Monday, September 29, 2014

A Peek Into the Future

The future: Dec 25, 2014. Ramble on Towers in scenic Hespeler, Ontario. 8:00 AM-ish.

This, this will be what it looks like.

The Rain Song - The British only remix

As has been standard for all of the album reissues up to now, Led Zeppelin has pre-released The Rain Song alternate version at the UK's Guardian website. You can hear it here.

Having turned up in the UK, over the next 24-hours it should start turning up at other spots for a free listen. Expect it to be released tomorrow and available to buy, or for those who have pre-ordered digital versions.

Update: That as quick: Here's a US version... still no Canada though


Robert Plant live in Brooklyn

Robert Plant, played live in Brooklyn last night, and NPR has the full video of the concert available. I am unable to stream it for you, but you can watch the entire show here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

the iWatch and Robert Plant

From the National Post

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Old Jimmy Page Interview

A lovely find, tom the archives of iTV in Britain, an interview with a very young Jimmy Page from the month before I was born...

Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page - June 1963 interview from ITV Channel Television on Vimeo.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

lullaby and... and... and...

Robert Plant's new album, lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar, due to hit stores next Tuesday, get's name half right: Lullaby, yes; Ceaseless Roar, not so much. Plant, in fact, as has been his habit for the past 3 to 5 albums, seems to be barely interested in singing. Putting together a band, hanging out with them, giving cryptic interviews, writing songs, he very much seems to enjoy. Singing, however...

Plant is backed by a band of his own creation, The Sensational Space Shifters, and they are solid throughout this album. The album rocks hard, has a pretty balled, some celtic, some folk, and a singer that sings half octave songs at slightly above a whisper. The band deserves better, as do Robert Plant fans shelling out $40 for a deluxe vinyl edition expecting some of that roar the title promises (full disclosure: I shelled out $40).

The album was announced with such promise, Rainbow being released along with the official announcement. The first single, Rainbow is heads and shoulders the best song on the album, and not coincidentally, the one of two songs where Plant stretches his vocals out the most. Read that again and, if you haven't heard any of this album yet, go hear Rainbow, and imagine a world where that is stretching the old vocal chords. That's the sad state of affairs Robert Plant has fallen to.

There's plenty to celebrate in the songwriting, with Turn it Up, Somebody There and Poor Howard all very good. Most people commenting on the album are speaking fondly of the ballad Stolen Kiss, and in fairness, it is Plant's most interesting, and possibly best, vocal on the album. However, that Plant can''t be bothered to come up with melodies any more complex or interesting than Bah Bah Black Sheep for most of the album is disconcerting.

You will read a number of reviews, a number of articles in the next while saying that lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar is Robert Plant finding new horizons, stretching his musical chops or bravely going forward &tc. &tc. It's all a pile of bullocks. If you like what Plant has done the last few albums, certainly since Raising Sand and The Band of Joy, then you will love this. It is easily the best of the three albums. However, if, like me, you haven't particularly enjoyed Robert Plant's forays into trying to impress NPR listeners, then don't, as I have done, throw away $40 on an album you will never bother opening.

--> Tracklist

Little Maggie
Pocketful of Golden
Embrace Another Fall
Turn it Up
A Stolen Kiss
Somebody There
Poor Howard
House of Love
Up On The Hollow Hill (Understanding Arthur)
Arbaden (Maggie's Baby)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Robert Plant: lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar Preview

On Saturday night the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) premiered Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifter's new album, lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar. Ten days ahead of the release of this much anticipated work, here's first listen thoughts:

  • Little Maggie: previously heard, Little Maggie is a traditional song that Plant offers in with a mix of Appalachian/ Celtic influences, creating a song that feels both old, and somewhat new.

  • Rainbow: "What do you think of the new Robert Plant?" Steve "the Lemon" Sauer asked me when I saw him the night after his wedding in July. "I really like it," he added. He was talking about Rainbow, previously released, and the more I listen to it, the more I agree with him

  • Pocketful of Golden: Another previously released song, Pocketful of Golden hints at an Indian sound, but with Plant's uniquely understated vocal delivery which we've heard much of the past ten or so years. Despite Plant's playing this one safe, it's an interesting piece.

  • Embrace Another Fall: Much like Band of Joy, this album seems determined to run in one gear, and by the fourth song it is getting old. Loved the first three, now I'm asking, no begging, for Plant to reach outside their comfort zone for just one bar. Alas... Wait, the guitars kick in for a solid rocking bridge. It's not much, not too much at least, but it at least stretches the limits a touch.

  • Turn it Up: I liked the minute plus snippet of this you got on iTunes a month ago. The band is hot on this, Plant stays well inside his comfort zone. One does wish...

  • A Stolen Kiss: The pretty piano ballad, and the song that provides the titular lyric. Very pretty, and a song that is likely to improve with repetition.

  • Somebody There: In a previous post, I referred to this song as one I could grow to like a lot, with it's infectious pop feel. It's actually less pop than the preview suggested it might be, but maybe a better song.

  • Poor Howard: Poor Tom with a banjo? I'm not sure what to make of Poor Howard, except to say I enjoyed it.

  • House of Love: Again, this is a case of good song, but really, do I need a full album of the same melody in the same key? Surrounded by a bunch of talented musicians, can not one of them tell Plant to mix the vocals up, just a little? Can not one of them say, "for fuck sake, change it up."

  • Up On The Hollow Hill (Understanding Arthur): Oh wait, a boring song... just what this album needs... (places gun in mouth, pulls trigger).

  • Arbaden (Maggie's Baby): Sigh... it's midnight, I have no idea how this one ends because there must be something better I have to do.

As with Band of Joy, Alison Krauss, and Plant's two previous albums with more-or-less this outfit, Plant eschews any vocals outside a very limited range. Unlike the Band of Joy, he's surrounded himself with musicians who are up to the challenge of being interesting when Plant isn't. It's a better album, but boy could it use a singer who's worthy of the band.

Bottom line is, if you've been paying attention, outside of possibly A Stolen Kiss, you've heard everything you need to hear on this album when you heard Rainbow a month ago.

I am left with only one question... is it too late to cancel my pre-order?