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Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation

By Charlie Steffens aka Gnarly Charlie, Writer/Photographer
Tuesday, January 23, 2007 @ 8:36 PM


Rounder Records/Zoe Vision

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If Robert Plant would have quit music altogether after Led Zeppelin had disbanded he would have still been remembered (and revered) as one of the greatest frontmen in rock and roll. While in Led Zeppelin Plant’s style of singing and charismatic stage presence set the standard and broke barriers. Over the years—and even now-- he has influenced countless singers; among them Bon Scott, Steven Tyler, Ann Wilson and Axl Rose.

While there have been periods where Plant’s visibility as a solo artist has waned, he has never stopped performing and making music. His creative endeavors have been brave and multidimensional, delving into rhythm and blues, folk, and world music with the accompaniment of the best musicians in the industry. As his career approaches its 40th year the first-ever music DVD of this legendary performer has been released, entitled Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation. The 66-minute DVD captures a live performance at the Soundstage Studios in Chicago on September 16, 2005. The Strange Sensation features Justin Adams (guitar, gimbri, darbouka), Skin (guitar), John Baggott (keyboards), Billy Fuller (bass), and Clive Deamer (drums). With his accompanying quintet Plant plays a show with a wide range of musical flavors that are funky, bluesy, and jazzy with rich sounds of North Africa and the Middle East.

The Led Zeppelin fan may be disappointed or very pleased with the five reinvented classics on the DVD. “No Quarter,” the show opener, is absolutely horrible and even after four or five listens I am sticking to that claim. It’s very likely, however, that someone who has not heard the original Houses of the Holy (who hasn’t heard Houses of the Holy?) version of the song might really like it. Hard to bash my rock and roll hero, but what was Mr. Plant thinking when he let the Strange Sensations jack up the musical arrangement on “Black Dog” from Led Zeppelin IV ? But wait… Paying tribute to the late John Bonham, Plant and his band play a version of “Four Sticks” that would make Bonzo proud. It is the most brilliant song on the DVD, capturing the essence of Led Zeppelin and the Strange Sensations. Plant’s post-Led Zeppelin songs are performed exceptionally well, especially “The Enchanter.” Two bonus songs include a deformed version of “Hey Joe,” a traditional song made famous by Jimi Hendrix, and a beautiful “Girl from the North Country” from Bob Dylan.

The sound and visuals on this DVD are great. Go into it with an open mind, but give no quarter to “No Quarter.”

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