Robert Plant

Every teenage male I know swears by Led Zep, which makes a certain kind of sense: Theirs was an immortal bombast, a melodic rumble far more riveting than what passes for nü-rawk these days; even loud, especially loud, it never lost its shape, which is far more than you can say for the amorphous metal selling like scrap. And the kids can play Zep loud without pissing off pop, since they got the CDs from dad's stash anyway. But, alas, Dreamland is a Robert Plant solo record only a grandpa could love. Never thought I'd say it, but Now & Zen's starting to look like this guy's masterpiece.

The 53-year-old's seventh solo outing, not counting the occasional money-grabs with Puff Jimmy and Bonham Lite, is an acid flashback in rehab -- the gentle musings of an aging blues-rock muso digging out and digging on Moby Grape, the Youngbloods, Tim Buckley, Jimi Hendrix, and other corpses not around to protest the desecration, if you can even call it that. Come to think of it, this is the opposite of sacrilege: Plant and his band of middle-aged youngsters approach this psychedelic grab bag of "originals" (one of which is credited to Arthur Crudup, John Lee Hooker, and Robert Johnson) and covers ("Song to the Siren," already turned into a hymn by This Mortal Coil; plus "Darkness Darkness," "Hey Joe," Dylan's "One More Cup of Coffee") like pious acolytes too timid to tump over the coffin. In other words, it bores the mothereff out of me; I can only imagine what the kids will think. Been a long time since he rock and rolled. A very long time.

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