Written by Fumo Verde
If life only had a rewind button, but then it better have an erase button to go along with it. That's how I felt about Shaken ‘n’ Stirred and what upset me most, it was done by one of the greatest voices in Rock n' Roll history: Robert Plant. Even greatness has off-days, and not that Plant was off by any means. It was the ‘80s where most of the mainstream music pretty much blew ass. I should know I was a junior in 1985 when this album was released. Now it's 2007 and the music companies are trying hard to stay afloat by re-releasing music such as this. If it weren't Robert Plant, I wouldn't have even listened.
During the ‘80s, I was not a Cure fan nor a Depeche Mode fan, although I did watch Madonna to give me ideas to think about late at night. I couldn't stand dancing with my arms out at my sides while extending one leg at a time and touching the floor with only the big toe of each foot. Oh yes, and don't forget to wear black with many accessories and a funny hat. I followed the Dead, Rush, Pink Floyd, and The Police. I was stoked that Plant had come out with a new album, until I heard it. It wasn’t the Plant I wanted; it wasn’t very rock ‘n’ roll. Shaken ‘n’ Stirred had stopped at #20 on Billboard’s Top 200. The single “Little By Little” hit # 1 for Mainstream Rock Tracks while “Sixes and Sevens” peaked at #18. At least Plant had the courage to go somewhere else with his music, to try and experiment with new sounds and ideas that were coming out of the radios at that time.
In the ‘80s it was all about electronics, and Shaken ‘n’ Stirred was no exception. Synthesizers were a mainstay for the recording industry, and if you weren't a pro with it, then it either sounded like shit or came out to sugar-coated. That's how this CD sounds, sugar-coated, but then like I said that's most songs from this time period. Take for instance “Kallalou Kallalou,“ it starts out with keyboards and drums and immediately I hear the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop in the back of my mind with Axel Foley and the “banana in the tailpipe“ bit. “Pink and Black” has the same vibe. Plant’s voice carries this track as the drums rarely diverge from their formatted beat. The synthesized guitar and keyboards rehash over the same cords as they did the track before. With the exception of his voice, the music sounds the same.
“Little By Little” is the diamond in the rough here. With the drifting sound of guitars and the electronics all coming together, this song gives way to images of hazy-colored sunsets as Plant's voice cruises in and out of the melody. The bass line can be felt as the drums keep a steady drive going. The extra on this disc is the remix of “Little By Little” with a slightly longer, synthesized intro but that's really about it. The original sounds better.
There is nothing wrong with the music on this CD. Robert Plant has no fear when it comes to trying new genres of music and Shaken ‘n’ Stirred isn't any different. He tried to go the way of the ‘80s and did a pretty good job at it. Music back then was blowing up everywhere and by 1985 the punk craze was waning and bands like Wham and Culture Club were the big draws at the time. Rock ‘n’ roll still had a heartbeat, but it was barely alive. Robert Plant was one of the few who tried to mix the hard rock sound with the new wave sound that was winning its way through the MTV world. I give Plant kudos for trying, but I have to be honest when I say, that this CD I could do without in my collection.