Friday, January 9, 2009

Robert Plant gears up for second wave of activity with Alison Krauss

A song by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss is to be the sixth of 20 tracks on the new CD compilation of this year's Grammy nominees to be released Jan. 27. It is the first time in the 15-year series of Grammy Nominees discs that any member of Led Zeppelin is featured.

Plant and Krauss, who are up for five Grammy awards next month, have contributed their Record of the Year-nominated track, "Please Read the Letter," to the CD. Its release on the Rhino label is to benefit the Recording Academy's two charities, the MusiCares Foundation and the Grammy Foundation.

"Please Read the Letter" was written by Plant with Jimmy Page and their two bandmates in the late 1990s, and they released it on the Page-Plant album Walking into Clarksdale in 1998. Plant's second attempt at it, released nine years later on the 2007 album Raising Sand with Krauss, lowers the tempo and replaces the sound of Page's electric guitar with the bluegrass star's fiddle.

Plant and Krauss are reportedly slated to perform during the televised Grammy awards ceremony to be held Feb. 8 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. As the winners are announced, they will learn whether or not Raising Sand has earned the status of Album of the Year -- and whether or not they have repeated last year's victory in the Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals category.

By then, the two will supposedly have begun on their second album together. They are said to be gearing up for recording sessions taking place next week at a Nashville studio. (Update: This was confirmed in a Jan. 13 report at that is no longer available but whose contents are archived at the Plant fan site Manic Nirvana.)

It was in that city that their collaboration was born, under the tutelage and guidance of T Bone Burnett. Their producer is also said to be resuming that role in this month's sessions. Plant, when he gave the first official confirmation of an intended return to the studio with Krauss this month, said Burnett would be involved.

An early revelation of dates booked for the Plant-Krauss recording -- and of plans for possible summer tour dates -- came last month on the Internet discussion group Royal Orleans, when a user named "Zepp-4-Life" posted the following:
Just got home from dinner with the owner of Rounder records. For those that don't know , that's the Plant / Krauss label. So, the scoop is they are beginning recording sessions on January 12/13. The first sessions feature most of the same musicians from Raising Sand. T-Bone once again is the driving force and has apparently chosen most of the tracks. The songs being considered were sent to Rob and Allison only weeks ago. Rob and Allison will choose a song or two each for the production. Nashville is the meeting ground for the first studio sessions. Not sure which studio , but it was cool to hear how it all goes down. Rounder records basically pays for all costs on whatever they produce. My " friend " just sent the cheque last week for all expenses. Following the new CD , a small tour is planned. A 15 to 20 city tour is all they are expected to do. Summer dates are being negotiated. In addition , it is confirmed that Rob and Allison will perform at this year's Grammy's. That's all I can say for now. It's valid and real.
"Zepp-4-Life" added in a follow-up post post that the source of his information is Ken Irwin, cofounder of Rounder Records.

Tour dates in 2009 would negate a statement issued on Plant's official Web site in September that "Robert has no intention whatsoever of touring with anyone for at least the next two years."

All I'm going to say about that is, hmmmmm.

Also in Plant news:
  • Buddy Miller, who played guitar and pedal steel on the Plant-Krauss tour last year, has a new album with his wife, Julie Miller, due March 3. Titled Written in Chalk, it is to include Plant guest-singing on the track "What You Gonna Do, Leroy," written by Mel Tillis and originally performed by Lefty Frizzell.
  • Plant will likewise feature on the album Elsewhere by Scott Matthews, also to be released in March (Update -- It is now pushed back to May 18). Matthews, a self-proclaimed Led Zeppelin III enthusiast, wrote the song "12 Harps," which will include Plant on vocals. Matthews told the Galway Advertiser in Ireland last month, "I got to know [Plant] before recording the second album and I had a song in mind for him called '12 Harps.' It has leanings towards acoustic Led Zeppelin with mandolins."


  1. I smell a smokescreen. Too much information coming from both camps all the sudden.
    Who is Robert really recording with in Nashville? Krauss and Rounder's publicity department are completely silent on the matter. And members of Union Station seem to think Alison will be touring with THEM in the fall, to promote THEIR new album. The Tennessean has been unable to confirm with Alison Krauss anything other than a Union Station album for this year.
    Yet somebody has a random dinner and posts all this information on all the LZ boards?
    Stay tuned, that is all I'm saying.

  2. Anonymous writes: "Rounder's publicity department [is] completely silent on the matter."

    Since when do record companies detail the recording dates and locations of artists while they're taking place?

    As for your conspiracy theory, I mean, I think it is a stretch. Do you honestly think there's a Led Zeppelin reunion taking place behind our backs? And they're just gonna surprise us when we're least expecting it?

    I'm about to go all Peter Mensch and wish everybody would just stop talking about it already.

  3. I think Nashville is a great place for Robert to retire. Have you heard some of the junk that comes out of there? Expectations are a lot lower and attention and adulation more plentiful. Perfect for Plant.

  4. Hahaha!

    And to think I almost moved there last year.

  5. Plant is an object of curiosity in Nashville, nothing more and nothing less. Everyone knows he is a short-timer.

  6. Well, Robert doesn't get too comfortable with any one career move anymore. I think he's already done more Nashville stuff than he ever did Honeydrippers stuff, for instance.

    I was genuinely surprised when he said in November he was going to go back to Nashville this year for round two. That's because I thought it would already have gotten old to him.

    But hey, if that's what inspires him these days, then he's welcome to do it.

    As to the earlier comment about Alison Krauss putting out a new album with Union Station and touring it this fall, I bet that's still in the cards. That's even if Plant and Krauss decide to do those 15-20 dates in the summer. It wouldn't interfere with her fall plans.

    And I don't think there's any way Plant and Krauss could record, mix, master and release an album between now and the summer with the proper exposure. Not the way Rounder tends to harness and nurture anything it markets!

    Albums these days don't just spring up the way Led Zeppelin II did. Heck, look at how long it took Raising Sand to come out after it was recorded!

  7. Excellent. Looking forward to the second Plant/Krauss album and Scot Matthews. Saw him in Birmingham, UK last May and he was excellent.

    Who needs Led Zeppelin when we have this?

  8. Ha. I don't know if I'd go that far.

    But I did love those days when we had Page, Plant and Jones all out on tour in the same year.

    Like 1999 to 2001, they were all making albums and getting out there and playing it. And I happened to be a fan of all of it!

    Today, we have less music from them and it's less fun overall. It doesn't add up to what Led Zeppelin material would sound like. Not to my ears.

  9. I just got back from lunch at McDonalds where it was exclusively leaked to me, from a reliable source, that Mr. Page, Jones, Bonham & . . . . THE GREAT ROBERT PLANT with be playing for Barack Obama at his Inauguration night party.

    I was also informed that Barack himself will personally introduce the band by stating: “Ladies and gentlemen – The Mighty Zeppelin”.

    In addition, it was also stated that HBO will be broadcasting the ceremony live, un-cut and commercial free for all to see.

    Other artists who are scheduled to appear include The Rolling Stones and Maroon 5.

    Check local listings for correct time and channel.



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