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Robert Plant - Band of Joy (ALBUM REVIEWS)


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Robert Plant plumbs roots music again

MARTIN BANDYKE, Detroit Free Press, August 29, 2010

Robert Plant takes a road trip through all sorts of roots music on "Band of Joy" (**** out of four stars, out Sept. 14), his first album since "Raising Sand," the Grammy Award-winning collaboration with bluegrass queen Alison Krauss.

The Led Zeppelin front man went into the studio with Krauss to begin recording a follow-up to "Raising Sand," but the magical vibe the two created the first time out simply wasn't there. Plant's Plan B was to work with Americana stars Buddy Miller and Patty Griffin instead, and the results are spectacular. Miller's dexterous guitar playing melds folk, soul, rock and country in equal measures, and Griffin's impassioned vocals work extremely well with Plant's. Another key player on "Band of Joy" is multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott, who sweetens everything whether he's on mandolin, banjo, accordion, pedal steel guitar or something else.

The song selection on this album is wide-ranging, including tracks written by roots rockers Los Lobos ("Angel Dance"), Midwest indie-duo Low ("Slave Rider," "Monkey"), Texas R&B singer Barbara Lynn ("You Can't Buy My Love") and singer-songwriters Richard Thompson ("House of Cards") and Townes Van Zandt ("Harm's Swift Way"). None of it comes off like some kind of pedantic musical history lesson. The tunes flow naturally from a guy who knows there's a whole lot more to sing than "Whole Lotta Love."


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Fall CD Preview

By Darry Sterdan, QMI Agency

The Toronto Sun, August 29, 2010

Just like rumours of Keith Richards' sobriety, predictions of the music industry's imminent demise have apparently been greatly exaggerated. Granted, the times, they are a-changin' and not for the better. But some things stay the same: Every fall, the major (and minor) labels pull out their big guns. This year, the arsenal includes one of rock's most famous frontmen, a couple of guitar heroes, two guys named Elvis, a teenage country-pop queen and the rapper who ruined her big night. Here are 31 CDs to watch for in the coming months.


Bachman & Turner | Bachman & Turner

Can-rock heavyweights Randy and Fred join forces on their first album in 20 years. Sept. 7

Interpol | Interpol

The New York hipsters' final disd with departed bassist Carlos D. is a typically dark and stylish disc. Sept. 7

Linkin Park | A Thousand Suns

Multitasking producer Rick Rubin helmed the California alt-rockers' latest. Which begs the question: Why? Sept. 14

Brandon Flowers | Flamingo

Killers frontman Flowers worked with producers Stuart Price, Daniel Lanois and Brendan O'Brien. Guess Rick Rubin was busy. Sept. 14

Grinderman | Grinderman 2

Nick Cave and some of his Bad Seeds fire off their second round of blues-rock sleaze. Take it from me; it's a monster. Sept. 14

Robert Plant | Band of Joy

Percy resurrects his pre-Led Zep outfit with a new lineup that includes Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller. Grammys to follow. Sept. 14

Mavis Staples | You Are Not Alone

The gospel legend's latest was produced by Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy, and includes cuts by Randy Newman, Allen Toussaint and John Fogerty. Sept. 14

Weezer | Hurley

Rivers Cuomo and co. move to punk label Epitaph for their next disc of pop-rock nuggets that no one will like as much as Pinkerton. Sept. 14

John Legend & The Roots | Wake Up!

The R&B crooner joins forces with hip-hop's greatest band. What could possibly go wrong? Sept. 21

Maroon 5 | Hands All Over

Mutt Lange produced the latest CD from Adam Levine and co. Should we expect Morse code guitars or country-pop? Sept. 21

Santana | Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time

Mr. Supernatural covers six-string standards from the likes of Zep, Hendrix, Cream and Van Halen with vocals from Scott Weiland, Chris Cornell and many more. Sept. 21

Neil Young | Le Noise

The good news: Shakey's latest solo CD is said to be "very electric." The better news: Unlike his latest tour, it won't set you back $250. Sept. 28

Bad Religion | The Dissent of Man

The last California punks standing release the 15th album of their three-decade career. Sept. 28

Eric Clapton | Clapton

Here's hoping the British blues-rock guitar god spent more time on these songs than he did on the title. Sept. 28

Phil Collins | Going Back

The Genesis leader's first solo disc in eight years consists of Motown and soul covers. Is that good news or bad? Sept. 28

The Doobie Brothers | World Gone Crazy

It's the Doobies' first album in a decade. And yes, there's a guest appearance by Willie Nelson. Honestly, you can't make up this stuff. Sept. 28

Ben Folds & Nick Hornby | Lonely Avenue

High Fidelity author Hornby wrote the lyrics. Piano-popster Folds wrote the music. Seems like a pretty good match. Sept. 28

Ice Cube | I Am the West

As long as the former NWA rapper isn't the star of a new Disney movie involving cute kids and an RV, I'm happy. Sept. 28

Ron Wood | I Feel Like Playing

Here's hoping he also feels like getting his act together between the booze, drugs, affairs and arrests, Ronnie is making Keith look respectable. Sept. 28


Antony & The Johnsons | Swanlights

The chamber-popster with the haunting pipes proffers his second album in as many years. Expect magnificence. Oct. 5

Fran Healy | Wreckorder

Travis frontman Healy doesn't stray too far from his day job on his solo album though he does get by with a little help from a friend named Paul McCartney. Oct. 5

Toby Keith | Bullets in the Gun

If a rapper used that title, the Fox News brigade would blow a gasket. Bet they call Keith an American hero for it. Go figure. Oct. 5

Elton John & Leon Russell | The Union

As if the dynamic piano duo aren't enough, this union also includes Brian Wilson, Neil Young, Booker T. and Robert Randolph. Oct. 19

Kings of Leon | Come Around Sundown

The southern-rock siblings (and their cousin) drop another album full of songs for pigeons to poop on. Oct. 19

Bryan Ferry | Olympia

Roxy Music's suave crooner welcomes his old bandmates and a slew of VIPs for his first CD of new material in eight years. Oct. 26

Taylor Swift | Speak Now

Couldn't she forever hold her peace instead? Oct. 25


Elvis Costello | National Ransom

Costello and producer T-Bone Burnett mix bluegrass, R&B, topical lyrics and some stellar guests. Sounds like a winner. Nov. 2

Black Dub | Black Dub

Daniel Lanois gets back on his feet and unveils his new band with Chris Whitley's daughter Trixie. Nov. 2

Kanye West | TBA

I'ma let you finish, but I just want to say that whatever he decides to call this album, it can't top the original title: Good Ass Job. Nov. 16

Kid Rock | Born Free

Robert Ritchie's return was produced by Rick Rubin and features VIPs including Sheryl Crow, Bob Seger, Martina McBride and, um, T.I. Nov. 16

Daft Punk | Tron: Legacy

The French electronica duo score the classic video-game movie reboot. Nov. 23



Miles Davis | The Genius of Miles Davis

You thought last year's Complete Columbia Album Collection was something? This 43-CD set weighs nearly 10 kilos, comes in a full-size trumpet case and includes a mouthpiece. Sept. 14

Bob Dylan | Bob Dylan: The Original Mono Recordings

The original versions of Zimmy's first eight albums everything up to John Wesley Harding, basically are packaged with a 60-page book. Oct. 19

Jimi Hendrix | West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Hendrix's death and milk a few more dollars out of the faithful here's another box set. Oct. 19

Elvis Presley | The Complete Elvis Presley Masters

A 30-CD set with all 711 of Presley's master recordings, including 103 rarities? I'd call that the King of boxes. Oct. 19

Bee Gees | Mythology

Each of the Gibb brothers (including Andy) gets his own disc in this four-CD set. Nov. 16


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Billboard CD review: Robert Plant

Sat Aug 28, 2010 12:51am BST



NEW YORK (Billboard) - Robert Plant may seem an unlikely Americana artist. But the educated know the original Band of Joy -- which he and future Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham played in, as well as Zep -- was profoundly influenced by what drifted across the pond. Plant's latest solo album, "Band of Joy," follows in the fertile vein of 2007's Grammy Award-winning "Raising Sand" with Alison Krauss. The new set incorporates an edgier, resonant kind of ambience from producer Buddy Miller, a more aggressive female vocal foil in Patty Griffin and (on several of the 12 tracks) a greater ensemble attitude. The material is just as fascinatingly diverse, from the trancey flow of Los Lobos' "Angel Dance" to the doo-wop-by-way-of-Nashville treatment of the Kelly Brothers' "I'm Falling in Love Again" and the swampy but spare groove that frames the mid-19th-century poem "Even This Shall Pass Away." A pair of Low songs -- "Silver Rider" and "Monkey" -- are solidly in the wheelhouse Plant is working here. And the Plant-Miller original "Central Two-O-Nine" is a train song so authentic in tone that it almost sounds like a Johnny Cash classic. Plant has steadfastly resisted a return to the Zep fold; "Band of Joy" makes us glad for that.


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  • 2 weeks later...

First Listen: Robert Plant, 'Band Of Joy'

by Bob Boilen

NPR Music

September 5, 2010

After 40 years of making records, Robert Plant still has the integrity I heard on the very first Led Zeppelin record in 1969. Not many artists fit that bill. It speaks not only to his uncommon and unrivaled voice, but also to his choice of musicians and influences.

Plant's collaboration with Alison Krauss a few years ago produced a brilliant and timeless record in Raising Sand. Now, Plant has teamed up with Nashville songwriter, musician and friend Buddy Miller to make a new album called Band of Joy. The musicians include some of his bandmates from the Krauss tour, including Miller on guitar and various stringed instruments, as well as Darrell Scott and Patty Griffin.

Band of Joy is a celebration of music, and often music from the '60s — a decade where the blues, country, Celtic and rock all found common ground. Its rock, folk and blues tunes aren't new, but they all sound fresh and incredibly well-played. That's evident from the first guitar burst on a Los Lobos tune called "Angel Dance."

There's restraint here that you wouldn't often hear on Led Zeppelin albums, but there's also power in that restraint. That discipline and prudence brings a feeling of welled-up emotion, of sadness and joy that unfolds brilliantly in the ears of the listener. This isn't the hammer of the gods; just a decent gut punch that's profound, earnest and perhaps even longer-lasting.

Band of Joy will stream here in its entirety until its release on Sept. 14. Please leave your thoughts on the album in the comments section below.


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Robert Plant: Band Of Joy

By Thom Jurek on August 31st, 2010

American Songwriter.com

Robert Plant

Band Of Joy


[Rating: 4.5 stars}

Raising Sand, Robert Plant's 2007 collaboration with Alison Krauss, netted six Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year. Following up a success like that would be downright intimidating for some artists; but Plant is not like any other artist, he's not easily shaken, and he's always played to his own expectations regardless of outcome.Band Of Joy revives in name and intention a cover group Plant fronted in his youth that featured the late John Bonham before the pair joined Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones in what would eventually become Led Zeppelin. On this self titled, 12-song set, he teams with producer-guitarist Buddy Miller (with whom he'd played on the Raising Sand tour), vocalist Patty Griffin, multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott (acoustic guitar, mandolins, pedal and lap steel, banjo), bassist Byron House, and percussionist Marco Giovino.

Band Of Joy's material ranges wide: three songs by Richard Thompson, two by Low, Townes Van Zandt, B. & B. Babineaux, Los Lobos, and the Monahans' Greg Vanderpool, as well as traditional country, folk and gospel numbers. The album's sound is a complex blend of rock and Americana, presented in fluid, dark, and moody textures without much gimmickry. It can reel, jump and pop (Los Lobos' "Angel Dance") or seduce with a swirling narcotic sexual allure leading into the heart of darkness (Low's "Monkey"). Plant's and Griffin's voices are a near perfect balancing act. Her personality is expressed in every track she sings on; she adds so much that he's forced to be more ebullient here than on his last few recordings.

On Thompson's "House Of Cards," Miller employs the author's trademark phrasing and knotty leads to guide the singers through a morality tale with Plant as narrator and Griffin soaring above him as Muse and Siren. Scott's octave mandolin and banjo open the Miller-Plant original, "Central Two-O-Nine"; in its minor key, modal blues, it recalls Zep's "Hats Off To (Roy) Harper." Low's "Silver Rider" is so halting and lilting in duet, it's nearly skeletal in its ethereality until the band's ringing atmospheric crescendos. "You Can't Buy My Love," a British pop nugget from the '60s, swaggers thanks to the band's fuzzed-out, bottom-heavy, Bo Diddley bass and guitar rumble, a rockabilly snare, and thoroughly convincing yet campy sass from Griffin and Plant. "I'm Falling In Love Again" walks the line between a honky tonk waltz and an early rock ballad think Gene Vincent fronting the Jordanaires singing country gospel. Vanderpool's "The Only Sound That Matters" is one of the set's finest cuts because Plant sings with a tenderness we haven't heard from him in ages. The loneliness in his vocal is underscored by a whining pedal steel and shimmering guitar work. "Cindy I'll Marry You Someday" is fueled by a rumbling bass drum and banjo; it begins as a backwoods drone, until Plant begins to add romance and a quavering croon. Miller's guitar brings in the country blues, creating an entirely new reading of this old folk song. Van Zandt's "Harm's Swift Way" is performed as a Byrds-like country-rocker by Plant and band; thankfully Griffin returns the earthy sadness in its lyric with her restrained, gorgeous backing vocal. "Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down" begins as a spare haunted blues thanks to Miller's electric guitar and Scott's banjo, and near prayer-like exhortations from the singers. The traditional "Even This Shall Pass Away" is given a raucous, psych-blues vibe by Plant and band, with reverb aplenty.

Band Of Joy may or may not win any Grammys; but for the adventure, emotional honesty and musical acumen in its grooves, it's a more satisfying offering for the listener. It reveals another side of Plant's persona, and touches on all the places he's been, while simultaneously pointing to an appealing, restless future.


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This reviewer obviously isn't impressed.

Band of Joy


Robert Plant's 'Band of Joy' is decrepit return to time before Led Zeppelin

Jim Farber

Tuesday, September 7th 2010, 4:00 AM

alg_plant.jpg Gregg DelmanRobert Plant's 'Band of Joy' returns to his roots, before he joined the band that made him famous, Led Zeppelin. amd_plant.jpg HORobert Plant's 'Band of Joy' takes its name from the Led Zeppelin front man's band before the one that made him famous.


Plant never looks back. Since the downing of Led Zeppelin in 1979, he's gone out of his way to distance himself from any exploitation of the great band's legacy.

His solo albums moved to their own beat. He rebuffed all the entreaties of Jimmy Page to tour widely under the Zep banner after their one-off reunion show two years ago. And he surprised the world with 2008's joint album with American bluegrass artist Alison Krauss, which somehow sold millions and grabbed Grammys while pushing music of quiet desperation.

Even when Plant did reunite with Page, for a full tour and album in the '90s, he made sure they snubbed the Zep brand and greatly switched up the old songs' sound.

Now the star has pulled his sneakiest joke on the past yet. Plant titled his new album "Band of Joy," after the band he played in just before Zeppelin. That group, which also included Led drummer John Bonham, never recorded an album, but through the miracle of YouTube, you can still hear tantalizing bits of its sound. That's how we know it bears absolutely no relation to the "Band of Joy" heard here.

The original Joy, circa 1966-7, played a form of psychedelic blues not far removed from early Zep. This "Band" sounds quieter, slower and much more American. It's not that far removed from what Plant did with Krauss. It even shares a key musician from that CD: Buddy Miller, who produced the disk. On several songs, "Joy" features Patti Griffin subbing where Krauss might have sung on their joint work.

The new CD stresses cover songs; that may be its closest connection to the original Joy, which offered roiling rethinks of songs like Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe." There's just one original piece here, "Central Two-O-Nine," but it fits the rural U.S. folk-blues vibe of everything else. Traditional touchstones range from "Cindy I'll Marry You Someday" to the country-blues "Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down." There's also a Richard Thompson song, "House of Cards," which reasserts Plant's love of Brit-folk, going back to "The Battle of Evermore," a song he cut with Thompson's old bandmate Sandy Denny.

Unfortunately, anyone looking for shimmering folk power of that kind will feel let down. Unlike Plant's CD with Krauss, "Joy" never finds a coherent vibe. The production lacks definition, the arrangements meander rather than probe.

Exceptions can be found. There's poetry and ache in the cover of Townes Van Zant's "Harm's Swift Way." And the finale "Even This Shall Pass Away" finds the individual zest the rest lacks, with Plant's quavering voice and spooky percussion.

In the rest, Plant clearly meant to reinvent Joy's openness and youth. How sad that the result just sounds museumy and old.

Source:- http://www.nydailyne...r=entertainment

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Here's an extremely positive review from The Guardian today.

Robert Plant: Band of Joy

Never one to give 'em what they want, Robert Plant goes his own way again, and Alexis Petridis approves

5 out of 5

It seems surprising that Robert Plant is never considered part of rock's sexagenarian awkward squad, that select cabal of artists who've turned bewildering audiences and critics into an art form, who see pleasing the crowd as dereliction of duty. Judging by his solo career, that's where he belongs – in the old contrarians' clubhouse, basking in the sunny glow of Lou Reed's winning personality, wiping a tear of mirth from his eye as Neil Young recalls how his fans hated 2009's Fork in the Road so much they actually pleaded with his record label not to release it, nodding while Van Morrison revisits the time he decried music magazines for their "obsession with the past" during an interview to promote an album of 50s and 60s country-and-western covers.

Plant could certainly hold his own with them, at least on musical terms. No sooner had he minted a new-wave AOR style distinct from Led Zeppelin and scored a hit single with the unfortunately titled Big Log than things started to go off-road. First an album of high-camp 50s rock'n'roll covers as the Honeydrippers, then the flatly indescribable Shaken 'N Stirred: whatever Plant's fans imagined he'd end up doing in the 80s, it probably wasn't singing a song called Doo Doo a Do Do over honks of atonal synth and flailing bass. On the occasions he's acquiesced to the clamour for something Zeppelin-shaped, he's thrown some kind of curveball: singing over samples of the band on 1989's Now and Zen, enlisting Steve Albini as producer for the Page and Plant album Walking Into Clarksdale, then abandoning the reunion altogether, first to play the Queen Mary Ballroom in Dudley Zoo with the Priory of Brion, then to form Strange Sensation, the latter making Plant one of the few musicians in the world who'd rather be in a band with a bloke out of Cast than Jimmy Page. When Led Zeppelin finally did re-form, Plant appeared to go out of his way to talk the event's significance down, then coolly walked away to promote his country album with Alison Krauss, Raising Sand.

Not even Raising Sand's mammoth critical acclaim, multi-platinum sales and five Grammy awards could quell the clamour for a Led Zep reunion, much of it emanating from his former bandmates. Those who like to read deep meanings into things might feel there's something telling in his decision to resurrect the name Band of Joy for his latest solo album: originally the name of Plant and John Bonham's 60s psych-blues band, it harks back to a world in which Led Zeppelin never existed.

The preponderance of Nashville session players in Band of Joy's ranks might lead you to expect a continuation of Raising Sand's country explorations: singer Patty Griffin – her desolate voice a fascinating counterpart to the downhome warmth of Alison Krauss – and guitarist Darrell Scott have both written mainstream country hits for the Dixie Chicks. It's an idea immediately upturned by the opening cover of Los Lobos' Angel Dance. The mandolin riff in the chorus suggests it could have been performed as straight country, but instead the pretty melody is swamped in tremolo-heavy guitars: it sounds humid and mysterious. It's evidence of Band of Joy's often thrillingly tangential approach to their material, which is brilliantly chosen. You wouldn't think it based on the way he dressed in the 70s, but Plant is a man of exquisite taste, hence two tracks from slowcore band Low's 2005 album The Great Destroyer – their creepy intensity ratcheted up by guitarist Buddy Miller's opaque smears of feedback and Plant and Griffin's eerily controlled vocals – rub shoulders with a Richard Thompson song, House of Cards, a fabulous, obscure bit of mid-60s New Orleans r'n'b called Can't Buy My Love and the late Townes Van Zandt's heartbreaking final song, Harm's Swift Way. Rather than play up the song's weary pathos, the performance is straightforward, propulsive country-rock: you notice its sweet tune before the lyric's stark intimations of mortality.

At the other extreme, there's Even This Shall Pass Away: a 19th-century poem set to a clattering syncopated beat and buzzing synthesised bass, Plant's voice entwining with fragments of densely effected guitar. You could, if you squint hard, see the ghost of Led Zeppelin lurking around its sound, yet it feels like a song with its eyes fixed firmly on the future, rather than resting on past glories. Like the rest of Band of Joy, it feels more edifying than a Led Zep reunion, not just for the guy singing on it, but the listener. It's marked by the fresh excitement of mapping out new territory rather than the more craven pleasure of wallowing in nostalgia: an object lesson in the value of not giving people what they want.

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Review from the UK's Mirror newspaper www.mirror.co.uk

Robert Plant - Band Of Joy: CD of the week

By Gavin Martin on Sep 10, 10 12:00 AM in Music Robert-Plant-10.09.10.jpg<BR itxtvisited="1">4/5

Jimmy Page found it inexplicable that Robert Plant decided not to continue with the eagerly anticipated Led Zeppelin reunion. But the triumphant Band Of Joy clearly shows why Plant chose to opt out of a Zep comeback.

The follow-up to Plant's three million-selling Raising Sands liaison with Alison Krauss, Band Of Joy is a bejewelled landmark in the course of a solo career that's been twice as long as Zeppelin's original lifespan and has been marked by the frontman's tireless energy and curiosity.

This record's female vocal foil, the terrific Patty Griffin, is a harmony rather than duet partner, but her vocals have an awesome, ghost-like effect. The Americana setting of the previous album provides a starting point here for wider, more complex emotional discoveries. The singing is both intense and tender, with the lightness of touch learned from Krauss well to the fore.

Scathing psychedelia, baleful folkie rumination, banjo, fiddle and pedal steel-laced country meet meditative barbed wire rock, shimmering with light and shade.

Non-original tunes by Los Lobos, obscure 60s soul sides and two songs from contemporary Minnesota Mormon band Low are reimagined with verve and panache.

Nashville hotshot producer Buddy Miller has assembled exemplary musicians, but they never sound like session players. This is a fully-fledged band with Plant at its centre.

At either end of the album, Richard Thompson's unforgiving House Of Cards and the traditional Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down are fiery spiritual rebukes. The latter, an antique mountain gospel song with deathly drum rolls and ominous electric guitar, summons an acoustic Zeppelin-like atmosphere. But Plant finds a steely contemplation that Zep's battleground never would allow.

By walking away from the big stage, Plant has found a way to honour all his fascinations and he's created a masterpiece in the process.

<BR itxtvisited="1">

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I got my CD yesterday and it really is ALL THAT! EVERY song is great and the more you listen, the more you pay attention to Robert's intricate vocals that totally blow you away! Robert's voice is back to his rockin "siren" intensity and the band sounds INSANE. Buddy is a WILDMAN! Patty's accompanying vocals are absolutely perfect -- raising Robert up - up to his Led Zep powers! His voice is powerful, clear and so, so beautiful. That old song, "Cindy, I'll Marry You" I remember hearing from way back when I was little and it was charming. BUT ROBERT takes it and turns it into this seductive, sexy thing. I DIE right now because I can't be at that concert tomorrow night. PLEASE Robert, stop torturing me!!!

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Review from www.musicOMH.com

Robert Plant - Band Of Joy (Decca) UK release date: 13 September 2010

4-5stars.gif by Andrew Burgess

Robert Plant's post-Led Zeppelin musical journey has been consistently difficult to categorise. No longer backed by Page, Bonham, and Jones, Plant surrounds himself with musicians from every ilk, and takes on musical styles that range wide and far. On Band Of Joy, his first release since 2007's Grammy-winning roots rock collaboration with Alison Krauss, Plant revisits the approach of his old band - no, not Zeppelin - and leads his new group through swampy musical territory that is at turns brooding, swooning, and raucous.

Plant originally formed Band Of Joy with drummer John Bonham in 1967 before taking on Jimmy Page to form The New Yardbirds and, eventually, Led Zeppelin. Plant's new album borrows his old band's name, and it also re-invigourates the old sort of teen-age approach to creating music. Of the new album, Plant has said: "In the Band of Joy, when I was seventeen, I was playing everybody else's stuff and moving it around, and it's kind of...time to reinvoke that attitude and sentiment."

For Band Of Joy, Plant recruited Raising Sand band-mate Buddy Miller to co-produce. As for the band, he's got an expert cast around him, and together they weave from sound to sound, teasing out surf-rock nuances here, and leaning back into Appalachian subtlety there. Multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott plays guitar, mandolin, lap steel, and banjo; Byron House plays bass; and Marco Giovino provides multi-layered percussion. Most impressive, though, is country singer-songwriter Patty Griffin, who plays the part of Plant's vocal counterpoint stunningly.

While his appearance - his face surrounded as it is by telltale cascades of blonde-gray curls - may be looking a bit road-wearied and hardened by long-running rock 'n' roll decades, Plant's voice sounds transported from Zeppelin's heyday. Perhaps his application of his ability to hit the high notes has gotten a bit more judicious in his older, perhaps wiser, age, but Plant has not allowed his tenor to be ground into gravel after years of use and abuse.

The album opens with the stunning first single, Angel Dance, a reimagining of a song by Los Lobos. Appalachian hill stomping meets Middle Eastern tonality to crushing effect, whilst Plant groans and invokes angels, revealing his vocal prowess from the outset. House Of Cards sounds like it could well be a leftover from the Raising Sand sessions with Griffin more than filling in for Krauss; indeed, her vocal harmony makes the song, lending it emotion and immediacy.

Central Two-O-Nine is a jangling Appalachian travelling song complete with chain-gang background vocals and minor-key mandolin-banjo interplay. You Can't Buy Me Love is an electrified, blues-driven rave-up that smacks of early '60s pop, right down to the frantic surf-rock guitar solo. Country-gospel vocals and Scott's braying pedal steel cast the Kelly Brothers soul classic Falling In Love Again in a backwoods church feel - in a good way.

Band Of Joy is an excellent follow-up to Raising Sand. Where its predecessor found Plant operating in a finely-tuned genre, Band Of Joy gives him an opportunity to explore his influences, and to colour a few choice odds and ends from the rock 'n' roll canon with his indelible mark. The closer, Even This Shall Pass Away, drops the curtain with a raw combination of pounding, funky drums and squalling electric guitar. The whole thing is joyously muddy, but when the instruments drop out to let Plant wail the refrain alone, the effect can only be described as mystical.

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CD reviews: New releases from Weezer, Robert Plant, Trey Songz

Monday, September 13, 2010

By MARIO TARRADELL/The Dallas Morning News

Artist: Robert Plant

Album: Band of Joy

Grade: A -

Label: Esparanza/Rounder

The transition is seamless; the artistic vision is crystal. Robert Plant plunges further into Americana, but this time without Raising Sand partner Alison Krauss. Band of Joy , the auspicious follow-up to that multiple Grammy-winning opus, finds Plant co-producing with Nashville's Buddy Miller a batch of hearty tunes that nourish his current muse. Highlights are plentiful: "Angel Dance," "You Can't Buy My Love," "The Only Sound That Matters" and "Even This Shall Pass Away." At every turn, Plant sounds earthy, confident and committed.


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Album reviews: Brandon Flowers, "Flamingo" and Robert Plant, "Band of Joy"

Washington Post Blog / September 14, 2010

By Allison Stewart

Solo debuts can be perilous things, on which newly unbound frontpersons suffering from Lead Singer Syndrome leave no impulse toward grandiosity unindulged. But most Killers albums sound like that, anyway, and the band's leader, Brandon Flowers, wisely shrinks scale on his slightly-less-gaudy-than-usual solo debut, "Flamingo."

Former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant hasn't been a gaudy frontman since before Flowers was born, having spent the past 30 years embarked upon a fitful and interesting solo career whose high-water mark was the Grammy-winning 2007 Alison Krauss collaboration "Raising Sand," a lovely, sepia-toned exercise in Smithsonian rock.

In their latest solo releases, both out today, Flowers and Plant retrace familiar territory. Flowers uses his native Las Vegas as a microcosm for an America of housing foreclosures and all-you-can-eat buffets; Plant uses folk and roots covers and seasoned Nashville hands to communicate a familiar, amber-preserved vision of the American South.

Co-produced by "Joshua Tree" producer Daniel Lanois, "Flamingo" graduated from the U2 School of Sweeping Bombast, in which religious, romantic and cultural imagery fight for air. Much of the frequently fine, occasionally trying "Flamingo" is Killers lite, a slightly more acoustic-leaning disc pulling from the same grab bag of influences: newish new wave, "Born to Run"-era Springsteen. Jenny Lewis plays Stevie Nicks to Flowers's Lindsey Buckingham on the great '70s revival ballad "Hard Enough," the only track that feels vaguely adventurous, and the only one that couldn't have fit with ease onto "Sam's Town."Everything converges in the sweeping opener "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas," a song that so perfectly encompasses all of Flowers's preoccupations - steroidal '80s synths and keyboards, metaphors, Vegas, metaphors about Vegas ("Give us your dreamers, your harlots and your sins / Las Vegas / Didn't nobody tell you the house will always win?") - it seems impossible it didn't exist before now.Plant's original Band of Joy was a pre-Led Zeppelin blues-rock outfit that once included John Bonham; its new incarnation features a troupe of session musicians led by co-producer Buddy Miller (Krauss is absent, replaced for the occasion by Patty Griffin). "Joy" is otherwise "Raising Sand" redux, with a frequently superior selection of similar-minded roots covers.

"Raising Sand" was a lovely museum piece; "Band of Joy" feels alive. It's a rambler: rumpled and unfussy, and catholic in its tastes. The material is nominally darker, but vibrant and richer. Some of it recalls Plant's work with his former band the Honeydrippers; much of it, like the great "You Can't Buy My Love," a chugging cover of a little-known song by R&B singer Barbara Lynn, evokes '60s garage blues.

Most tracks are low-risk and high-reward: The late-period Townes Van Zandt track "Harm's Swift Way" is nicely rendered, but has anyone ever messed up a Townes Van Zandt cover? Like Flowers, Plant doesn't wander far off course, but when he does, the rewards are infinite. The best track on "Joy" is "Silver Rider," an ominous Olde Tyme creeper that explodes the boundaries between folk, back-porch country and '00s slowcore as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

Recommended tracks:

Flowers: "Hard Enough," "Crossfire"

Plant: "The Only Sound That Matters," "Silver Rider"


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Listen Up: Get Robert Plant's jumpin' 'Band of Joy'


By Carlo Allegri, APclear.gifThe title of Robert Plant's latest album,

Band of Joy, is an homage to one of his earliest bands.

By Edna Gundersen

USA TODAY / September 14, 2010

The veteran rocker returns to his roots on his latest Americana-fueled album.

Robert Plant, Band of Joy


For this new venture, Plant has borrowed the name of the band he fronted just before Led Zeppelin, but he's hardly returning to the banshee wails and Tolkien allusions of his '60s blues-rock reign. He is, however, happily plumbing earlier stops on the Americana trail and revisiting the territory of Raising Sand, his 2007 Grammy-showered duets set with Alison Krauss.

Band of Joy isn't as cohesive, robust or pretty as Sand, and despite the vital presence of Patty Griffin, it doesn't radiate the sensual chemistry that gave even Sand's mellowest tunes a latent kick. On this collection of covers, producer Buddy Miller keeps the palette muted, and Plant's penchant for mystery softens the twang and cloaks Joy in mist and shadows. It's not a typical approach to country and pastoral folk-blues, but it's typically unorthodox for Plant, and it leads to such engaging nuggets as the bleak, bluesy gospel of Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down, the rootsy revision of Low's Silver Rider and a Celtic-shaded version of Los Lobos' Angel Dance.

Download: Silver Rider, Monkey, House of Cards, Harm's Swift Way, Even This Shall Pass Away

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Album review: Robert Plant, 'Band of Joy'

3 stars (out of 4)

Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune, September 13, 2010

Right about now, Robert Plant could be touring the stadiums of the world in Golden God mode. Instead, he's chosen a more adventurous path. His solo career has embraced tangents instead of doing what many deemed obvious: a full-fledged reunion with all the surviving members of Led Zeppelin under the Led Zeppelin brand.

But the spirit of Led Zeppelin, specifically the acoustic side of the band's third album, continues to inform his music. Another distant reference for his latest studio album, "Band of Joy" (Rounder), is the group named in the album title. Band of Joy was Plant's pre-Zep group with John Bonham in the north of England, who took their inspiration from West Coast folk-rock and psychedelia.

Plant revisits those influences in the company of Nashville guitarist Buddy Miller and songwriter Patty Griffin. Like his acclaimed 2007 collaboration with Alison Krauss, "Raising Sand," the new album aims for an eerily atmospheric vibe as it investigates a broad range of music, taking on blues via Lightnin' Hopkins, bluegrass from Bascom Lamar Lunsford, '60s soul, and relatively recent tunes from Los Lobos, Low and Texas band Milton Mapes.

Whereas "Raising Sand" was revelatory, with some of the most nuanced and subtle singing of Plant's career as he melded his voice with that of Krauss, "Band of Joy" comes off as a less-focused sequel. Plant is once again low-key, his voice snaking through the songs, while Griffin shadows him like a ghost and Miller's guitar hovers with storm-cloud menace.

Not everything works. "Cindy, I'll Marry You Someday" and "Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down" are twang classics, but they come off as creaky antiques – Plant is almost too reverent about them. And Plant's attempt at setting Theodore Tilton's 1867 poem "The King's Ring" to unsettling music comes off as a haphazard indulgence on "Even This Shall Pass Away."

But at its best, the mix of drone and melody, electric shimmy and acoustic simplicity, can be intoxicating, particularly on haunting versions of Low's "Silver Rider" and "Monkey." If Plant does nothing more on this album than draw attention to that Duluth, Minn., trio's music, he deserves praise.


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CD review: Robert Plant 'Band of Joy'

By Joe Gross (Austin 360 Blog) | Monday, September 13, 2010

Robert Plant

'Band of Joy'


Grade: A-

This isn't "Raising Sand" 2.0 let's make that clear right now. "Raising Sand" was as much Alison Krauss' album as it was Robert Plant's and it was as much producer T-Bone Burnett's as it was either of theirs.

This time around, guitarist Buddy Miller is at the helm, and the whole thing feels a little looser, a little dirtier, a little heavier and, frankly, a little more fun.

With an album named after Plant's somewhat vague pre-Zeppelin band, Plant, Miller, instrumentalist Darrell Scott, bassist Byron House and drummer Marco Giovino join Patty Griffin, in a supporting but critical vocal role (you miss her when she's not there), tackle tunes by Los Lobos ("Angel Dance," sounding like a pagan rite), Richard and Linda Thompson ("House of Cards," Patty belting to hit those Linda parts) and the austere indie rock band Low ("Monkey"). It also includes "Harm's Swift Way," Plant's second brilliant Townes Van Zandt cover ("Nothing" was turned into stunning proto-Zeppelin on "Raising Sand"). One thinks an entire album of Van Zandt would be a blast. Either way, the dude is two for two, which you haven't been able to say about Robert Plant albums since his drummer was John Bonham.


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CD Review

With collaborators' help, Plant continues to dig roots

by Sarah Rodman

Boston Globe / September 13, 2010

Sometimes what looks good on paper sounds even better on record.

To follow up "Raising Sand,'' his stunning, Grammy-winning 2007 collaboration with Alison Krauss, Robert Plant rounded up a supporting cast of Nashville heavyweights to continue his Americana explorations.Out tomorrow, "Band of Joy,'' which takes its name from Plant's pre-Led Zeppelin outfit, lives in the same noir-ish backroad ZIP code as "Sand'' but takes detours into a few different neighborhoods to exquisite effect.

Co-produced by Plant and critically revered singer-songwriter-guitarist Buddy Miller, "Joy'' is a mostly covers grab bag stitched together by Plant's sweetly urgent croon and finely crafted layers of sepia-toned instrumentation and vocals.

Among those setting the album's melancholy to exuberant moods are Miller, drummer Marco Giovino, multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott, and bassist Byron House. Equally adept at intricately picked folk ruminations, juke joint country blues, and gutbucket rock, the group offers Plant a sturdy foundation.

Singer-songwriter Patty Griffin provides vocal contrast on several tunes, touching down alternately as lightly as a feather (on a cover of Low's hushed "Silver Rider'') and as steely as a hammer (on a piercing take of Richard Thompson's angry, wounded "House of Cards'').

No stranger to imaginative flights, Plant transports the listener from song to song.

One moment you're on a street corner remembering the unbearable ache of a youthful crush on the sweet mash-up of doo-wop and classic rock that is "I'm Falling in Love Again,'' a Kelley Brothers tune from the '60s. The next you're shivering at the depot as the "Central Two-O-Nine'' chugs out of town on the strength of the Brit's high lonesome murmur, a muted banjo lick, and a ghostly male choir. So classic sounding, it's a surprise to discover this is a new Miller-Plant original.

Elsewhere, a lover who didn't pass muster gets a bouncy kiss-off in the form of Barbara Lynn's "You Can't Buy My Love,'' with Plant perhaps offering a wink at both traditional lyrical tropes and his own rock star bounty when he proclaims the purchase of his love with baubles and cash impossible. Miller lays down a particularly satisfying solo, offering up a kind of jaunty, rubbery glee that amps up the taunts.

An undercurrent of dread runs through the album's finest and darkest tracks "Monkey'' and "Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down.'' The former, the album's second Low cover, finds Plant and Griffin warning of impending doom as the menace builds thanks to an arrangement of spiked guitar riffs that unravel into a wobbly, psychedelic meltdown. The latter is a spooky, after hours in the church take on the spiritual that benefits from wavering guitars and a haunting chorus.

Some Led Zeppelin fans are unhappy that Plant chose to indulge his fascination with roots music over a Zep reunion and that there isn't much of the famous Plant howl to be found here. But, as it was on "Raising Sand,'' it's clear in every nook and cranny of "Joy'' that Plant has found his by going his own way.


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Robert Plant: 'Band of Joy'

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

by Ed Masley - Sept. 13, 2010

The Arizona Republic

For all the talk of roots-rock that's surrounded Robert Plant's first album since the Grammy-winning "Raising Sand," it's kind of funny that those roots turned out to be much more in keeping with the spirit of "Led Zeppelin III" than Jason & the Scorchers. Sure, he brought in No Depression-approved Buddy Miller as his co-producer and set off for Nashville to work with musicians whose credentials clearly place them more in Miller's world than Jimmy Page's. And he did include a Townes Van Zandt song, "Harm's Swift Way." But the bulk of the album is mystical folk and bluegrass as Led Zeppelin would have done it - haunting, Eastern-flavored, vaguely psychedelic.

The album seeps in through the haze of a hypnotic "Angel Dance," by Los Lobos, where even the mandolin runs have a Middle Eastern flair, the tremolo guitars suggest a hurdy-gurdy and Plant throws in some sighs that couldn't sound more Zeppelinesque as the music drones on with a sensual swagger. Patty Griffin's harmonies on Richard Thompson's "House of Cards" are clearly steeped in bluegrass, but the overall effect is worlds closer to the psychedelic side of British folk while Miller's guitar lead appears to be channeling Roger McGuinn in "Eight Miles High" mode.

The album's unifying thread, in fact, is that trancelike quality that runs from "Angel Dance" through "House of Cards" to "Central-Two-O-Nine" (an acid-flavored bluegrass track written by Miller and Plant) and the aching "Silver Rider" (one of two highlights written by slowcore standard-bearers Low).

The echoes of his own back pages go beyond that mesmerizing haze that seems to blanket nearly everything he touches here. It sounds like he's ready to break into "Gallows Pole" at the unexpected climax of the understated, banjo-driven traditional, "Cindy, I'll Marry You Someday." And surprisingly enough, he dips into the Honeydrippers' bag of tricks for the bittersweet doo wop of "Falling in Love Again." But even that fits in.

The only track, in fact, that threatens to dispel the mood is "You Can't Buy Me Love," a Beatlesque rocker from the "She's a Woman" school, originally done in the '60s by R&B star Barbara Lynn. It's such a spirited, reckless performance, though, it would have been a shame to lose it for a marginally more cohesive package.


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Critic's pick: Robert Plant, 'Band of Joy'

By Walter Tunis Contributing Music Writer

Lexington Herald Leader / September 13, 2010

The first two songs on Robert Plant's quietly exhilarating new album, Band of Joy, represent an intriguing continental shift.With brittle, bowing bass strings as a catalyst, he transforms Los Lobos' Angel Dance into a dark bit of British folk-dance mischief. The interpretation sounds centuries old, if not otherworldly entirely. But when he shifts to House of Cards, a forgotten 1978 tune by Richard Thompson, the patriarch of British folk-rock troubadours, the feel becomes altogether American. Sounding every bit as ancient as Angel Dance, the song seems fit for a congregational church service. But the rural glow is unmistakable.

Thus we have the newest stylistic turn in the continually evolving career of the singer who once shook the world as frontman for Led Zeppelin. He's also the artist who undoubtedly shunned what had to have been a ridiculous fortune to tour again with his Zep mates a few years ago in favor of exploring Americana folk, rock and soul with bluegrass-pop princess Alison Krauss. The move stymied, even infuriated, the Zeppelin faithful, but it went on to win Plant and Krauss six Grammy Awards for their 2007 album, Raising Sand.

Band of Joy is both an extension and a detour from that triumph. A follow-up to Raising Sand was reportedly under way but wound up being scrapped by both artists. That sent Plant to Americana kingpin Buddy Miller, co-guitarist for the Raising Sand tour. With Miller as co-producer, Plant resurrected the name of his pre-Zeppelin group, Band of Joy, and designed an album that retains Raising Sand's spooky, rootsy charm but shifts the folk compass halfway between Appalachia and England.

What results is a sound that seems initially more singular than the music on Raising Sand. With Krauss gone, Plant enlists esteemed songsmith Patty Griffin. But Griffin remains largely in the background on Band of Joy as one of the voices that balance out Plant's incantatory version of Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down. Griffin slips into the passenger seat, though, for the breathy moans that play off of Miller's creepy electric guitar ambience during luscious reworkings of two Low tunes, Silver Dagger and Monkey.

And then there are the surprises, like the dry banjo lead of Darrell Scott that transforms the pre-bluegrass staple Cindy, I'll Marry You Someday into a beguiling dirge. Similarly, Barbara Lynn's You Can't Buy Me Love emerges as a blast of jagged, funky, fuzzy, big beat rock 'n' roll.

Some might mourn Krauss's absence on Band of Joy the same way the rock legions still pine for the return of Led Zeppelin. But on this fine new recording, Plant remains ever the rock journeyman, following the lure of songs that seldom remain the same.


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Robert Plant

Band of Joy

By Will Hermes / Rolling Stone.com

September 14, 2010

Robert Plant's 2007 album with pop-bluegrass songbird Alison Krauss, Raising Sand, did something 25 years of solo records never quite managed: It fully transformed him from former Led Zeppelin golden god into a roots singer. Plant had never sung so tenderly or collaboratively, commanding a crack modern string band that defined power in terms other than Physical Graffiti.

Band of Joy — named after Plant's first band with late pal John Bonham — smartly takes some cues from Raising Sand. Plant uses an A list of country voices and players (Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller) and an inspired mix of vintage and modern songs. If it's not quite as seamless and sublime a record, well, it's pretty damn good, and what it lacks in coherence it makes up for in magnified rock & roll mojo.

Miller helps with the latter. The journeyman guitarist-songwriter (and former Emmylou Harris collaborator) co-produced the record with Plant, and he contributes muscular playing and singing. His guitar is low and nasty on the lead cut, a coiled, mandolin-dusted cover of Los Lobos' "Angel Dance." And he opens up on "House of Cards," a cover of Richard Thompson's scalding 1978 folk rocker, bright leads carving the air while Plant and Griffin's harmonies recall Zep's "The Battle of Evermore."

But what's most striking is Plant's vocal versatility. As a solo act, his songwriting has been spotty, if impressively versatile. But he's proved himself to be an excellent interpreter, from his 1984 Honeydrippers EP of old-school R&B and pop through Raising Sand. He does the same here, and the songs give him plenty to work with. He returns to the late, great Townes Van Zandt (whose "Nothin' " was a highlight on Sand) for the bleak "Harm's Swift Way," working a metaphor that turns the idea of time into a woman beyond a man's control. Plant doesn't oversing a whit, delivering poetic meditations on mortality with Griffin's harmonies clinging to him like a spangled death shroud.

The two most striking songs are the most left-field, both penned by the brooding husband-wife indie-rock band Low. "Silver Rider" is a glittering dirge, another showcase for Griffin, who's such a good songwriter that's it's easy to forget what a great singer she is. Plant sings "Monkey" almost as a whisper. "It's a suicide/Shut up and drive," he snarls, in what sounds like the opening scene of a David Lynch film. It's as menacingly restrained as anything he's ever uttered.

This is a record primarily about loss and time's march, and Plant sings with gravity, working his middle range. It doesn't all click. "Even This Shall Pass Away" tries too hard for profundity. And the old spiritual "Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down" mostly makes you want to hear Plant back cruising Lucifer's daughter on "Houses of the Holy."

But Plant isn't singing like the old days. The closest he comes is "You Can't Buy My Love," first recorded in 1965 by R&B singer Barbara Lynn. Plant knocks it out playfully, like a lost demo from Led Zeppelin I, with a few hollers and sexy woo-oh-ohs. And in 3:10, it's over. You can't buy his love, and you can't turn back time. It's a notion other rock vets could do well to ponder.


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Unpredictable Plant: Former Led Zeppelin lead continues to defy expectations

By Jim Beviglia CultureMap.com (Houston)

September 13, 2010Coming off Raising Sand, his Best Album Grammy-grabbing collaboration with Alison Krauss that recast Robert Plant as an expert excavator of musical Americana, it would be natural to expect him to follow a similar path on his follow-up project, Band of Joy.

More evidence to this theorem would seem to come from the fact that he has surrounded himself with several of the most critically respected figures on the traditional country/bluegrass scene to record the album.

But the eclectic path that Plant has rumbled down in the three decades or so since the end of Led Zeppelin has never been very predictable. From his probing, profound solo albums to relaxed one-offs like The Honeydrippers to his radical recasting of Zep tunes during his '90s reunion with Jimmy Page, he has always seemed less interested in fulfilling expectations than in chasing down new sounds or bringing his own touch to old ones.

It shouldn't come as a complete shock then when Plant takes all of these Nashville pros and sets them loose on material from all over creation. The first clue that the singer has cast his net far wider than country oldies comes from the fact that the group covers not one, but two songs by the fringe indie group Low, known for their atmospheric, slow-motion pace.

Don't fret that these two songs might be out of their comfort zone, because Plant and company nail them. Patty Griffin, his female foil this time around, provides ethereal backing on the haunting "Silver Rider," and then she and Plant wring every last ounce of dangerous desire from "Monkey." On both songs, Buddy Miller, who co-produced with Plant, churns out elegiac guitar solos that take the music into the stratosphere.

Band of Joy also utilizes multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott to great effect. Like Miller and Griffin, a respected singer-songwriter in his own right, Scott's weeping pedal steel and doo-wop backing vocals expertly complement Plant's balladeer turn on "I'm Falling In Love Again," while his banjo and mandolin are also heavily featured throughout.

It's to this album's credit that, while the material is varied, the overall flow is smooth. Songs by well-known modern artists like Richard and Linda Thompson and Los Lobos sit comfortably next to those of relatively obscure artists like the country band Milton Mapes. Plant's expert taste keeps it all together.

The band also recasts traditionals in eye-opening ways, like the eerie spin on "Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down" that makes it sound like the good guys are losing, or the rollicking version of "Even This Shall Pass Away," which finds Plant boogeying with drummer Marco Giovino as if the endless march of time were the funkiest thing imaginable.

On Raising Sand, Plant and Krauss were like one entity, and while it was a lovely sound, their distinct personalities were sometimes hard to distinguish. But here Plant's voice is far more front and center, and his performances are uniformly excellent. There is a slight fragility to that once fearsome voice these days, but it suits this material well.

His take on Townes Van Zandt's wistful "Harm's Swift Way," set to an arrangement so tight it's almost power pop, is a master class in interpretive singing.

Will Plant find himself back on the Grammy podium again with this? My guess is no, as that timid bunch of voters might have a hard time wrapping their head around these less readily accessible tunes. But this album might actually be more consistent than Raising Sand, which sometimes got stuck on retro autopilot.

Band of Joy might be a bit of a jolt to fans of its predecessor, but the fact that Robert Plant keeps striving to improve upon greatness should surprise no one.


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Source: www.expressnightout.com

A Joyful Noise: Robert Plant, 'Band of Joy'

20100914-robertplant-250.jpgIn the mid 1960s, before he met Jimmy Page and formed the New Yardbirds, which eventually rechristened itself Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant spent a brief tenure in a group called the Band of Joy. It went through various line-up changes from 1965 through 1967, but the most notable was the one that paired Plant with future Zep drummer John Bonham.

It's a footnote in Page's career, yet more than 40 years later, Plant has revived the Band of Joy moniker for a 2010 tour as well as for his latest solo album. He hasn't, however, revived the band's sound. Rather than turning out blues-rock and soul from the 1960s, Plant continues to dabble in the retooled Americana that worked so well for him on his last album, 2007's "Raising Sand." That Grammy-winning effort paired him with violinist Alison Krauss of the bluegrass-pop outfit Union Station, whose soft, ageless voice complemented his weathered tenor beautifully.

Krauss is sadly absent on "Band of Joy," but Plant has corralled an impressive roster of guest musicians and collaborators, including Buddy Miller, ace guitarist Darrell Scott and Patty Griffin. The album picks up around where "Rising Sand" left off, but sounds more expansive in its view of Americana.

20100914-robertplant-cd-250.jpgPlant seizes on Southern folk, Appalachian balladry, rockabilly, country, Anglo-Saxon folk, even contemporary indie rock. He covers Los Lobos, Richard Thompson, Townes Van Zandt, R&B singer Barbara Lynn and Low. This diversity is the album's whole point, and "Band of Joy" manages to sound cohesive in its disarray: The apocalyptic drone of Low's "Silver Rider" complements the old-time country song "Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down," here rendered as a spidery acoustic haunt.

Plant turns Lynn's "You Can't Buy My Love" into a rambunctiously electrified romp, then pairs it with the Kelly Brothers' bluesy lament "Falling in Love Again." The back-to-back sequencing sets the musical and thematic differences in sharp relief, like they were always meant to be together.

Unlike Led Zeppelin, who melded American blues and Celtic thunder, Plant's take on these distinctly American styles isn't transformative, but largely reverent; he's not trying to reinvent them, but to find the common ground between them in a genially rambling groove. On "Cindy I'll Marry You Someday" and "Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down," the tone grows showily, cinematically stark, as if he's scoring a movie. Plant has a tendency to whitewash styles, to buff away their rhythmic idiosyncrasies until they all serve the same atmospheric ends, but that only serves to locate "Band of Joy" squarely in the 21st century post-"Raising Sand," post-"O Brother Where Art Thou?"

What enlivens the album even when the music threatens to congeal is Plant's inimitable voice, which has aged gracefully and lost little of its dexterity. Unlike most singers associated with British metal in the 1970s, Plant has nuance and subtlety to match his power and range. So he can sing a country lament like Van Zandt's "Harm's Swift Way" as persuasively as he can deliver an airy 19th-century poem like closer "Even This Shall Pass Away."

Even when "Band of Joy" missteps, Plant still sounds wholly invested in the material, as if this project has been motivated by a deep love of old music. Despite the title, the album is not a return, but a continuation of a new and unlikely chapter in a legendary career.

Written by Express contributor Stephen M. Deusner

Photo by Gregg Delman

Posted By Express at 12:00 AM on September 14, 2010

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Album review: Robert Plant, The Band of Joy

By Fiona Shepherd

The Scotsman / September 14, 2010


DECCA, £13.99

THE man who stands in the way of a full Led Zeppelin reunion as is his prerogative follows up the Grammy-winning success of Raising Sand, his atmospheric collaboration with country singer Alison Krauss, with another laidback rootsy set.

Band of Joy, titled in reference to Plant's pre-Zep outfit, comprises mainly covers of traditional American folk/blues tunes and tracks by Los Lobos, Low, Richard Thompson and Townes Van Zandt, all realised with the help of Nashville stalwarts Buddy Miller, Darrell Scott and Patty Griffin.

However, this is an altogether more perfunctory slice of pleasant background listening than Plant's previous effort, featuring material such as the inconsequential beat pop of You Can't Buy My Love and burnished blues rumble of Monkey, which is a bit too low-key for its own good.


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