Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Robert Plant holds 'Band of Joy' album preview in London

Billboard's Richard Smirke gave his thoughts on the new album from Robert Plant titled "Band of Joy" after attending an exclusive preview of the disc in London today.

While Plant attended the preview and spoke briefly about the album, very few details were distributed to attendees about the personnel. Song titles were revealed, as contained in Smirke's report.

As of today, Amazon is also listing dates for the album release on its U.S. and U.K. sites. The U.K./international release of the album is listed for Monday, Sept. 13, on the Universal label, with the U.S. release to follow a day later, on Tuesday, Sept. 14, on the Rounder label. Pre-orders are being taken on both sites.

Smirke describes the album as "similar in tone and instrumentation to Raising Sand" and makes for "a triumphant follow-up" to that album with Alison Krauss. While he says Band of Joy capably "replicates the raw organic sound of its predecessor," here's the very intriguing part: It often rocks more.

Seven song titles conveyed by Smirke's review for Billboard are as follows:
  • "Angel Dance" is the opening track, described as "a driving blues" and one of the "standout tracks"
  • "Silver Rider" is described as another of the "standout tracks" and "an epic duet" with a female vocalist (probably Patty Griffin, Smirke surmises), and the song "alternates between quiet relaxed verses and an infectiously catchy rock chorus"
  • "I'm Falling in Love Again" is "a beautifully soulful country ballad," Smirke reports
  • "You Can't Buy My Love" is said to convey "a foot-tapping cross between Johnny Cash and Hamburg-era Beatles"
  • "Monkey," he says, "momentarily harks back to Plant's days in Led Zeppelin" featuring a "potent mix of feedback, grinding rock riffs and deep bass" (my observation: note the monkey on the album cover)
  • "Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down" is another "blues number" that, he says, "pushes Plant's still-powerful vocals to the fore"
  • "Even This Shall Pass Away" (my observation: perhaps a mournful title mirroring the Raising Sand closer "Your Long Journey") is one Smirke says "finds Plant singing, 'What is wealth, the King would say/Even this shall pass away,' before culminating in an extended instrumental outro"
Update: Digging up some information on the album tracks:
  • There's a band called Low with a 2005 album called The Great Destroyer. This album shares two song titles with Plant's Band of Joy: On The Great Destroyer, the first track is called "Monkey," and the fourth track is called "Silver Rider."
  • "You Can't Buy My Love": If you happen to have a 1995 CD called Immediate R&B: Charly R&B Masters, Vol. 8, then there's a chance you bought it because of some Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton tracks on it. (Charly Records owns the masters to a lot of old tracks from the '60s like a few Clapton and Page played on together, and the label is also known for liberally licensing those records for new albums rehashing the same material over and over again, at the drop of a hat.) One of the 20 tracks on this particular Vol. 8 is a song called "You Can't Buy My Love" by singer/guitarist Barbara Lynn. The song is credited to B. Babineaux. Whether there is any relation between this number and the song of the same name on Plant's Band of Joy album remains to be seen, but it may be one in the same. This blogger describes Lynn's "You Can't Buy My Love" as "a delightful, a beatles kind of song with some sort of jazz added to it ... really upbeat ..." Smirke also makes the Beatles comparison when he says Plant's version has "a foot-tapping cross between Johnny Cash and Hamburg-era Beatles." Or maybe everybody's just confused by the song title resembling a Beatles song title.
  • "Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down" appears as a traditional or in the public domain on a number of albums in the past several years. The oldest version I've discovered so far is by Blind Joe Taggart, recorded all the way back in the early 1930s. Uncle Tupelo, Jeff Tweedy's other band besides Wilco, may have popularized the song in 1992 by including it on the album March 16-20, 1992. Other versions have since appeared, including by Paul Hostetter in 1994, Dick Kimmel in 2000, Jason Boone in 2008, Medeski Martin & Wood in 2009, and Willie Nelson earlier this year on his Rounder Records album Country Music.
  • Chuck Berry's 1979 album Rock It contains "Pass Away," which is credited to himself although it is a spoken-work adaptation of Theodore Tilton's 1886 1866 poem "The King's Ring." Based on the lyrics cited in Smirke's Billboard review as part of Plant's Band of Joy album closer "Even This Shall Pass Away," Plant probably did the same thing as Chuck Berry, giving the poem a new title. It does not appear to have been recorded under this title previously. If Plant is indeed singing as Smirke says, rather than speaking, it may be an original melody.


  1. Arrgh, Bob. Still waiting for another "Fate of Nations", and another tour starring YOU!

  2. A more than worthy successor to 'Raising Sand'.

    Read my full review of 'Band of Joy' here: http://realgonerocks.blogspot.com/2010/09/robert-plant-band-of-joy.html


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