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Robert Plant - 'Band Of Joy' (Decca) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Johnny H   
Monday, 13 September 2010 05:00

Band_of_joyPrior to writing this review I started to ponder what our musical landscape might be like today if Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Bonham and John Paul Jones had never met?  It's a quite startling thought, as lets face it without their collective influences running throughout today's music scene the world would be pretty boring place don't you think?  Just take a minute and think of all the things that would not exist as they do today, and the magnitude of their reach and influence becomes staggeringly impressive.


So, what has this got to do with Robert Plant's latest solo album 'Band of Joy'? Well as with his 2002 album 'Dreamland' which he recorded with his then band Strange Sensation, 'Band Of Joy' catches Robert wearing his influences on his cheesecloth shirt sleeves, as this is an album of cover versions dedicated to those who have influenced him. I personally am always enthralled to hear what is floating Mr Plant's boat musically, as he is someone who has remained a true fan throughout his illustrious career.  And in turn every one of his nine solo albums has made me go out and investigate either artistes he had cited during interviews or new musical styles he would have dabbled with for the sake of his own musical growth.  I mean there aren't many mutli-platinum selling Grammy award winners that would feel at ease standing within a sold out audience at a small South Wales venue checking out a blues/soul legend's performance on a rainy midweek night, but that's Robert Plant for you. He is effortlessly unconventional and brimming with artistic integrity.


It is this integrity that allows Plant to flit between Americana, Blues and Folk within 'Band of Joy's' Buddy Miller produced tracklisting.  Dealing up his diverse and eclectic set of influences, we get Richard and Linda Thompson's 'House of Cards', Jimmie Rodgers' 'I'm Falling In Love Again' and album opener and lead single Los Lobos' 'Angel Dance', all within the first half of the album.  It is however on 'Sliver Rider' the first of two tracks by slowcore band Low that I first start to feel myself becoming totally immersed in 'Band of Joy'.  The six-minute plus track being a luxurious blanket of musical textures and melody.


Having witnessed Robert Plant live on just about every tour he has done within the UK since the 'Manic Nirvana' era of his solo career, on the last Plant/Krauss set of gigs I can honestly say I have never seen him looking more relaxed or singing better. This continues into 'Band of Joy' via tracks like 'The Only Sound That Matters' and 'Harm's Swift Way' originally written by Milton Mapes and Townes Van Zandt respectively.  Also popping up on 'Band Of Joy' to supply the female foil to Plant's velvety tones that seemed to work so well on the 2007 'Raising Sand' album is respected Americana singer Patty Griffin.  I have to say the prospect of catching them live when they tour selected low-key UK dates in October is proving to be extremely enticing.  I'm just glad I got myself a ticket after all.


'Band of Joy' (album title aside) is never going to please Led Zeppelin fans solely craving for that full on enormodome reunion tour. But for those of us who are happy to just sit back and ponder "what if?" safe in our knowledge that Robert Plant is actually making the music he wants to be making in 2010, this album is a sobering delight.