Digging Deep (Ltd Ed. 7” Box Set)
I’ve loved Robert Plant’s Digging Deep podcast. In (usually) 15-20 minute episodes Plant is guided through his back-catalogue one song at a time, could be a Zeppelin track, is usually a solo one but that’s the surprise. One week it’s one of the lesser known tracks from the middling years when he was finding his way post-Zep, next week it’s something like Battle of Evermore or Achilles Last Stand.
And so – in keeping with the approach here and Plant’s love of records as The Thing, as Artifact, this limited edition collection of singles housed in a box-set with a book is tantalizingly brief – eight 7” singles, with original artwork restored. None of the Led Zeppelin material here, none of the recent triumphs from his brilliant last 15 years in a solo career that continues to improve with each and every album – somewhat miraculously. and nothing from the Page & Plant rekindling of the mid/late 90s, nor The Honeydrippers. I’m not actually bemoaning that – because what this collection does, or helps to do, is put a light on those alleged ‘middling’ years; those re-finding-the-voice years after Led Zeppelin. And for as much as he might have moved on from Zeppelin there were nice hints and hark backs too (Tall Cool One)
There are songs that are known and loved – 29 Palms, Big Log, but there are ones that are somewhat forgotten in the scheme, Ship of Fools for instance. Song To The Siren is another case.
And for all of the acclaim he’s had since the 2000s those strange but often brilliant album from across the 1980s deserve a bit of new attention.
By cherry-picking so finely, by making this so exclusive, Plant all but begs you to head back to the records in full.
And of course quite outside of that this is fan’s wet dream stuff with the exclusivity, worldwide 6000 copies only; each record punched out in the middle as if ready for a jukebox, a bespoke 7” inch adapter and if the book is absent of anything much in the way of liners, well, that’s Percy’s way.
He has never been one for the full career overview – the big Greatest Hits celebration. Even when he did agree to a double-CD of his past (Sixty Six to Timbuktu) it was weirdly all over the shop and scant on big stories or details. It’s about the music. And this time it’s about the music and the mechanism; the device, the devices, the collecting and collectors.
That a podcast could have a soundtrack is one thing – that it could be its own work of art and in the scheme of things just a very finite snapshot, well that’s such a Robert Plant way. Ever the elder statesman, scholar, and gent.