Robert Plant – Sixty Six To Timbuktu

Lord Percival surveys his manor of song and declares it most fine

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Chartered accountancy’s loss proved to be British rock’n’roll’s gain when Robert Plant laid aside his bought ledger and embarked on a career as a singer. As its title suggests, this compilation spans his entire career, from the nascent blue-eyed soul of his Young Rascals cover, “You Better Run”, to “Win My Train Fare Home”, recorded live this year at the Festival In The Desert, near Timbuktu.

Spread over a generous 35 tracks on two discs, this first ever (virtually) solo Plant overview is handily divided between his eight post-Led Zeppelin LPs and a more interesting collector’s approach that delivers plenty of rare and previously unavailable material. According to Plant: “The final selection was quite difficult. Avoiding a best-of format which generally relates to chart success was essential. I’ve tried to mix up ’80s techno sounds with the more organic pieces that were developed from 1993 onwards.” Cheers, mate.

Disc One includes Plant favourites like “Big Log”, “Ship Of Fools”, “Tie Dye On The Highway” and his stretched-out version of Tim Hardin’s “If I Were A Carpenter”. A canny ability to pick the right brand of retro means that The Honeydrippers’ “Sea Of Love” and the Fate Of Nations alternate cut on “I Believe” still pass muster.

Even so, die-hards are going to jump on the second disc first, since it includes a pair of Band Of Joy demos, featuring Plant and John Bonham. These are Summer Of Love nuggets: “Hey Joe” and the Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth”. Elsewhere, “Let’s Have A Party”, from NME project The Last Temptation Of Elvis, tributes to Arthur Alexander and Skip Spence, and a collaboration with Afro Celt Soundsystem all indicate an artist with fingers in several pies.

Plant’s interpretative skills are matched by his fan-like enthusiasms. The globe-trotting rock star will enjoy further exposure in a year when Led Zeppelin become a name to drop again.

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