John Paul Jones stayed quiet for years after the disbandment of Led Zeppelin, performing the occasional arranging, soundtrack, or production gig, or collaborating with such avant garde musicians as Diamanda Galas. Throughout it all, he never released a full-fledged solo album -- until the fall of 1999, when he unleashed Zooma. Anyone that was following who Jones worked with in the '90s -- including Galas, the Butthole Surfers, and R.E.M. -- shouldn't be entirely surprised by the depth, range, and gleeful strangeness on Zooma, but those expecting something like Led Zeppelin IV will be disappointed. That's not to say that there's no Zeppelin here at all. Jones was a key member of Zep, contributing heavily to their sonic majesty and experimental bent, all things that are apparent throughout the album. The difference is, Jones frees himself and his collaborators -- including Paul Leary and members of the London Symphony Orchestra -- to push the envelope hard by making Zooma an instrumental effort. Freed from the boundaries of songs, but not compositions, Jones crafts a series of nine truly impressive songs, blending together blues, worldbeat, heavy rock, jazz, and the avant-garde into a distinctive, unpredictable, and original sound. It may have been a long wait to receive the first solo album from Jones, but the end result makes it all worthwhile.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine