ROBERT PLANT; "Manic Nirvana" (Es Paranza-Atlantic); produced by Robert Plant and Phil Johnstone; co-produced and engineered by Mark Stent.
His primal screech-and-moan has been idolized and imitated for 20 years, but as he proves once again on his new album, nobody does it quite like Robert Plant.During the '80s, Plant seemed in search of a fresh (read: post-Led Zeppelin) sound. And he succeeded, to a large degree, with ethereal, even brooding songs like "In the Mood" and "Ship of Fools" - not to mention the curious Honeydrippers excursion.
But the Zeppelin legacy would not die, and somewhere, somehow, Plant decided to reconcile his '80s evolution with the gritty but adventurous style of his old band. The result: 1988's "Now and Zen" - and his fifth and latest solo album, "Manic Nirvana."
Lusty, guitar-powered songs on "Manic Nirvana" like "Hurting Kind," "Nirvana," "The Dye on the Highway" and the scratchily retro "Your Ma Said You Cried in Your Sleep Last Night" (prematurely peppered with the pops and crackles of an old vinyl record) recall the masterful merging of blues and rock Plant achieved with Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham. But other tracks, like "I Cried" and "Anniversary," show he hasn't entirely abandoned his moody balladry, either - although they pale alongside the meatier rock songs and don't achieve the atmosphere of, say, "Big Log."
"Manic Nirvana" may not be a classic start to finish, but it has enough of the right stuff to be a satisfying addition to the Robert Plant collection.