Outrider

Jimmy Page

Geffen Records, 1988

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/01/1997

If any one guitarist defined rock and roll, it was Jimmy Page. With the three other musicians that made up Led Zeppelin, Page changed the face of rock forever with his flowing, sometimes sloppy leads that captured all the emotion one could pour into a Les Paul.

Being too young to appreciate Zeppelin during their heyday (and being too stupid to care about them until I was 16 years old), the release of Page's first solo album in 1988, Outrider, was a cause for celebration. At last, Pagey could shake off the ghosts of Led Zeppelin and the forced supergroup The Firm, and cut loose on his own.

Too bad we learned he needs that supergroup behind him most of the time for his magic to work.

The album starts off fine with "Wasting My Time," a cut that throws together power riffing and fluid solos on top of Robert Plant-wannabe John Miles (who would be the touring vocalist). For the first five minutes, things looked incredibly good for Page.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But things sour on the very next track, "Wanna Make Love." The bump-and-grind beat is a distraction, and the song itself never takes off into greatness. And while we're on the subject of making love, can someone tell me why Miles and secondary lead throat Chris Farlowe, on the track "Prison Blues," continually sing about getting laid or wanting to? These guys got more action when they were 18 than I did, and they still need to whip it out and try to do the middle-aged nasty in the songs? (Line from "Prison Blues": "I got a weasel in my pocket / I'm gonna stick that weasel right down that little hole" - give me a fuckin' break.)

And who else drops by Mr. Page's neighborhood but - you guessed it - former Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant, on the track "The Only One" - which really isn't a bad track. Seems like Plant came by to re-pay the favor Page did for him by playing on two tracks on his 1987 album Now And Zen.

It is when Page ditches the vocalists on Outrider that the album is at its best. "Writes Of Winter" has Page squeezing out licks that many critics thought he'd never be able to play again. And the track "Emerald Eyes" is one of the most beautiful songs Page has played on in a long time. It should also be noted that drummer Jason Bonham ( yes, the son of deceased Zeppelin drummer John Bonham) plays his best on "Writes Of Winter," when he's allowed to break out rhythmically. (And while his work left something to be desired, it was good to hear ex-Jethro Tull drummer Barriemore Barlow again.)

Besides some weak songwriting and a mish-mash of three singers on one album, the only other big mistake Page makes is playing synthesized guitar - a technology Page has apparently never been thrilled with - on the cut "Blues Anthem." The lyrics here are a tad corny, and should be taken with a grain of salt.

If Page had chosen to do a mostly-instrumental album, there's no doubt Outrider would have been a masterpiece. But the way it stands, it's only a marginal solo album that is geared for the diehard fans only.

Rating: C

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© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Geffen Records, and is used for informational purposes only.