On Dreamland, Robert Plant's first solo album in nine years, he doesn't hit the high notes as easily as he used to, but his voice still sends chills down the spine on occasion. Perhaps he doesn't hit those notes because he doesn't try that hard on this CD, a mixed bag designed primarily to appeal to boomers seeking a return to a hormone-rich past.
Consisting mostly of acid-rock covers from the '60s, Dreamland feels like oriental blues, a genre Plant pioneered with Jimmy Page in Led Zeppelin. Although the first single is a cover of the Youngbloods' "Darkness Darkness," and the album is short on new songs, Plant does remain an original. Not only are his own efforts, such as the punchy "Red Dress" and the plaintive "Last Time I Saw Her," heartfelt, but he effectively transforms Tim Buckley's gorgeous "Song to the Siren" and the signature '60s song "Hey Joe."
Plant has denied that this is a retro approach, even though covering psychedelic rock is a move akin to embalming. But his voice still carries that anarchic edge, making Dreamland just wild enough for these conservative times. It doesn't reach the heights of 1990's Manic Nirvana, but it does suggest that this 54-year-old paradigm of priapic rock still knows how to get a rise out of his fans.