Robert Plant: Digging Deep: Subterranea
As sacrilegious as it may be to say this, there are some who find Robert Plant’s solo output infinitely more listenable at this late date than the Led Zeppelin catalog—seriously, who really needs to hear “Stairway to Heaven” or “Whole Lotta Love” again? In the nearly four decades since Plant released his debut solo album, Pictures at Eleven, he’s proven himself to be a consistently daring and curious artist, free and willing to explore places that Zep—groundbreaking as they were—never dreamt of. Plant hasn’t always been quite as successful in his solo endeavors, creatively or commercially, but those are the chances an open-minded artist takes. And when he has hit the jackpot, as with his 2007 Grammy-winning collaboration on the album Raising Sand with bluegrass singer Alison Krauss, the results have been staggeringly delicious. Digging Deep: Subterranea—its title corresponds with that of Plant’s popular podcast—is an attempt to corral tracks from that post-Zeppelin output. There are 30 in all, three previously unreleased and the rest culled from the archive. Taken as a whole, they serve as a reminder that Plant’s influences and inquisitiveness run, well, deep. One may not have dug out Plant albums like 1993’s Fate of Nations (from which “29 Palms” is taken) or 2002’s Dreamland (his adventurous cover of the Youngbloods’ “Darkness, Darkness”) recently but, after poring over Digging Deep’s track list, that may very well be the next step. All three of the new additions are worth paying attention to as well: “Too Much Alike,” a duet with singer Patty Griffin, is an animated cover of a tune originally by rockabilly Charlie Feathers; “Nothing Takes the Place of You” is an ethereal blues ballad penned by New Orleans’ Toussaint McCall; and “Charlie Patton Highway (Turn It Up, Pt. 1),” which is headed for a new Band of Joy release, is just another gritty blues tune given the unmistakable Plant touch.