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Robert Plant Announces New ‘Carry Fire’ LP, Debuts ‘The May Queen’ Single

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Robert Plant interview: 'Re-form Led Zeppelin? You can't ever really go back'

by Neil McCormick, Music Critic
12 October 2017 • 9:00pm

At 69, with a new album out, Robert Plant is as busy as ever – but Led Zeppelin may now be a thing of the past

Grey bearded, long haired, wrinkly and twinkly, at 69 Robert Plant still comports himself with a vivacious energy. On a street on Primrose Hill, his London stomping ground, he greets passers-by with friendly cheer, hailing a bald, stooped man many years his senior with a hearty “How are ya, kid?”

He stops in Sam’s Café, a retro diner, where (a waitress proudly tells me) Plant chose all the records on their vintage Rockola jukebox. Plant studies the playlist: Roy Orbison, Etta James, Ray Charles, and it seems to briefly give him pause. “How many voices are disappearing? The contributions to our time of listening and wonder,” he says with a typically poetic turn of phrase. “There’s always a trip going to say goodbye.”

Then he laughs. “Maybe that’s how people think about me! ‘F------ hell! Better go and see Planty! How much longer can he keep it up?’”

Plant has a new album out today, Carry Fire – a wonderful record from perhaps our most adventurous rocker. It’s with the same multi-instrumental line-up he has been working with, on and off, since 2005’s Mighty ReArranger. The Sensational Space Shifters craft a dazzling weave of psychedelic polyrhythmic grooves, meshing country, blues, folk and rock’n’roll with North African scales and beats, to which Plant contributes lyrics and melodies.

 

“I think I’m getting better,” he enthuses. “My ability to mould my frame of mind to the temperature, tempo and temperament of the music, it’s getting closer.” He describes the album as “a declaration of how best I am to myself, which is in flux. I mean, I love flux. When I open my car, I go ‘Yeah!’ To the Jurassic Coast or the Cambrian Coast? Is there water and a woman? I don’t know. And off I tootle.”

It’s also his “15th collection of songs since Bonzo passed away” as he puts it. The death of his oldest friend, drummer John Bonham, in 1980, brought an end to Led Zeppelin, perhaps Earth’s greatest rock group. Since then, his former musical partner, Jimmy Page, has released just five original albums, the last of those with Plant in 1998.

 

“To be a sought-after musical entity, first of all you’ve got to be good. Secondly, you’ve got to have some kind of allure. Thirdly, you have to keep your distance. So you should really only appear once every seven or eight years. Sadly, if I don’t have a gig, I’d be playing birthday parties, weddings and bar mitzvahs. I’ve got to do this. I feel the beat.” It is a theme he returns to throughout the interview, describing himself as “an ageing sexagenarian who’s still on the fly. I can’t give up this stuff because I love what I do.”

A lot of veteran musicians seem worn down by constant travelling, but Plant genuinely delights in the itinerant life. “It is not that I can’t settle, it’s that I shouldn’t. I have a fantastic family, and they give me leave to be what I am.”

 

Plant has four adult children, by two different partners, who are sisters. His romantic life has been complicated, to say the least. “With the amount of time that’s left before the long silence, I just keep light-footed. It doesn’t mean to say I’m taking advantage or in the middle of a romance or a tryst. On the contrary, I’m just in the middle of living.” He was involved with country singer Patty Griffin between 2012 and 2014 but the relationship foundered because he says he found it impossible to settle in Austin, Texas. “I couldn’t deal with celebrity. I became public property.” In England, he says, fans tend to respect his space. “In America, it was quite bludgeoning.”

He has other concerns about America, expressed on some of Carry Fire’s more sonically aggressive songs. New World and Carving Up The World Again look at the fear of immigration through a lens of history. “The lunatics have taken over the asylum,” says Plant. “But it’s an old story. It’s an ancient song. It’s not America, it’s a song of the Europeans and before them the Greeks and the African kings of Timbuktu. It’s time immemorial. We’re devils.”

 

It’s a theme he has addressed before: on Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song, from the 1970 album Led Zeppelin III, the immigrants were invading Vikings, wielding “the hammer of the Gods”.

“I have always been interested in history,” says Plant. “I think it softens up the message a bit, if you can put that context. I am not a social commentator but it feels like we are running out of love. There’s not much joy or hope. There’s an arrogance that’s not even following political doctrine. Someone has to put the brakes on.”

Plant rarely objects to talking about Led Zeppelin, and remains deeply proud of their achievements (“It was never simplistic, what I did with Jimmy and Zeppelin, there was always twist and turns, it was pretty, it had moves and grooves”), but there is a strong sense that it really is over for him. There’s none of the “you never know” teasing of possible reunions that often accompanies his public statements.

“You can’t ever really go back. It’s tough enough repeating yourself with something that’s a year old, never mind 49 years old. I’ve got to keep moving.” He speaks about musicians who won’t give up touring and who go through the motions with a tone of horror, although discreetly won’t give any names. “That look of abject boredom… I can’t imagine anything worse.”


His singing style has changed over the years. There’s a soft, whispery sensuousness to much of Carry Fire, with just hints of the fierce old roar. “The sound of an aggressive full-powered 150-volt piece of rock music has to be meant, the intention has to be absolutely spot on. Otherwise it’s a phoney thing. Right now, I like the sound of intimacy. I can still let it go, almost the same as I did years ago. I know how to do it. It doesn’t mean to say I gotta do it all the time.”

There are frequent mentions of age, the merciless march of time, his sense that he still has things to do while he can. He jokes of “waking up, looking in the mirror, and going ‘who the hell is that?’ It’s not only my dad, it might be my granddad too! So I guess vanity… it’s over!”

“You were the Golden God,” I say, alluding to his famous description of himself in his Led Zeppelin glory days.

“I still am,” he proclaims, lifting his head up, widening his shoulders, grey locks falling around him.

“So when did vanity end for you?”

“Oh I am just generalising for every other f-----,” laughs Plant. “I’m not done with that s--- yet!”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/music/artists/robert-plant-interview-re-form-led-zeppelin-cant-ever-really/

 

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https://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/music/led-zep-frontman-robert-plant-impresses-on-new-album-carry-fire-1.666799


Led Zep frontman Robert Plant impresses on new album Carry Fire

Carry Fire, Plant’s 11th solo album, which is released today, is his second with his able backing band The Sensational Space Shifters

 James McNair October 12, 2017

On December 10, 2007, after Led Zeppelin had reformed for one-night-only to play the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert, Robert Plant escaped to the back room of a fairly humble Turkish eatery near his home in Chalk Farm, North London.

“The rarefied air backstage at the O2 [Arena] was something you could only savour for moments,” the singer later told journalist Paul Rees. And so Plant, normally a gregarious beast, had opted to eat hummus alone at the Marathon Bar, thus avoiding the O2 after-show party where celebrities asked Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham, son of Zeppelin’s late drummer John Bonham: “Surely you’re going to do this again?”

Famously, Plant’s unwillingness to pursue a Led Zeppelin reunion any further was a source of great consternation to his old bandmate Page. But Plant had just released Raising Sand, his much-lauded duets album with American country singer Alison Krauss.

Ten years on, Page and Plant’s stances haven’t changed. Plant continues to look forward, while Page, seemingly only busying himself with the restoration and lionisation of Led Zeppelin’s back catalogue, continues to look back.

Carry Fire, Plant’s 11th solo album, which is released on October 13, is his second with his able backing band The Sensational Space Shifters. With its Moog synthesiser, Arabic and African tropes, and its blues, folk and electronica elements, the record is exactly the kind of cross-cultural smorgasbord Plant watchers have come to expect.

Building on certain stylistic adjustments that were already apparent on 2012’s Lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar, it also sees the singer, now pushing 70, dial down the testosterone, while retaining his edge.

Though Plant’s voice still has impressive power on the record’s most Zeppelin-esque track Bones 0f Saints, elsewhere, his warm, husky vocals often pack deliberate vulnerability and a searching new intimacy.

With its smouldering reds, meanwhile, the album cover’s painted portrait of the unselfconsciously weathered-looking singer has a certain gravitas, and one reviewer has already characterised Carry Fire as a collection of “lion-in-winter love songs”.

There is certainly a sense of a man pausing to reflect on his life; of an old campaigner registering changes outwith his control.

It is only within song, moreover, that Plant tends to do this. Not for him the tell-all autobiography that many would love to read.

“Almost every other rock star but you has written a memoir,” noted Rolling Stone magazine last month. “Would you?”

“Never”, replied Plant. “What I know between my ears here is priceless. It’s magnificent, sometimes tearful, but mostly cheerful. There have been highs and lows and a lot of adventure, and I keep it hid.”

Consciously or otherwise, Plant was name-checking the song Keep It Hid, an unsettling electronic blues on Carry Fire wherein he makes cryptic reference to “a silver key in a golden cup”. Other songs on his new album are easier to interpret.

On Season’s Song, where Plant clearly mourns the passing of the years, there is talk of “our summer’s slow farewell”, while Dance with You Tonight begins “And now the carnival is over”, and later references “Sweet dancing days and wondrous nights… ’til time conspired to steal our crown”.

The significance of the latter lines won’t be lost on fans of Led Zeppelin’s 1973 album Houses of the Holy, which contains their song Dancing Days, but if Plant is reflecting on the end of Led Zeppelin’s reign, it is from a distance now. Quizzed by Rolling Stone about the 2016 court case which saw he, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones successfully contest claims that Page had ripped-off the opening chords of Stairway to Heaven, Plant characterised he and his former bandmates current relationship as “a cup of coffee from time to time, but nothing intimate”.

The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde, who duets with Plant on his new album’s propulsive cover version of Ersel Hickey’s 1968 hit Bluebirds over the Mountain, makes for a perfect, wholly simpatico guest. Like Plant, Hynde is a wily individual who has never been one for career comprises, and like Plant, she remains something of a lone wolf, in love with romance, but not necessarily commitment.

Whether with English folk great Sandy Denny on Led Zeppelin’s The Battle of Evermore, or with the aforementioned Krauss, duetting with female singers has long been a source of inspiration for Plant.

But as he documented on Lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar, songs such as Embrace Another Fall, Plant’s professional and romantic relationship with American folk singer Patty Griffin was to end in tears.

The pair had set up home together in Austin, Texas, after collaborating on Plant’s 2010 album Band Of Joy, but “culturally and slightly spiritually” Plant began to experience a troubling disjunct which led him to “swing the wheel right around”.

“Patty and I tried a sort of zigzag across the Atlantic,” Plant told me when I interviewed him in 2014, “but she didn’t share my penchant for cider and she used to marvel at the Black Country character I became after four pints of Thatchers. My feelings are very much ones of sadness and regret, but I also disturbed myself. I had to come back [to Worcestershire, England] to find out just how much I valued what I’d left behind – it’s an old song, I guess.”

Plant’s love of Arabic and African musical forms is well to the fore on Carry Fire, an album that also explores themes such as nationalism, colonialism and the building of border walls. In Justin Adams, noted world-music connoisseur and sometime producer of revered African desert rockers Tinariwen, Plant has his greatest guitar foil since Page, while masterful Albanian cellist Redi Hassa joins the singer on another of the album’s stand-outs, A Way with Words.

Though Plant is undoubtedly hugely proud of his work with Led Zeppelin, the singer has long been subject to a complex meld of emotions when considering his former band.

“In the early part of my time in Zeppelin, I wrote naively, but I loved all that mystery of the dark past and the Queen Of Light,” Plant told me in 2014. “Unfortunately I had [that light and naivety] taken away from me bit by bit.”


It wasn’t clear to me whether Plant was referring to the dark side of the Led Zeppelin story, as told in books such as Barney Hoskyns’ Trampled Underfoot, or to the unimaginable tragedy of his 5-year-old son Karac dying of a viral infection during Led Zeppelin’s 1977 North American Tour, but I immediately had a greater understanding of why Plant has been content to let Zeppelin lie since the death of his friend John Bonham, the band’s formidable drummer, in 1980.

Some 40 years on, Plant does indeed carry fire. The fire of hurt, the fire of hard-won life wisdom and the fire of ongoing musical inspiration. Carry Fire is an impressive return. Forward-looking and vital-sounding, it proves a rock star’s passionate adjustment to his or her twilight years needn’t involve going down the crooning Great American Songbook route á la Rod Stewart or Bob Dylan.

 

 

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FYI: Walmart and Target stores in Atlanta do not carry “Carry Fire” (online only). Best Buy , a mom & pop one off and / or maybe selected Barnes & Noble bookstores are the only retail store with it. Otherwise, Amazon or directly from  RP.com . Sad day in US music (retail) history. BTW, each retail listed above had 20 or more of the top 40 rap (crap) and pop ilk. P.S. I worked retail in a record store for years, during High school and college, so to see it come to this makes one think we are truly in the last days of physical media. After that, the cloud (digital space) will own you. Thankful that Robert (understand their customers/ listeners / fans) and company have released their latest project on multiple physical formats. Their record label reps need to get on the ball and stock retail shelves with this great album. We’re probably the last generation to buy physical media.  

R😳

Edited by reids

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8 hours ago, Mook said:

I watched the 6 Music gig on the iPlayer last night & I thought his reworking of In The Light was absolutely amazing, just an joy to listen to.

Do you have to have an iTunes account to see this? 

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Thank you for the articles. The Vinyl is beautiful and both that and the cd arrived in todays post.

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On 8/19/2017 at 5:48 AM, SteveAJones said:

Would you or anyone else be drawing comparisons between this crap and Led Zeppelin were it not for Robert Plant on vocals? I highly doubt it. So you really want to know why I don't like it? Simply because I find it's fucking BORING! Honestly, it's like he's been singing to the same drum loop for more than ten years now.  

Seriously I get it it u hate it I love it but and I am not being a D***k but why do u still even try listening after 10 or 20 years?  I used to like u2 but somehow think they lost raw honesty of first 4 albums. I stopped listening. Obviously if another album follows this one u will listen in full but I'd spend 49 minutes listening to what u like instead. Many have told me Presence is boring but that and 3 are my favorites.

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1 hour ago, ksgemini said:

Seriously I get it it u hate it I love it but and I am not being a D***k but why do u still even try listening after 10 or 20 years?  I used to like u2 but somehow think they lost raw honesty of first 4 albums. I stopped listening. Obviously if another album follows this one u will listen in full but I'd spend 49 minutes listening to what u like instead. Many have told me Presence is boring but that and 3 are my favorites.

Good points, and well said!

These are the ironies of Steve's incessant Plant bashing: He's bored by the music but somehow hyper-interested and invested in making sure everyone knows over and over (and over and over) again that he's bored. And his main complaint is that Plant's recent music is monotonous and repetitive, which is exactly the tenor and content of his complaint.

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9 hours ago, EaglesOfOneNest said:

Do you have to have an iTunes account to see this? 

I watched it on YouTube.  Just search Robert Plant BBC 6.

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Got home and was furious after checking the mail and not seeing it,  saying I was not going to do any more online pre-sales, then walked back in and within 5 minutes got a knock at the door and it was UPS with the vinyl and cd.

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Thanks zeplz71 for posting the articles. :thumbsup:

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Disappointed that no interviewer, to my knowledge, has crow-barred in a question along the lines of "Will anything be released or done to mark Zeppelin's 50th anniversary next year?"

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http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/rock/7998583/robert-plant-tom-petty-death-interview

Robert Plant on Tom Petty's Death: 'It Was Premature, By Far'

tom-petty-robert-plant-billboard-1548.jp

Robert Plant never worked with Tom Petty but the two had met a couple times and the Led Zeppelin frontman tells Billboard the icon's passing earlier this month at the age of 66 feels like it came far too early.

“It’s a tough call to ask a musician how they feel about another musician passing,” says Plant, who turns 70 next August. “It was premature, by far, and really a sad departure from all these musicians who brought so much pleasure to people -- and for his family to have to go through any kind of public show of grief or sentimentality is very difficult."

On Friday (Oct. 13), Plant released his latest solo album, Carry Fire, via on Nonesuch/Warner and said Plant's passing reminded him of the death of his former bandmate, drummer John Bonham.

“I remember we lost John Bonham 37 years ago and that was the end of Led Zeppelin really,” he says. “We were only kids then and there’s no amount of talking or paying respects that can bring anybody back, especially somebody who goes so sadly with so many years left to roll really.”

In related news, Bonham’s sister, Deborah, had received permission for a bronze statue in his honor to be erected in his hometown of Redditch, Worcestershire, in time to commemorate what would have been his 70th birthday next May.

 

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6 hours ago, zeplz71 said:

http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/rock/7998583/robert-plant-tom-petty-death-interview

Robert Plant on Tom Petty's Death: 'It Was Premature, By Far'

tom-petty-robert-plant-billboard-1548.jp

Robert Plant never worked with Tom Petty but the two had met a couple times and the Led Zeppelin frontman tells Billboard the icon's passing earlier this month at the age of 66 feels like it came far too early.

“It’s a tough call to ask a musician how they feel about another musician passing,” says Plant, who turns 70 next August. “It was premature, by far, and really a sad departure from all these musicians who brought so much pleasure to people -- and for his family to have to go through any kind of public show of grief or sentimentality is very difficult."

On Friday (Oct. 13), Plant released his latest solo album, Carry Fire, via on Nonesuch/Warner and said Plant's passing reminded him of the death of his former bandmate, drummer John Bonham.

“I remember we lost John Bonham 37 years ago and that was the end of Led Zeppelin really,” he says. “We were only kids then and there’s no amount of talking or paying respects that can bring anybody back, especially somebody who goes so sadly with so many years left to roll really.”

In related news, Bonham’s sister, Deborah, had received permission for a bronze statue in his honor to be erected in his hometown of Redditch, Worcestershire, in time to commemorate what would have been his 70th birthday next May.

 

Whoops! Please, no! Not yet!

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On 10/13/2017 at 9:34 AM, reids said:

FYI: Walmart and Target stores in Atlanta do not carry “Carry Fire” (online only). Best Buy , a mom & pop one off and / or maybe selected Barnes & Noble bookstores are the only retail store with it. Otherwise, Amazon or directly from  RP.com . Sad day in US music (retail) history. BTW, each retail listed above had 20 or more of the top 40 rap (crap) and pop ilk. P.S. I worked retail in a record store for years, during High school and college, so to see it come to this makes one think we are truly in the last days of physical media. After that, the cloud (digital space) will own you. Thankful that Robert (understand their customers/ listeners / fans) and company have released their latest project on multiple physical formats. Their record label reps need to get on the ball and stock retail shelves with this great album. We’re probably the last generation to buy physical media.  

R😳

Agreed I also worked at a music store and still buy cd's and wish I had kept vinyl but can't rebuild collection at this point on vinyl.  Sad I realize when I said I was happy cd had inner sleeve that many probably have no idea what an inner sleeve is.. well here they do but elsewhere...I have incessant problems with I tunes on 2 different computers and phone. I didn't even take free download -uploaded from cd. I only use uploaded cd's on phone in car to protect cd collection safely at home.

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Not sure if you can see this outside the UK;

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/5GcDLwKrnGS8Y8LSt5jwCtl/memory-tapes-october-2017

Tubby The Tuber - Danny Kaye

Love Me - Elvis (Robert sang this WITH ELVIS because “what you going to do?”)

Eighteen Hammers - Johnny Lee Moore

Don't Start Me Talking - Sonny Boy Willamson (“it swings like crazy”)

Somebody To Love - Jefferson Airplane (Grace Slick "gave me a kick to immerse myself more in that idiom..that early psychedelic rock”)

On the Danny Baker show around 1 hour in 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0978cvj

 

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10 hours ago, ksgemini said:

Agreed I also worked at a music store and still buy cd's and wish I had kept vinyl but can't rebuild collection at this point on vinyl.  Sad I realize when I said I was happy cd had inner sleeve that many probably have no idea what an inner sleeve is.. well here they do but elsewhere...I have incessant problems with I tunes on 2 different computers and phone. I didn't even take free download -uploaded from cd. I only use uploaded cd's on phone in car to protect cd collection safely at home.

Exactly. Thx for sharing your experiences. I knew I wasn’t alone here.

R😎

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Season's Song is great, Dance With You Tonight is magnificent, Carving Up The World Again...a wall and not a fence I really, really like,  Keep It Hid I really dig also, and tops to Heaven Sent!  I think I liked Heaven sent the most on first listen (on vinyl), but I thought the other songs that I listed were magnificent too. A magnificent album and I can't wait to see him in Phoenix again! Thumbs up to everyone posting articles and media etc! :thumbsup:

Edited by luvlz2

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