Robert Plant – Shaken N Stirred

   1985 Esperanza/Atlantic

This is the lost album of the Robert Plant catalogue…an album which didn’t garner near the amount of attention it deserved because it was so far out it left field.  It was totally not what people expected, especially after Plant’s brilliant ‘The Principle of Moments’ in 1983, which spawned his crowning achievement…the timeless “Big Log.”

Plant has always had an air of mysticism about him and a sense of humor that almost seems to say “You’re all taking this WAY too seriously…but ok, I’ll play along.”  On this album Plant’s playfulness takes center stage from the VERY new wave influenced sound (i.e. lots of atmospheric and almost techno keyboards) to the song titles themselves.  To wit:  “Hip To Hoo,” “Kallalou Kallalou,” “Doo Doo A Do Do.”

Plant’s lyrics on his solo work have always had a dreamy introspectiveness about them, yet his wordplay and sense of humor is often overlooked as he laments to this day that his former band Led Zeppelin was taken too seriously.  Plant’s introspection is riveting as he exposes all the drama and the absurdity of his humanity.

There is a definite new wave techno sound to ‘Shaken N Stirred’…no doubt about it.  What’s cool is that the new wave sound is perfectly melded with experimental nuances and unorthodox song structures to show the validity of otherwise gimmicky noises in the hands of creative pros.  Plant brings in the lovely and angelic-voiced Toni Halliday to provide the perfect female foil to his perceived machismo, almost to romanticize it and make light of it.

The only song on here that can compare sonically to Plant’s other solo work is lead off single “Little By Little,” which is the only semi-“normal” sounding track on the whole thing.   “Too Loud” is really pure techno and “Easily Lead” takes a driving rock beat and turns it into a swirling, surreal dance of seduction.   Closing out the album is “Sixes And Sevens,” which in retrospect is the perfect bridge between this and its follow up disc “Now And Zen.”

Seek this one out and listen to it with the mental picture of a classic rock icon who has always worn his influences on his sleeve, finding new influences to experiment with and incorporate into his own style. Because that’s exactly what this is.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5