Robert Plant albums get reborn with ‘Nine Lives’ box set

Driven by an insatiable artistic curiosity, Robert Plant has spent his life as a singer and songwriter chasing new sounds, rediscovering ancient ones and bringing them both together to create something original.  Throughout his career – first as a member of Led Zeppelin and then as a solo artist for the past 25 years ¬ Plant has tapped a multifarious array of inspirations that span the globe and the ages including Celtic and English folk, American blues, early rock ‘n’ roll, psychedelic rock and jazz as well as Arabic, Moroccan, West African and Indian music. After nine acclaimed solo albums – seven with Atlantic Records – Plant remains a restless spirit destined to a life of musical wanderlust.

Rhino Records captures each of Plant’s musical reincarnations with ‘Nine Lives.’ The boxed set features all nine of Plant’s solo albums remastered and expanded with bonus tracks that include previously unreleased material.  The collection also contains a DVD compilation of Plant’s solo music videos along with a career-spanning interview and rare bonus footage. The boxed set is available November 21st for the suggested retail price of $99.98.

Designer Graham Baker Smith created the deluxe packaging, which also includes extensive liner notes and a history of each album by journalist Ed Vulliamy.

Plant began his solo career in 1982 with ‘Pictures at Eleven.’ Backed by a group that included guitarist Robbie Blunt and drummer Phil Collins – Plant created an eclectic mix of soundscapes that openly eschewed rehashing Led Zeppelin’s hard rock legacy. Peaking at #5 on the Billboard Album chart, Plant’s debut featured the single “Burning Down One Side.” Playing with new musicians after 12 years with Led Zeppelin was hard at first, “but it turned out to be a lot easier than I had envisioned,” Plant explains in the liner notes. “I found I wanted to pour out my soul once the door was open. From then on I was ready to work with anybody.” The expanded version includes a pair of bonus songs: “Far Post” and a live version of the album track “Like I’ve Never Been Gone,” recorded in Houston in 1983.

‘The Principle of Moments,’ Plants’ sophomore solo album, refined the sound of its predecessor and built on the group’s songwriting chemistry to create a personal and intense collection of songs. The single, “Big Log,” cracked Billboard’s Top 20 and became Plant’s first solo hit. The album also featured the songs “In The Mood,” “Other Arms” and “Horizontal Departure.”  The expanded version includes live performances of “In The Mood” and “Thru’ With The Two Step,” a cover of Bob Marley’s “Lively Up Yourself” and the previously unreleased track “Turnaround.”

Plant changed pace completely in 1984 with ‘The Honeydrippers: Volume One’ – an EP that celebrated Plant’s first musical love with covers of rock from of the ’50s and ’60s featuring guest appearances by Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. A tantalizingly small collection of gems, the album featured five tracks including Ray Charles’ “I Got A Woman,” Roy Brown’s “Rockin’ At Midnight” and a song that became an international hit for Plant, a cover of “Sea Of Love.” The expanded version includes a live version of “Rockin’ At Midnight.”

Plant returned in 1985 with another sonic departure ‘Shaken ‘N’Stirred.’ Joined by former Little Feat drummer Ritchie Hayward, Plant recorded an album that was both musically innovative and yet of its time. “It was important to get away from the standard idea of rock,” Plant writes in the liner notes. “It’s the feel of the time, it’s the adventure of music at the time, and the adventure of the technology.” The album, which reached Billboard’s Top 20, includes the hit singles “Little By Little” and “Sixes And Sevens.” The expanded version includes a remixed version of “Little By Little.”

‘Now and Zen’ – Plant’s 1988 album – marked a new beginning that saw him embracing his musical past while moving forward. Inspired by his powerhouse band – including keyboardist and songwriting partner Phil Johnstone, drummer Chris Blackwell, bassist Phil Scragg and guitarist Doug Boyle – Plant recorded a passionate album filled with attitude. Titled after a 1959 Wailers instrumental, the smash single “Tall Cool One” featured a cameo by Zep guitarist Jimmy Page, whose dive-bombing guitar provided the song’s signature lick. Peaking at #6 on Billboard’s Album chart, NOW AND ZEN also features “Heaven Knows,” “Dance On My Own,” and the moody “Ship Of Fools.”  The expanded version includes live versions of several album cuts.

‘Manic Nirvana,’ released in 1990, built on Plant’s harder edge for much of the album before giving way – on the second half – to a reflective, symphonic sound. The album’s stylistic dichotomy is embodied by the album opener-the rocking “Hurting Kind (I’ve Got My Eyes On You)”-and the album closer “Watching You,” which includes Moroccan chromatics and West African drumming. The album also includes “Tie Dye On The Highway,” “Big Love” and “I Cried.” The expanded version features “One Love” and “Don’t Look Back” as well as “Oompa (Watery Bint),” which was released as a promo single B-side.

Released in 1993, ‘Fate of Nations’ marks another shift in Plant’s musical palette. For this album, Plant returned to the folk origins that ran quietly beneath much of Led Zeppelin’s music while incorporating the more mystical roots of bands like Traffic, Fairport Convention and especially Tim Hardin, who Plant covers with “If I Were A Carpenter.” The result is a collection of songs that mix acoustic and natural-sounding instruments to create music that is epic, adventurous and deeply challenging. The album features the songs “Calling To You,”  “29 Palms” and a pair of overtly political tracks, “Network News” and “Great Spirit,” an anthemic prayer that calls out for healing. The expanded version includes “Dark Moon,” “8:05,” a demo version of “Rollercoaster” culled from Plant’s archives, the B-side version of “Great Spirit” and “Colours Of A Shade,” a song previously unreleased in the UK and Japan.

After collaborating with Jimmy Page on several projects, Plant returned in 2002 on Universal Records with the Grammy nominated ‘Dreamland,’ a collection of covers – plus two originals – that are as compelling as they are idiosyncratic. For the first album with his new band Strange Sensation, Plant brings together songs that inspired him over the years including Tim Buckley’s “Song To The Siren,” bluesman Bukka White’s “Funny In My Mind (I Believe I’m Fixin’ To Die),” “One More Cup Of Coffee” by Bob Dylan and “Skip’s Song” by Skip Spence, the enigmatic member of Moby Grape. The expanded version includes a remix of the original track “Last Time I Saw Her,” and “Dirt In A Hole,” a song previously only available in the UK, Japan and Australia.

‘Mighty Rearranger,’ this twice Grammy nominated album was released last year on Sanctuary Records and is Plant’s first album of original material with Strange Sensation. The album represents a culmination of Plant’s experience and contains songs imbued with a quarter century of his musical vision. The music is instantly infectious and dynamic with shimmering Indo-Arabic accents. Cracking the Top 25 of Billboard’s Album chart, the album featured the hit single “Shine It All Around,” the rockabilly-inflected “Freedom Fries,” and “Brother Ray,” a bluesy piano tribute to Ray Charles. The expanded version includes “Red, White And Blue,” “All The Money In The World,” remixes of “Tin Pan Valley,” “Shine It All Around,” and “The Enchanter” remixed by James Lavelle. 

The DVD includes 20 of Plant’s solo music videos along with a career-spanning interview, rare performance footage and interviews with friends such as former Atlantic Records President Ahmet Ertegun, singer and songwriter Tori Amos, tennis star John McEnroe, drummer Phil Collins and more. The DVD also includes Plant’s performance of “Song To The Siren” recorded during a session for VH1’s Storytellers series.

‘Nine Lives’ is now available for pre-order at Amazon. Visit the music database for more information and a complete track listing.

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