Easily the most prolific post-Zep member, Robert Plant has also been the one quickest to experiment. While Jimmy Page has released sporadic bursts of rock guitar glory, and John Paul Jones does what ever it is he does, Plant has taken his greatest asset — his imagination — and let it wander. On Dreamland, he has reached back to the songs of his youth, tossed them in a blender along with Eastern sounds and tempos and a dash of the blues, and has generally come up with a winning musical smoothie. And a smoothie it is. While not a dull or placid record, it certainly is not going to recall the days of “Black Dog” or any other Zeppelin stomper, but for those who find the “Rain Song”/”Going To California” type of Led Zeppelin to be just their cup of bongwater, then this record is gonna sit nicely in the headphones.
Largely made up of covers, this record features a youthful group of players, centered on former Cure guitarist Porl Thompson and drummer Clive Deamer, who has beat the skins for most everyone in the U.K including Portishead. Their treatments of such material as Bob Dylan’s “One More Cup of Coffee” or The Youngbloods’ “Darkness, Darkness” is fine enough, and on Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren,” the chestnut “Morning Dew,” or the original (with stolen bits from Bukka White) “Funny in My Mind (I Believe I’m Fixin’ to Die”), they sound positively inspired. This is a fresh, vigorous sounding band and record, and Plant’s voice, while not straying far from the speaking ramble he’s always done, fits nicely. Granted, this record isn’t going to change anyone’s mind re: Robert Plant, and won’t knock Pink off the charts, but it certainly isn’t a bad record. For those of you who still do such things… rock on, dudes!