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Robert Plant - Now And Zen CD (album) cover

NOW AND ZEN

Robert Plant

Crossover Prog


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mystic fred
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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Tall Cool One.

After the "shock of the new" in 1985, Plant's 1988 release on 29th Feb. "Now And Zen" seemed to indicate a return to "form" for many, Plant had reconciled his past and even felt confident enough to reform his group and call in his old mate Jimmy Page to play on the new album. New contributors included Phil Johnstone on keyboards, Doug Boyle guitar, Phil Scragg bass, Chris Blackwell on drum, David Barratt keyboards, Kirsty MacColl and Toni Halliday on backing vocals.

The album was sumptuously illustrated with Plant's deep interest in exotic Eastern symbolism to the fore, and even a special boxed 12 inch single release of "Heaven Knows", a song which retained Plant's most lyrical humour, even to challenge Ian Gillan, in the line "you were pumping iron while I was pumping irony". The box set included a set of similarly symbolic photos, and the production by Tim Palmer was as equally polished and melodic, producing one of Plant's best sounding albums to date, though he feels his songs were "lost in the technology of the time".

"Now and Zen" contained mostly traditional radio-friendly rock songs though some had a twist, especially on the sparkling "Dance on my Own", "White Clean and Neat", "Tall Cool One", with Plant having a lot of fun with Elvis style vocals and some sampled JP Zeppelin riffs mixed in, and the majestic "The Way I Feel". "Billy's Revenge" is pure Rockabilly, though the album contains mostly straightforward songs Plant's mystical lyrics are to the fore on the ballad "Ship of Fools", and mythical song subject "Helen of Troy".

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Send comments to mystic fred (BETA) | Report this review (#304999)
Posted Sunday, October 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
zravkapt
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Post Rock Team
2 stars I don't understand this Crossover Prog sub-genre. Oh well, the less said the better. This was the only Robert Plant album I ever had. Not sure why I got it to begin with. I guess I just liked "Tall Cool One" and "Heaven Knows". Both songs feature Jimmy Page. I guess Plant and Page were more friendly with each other after Live Aid. "Tall Cool One" is interesting because it samples Zeppelin songs("Black Dog", "Custard Pie" and "The Ocean" for sure, maybe others). This was all a direct response to the popularity of the Beastie Boys. On their first album they sampled "When The Levee Breaks" and "Custard Pie". The Beasties turned the drumbeat at the beginning of "Levee" into a classic hip-hop break, used by many(and not just hiphoppers) ever since.

"Heaven Knows" was always my favourite song here. One of Plant's better solo songs, IMO. Another song I forgot how much I liked was "Why". It's very poppy and '80s sounding, but it's a catchy tune. I really like the hook in that song where it goes: "and he knows...she don't know, she don't know, she don't know". Good stuff. I'm confused by the song "Helen Of Troy". John Cale has a writing credit on it. He also had a song and album with the same title. I'm not completely sure if the song here has anything to do with his. Either way, Cale's song is better. Cale also has a song called "Ship Of Fools", but the song here with the same title has nothing to do with his. It's one of Plant's better ballads.

This album might appeal to Zeppelin fans, but the production and songwriting is very late 1980s. Alright if you're into that kind of thing. I can't see your average progger liking this. Can't give this more than 2 stars.

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#306096)
Posted Friday, October 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Chris S
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Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Again Robert Plant is surrounded by great musicians, Jimmy Page, Kirsty MacColl and Doug Boyle to name a few, yet this for this reviewer was the low point of Robert Plant's studio output. The album seems to be top heavy with Phil Johnstone's keyboard and synth sounds. Well it was still 1988 after all. " Heaven Knows" a decent enough tune but it never really changes gear and an unusual opener for an album." Dance On My Own" makes me cringe to be honest and has not dated too well." Tall Cool One" is far too poppy for my liking also, yet Plant redeems himself on the excellent " The Way I Feel", the LZ formula ensuring immediate success and definitely the high point of Now & Zen. " Ship Of Fools" is great laid back track with excellent guitar work and drum fills. " Why" is truly awful but " White , Clean & Neat" has a great rock feel to it until the chorus and synths come in....Plant at least keeps the song alive with his superb vocal work. " Walking Towards Paradise" sounds very much like the UK band Outfield, but again is mediocre at best.

Unfortunately this is only recommended for collectors, Robert Plant had much much more to offer in the 90/00's, still the diehards will enjoy no doubt.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#349554)
Posted Friday, December 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
Sheavy
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Progressive Electronic Team
1 stars Not a good one to please.

Even with being Jimmy Page onboard cannot save this one from being nothing more than pure 80's schmuck. I found nothing relating to Prog at all in this album. The only thing I did find is a bunch of bad 80's pop songs that you can only tell have anything to do with Robert Plant is because of his super distinctive voice. I skipped almost every track on this album the first time I listened to it, and have given it multiple chance to make an impression on me ( only because my mom is into this kind of music and she likes this album some ), and it only got worse the more I listened to it. This is a sad fall from one of the best vocalists ever from one the greatest bands ever.

if there is one thing i can say I do maybe, barely like, it would be the solo during Tall Cool One, but that is fleeting and passes by quicker than those pesky ice cream trucks that do not have the courtesy to stop when you come running out of the house with money for your favorite treat.

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Send comments to Sheavy (BETA) | Report this review (#471108)
Posted Monday, June 27, 2011 | Review Permalink

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