As some reviewers put here - Pictures At Eleven IS arguably Plant's best album. Somewhat forgotten after more than 20 years, the production still sounds crisp and the band is tight. Many of the songs were co-written with Robbie Blunt, who turned out to be an excellent and distinctive guitarist in his own right - with a sound pleasing to Zep and Page fans.
What did Plant do right here? Well, he went for a solo sound that didn't try too hard to break new musical ground ("pretentious" as one reviewer puts it here). He put out a mature somewhat progressive AOR album, where different styles and arrangements come into play with each track.
"Like I've Never Been Gone" and "Moonlight In Samosa" are classic Plant tracks and highlight his ballad skills. I've always felt that "Like I've Never Been Gone" was the successor to "Since I've Been Loving You" - listen to it and you'll know what I mean.
"Slow Dancer" sees Plant recalling Kashmir and hammering it home while "Worse Than Detroit" is classic blues rock with some Zep nuances. Both of these could have easily been Zeppelin tracks from another time and place, giving them some special resonance.
"Pledge Pin" is another interesting Plant track which features a great sax solo. Driving this album is its excellent rhythm section, which never lets up.
Worth getting if you're curious about Plant's solo work, like Zep, and want to hear what might've been - had Plant kept the path of the blues. This is the closest tangent from Zep that exists, besides The Firm's "Mean Business" album with Jimmy Page. In subsequent albums, Plant would move further away from his rock and blues roots into synth territory.
In all, Pictures at Eleven makes you nostalgic for the Plant that had just left Led Zeppelin and was finding a new future. Although he's continually evolved as an artist, Pictures at Eleven was a debut album that amazingly still sounds good after all this time.
**Postscript: Strangely, none of the tracks were selected for his Sixty Six to Timbuktu album. The extra tracks on the reissue are nice to have but not indispensable. The sound mixing is a little better but as others point out - it's not a quantum leap. Go Percy!
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