lasted only one album.)

Following the success of their re-teaming on 1994’s No Quarter, Page & Plant released their first album of original material together in 18 years, Walking Into Clarksdale, in 1998. And as much as I want to take this album on its own merits and judge it as one album, I can’t help but compare Walking Into Clarksdale to a myriad of Led Zeppelin music. Compared to Zeppelin, this album is a tad weak. On its own, it’s not that bad – at least not as bad as some people would like you to believe it is.

Granted, this is an album that you really have to warm up to. I think I had to listen to it three times before I really felt comfortable with what Page and Plant were trying to accomplish on Walking Into Clarksdale. It does seem that they want the listener to forget about the magic that was Led Zeppelin, something they do by not allowing Page to really cut loose on the guitar until well into the album.

Now, Page’s acoustic work on “Shining In The Light” is what makes this song work, and it is impressive. Likewise, the vocal and guitar textures created on the track “Blue Rain” take this one to levels previously unheard of. But I kept wondering to myself, “Why isn’t Page soloing more?”

Halfway through the title track, Page finally is given the green light to set his Les Paul on full shred, and he makes the most of the spotlight. For a good part of the remainder of Walking Into Clarksdale, Page keeps the guitar pyrotechnics handy, and knows when is the right time to put them into play.

For his part, Plant is in fine voice, even if he’s not a kid anymore. “Shining In The Light,” “Please Read The Letter” and “Sons Of Freedom” all show that he’s still got the pipes that can deliver the goods – something he’s been proving his entire solo career.

The difficulty with Walking Into Clarksdale isn’t the lack of crunchy Page solos, or the hand of punk legend Steve Albini. Instead, it’s that many of the songs tend to drag the band into points unknown, and they have a hard time escaping from the doldrums. “When The World Was Young” is a track that could have had some pepper to it, but it constantly changes mood – and it could have wrapped up sooner. Likewise, “Most High” – while keeping a Middle Eastern flavor that neither Page nor Plant have ever shied away from – just doesn’t cut it for me as a single. “When I Was A Child” is another track that just seems to drone on endlessly.

It’s not that Walking Into Clarksdale is a bad album, but knowing the history these two musicians have with each other – and here’s the danger of comparing this to Led Zeppelin coming to the forefront again – it doesn’t hold up as well. It still turns out to be a very entertaining album, especially when given a real chance with repeated listenings. But I question if twenty years from now people will look on this album with the same reverence as they do with many Led Zeppelin releases.

March 2, 2013 Posted by | Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Walking Into Clarksdale | | Leave a comment

Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Walking Into Clarksdale (1998)

Walking-Into-Clarksdale-coverFrom sputnikmusic.com

Review Summary: After years of featuring each other albums, a little irking and a live record, Page and Plant finally recorded a studio album in 1998.
In 1994, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were invited to do a live album in the MTV series “UnLedded”. Even though they could’ve only played Led Zeppelin’s classics, they wrote 3 more songs just for it. And, they liked to do it so much that they went on tour and decided to do a whole studio album with new material. After four years they would release “Walking Into Clarksdale”, the last Page-Plant collaborations as well last studio album Jimmy recorded to date.

But, when you were a member of a huge band such as Led Zeppelin, and then work again with another ex-member of the band, people will always expect a album of the same quality of the band’s older work, wich is a hard thing to achieve. And, unfortunately, as much as “Walking Into Clarksdale” have some relly good tracks, it doesn’t stand in the same level of Led Zeppelin, frustating some fans that wanted a new Zeppelin album.

The album, although, still have a some amazing tracks. “Please Read the Letter” is a very good folk number that would’ve fit well in “Led Zeppelin III”. “Burning Up” is the most heavy song here, with some relly good riffs be Page, “Shinning in the Light” is a great energetic opener and “Walking Into Clarksdale” have also some well written riffs and great atmosphere. And, if you’re wondering if any song here at least comes close to old Zeppelin epics such as “When the Levee Breaks” or “Kashmir”, “Most High” does it. It has that Mideastern fell all over it.

Then whats wrong? While half of the album is great and have deep music, the other one feels rushed and boring, like it was written weaks before the release. “Sons of Freedom” starts with a promising intro, but Robert’s vocals almost ruin it. “Heart In Your Hand” have a nice melody, but it never takes of, such as the similar “When the World Was Young” wich even not being great it get more enthusiastic in the end. The same can be said about “Blue Train”. “House of Love” has a riff too similar to “Most High”, ant it isin’t near as good.

All in all, even with it’s problems it is still a must-hear to any real fan of Led Zeppelin, and gives an ideo of how the band would’ve carry on in they hadn’t broke up.

March 2, 2013 Posted by | Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Walking Into Clarksdale | | Leave a comment

Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Walking Into Clarksdale (1998)

Walking-Into-Clarksdale-coverFrom progresiveears.com

The prospect of new studio material from the Zeppelin camp seemed like a pipe dream in the early ’90’s. Rumors abounded about the possibility of the mighty Zeppelin taking flight again. While ’94’s “Unledded” reunion of guitarist Jimmy Page and vocalist Robert Plant didn’t feature much in the way of new music, only 3 songs, it did contain some great re-workings of Zeppelin classics fleshed out with an orchestra and additional sidemen. One of the 3 new songs, “Wonderful One”, certainly gave listeners a taste of what a full fledged Page/Plant reunion with new music could be.

Returning the core of the Unledded band, drummer Michael Lee and bassist Charlie Jones, Page & Plant go for a stripped down, live in the studio sound. Walking into Clarksdale steps away from the Page guitar army approach and yet, at the same time, close listening reveals numerous guitar overdubs. Many of these overdubs are employed quite subtly, ala the acoustic guitar in the 1979 Zeppelin classic, “All My Love”. Nor does the album blow you away with brute force. What makes Walking into Clarksdale successful is its more quiet moments, of which there are plenty.

“Shining in the Light” opens the album with an almost Led Zeppelin III feel. Jones and Lee lay down an impeccable groove that supports Page’s acoustic guitar perfectly. Slashing electric guitars slice through and Plant sounds wonderfully engaged. While this up-tempo romp is a delightful reminder of what Page & Plant can conjure up with an acoustic guitar and a killer rhythm section, the slower, almost Doors like (think “The End”) tracks is where things get interesting. “Blue Train”, “When I Was A Child”, “Please Read the Letter”, and, perhaps, the best song on the album, “When the World was Young” finds Page and Plant inhabiting a space neither musician has frequented. The album does feature several hard rocking tunes that may remind one to put up any loose nails.

“Burning Up” is aptly titled. A powerful number that would feature the best electric guitar riff on the album if it weren’t for the title cut that summons up a veritable smorgasbord of blues images. Plant’s line about being “Out of time, religion and words” is a classic and when Plant sings about the sun going down you can almost envision Legba heading down to the nearest crossroads to tune Poor Bob’s guitar. Jimmy Page gives the track a splash of Yardbirds psychedelia, Zeppelin stomp and 3 killer solo’s. It’s at this point of the record you begin to realize this is a serious attempt at making something that is more than just a reunion between two old mates, but more of a rejoining.

The choice of Lee and Jones from Plant’s solo band gives Page the best rhythm section since John Bonham and another bassist named Jones, and, like Zeppelin, Lee & Jones make whatever Page & Plant elects to do work. While many have acknowledged Steve Albini’s contribution to the album, Page and Plant’s production is on target. They don’t try to recreate the past, not do they toss it aside as if it never happened. They carefully walk the narrow path of balancing where they’ve been and where they are going.

As far as I’m concerned this was, by far, the best album of 1998. Why it didn’t sell in droves defies logic. The tour to support it was a course in how rock music should be played and presented: tight but loose, & minimal stage production. Just 4 men, there instruments, a good sound system and a few lights. With a larger than life legend to live up to and an uncertain future before them, they played with abandon on the supporting tour.

They spit out Zeppelin classic with fire and injected the new tunes with the same take no quarter attitude. Page and Plant have yet to follow up this album, although Plant has recently said he fully expects them to make more records. While Walking into Clarksdale may not be “Physical Graffiti”, it’s the best album Plant or Page has made since the demise of Led Zeppelin.

March 2, 2013 Posted by | Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Walking Into Clarksdale | | Leave a comment

Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Walking Into Clarksdale (1998)

Walking-Into-Clarksdale-coverFrom glaciallymusical.blogspot.co.uk

The prospect of new studio material from the Zeppelin camp seemed like a pipe dream in the early ’90’s. Rumors abounded about the possibility of the mighty Zeppelin taking flight again. While ’94’s “Unledded” reunion of guitarist Jimmy Page and vocalist Robert Plant didn’t feature much in the way of new music, only 3 songs, it did contain some great re-workings of Zeppelin classics fleshed out with an orchestra and additional sidemen. One of the 3 new songs, “Wonderful One”, certainly gave listeners a taste of what a full fledged Page/Plant reunion with new music could be.

Returning the core of the Unledded band, drummer Michael Lee and bassist Charlie Jones, Page & Plant go for a stripped down, live in the studio sound. Walking into Clarksdale steps away from the Page guitar army approach and yet, at the same time, close listening reveals numerous guitar overdubs. Many of these overdubs are employed quite subtly, ala the acoustic guitar in the 1979 Zeppelin classic, “All My Love”. Nor does the album blow you away with brute force. What makes Walking into Clarksdale successful is its more quiet moments, of which there are plenty.

“Shining in the Light” opens the album with an almost Led Zeppelin III feel. Jones and Lee lay down an impeccable groove that supports Page’s acoustic guitar perfectly. Slashing electric guitars slice through and Plant sounds wonderfully engaged. While this up-tempo romp is a delightful reminder of what Page & Plant can conjure up with an acoustic guitar and a killer rhythm section, the slower, almost Doors like (think “The End”) tracks is where things get interesting. “Blue Train”, “When I Was A Child”, “Please Read the Letter”, and, perhaps, the best song on the album, “When the World was Young” finds Page and Plant inhabiting a space neither musician has frequented. The album does feature several hard rocking tunes that may remind one to put up any loose nails.

“Burning Up” is aptly titled. A powerful number that would feature the best electric guitar riff on the album if it weren’t for the title cut that summons up a veritable smorgasbord of blues images. Plant’s line about being “Out of time, religion and words” is a classic and when Plant sings about the sun going down you can almost envision Legba heading down to the nearest crossroads to tune Poor Bob’s guitar. Jimmy Page gives the track a splash of Yardbirds psychedelia, Zeppelin stomp and 3 killer solo’s. It’s at this point of the record you begin to realize this is a serious attempt at making something that is more than just a reunion between two old mates, but more of a rejoining.

The choice of Lee and Jones from Plant’s solo band gives Page the best rhythm section since John Bonham and another bassist named Jones, and, like Zeppelin, Lee & Jones make whatever Page & Plant elects to do work. While many have acknowledged Steve Albini’s contribution to the album, Page and Plant’s production is on target. They don’t try to recreate the past, not do they toss it aside as if it never happened. They carefully walk the narrow path of balancing where they’ve been and where they are going.

As far as I’m concerned this was, by far, the best album of 1998. Why it didn’t sell in droves defies logic. The tour to support it was a course in how rock music should be played and presented: tight but loose, & minimal stage production. Just 4 men, there instruments, a good sound system and a few lights. With a larger than life legend to live up to and an uncertain future before them, they played with abandon on the supporting tour. They spit out Zeppelin classic with fire and injected the new tunes with the same take no quarter attitude. Page and Plant have yet to follow up this album, although Plant has recently said he fully expects them to make more records.

While Walking into Clarksdale may not be “Physical Graffiti”, it’s the best album Plant or Page has made since the demise of Led Zeppelin.

March 2, 2013 Posted by | Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Walking Into Clarksdale | | Leave a comment