Robert Plant: Manic Nirvana (1990)


I have posted before about the lack of vinyl flea markets in this town but recently there was one here  in which I scored 5 albums!

One of the one’s that I was psyched to get was Robert Plant’s “Manic Nirvana”.

Last summer if you recall I picked up all of Robbo’s solo albums (except for” Now And Zen” which I already owned but I always have dug his voice, lyrics basically the whole package with this guy.

So much to my surprise when I was digging through the bins and lo and behold there it was before my naked steaming eyes!


“Manic Nirvana” was the one I really wanted as for myself its always  been a toss up of which one I like better when it comes to picking a favourite Plant album. Some days it’s “Now And Zen” other days it’s “Manic Nirvana”.

“Now And Zen” released in 88 had all the technical production trimmings attached to it in regards to production, yet the songs are stellar.

By the time 1990 rolled around Plant kept the same band that recorded and toured for “Now And Zen” and hit the studio and stripped back the sound to more of a classic retro rock vibe.

Opening track “Hurting Kind (I’ve Got My Eyes On You)” is a driving opener track which got a ton of video play here in Canada. Doug Boyle is a friggin great 6 stringer who keeps himself in check and never overplays on any song that he recorded with Plant.

Second track “Big Love” is such a killer track which Phil Johnstone lays down a cool sounding hammond organ. The reason this track works is it fuses musically the sonics of the 70s while Plant dials it in lyrically of the 80’s.

Case in point check out the lyrics below to “Big Love”

Umm, gonna let the hostess think I’m explodin’
Must have finally got this bird on the ground
Girl, oh girl, if the tank’s overloadin’
She’s weighted, and she loves to go down

She loves to go down, she loves to go down
She loves, she loves, she loves (down)
She loves to go down, she loves to go down
She loves, she loves, she loves (down)

When I fly her friendly skies
How I love her big surprise
I will fill your corporate files
Just give me your free air miles

What a one two punch and after “Big Love” the album teeters on rock tracks like “Nirvana” and  “S S S & Q (which means Shake Soak Splash & Quake)” while there are quiet moments like Anniversary and the brilliant acoustic driven “Liars Dance”.

Plants band delivers as these cats can play. As I already mentioned check out the track “Nirvana” where each guy in Plants band flex’s there musical muscle  starting off with Doug Boyle who starts off the track with a pre grungy guitar vibe than dives into a sound on that 6 string that could have come out of the INXS playbook. Drummer Chris Blackwell drives the song forward with his drums on this track as well.

Being this was Plant’s fifth solo release in the 1980-90 time frame you can see that he was pretty productive and his music as far as I was concerned was getting better and better.

A shame really as by Plant’s next release (“Fate of Nations” in 1993) this version of Plants band was finished which was a shame but I guess Robert liked changing up his lineups every couple of records to keep things fresh.

“Manic Nirvana” if you’re looking to spin for a good rocking time is one you should check out.

One more thing for you collectors  out there is that the song “She Said” for some reason was left off the vinyl version and was available only on Cassette and CD only…

deKe’s Vinyl Rating: 9/10





29 thoughts on “Robert Plant: Manic Nirvana (1990)”

  1. I remember that was the case with the Hip’s EP – for some reason you could only get All Canadian Surf Club on certain formats. I think it was only on the CD, but I thought it was important to also have the cassette and vinyl as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I never find anything decent like this when scouring 2nd hand bins! Or if I do, and get all excited, I then look at the state of the vinyl and see it scratched to bits.

    Great bag! Nice one – lucky you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Pal. The fella that was selling vinyl had taken care of his records as I paid a decent price for this one but I had to get it!


    1. True and for the longest time Robert distanced himself from Zep until about 1988 or so not counting the shambles that was the Zep performance from Live Aid in 85

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I liked what I heard from this one…Plant can get some unique-sounding guitar players…I wonder why Robbie Blunt left? Phil Johnstone co-wrote some of Plant’s songs if I remember right.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not sure what happened to Robbie Blunt but I remember reading an Interview with Doug Boyle and he said he purposely did not play Les Pauls with Plant as he didn’t want to deal with the Page comparisons.
      Your right Johnstone wrote a ton of great tracks with Plant. Phil passed away lately which was a shame…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I remember that Deke…it happened in the past year I believe… I like the sonic quality on this album.
        That was smart of Blunt


  4. Nice find. Always good when something cool and unexpected shows up at a second hand store. Do you guys have a Value Village? I remember those shops in Whitby/Oshawa, raised funds for diabetic association and they were mostly clothing but had pretty good racks of both vinyl and CD,,,sometimes would find a goody for $2 or less. I’d forgotten about this album but reading your review, I do remember the first couple of tracks. Have to like how he refuses to get rutted in one sound after LZ.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes we have a V.V but nothing really there ever. Love this Plant album and you’re right he refused to get lumped in with his past.


  5. When this album came out I always considered it more of a transitional record. Many of the things I heard being explored here gave fruit on ‘Fate Of Nations.’ However, when I go back and listen to it now there are a lot of really great tracks. His relatively new ‘Now and Zen’ band got him back to a more “Zeppelin-esque” sound. The acoustic bits may be my favorite here… although “The Hurting Kind” rocks ferocious. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed as Plant was smart to go and get a bunch of young guns as I’m sure it was a move as well to get MTV exposure at the time as opposed to having a bunch of old farts in a video. Great band and stellar players and your right the acoustic stuff is really really good.
      Thanks for dropping in Sir!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d always heard he was so disappointed with the commercial failure of “Shaken And Stirred” he decided to move in a new direction and let his old Robbie Blount led group go. Johnstone sent him a demo tape and they were off and running w/ ‘Now And Zen.’ The new band pushed him even further into his old sound on this one. I’m happy I dropped in!


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