Robert Plant | Digging Deep-Anthology | (Es Paranza)
3 1/2 out of 5 stars
Wait, wasn’t there already a career spanning Robert Plant anthology that featured his post-and pre-Zeppelin work? Sure, but that was back in 2003 (Sixty Six to Timbuktu), and 17 years is a lifetime in the entertainment business. Led Zeppelin only survived a little over a decade until Bonham’s 1980 passing struck the band’s death knell.
Since Christmas 2020 is around the corner, it’s time for another retrospective of the singer/songwriter’s extensive career. The disc’s Digging Deep title is also not-coincidentally the same as Plant’s podcast, now entering its third season. Cross promotional marketing is a beautiful thing.
This time, there are five additional albums, appearing from 2005-2017, to work with. Add three previously unreleased tracks and you’d have enough for a really solid single disc Best of Volume 2. But instead the compilers took Plant’s earlier post-Zepp solo career into consideration, expanding this to a generous, nearly 2 ½ hour double platter. That inevitably means duplication, in this case six tracks out of this set’s 30 are also included in the other collection. Certainly Plant has had a vibrant and prolific enough solo career to replace those with a combination of newer highlights, live performances (of which there are oddly none) or alternate versions.
That aside, this is a pretty great listen. The non-chronological presentation allows the listener to experience most of Plant’s diverse inspirations. They range from the 60’s slow dance country of “Falling in Love Again” and a rare, creepy cover of Toussaint McCall’s classic “Nothing Takes the Place of You” (recorded for the film Winter in the Blood) to the gnarly psychedelic world music of 2014’s “Embrace Another Fall.” There’s a smattering of blues rocking with “Shine It All Around,” some breezy pop (“Fat Lip”) and sure, a little Zepp-styled bombast in “Hurting Kind (I’ve Got My Eyes on You).”
Since all of Plant’s albums are artfully sequenced, this mix and match approach doesn’t do the music any favors. But it effectively displays the wide reach that Plant favors. Next to ex-band member Jimmy Page, who hasn’t accomplished a fraction of the post Zeppelin work Plant has, it shows how much input the latter had on that band’s sound.
While Digging Deep may not be the Robert Plant anthology we needed, it’s a representative overview of a restless, wildly creative, bravely eclectic artist. One who has always pushed boundaries, seldom taken commercial prospects into consideration and is likely to continue down that path for as long as he can keep those distinctive pipes in fighting shape.