Nine Lives box set best suited for hardcore Robert Plant fans only



By Steve Newton

Only hard-core fans of Robert Plant’s post-Zeppelin output should invest in the 10-disc Nine Lives set, which includes his nine solo albums—from 1982’s Pictures of Eleven through last year’s Mighty Rearranger—plus bonus tracks and an hourlong DVD.

Nine Lives isn’t Christmas music, obviously, but that didn’t stop me from reviewing it at home while our tree was being decorated. “This is old-time music,” announced nine-year-old Tess as she pranced around in her cotton jammies to the strains of “Rockin’ at Midnight”, the old Roy Brown cover off 1984’s The Honeydrippers: Volume One. Even though it features guitar greats Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, I’ve never been thrilled by Plant’s excursion into ’50s blues. And judging by his indifference, our four-year-old, Danny, wasn’t either. If the living-room boogie doesn’t inspire him to do a Batman leap off the ottoman and land dangerously close to the TV stand, I know something’s wrong.

“This song officially sucks,” declared my wife, Dawn, as she lovingly hooked a teddy bear to a branch. She was talking about “Hip to Hoo”, the opening track on 1985’s Shaken’N’Stirred, and one of the more blatantly ’80s-sounding losers in the bunch. I had to agree, but I wasn’t about to run over and flick off the stereo. We’re a family; we can suffer together.

As if to make up for the questionable quality of the tunes, Nine Lives comes in a classy package with painterly echoes of Nick Bantock’s work. It includes a full-colour, 62-page booklet, and the CDs are nicely bound in separate sleeves with images of each original album cover.

But here’s two words for die-hard Plant fanatics silly enough to think that his solo efforts rank with the heights he reached before: Physical Graffiti.

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