The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

ROBERT PLANT
Band of Joy

 

 

Hands up who else got confused about Percy Plant’s latest adventure into the musical hinterland?

 

When I heard he was touring and releasing an album as Band Of Joy, I assumed he was regrouping his pre-Zeppelin hippy collective of that same name and exploring his formative musical years.

 

One can only assume Plant owns the name, despite both him and Bonham declining the offer to join the Band of Joy reunion that occurred between 1977 and 1983, or contribute to the two albums the band made at that time. A couple of late sixties Band of Joy recordings made it onto Plant’s own 2003 retrospective “Sixty Six To Timbuktu” (‘Hey Joe’ and ‘For What It’s Worth’).

 

Okay, whether you’re confused or not, you’re here to read about THIS Band Of Joy, so what exactly do we have here?

 

In a nutshell, this is a kind of sequel to the staggeringly popular “Raising Sand” album, in which he dabbled in Americana to great effect side by side bluegrass/country artist Alison Krauss. Despite rumours Plant was working with Krauss and producer T-Bone Burnett for a follow-up, she is absent this time round (“it didn’t work out”, he says), and the beautiful voice of Patty Griffin provides the counter foil to our leonine hero’s, but this is Plant’s album far more so than “Raising Sand’ ever was.

 

Griffin’s voice works in unison with Plant’s – though usually behind it. It’s obvious that the former Led Zeppelin belter is loving reinventing and rearranging his early influences, and the sheer quality of the songs on offer makes this a very worthwhile addition to his body of work.

 

It is not, however, in the same league as “Raising Sand”. There’s no real reason for this – same vintage and quality of songs. Same enthusiasm and same quality of musicianship. I guess it’s just one of those things – “Band Of Joy” is the sum of it’s parts and a very enjoyable listen. “Raising Sand” is more than that, it is lifted on the wings of creativity by some ethereal spark, a spark which for whatever reason, stays just out of reach on this album.

 

It’s not even a criticism really – when your standards have been so consistently high for 40 something years, people expect an instant classic from you, and this is an album which a million musicians would sacrifice their first-born to have called their own.

 

Best on show are ‘House of Cards’, the sublime ‘Silver Rider’, the 60s homage ‘You Can’t Buy My Love’ and closer ‘Even This Shall Pass Away’, Plant possibly ruminating on his ever-morphing career and suggesting that this too, is a musical phase which he shall allow to run it’s course.

 

Splendid, atmospheric stuff, as you’d expect from the maestro.

 

Shane Rockpit