Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Five years since Mighty ReArranger; more Robert Plant originals on the way in 2010?

Monday marked the fifth anniversary of the release of Robert Plant's album Mighty ReArranger, a full-length collection of new songs he wrote with his band at the time, the Strange Sensation. So far, this was the last new material of his.

For those familiar with this album:
There was a lot to love about that album, and all of it was new. New -- as opposed to his 2002 album, Dreamland, or 2007's Raising Sand with Alison Krauss. The former had only two Plant originals on it, and the latter contained no originals from either Plant or Krauss, although it did contain their take on one previously unreleased song written by musician Sam Phillips.

Plant's songwriting on Mighty ReArranger came out of his being surrounded by a group with ample imagination and abilities to explore music and combine Eastern beats with underground trance. In turn, Plant put pen to paper and conjured up seemingly personal lyrics that often reflect on not only this life but the life after this:

  • "I think there may be/
    A war in heaven/
    Paradise beneath the smoking gun/
    As every saint/
    And small-town savior/
    Race to justify their chosen one."

  • "Freedom fries and burns and scars/
    The liberator goes too far/
    Freedom fries and screams and yells/
    The promised land is promised hell."

  • "Sing a song of freedom/
    Write it in the sky/
    Pocket full of secrets/
    A belly full of lies/
    Fiction to believe in/
    Created, then denied/
    Tricks and mirror/
    Sleight of hand/
    Hoola hoola/
    Promised land."

  • "There'll be dancing in heaven/
    On the night before the longest day/
    A celebration in rhythm/
    At this time it was always this way."

  • "Conversations with angels/
    I seek the dimensional key/
    I've been wheeling and dealing/
    Whatever will bring you to me."

  • "Last night as I was laying down and thinking/
    I was wondering about the road that lies ahead/
    In my mind I heard the wisdom of the master/
    Hey, Robert, those dreams are only in your head."
So, what is there looking forward in 2010, a year with a new Robert Plant album forthcoming? Few words have trickled out of the Rounder Records label as to what to expect. A set of July tour dates is already on sale with only his band's name known: the Band of Joy.

The first time Plant used this band name, in the years immediately preceding the formation of Led Zeppelin, the Band of Joy was a band whose live act was heavy on cover songs. This could cause one to assume the same would be true of the Band of Joy in 2010, but anyone who's followed Plant's long musical path knows assumptions about his work usually go out the window.

Plant does give us one hint in his official statement that was issued back on March 26. He says things have been going well with the new band:
"It's been a blast working on these new songs…and I'm enjoying such creativity and vitality. It's been a remarkable change of direction for all of us and as a group we all seem to have developed a new groove."
Did you catch the two-word hint there? "New songs"? Robert Plant said it himself. Of course, you could play linguistic gymnastics all day long and suggest that all he meant by "new songs" was a list of 15 songs that all dated back to 1950 that he'd never considered performing before. Those, too, would be new songs as far as he was concerned.

If you're still not sure the new disc will contain new material straight from Robert Plant's pen, you should read what Rolling Stone magazine recently had to say:
... The shows will include tracks from the new record, selections from Raising Sand, obscure blues and country covers, Plant solo material and Led Zeppelin cuts redone in an Americana style. "It's going to be a pretty eclectic mix, and it rocks pretty good," says [producer Buddy] Miller.
So, it looks like the "tracks from the new record" are in addition to these "obscure blues and country covers," which suggests there's original material on the album. A Rounder representative did not respond to LedZeppelinNews.com for comment.

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