Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Two New Robert Plant Songs

In New Orleans a few months ago, Robert Plant debuted a new song of his upcoming album, lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar, Little Maggie. Over the past three weeks in Europe he has added another new song to the set, Rainbow. The two songs open the lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar album. Now Plant has made the songs, somewhat, available.

Rainbow has been released as a single, at least here on the American side of the Atlantic Ocean. You can purchase it now through Amazon (click on the link above) or at iTunes. As well, purchasing the album through Nonsuch Records website will get you a free MP3 download of Rainbow now.

What's not clear is if Plant made Rainbow available in Europe, or whether he made Little Maggie available there (it is even possible neither was released as a single in Europe). What is known is that a YouTube version of Little Maggie that was restricted from American audiences was released, as, it appears, Rainbow's video was restricted from European audiences.

lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar opens with the traditional folk song Little Maggie. Little Maggie's genesis traces back as early as 100-years ago when, according to the Traditional Tune Archive, fiddler Tommy Jarrell remembers hearing the song in North Carolina. Like many traditional songs, it has varying lyrics, but Plant seems to have chosen to stay close to the traditional (see Bill Munroe, for an example).

The song has been covered by Bill Munroe, Ricky Scaggs and Bob Dylan, The Stanley Brothers and the Kingston Trio among others. Besides it's traditional nature, it was considered "core repertoire" during the 60's folk era.

Plants version maintains the tempo of the Bill Munore, but has a very different feel. His return to England seems to have inspired him in much the same way moving to America seemed to do a few years ago. Little Maggie has a very celtic feel to it, although it also hints at a Middle Eastern or Indian feel in the banjo breaks.

Little Maggie is the kind of song Plant has always loved, those traditional songs coming out of the American south. While it may be a new song to many Robert Plant fans, I imagine it's a song Plant has known for a very long time.


Rainbow is one of the 9 (of 11) new, original songs by Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters (not the "Sensational Shape Shifters," as one media outlet called them today). Slate Magazine (yes, they're the guilty party) called Rainbow "some of Plant’s best work in years." Although the writer seemed to enjoy Raising Sand quite a bit, so what does she know?

What Rainbow is though, is a good solid pop song, with a bot of a rock edge. Vocally, Plant extends his range here a bit more than previous efforts, but still stays in his comfort zone. That's alright though, if the music fits, and Rainbow really seems to. Upbeat, edgy with a happy message, Rainbow is a very good song. However, as time goes on there's four or so songs on The Band of Joy that I find I really like, so whether Rainbow is his best in year remains to be seen.

Parts of three other songs are currently being previewed on iTunes (and presumable other sites that are selling the album digitally), Pocketful of Golden, Turn It Up and Somebody There.

Pocketful of Golden is a ballad, very much in the pulled back Band of Joy style that we have heard from Plant the past few efforts. It is possible even that Pocketful of Golden comes from the original sessions with the Sensation Space Shifters back in the fall of 2012, when he was also still recording with Band of Joy.

Somebody There runs to more pop, a nice song with an infectious melody. Frankly, this is the kind of song I find irresistible, and may in time turn out to be one I like a lot. But not yet, not on this short clip.

The best of what we've heard so far, however, is Turn it Up. The clip is approximately a minute and a half, but it features a raucous guitar solo and some poignant lyrics, possibly giving us a glimpse of where Plant's head has been the past year, as he seems to have moved out of America and back to England:

I'm lost inside America and I'm turning inside
I'm turning into someone else, I heard so much about.
I'm blinded by the Neon, the rites and the might
I'm stuck inside the radio...

Melodically, the above vocals have the feel of Might Rearranger's Tin Pan Valley.

Overall, the glimpse of Robert Plant's new album (note: the Sensational Space Shifters are not listed on the cover) is promising. Certainly Rainbow, the first single which you can buy right now, is a good little song worthy of your $1.29.

Monday, June 23, 2014

lullaby and ... The Ceaseless Roar

Robert Plant announced the details today of his upcoming album with the Sensational Space Shifters. Called lullaby and... the Ceaseless Roar, the 11 song album was produced by Plant and will feature 9 original songs written by Plant and the band. The album will be on Nonsuch /Warner Bros. Records and will be released September 9th.

"It's really a celebratory record, powerful, gritty, African, Trance meets Zep," says Plant, who has been playing two songs from the album on his current tour, the traditional folk song Little Maggie and a Sensation Space Shifter original, Rainbow. Nonsuch has released YouTube videos of the album version of both songs today. Meanwhile, Rainbow goes on sale tomorrow at digital outlets as the albums first single.

You can preorder the album in three packages at Nonsuch records:  LP+CD+MP3+Art Print ($40.00 US); CD+MP3+Art Print ($18.00 US); or on lossless Flac files ($13.00). If you pre-order any of these
packages now,  you will get a digital download of Rainbow.


1. Little Maggie (Trad. arr. by Plant/Adams/Baggott/Fuller/Smith/Tyson)
2. Rainbow (Plant/Adams/Baggott/Fuller/Tyson)
3. Pocketful of Golden (Plant/Adams/Baggott/Camara/Fuller/Smith/Tyson)
4. Embrace Another Fail (Plant/Adams/Baggott/Camara/Fuller/Smith/Tyson)
5. Turn It Up (Plant/Adams/Baggott/Fuller/Smith/Tyson)
6. A Stolen Kiss (Plant/Adams/Baggott/Fuller/Tyson)
7. Somebody There (Plant/Adams/Baggott/Fuller/Smith/Tyson)
8. Poor Howard (arr. Plant/Adams/Baggott/Camara/Fuller/Tyson - Derived from Lead Belly's Po' Howard)
9. House of Love (Plant/Adams/Baggott/Fuller/Smith/Tyson)
10. Up On The Hollow Hill Understanding Arthur) (Plant/Adams/Baggott/Fuller/Smith/Tyson)
11. Arbaden (Maggie's Baby) (Plant/Adams/Baggott/Camara/Fuller/Smith/Tyson)

 There have been three videos released, but each seems to be set to play in different regions. Here they are, however, and enjoy which ones you can. First is a promo trailer for the album, then Little Maggie and finally Rainbow:


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New Robert Plant Song: Rainbow

During Robert Plant's current tour of Europe he has been playing a new song that he has announced as being from the new album. Here is Rainbow, by the Sensational Space Shifters on Monday in Tallinn Estonia:


As well as Rainbow, Plant has been playing the classic folk song Little Maggie, and has said it will be on the upcoming album on Nonsuch records:


Plant's current tour continues through June in Denmark, Germany, France and Ireland before finishing off at Glastonbury on the 28th.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Release Day

Yesterday, the newly remastered editions of Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II and Led Zeppelin III were released to stores, although many fans were reporting as early as Friday and Saturday that online orders had arrived (and one poster at FBO posted that he saw the albums on the shelf at a record store in Ohio late last week). The albums come in standard and deluxe editions, with the deluxe editions featuring previously unreleased material.

The albums, both standard and deluxe can be purchased as files at various online sites, including iTunes and Amazon  If you prefer shopping in-store, your local store should have the CD of each edition, LP of each edition, and the box set featuring LP, CD, a high definition download and a booklet. As well, HD Tracks is selling standalone hi-rez files.

Myself, I started with the iTunes files and will add physical releases, likely LPs, as family gift giving opportunities arise (that is to say kids, Fathers Day is coming up, and my birthday is not that far off). As for the bonus, previously unreleased material, it is mixed:

The bonus material from the second album, backing tracks and alternate mixes of the songs on that album mostly, is weak. It has some interesting moments to be sure, but how many times will you listen to Living Loving Maid without vocals? or Ramble On that's musically pared back a little? It's not the material is bad, it's that the interest level for it will be low for most fans. Highlights are Heartbreaker, with an alternate solo and Whole Lotta Love, stripped down and groovin'. Could do without the aforementioned vocal-less Living Loving Maid and Moby Dick minus the drum solo. And don't miss Keys to the Highway/Trouble in Mind, a dynamite acoustic blues, Page and Plant at their finest.

The bonus material on III is much stronger with truly alternate versions of songs, and one complete new song. Gallows Pole gets the stripped back treatment, much as Ramble On does, however, this time it works exceptionally well. The alternate take of That's the Way is just as lovely as the original and Since I've Been Loving You will blow you away all over again. A completely different version of the song, it's almost as devastating as the original. Could do without an instrumental version of Out on the Tiles and Friends. Don't Miss Lala, instrumental though it is you get the band rolling through a number of ideas and a rollicking Jimmy Page solo.

The bonus material on the first album is different than the above, as it is a live show from Paris Olympia October 10, 1969. The band were young, new fresh and raw in 1969, playing hungry and playing with ferocity. Dynamic and, at times, undisciplined, Page could be brilliant and sloppy in the same musical phrase, Plant electric, exciting and wildly off note all at once. That is to say they were fantastic, but less polished than they would later become. This particular show is a good one, but the sound really is just a notch or two above bootleg quality. All in though, I absolutely love this recording, faults and all. (But don't take my word for it, ask Lif what he thinks of the first album re-issue)

While personally I am looking more forward to the later albums (IV, Physical Graffiti, Presence and In Through The Out Door), this is a good start, and should keep me in Led Zeppelin mode through to Christmas (because there is nothing better in life than a Led Zeppelin record under the Christmas Tree or for your birthday).