Robert Plant is one of the few survivors from rock's indisputable golden age who today is still interested, enthusiastic and curious about exploring forms of music that aren't immediately in front of him.
To his endless credit, he doesn't put on his slippers and bask in the royalties of former glories or churn out nondescript bilge to keep him in gold teeth and convince him he still has the identity that made him famous in the first place. Isn't that right, Rolling Stones and Donovan?
His Mighty Rearranger album, released in 2005, is widely considered his best yet - an admirable collection of ambitious and eclectic songs that reflect his devotion to all obscure genres, from Northumberland jugbands to Tuvan drummers.
However, his first solo DVD is disappointing. This concert, recorded in late 2005, immediately suffers from the fact it was shot specifically for TV and thus lacks the roughness and interaction of a real live show. His band however, The Strange Sensation, are excellent: loose, fluid and not so tight as to prevent improvisation, but there is just a certain sense of purpose missing from the hour-long gig.
Material is split pretty evenly between solo and Zeppelin tracks. No Quarter is mellowed beyond belief, Gallows Pole similarly distorted. This is fair enough, given that these are not exclusively his songs - he had to meddle with Zeppelin classics to both give The Strange Sensation their own identity, and himself avoid plodding mindlessly through what must be excruciatingly familiar material, not to mention avert pissing off messrs Page and Paul-Jones.
However, such alteration is often unfortunate. Black Dog, given a boogie-woogie re-working, hurt quite a bit and had me scampering for the incendiary version of this track on How The West Was Won, the extraordinary Led Zeppelin live album. Four Sticks is the best of his former band's work here, the sheer power trampling the experimental slant Plant attempts to give it.
Because the tunes are absolutely his, some of those from The Mighty Rearranger should have more conviction about them. And sure enough, Shine It All Around, probably the best track of his entire solo career, is a highlight of this disc. But otherwise, Tin Pan Valley is just dull and tuneless and Freedom Fries, most would agree, is quite some way from coming close to vintage Plant.
Extras include the promo video to his version of the Dobson and Rose anti-war ballad Morning Dew, and a 1993 performance of 29 Palms on Top Of The Pops, when Plant had perhaps the biggest hair of his life. Then there is 1983 footage of him singing his awful single, Big Log. It jumps around, does this DVD - a fragmented, non-starter of a package that will neither satisfy Zeppelin devotees nor enhance his (undoubtedly already successful) solo career.