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ROBERT PLANT BAND OF JOY ALBUM PREVIEW – THE ONLY SOUND THAT MATTERS

19 August 2010 14,187 views 8 Comments

Listening to the forthcoming Robert Plant album Band Of Joy I was reminded of an interview quote he made a couple of years back ’’ The past can take care of itself – I go on undaunted’’

Indeed he does – and this latest twist in the story is proof again of his ability to immerse himself in a rich eclectic collection of material that makes for a very fulfilling listening experience.

Band Of Joy finds Robert Plant in the company of some seasoned Nashville based band mates – guitarist and co-producer Buddy Miller being most central to the sound of particular Band Of Joy. He has also enlisted the voice of Patty Griffin to add as he described a touch of ‘’Cocteau Twins/Shangri-Las’’ feel to the arrangements.

The album also features multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott, who provides the mandolin, guitar, accordion, pedal, lap steel and banjo lines, Byron House on bass and percussion from Marco Giovino.
Resisting the easy route of a further Krauss collaboration, Robert taps further into the wealth of Americana, blues folk roots that has often influenced his best work. The material is predominantly made up of cover versions but these are constantly flavoured by Plant/Miller to add a contemporary edge.

Central to proceedings is of course the voice. And from the shuffling warmth of the Los Lobos cover Angel Dance through to the relentless groove of Even This Shall Pass Away the listener is never in doubt that Robert Plant still maintains  an unrivalled standard of vocal supremacy.

The Band Of Joy album is released on September 13th.

By way of a preview – here are some initial thoughts:

THE TBL GUIDE TO BAND OF JOY

Track by track guide to the Band Of Joy album with original sources, song reflections and previous Plant playlist recommendations with which to mix the new material with on your ipod.

Get ready to soak up the only sound that matters this autumn…

Angel Dance (3mins .50)

Original Source: Los Lobos 1990 album The Neighborhood.

Ushers in proceedings with its shuffling warmth. Love the ‘’yeah yeah yeah’’ Plant refrain and key change at the end and the stop gap ending ‘’Dance!’’.

Playlist with Shine It All Around from Mighty ReArranger and 29 Palms from Fate Of Nations.

House Of Cards (3.14)

Original source Richard & Linda Thompson 1978 album First Light.

An exquisite version of the Richard Thompson song. Robert sings with a purity and strength supplemented by Patty Griffin’s effectively layered harmonies. There’s some Achilles like ‘’Ahh ah ahh’’  refrains in there and the way he sings ‘’It goes tumbling, tumbling tumbling down’’ is plain awesome . This writer would love to hear a whole album of the singer’s take on that period of English folk rock ala Incredible String Band, Sandy, Fairport, Traffic etc.

Playlist with Come Into My Life from Fate Of Nations and Great Spirit from Fate Of Nations.

Central Two- O- Nine (2.49)

Original source – based on and old blues Hello Central (209) recorded by Lightening Hopkins in 1965. (Note Worse Than Detroit opens with the lines ‘’ ‘’Operator, give me Central, Central’’).

Re arranged by Plant/Miller.

This finds Plant in his best ‘‘blow- that- whistle’’ black country blues mode. Excellent banjo work here.

Playlist with Black Country Woman from Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti, Nobody’s Fault But Mine from No Quarter Unledded.

 

Silver Rider (6.06)

Original source: Low’s 2005 Great Destroyer album.

First of two songs from Minnesota based trio Low’s 2005 album Great Destroyer. Close to mic and at times double tracked vocal in the Little Hands tradition backed up by close harmonies with Patty Griffin. Bleak haunted atmosphere. Reminded me of the sort of tortured arrangements that graced Scott Walker’s work. Nice reverb and crash cymbal effects too.

Playlist with Heart In Your Hand from Page & Plant Walking Into Clarksdale and The Window – Page & Plant extra track on the Most High CD single.

 

You Can’t Buy My Love (3.10)

Original source: 1964 Barbra Lynn recording.

First of two consecutive performances that would have lit up a Honeydrippers Vol 2 record had there been such a thing. Jump blues arrangement of R and B songstress Barbra Lynn’s 1965 single. Bo Diddley drum beat and authentic retro guitar solo from Miller. Wonderful stuff.

Playlist with I Got A Woman from the Honeydrippers Vol 1 and My Buckets Got a Hole In It – Page & Plant from the Sun Records tribute album.

I’m Falling In Love Again (3.37)

Original source: B-side of a single by Chicago soul quintet the Kelly Brothers in 1966.

Straight take on the Kelly Brothers do wop arrangement. The sort of song as he would put it, he has held his back pocket for years and probably one he’s sung in the shower. Delicate  pedal steel guitar from Darrell.

Playlist with Young Man Blues from The Honeydrippers Vol 1 and Valley Of Tears from the Fat’s Domino tribute album Goin’ Home.

 

The Only Sound That Matters (3.44)

Original source: Written by Greg Vanderpool for the Milton Mapes 2003 album Westernaire

Lovely lilting county ballad opens with some cool acoustic strumming over laid by pedal steel guitar – beautiful yearning vocals. This is a total joy.

Playlist with If It’s Really Got To Be That Way –Arthur Alexander tribute track on 66 To Timbuktu and Naked If I Want To – Moby Grape cover on 66 To Timbuktu.

Monkey (4.58)

Original source: Low’s 2005 Great Destroyer album.

The other Low cover -and an absolutely rivetting performace. Mournful close to mic vocal with Patty in harmony . Backed by brooding sustained guitar soundscapes from Buddy Miller that reminded me of Robert Fripp’s work on David Bowie’s Heroes. The arrangement is  slightly Cure like and similar to  Lullaby as performed on the early dates of the Page & Plant 1995 tour. Another reference might be the Presence album – in terms of feel it has that uncomfortable intensity.  Masterful.

Playlist with Down By The Seaside Robert Plant & Tori Amos from 66 To Timbuktu and No Quarter –Page &Plant No Quarter Unledded

 

Cindy I’ll Marry You Someday (3.37)

Original source: American folk tradition song known as Cindy and Get Along Home Cindy, and recorded by amongst others Bascom Lamar Lunsford.

Another close to mic vocal – bluesy lament backed by banjo and pedal steel guitar. Gains momentum with Buddy adding authentic guitar licks.

Playlist with Colour Of A Shade from Fate Of Nations and Win My Train fare Home (If I Ever Get Lucky) from Dreamland.

Harm’s Swift Way (4.19)

Original source: Townes Van Zandt demo written before he died.

Another slice of bright and light country rock with its infectious ’Oh Me… Oh My’’ chorus. Sweet and simple but highly effective.

Playlist with Dancing In Heaven from Mighty ReArranger and Stick With Me Baby – Plant/ Alison Krauss Raising Sand

 

Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down (4.13)

Original source: Another traditional song recorded through the years by the likes of Frank Proffitt, and Willie Nelson.

A spiritual croon in a sparse traditional setting – the sort of thing that Zep might well have considerably rocked up ala In My Time of Dying.  Instead the arrangement here has the banjo creating the plaintive mood.

Playlist with 21 Years with Ranier Ptacek from 66 To Timbuktu and Great Spirit acoustic take –extra track on Fate Of Nations Nine Lives box set version.

 

Even This Shall Pass Away (4.02)

Original source: Even This Shall Pass Away contains the lyrics of a poem penned in 1866 by Theodore Tilton and adapted in 1979 by Chuck Berry for his album Rock It.

Punctuated throughout by a percussive groove swing from Marco Giovino over which Plant layers a vocal of total conviction and Buddy’s wah wah effects pave the way home.

Playlist with Last Time I Saw Her from Dreamland and Page & Plant Whiskey From The Glass bonus cut on the Japanese package of Page & Plant’s Walking Into Clarksdale.

In summary:

As with most recent Plant works, this is an album that needs to be listened to intensely before the full depth of its delight is revealed.

His voice remains a most potent force and if anything is even more impressive than in recent years, with an upfront breathy clarity that once it gets under the skin, burrows deep.

It may be less Plant Rock and more Planet Plant… but as Band Of Joy vividly demonstrates, it’s a pretty wonderful place to inhabit.

Dave Lewis – August 19th 2010

With thanks to Gary Foy and Steve Sauer

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8 Comments »

  • Gerry M. said:

    Just got new issues of Mojo and Q – four star reviews in each for Robert and four stars in Mojo for young Jason and famous friends!

    Q has a live review special of Mr Plant too!

  • joe said:

    Dont know why there is no vinyl planned for this album.

  • Lorraine robertson said:

    I’ve been on Planet Plant for a lonnnnnnnnnng time now and its a magical place…..seems like yet another treat is in store for us soon..cant wait !!!

  • Mikael said:

    I’m sure it will be a great one. Heard the samples on Itune.

  • Brian said:

    Here is the no. of the vinyl 0602527483382, search google.

    Brian

  • Andreas Stocker said:

    can’t wait. hope there is news about a vinyl release soon…

  • Wyatt said:

    Great job, guys – I look forward to enjoying the album!

  • Michael Brazee said:

    Anxiously awaiting it’s arrival!

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