ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, APRIL 22, 1988
By Steve Newton
You know how some albums take a while to grow on you? Well, that’s what happened with this new Plant LP. The first time I heard it I thought it was crummy, but now that I’ve listened to it a few times, I don’t really think it’s bad at all.
Probably the reason I didn’t like it at all the first time was because I focused on the first track “Heaven Knows”, before evaluating the record as a whole. I must have played that tune a dozen tunes now, and I still think it’s a boring, slow-paced trudger that goes nowhere.
But now the good news: “Tall Cool One”. Here’s Robert Plant the way he should be, lustfully rocking out with a little help from Jimmy Page on guitar. As if to throw a chuckle in the path of Zeppelin-clone bands like Kingdom Come, they insert brief riffs from “Black Dog”, “The Ocean”, and “Whole Lotta Love”.
“Billy’s Revenge” is another sweet rocker, with a touch of the Honeydrippers’ old-time feel to it, and a nifty Stray Cats-type guitar solo. “Why” is a great tune as well, heavy on the hummable melodies and cleverly arranged vocals. Very catchy.
But the centrepiece of Now and Zen is “Ship of Fools”, a soft and beauteous litlte number on a par with Plant’s lovely 1983 ballad “Big Log”.