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Now And Zen
[Click above for album images]

Kronomyth 4.0: ZEN I BEEN LOVING YOU. And there I sat, transfixed with horror, as the great ghost of Zeppelin was shuffled across the stage, the punchline to Robert Plant's latest rap record. That was my initial reaction to Tall Cool One, although like so many other things I've softened on it some over the years. In fact, I would tell you that Now And Zen is one of Plant's best. New band, new blood, and a batch of new songs written by Plant and Phil Johnstone that stand out over a career, including Heaven Knows, Ship of Fools and Dance On My Own. Even TCO is a lot of fun to hear nowadays, since it turned out to be a dalliance (like The Honeydrippers); Plant wasn't about to divorce himself from his rock icon status for the role of an aging rap star. Over the years, the former Zep frontman has released a handful of very good albums, usually separated by merely average albums. For example: Pictures at Eleven (pretty good), The Principle of Moments (very good), The Hondeydrippers (Plant takes a mulligan), Shaken 'N' Stirred (pretty bad), Now And Zen (very good), Manic Nirvana (not so good), Fate of Nations (very good), etc. Commercially, Now And Zen is Plant's most popular work and his only multi-platinum record. It featured then state-of-the-art production (as had Shaken 'N' Stirred before it), which initially turned me off but apparently endeared it to a lot of other listeners. In fact, I remember at the time thinking that Robert Plant had sold out. (Sold out to whom I'm not sure, since it's not like he labored in obscurity with Led Zeppelin.) Today, of course, Plant is on less shaky ground, his iconic status assured, and I hear Now And Zen as an effective contemporary album from a peerless artist. The brief reunion with Jimmy Page, the seeming sacrilege of Tall Cool One, both are overshadowed by Now And Zen's achievement as a new album of modern, relevant music for the masses once more. Of minor interest, consumers who bought the original CD received a “bonus” track: Walking Towards Paradise, which had earlier appeared as the B side to the Heaven Knows single. The Rhino 2007 reissue includes that track plus a trio of live songs.

From: Connolly & Company

Feb. 29, 1988 (US)
Feb. 29, 1988 (UK)
Apr. 3, 2007 (Remastered)

Chart Position:
#6 (US) #10 (UK)

Gold: Apr. 19, 1988
Platinum: May 9, 1988
Platinum 3x: Sept. 7, 2001


1. Heaven Knows
2. Dance on My Own
3. Tall Cool One
4. The Way I Feel
5. Helen of Troy
6. Billy's Revenge
7. Ship of Fools
8. Why
9. White, Clean and Neat
10. Walking Towards Paradise

11. Billy's Revenge (live)
12. Ship of Fools (live)
13. Tall Cool One (live)
Quick Fact

In response to the Beastie Boys' unauthorised sampling of some Led Zeppelin songs on their 1986 album Licensed to Ill, Plant also used samples from Led Zeppelin songs Whole Lotta Love, The Ocean, Black Dog, and Custard Pie on Tall Cool One.

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