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Page and Plant rock on with 'Walking into Clarksdale'


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Jimmy Page and Robert Plant , "Walking into Clarksdale" (Atlantic) * * * *

A lot of longtime rock legends have an adverse reaction to being linked with their past successes. That's the case with Robert Plant , former lead singer of '70s supergroup Led Zeppelin and a solo star in his own right. One reason it took so long for Plant to reunite with Zeppelin's guitarist, Jimmy Page, is because Plant was loath to do a Led Zeppelin rerun. Well, Plant need not overly concern himself with any comparisons between the latest Page-Plant work, "Walking into Clarksdale," and earlier Led Zeppelin standards. There are - and should be - comparisons. Let's be honest. Songs by Led Zeppelin set the standard for rock over a 10-year span, and to dismiss it would be both foolhardy and an insult to the innovation and foundation those songs have sparked among contemporary rockers. Old Led Zeppelin is something Plant should be proud of.

Having said that, the duo has gone through great pains to make "Walking into Clarksdale" not just another album from the former Led Zeppelin. But Page and Plant still boil down to that singular sound that has won over rock listeners since Zeppelin performed at "The Kinetic Playground" in Chicago back in the late 1960s. Doctor it up all you want, it's still Zeppelin's lead singer and lead guitarist.

That's not an indictment, that's a compliment. The best cuts on "Clarksdale," namely "Upon a Golden Horse" and "Burning Up," conjure memories of "Houses of the Holy" and "The Song Remains the Same." Solid vocals from Plant, who after all these years still has a range that many current rock singers would envy, and stellar guitar work from Page, who I for one had dismissed as an aging, burned-out rocker as evidenced by his embarrassing performance in The Firm back in the '80s. My mistake. Jimmy still can rock.

There's also that sweet blues sound from the pair that is reminiscent of early soulful Zeppelin numbers. The title cut, "Walking into Clarksdale," is one such song. Plant's vocal fluctuations and Page's soulful performance heralds back to the band's truly early days. Great stuff.

There's nothing for Page and Plant to feel ashamed of with this latest album. Let people compare it to Zeppelin. "Walking into Clarksdale" passes the test.

- Rick Baert

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  • 5 years later...

Watched a re-run of Jools Holland last night. Segment with Elvis Costello playing Delivery Man. Album release in 2004.

A familar melody - Upon a Golden Horse?? Anyone else hear this or am I loony.

He released a bonus disc some months later with extra tracks called the Clarksdale Collection recorded at Delta Studios.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buEKqxaBk28

Interesting...

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^ I hear the similar section of golden horse there, good call. By memory i think its the part where plants singing the, up here where the wild wind blows the soul is free. Page's playing there in golden horse and walking into clarksdale, the song, sounds like its related to celebration day off zep 3 to my ears.

Also i like the way plant's lyric lines where long and drawn out, elvis costello does the same in his song. You get lost listening, but that might be the point, to have something you can't follow closely.

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  • 1 month later...

Sometimes, when I over think it maybe, I am just dumbfounded that for a brief four year period Plant wanted to work extensively and intensively with Jimmy Page. Having written off the band for years before '94 and for years since '98, he somehow was okay, nay enthusiastic, to essentially be in a Zeppelin cover band. It is like a mid life crisis. As if he felt he wanted to experience the joy and thrill of those songs and feelings one more time and then suddenly bam, "I'm not going to Japan or South America. I quit. I'm not interested in how you feel about it Jimmy or what you want to do." It's the Honeydrippers road van tour part II.

Plant's desires and activities in the mid nineties completely defy his words from years before or years after.

In a word...bizarre...

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  • 2 weeks later...

One of the main reasons behind him parting ways with Jimmy in '98 was because of Jimmy's alcohol consumption, from what I understand.

Someone reliable on this board said that, yes. I believe it but it confuses me in that Jimmy's playing on that tour was stellar when I saw them, and in the many YouTube clips I've seen.

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Someone reliable on this board said that, yes. I believe it but it confuses me in that Jimmy's playing on that tour was stellar when I saw them, and in the many YouTube clips I've seen.

Page onstage in '98 provided some of his best live performances since '75. When management pressed Robert in early '99 as to why he would not return to the fold he replied "there are only so many spring times". In other words he had other interests in his life he preferred to pursue rather than doing another Page/Plant album & tour.

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  • 6 years later...

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