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THE POP LIFE; [REVIEW] - ''The Honeydrippers, Vol. 1.''


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Robert Plant Records Vintage Rhythm and Blues

New York Times Nov 21, 1984

by Stephen Holden

A labor of love that has turned into a commercial bonanza is an enigmatic looking little album called ''The Honeydrippers, Vol. 1.'' In only a month, this collection of five vintage rhythm and blues songs sung by Robert Plant, of Led Zeppelin, has flown to number five on Billboard's album chart. Produced in a period style by Atlantic Records' chairman, Ahmet Ertegun under the pseudonym, Nugetre, the record features the guitarists Nile Rodgers and Jeff Beck, and the keyboards of Paul Schaffer, along with 1950's-styled arrangements by Dave Matthews.

The vintage tunes on the album include Phil Phillips's 1959 hit, ''Sea of Love,'' Ray Charles's ''I Got a Woman,'' Doc Pomus's and Phil Spector's ''Young Boy Blues,'' recorded in 1962 by Ben E. King, Roy Brown's 1948 rhythm and blues standard, ''Rockin' At Midnight,'' and the Rudy Toombs song, ''I Got a Thrill,'' which became Wynonie Harris's last single, in 1952. Mr. Plant's performances aren't pure sounding in an old- time rhythm and blues sense. They do, however, convey a strong 1950's rockabilly flavor.

''Robert is something of a rhythm and blues historian, and the name comes from Joe Liggins and the Honey Drippers, a West Coast rhythm and blues band that he and I both loved,'' Mr. Ertegun said last week. ''The success of the record is a revelation to me. It's becoming clear that if you do any style very well there'll be an audience for it. Robert sings these songs with love. It's not a put-on or a spoof. We're going to do a full album in the spring and more volumes after that.''

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