Monday, November 12, 2007

Robert Plant soars over the Mothership

Tomorrow the Mothership lands, officially signaling the beginning of the 2007 Led Zeppelin market saturation, just in time for the holidays. How many greatest hits collections do we need anyway? Who among us does not have all of the Zeppelin albums? What frustrates me is the attempt to sucker us in again to re-buy all the old material so we can get the bonus DVD filled with rarities. Hopefully the box set finds its way to a new audience, but for us old guys, enough is enough.

Then there's the reissue of The Song Remains The Same DVD and CD, a remastered version of the most preposterous concert film of all time. Back in the day, I used to doze through this at the late night showing at my local theatre, waiting for The Kids Are Alright. I always used to wake up during the Page sequence when he ages in 30 seconds at the climax of Dazed and Confused and his face looks like a shrunken apple. It's Spinal Tap, only it wasn't a parody. Oddly though, I'm compelled to pick up the soundtrack with six extra tracks, because some of it really rocks, and I'm a sucker for nostalgia (and I lost my vinyl copy).

Of course, the focus this month is really on the upcoming reunion concert, and the concert CD that will surely follow. You can't help but be intrigued by Page-Plant-Jones on stage again, and I sincerely hope they do more that simply go through the motions.

What really prompted me to write today is the new album by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand, which I've been listening to heavily in the last few weeks. In a word, the record is exquisite. I usually shy away from records like this, and certainly the duet with Tori Amos on the Encomium disc was enough to give me second thoughts (they did Down By the Seaside and it was horrible). Plant has always has an interest in acoustic folk music, most fully realized on Led Zeppelin III. On this record, Plant uses his voice like a stringed instrument, providing beautiful accompaniment to Krauss' angelic voice. When he takes the lead, it's in understated manner, perfectly suited to the material. It's really encouraging that the king of over-the-top rock god vocalists is capable of this kind of performance, 30 years after his 'prime.' Flawlessly produced by T-Bone Burnett, this is one of the best records I've heard in a while.

Stick With Me Baby - Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

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