CD Review of Volume One by The Honeydrippers

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Volume One
starstarhalf starno starno star Label: Rhino
Released: 2007
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Time heals all wounds, the old adage claims. Bullshit. I still remember going to the record store, tattered, newsprint-stained paper route cash bag in hand, and buying this on cassette the day it came out. This was going to be it, a Page-Plant collaboration that would rock me, the first such get-together since Zeppelin, a band I worshiped at the time. I had waited for weeks, having read the pre-release hype. Gladly I forked over nearly full-price for the thing, not even noticing there were only five songs and the damn thing was only 20 minutes long. And it's cheesy 1950s crap. I wanted stuff like "Misty Mountain Hop." "The Immigrant Song." I wanted dinosaur guitar licks. Drums that would crumble Mount Rushmore. Instead I get this lame Stray Cats joke of a half-record.

Flash forward nearly 25 years: I've come to appreciate the record as a labor of love with an all-star cast, including the Emperor of R&B himself, Ahmet Ertegun, twiddling the studio knobs. Plant chose some great tunes to showcase, like Roy Brown's "Rockin' At Midnight," which accomplished what I imagine he desired: Brought fame and attention to the originals. I know I myself have gotten into a couple debates as to whether that song was the first "true" rock song (or was it Ike Turner and pals' “Rocket 88,” or Elvis's rendition of Big Boy Crudup's "That's All Right?"), which wouldn't have happened if it weren't for the Honeydrippers. The record, ironically, also spawned Plant's biggest solo hit, "Sea of Love," which peaked at #3 on the Hot 100. Ironic because this was a knock-off record of covers, not one of his mystical solo works with heavy implications. Plant probably wished that his more serious work be taken more seriously.

In the true spirit of the original -- ripping off rock fans -- Rhino gives us little more than appeared on the 1984 cassette. The music's phenomenal, for what it is, and it brings back the beautiful, innocent joy of rock that groups like Zeppelin and Cream and Deep Purple changed forever when they broke out the heavy guitar-tillery (and did massive amounts of heroin). But it's still only five songs (and no, I don't count the so-called "bonus track" live version of "Rockin' at Midnight," it's no bonus) and includes precious little in the way of booklet extras. C'mon guys, use that space on the printed page to make it worth our while, and for gosh sakes, fill up the goshdarn CD with music. It's 2007, you can put outtakes, interviews, videos, I don't care, even Stray Cats bootlegs on the thing. Just give us something. You owe it to us for ripping us off the first time around. When you part little kids with their paper route money, there's a specially hot place reserved for you in the part of the netherworld owned and operated by a red dude with horns. And this former paperboy still feels robbed.

~Mojo Flucke, PhD