Just announced, Robert Plant & The Shapeshifters + The Pixies @ The Mann June 17th. Tickets go on sale Saturday at ROBERTPLANT.COM
The tour is in support of Robert Plant’s lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar, which was released September 2014 on Nonesuch/Warner Bros. Records. The record was named one of the top 50 albums of the year by NPR, which said, “At 66, the singer is still a majestic rock presence, at peace with the legacy of his hard-rock-defining band Led Zeppelin, while remaining relentlessly creative in his solo work. But on his 10th solo album, Plant does pause by those waters to consider the aesthetic, emotional and spiritual currents that have shaped his illustrious life. He finds himself, characteristically, not saddened but renewed… Not one of these songs sounds precisely like its source; that’s the genius of this album. It lovingly layers elements in ways that mirror memory, creating new constructs from floating shards of the musical past.”
Plant described lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar as, “a celebratory record, powerful, gritty, African, Trance meets Zep.” He continues, “The whole impetus of my life as a singer has to be driven by a good brotherhood. I am very lucky to work with The Sensational Space Shifters. They come from exciting areas of contemporary music…” The Sensational Space Shifters are Justin Adams: bendirs, djembe, guitars, tehardant, background vocals; John Baggott: keyboards, loops, moog bass, piano, tabal, background vocals; Juldeh Camara: kologo, ritti, Fulani vocals; Billy Fuller: bass, drum programming, omnichord, upright bass; Dave Smith: drum set; and Liam “Skin” Tyson: banjo, guitar, background vocals.
The album received some of the best reviews of Plant’s solo career, with the Wall Street Journal saying, “Robert Plant knows where rock’s past begins and he’s pulling it into the future,” and the New York Times stating that “On lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar, Mr. Plant often sings in an otherworldly voice: sustained, androgynous, balanced between serenity and ache.” Pitchfork noted that “Lullaby sees Plant stepping up with his first batch of original songs in nearly a decade, answering his band’s derring-do with some of the most bravely confessional writing of his career,” while Noisey raved, “Plant’s aged gracefully, growing into a sound that’s more finessed and even, at times, elegant. These aren’t the recordings of some old dude lost in a music studio messing around with the funny-shaped knobs on a mixer. Plant’s still got it, using his experience and vision to blend sounds of the world with blues to form music that’s weirdly cohesive and progressive, all supporting his distinguished and defined voice.”
PREVIOUSLY: Officially OUR FAVORITE SONG OF 2007. Written by Rowland Salley, this version from Raising Sand just fucking slays us every time. And speaking as former teenage Zepheads, it does our heart good to hear Robert Plant doing something we can both be proud of at our advanced age. Seriously, this is as timelessly classic as anything Led Zepellin ever did. And Alison Krauss is a force of nature. Mark Ribot’s guitar sounds like underwater moonlight piercing the spectral murk of T-Bone Burnett’s elegantly antiqued production. Like butter, it is. Because there was no official video for this song, we went ahead and made our own. Special thanks to the dudes who shot this footage on the way to Alberta, and to Electric Kite for tweaking, editing, and synching to the music.
BOSTON GLOBE: Each track sets a different mood – a lullaby, a seduction, a prayer, a remembrance – but adheres to Burnett’s elusive but recognizable template of blending vintage rock, country, folk, and blues with a lot of space. That space gives his work both an earthy quality and something approaching the otherworldly without ever veering into psychedelia.The austere “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us,” written by Burnett’s ex-wife, Sam Phillips, at times feels like a raga and at times like circus music from a Wes Anderson movie. “Polly Come Home,” sung by Plant in a controlled murmur – one of several silken modes employed throughout – is almost painfully erotic. Rowland Salley, Chris Isaak’s bassist, contributes the dreamy, slow chug “Killing the Blues,” which wouldn’t sound out of place on one of his boss’s records. MORE
PITCHFORK: There is no arguing with a riff. It’s a conversation-ender, something resistant to analysis that strips away the intellectual to situate the music in a purely physical space. Of the 100 greatest guitar riffs in the history of rock music, Jimmy Page might have written 20, and a good number of those can be found on Led Zeppelin’s second album from 1969. If you or someone close to you has ever been within 10 feet of a radio tuned to a classic rock station, you’ve heard them all, many times—maybe too many. For every young person who discovers “Whole Lotta Love” and “Heartbreaker” and “Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman)”, there’s an older person who gets sick of them from overplay and doesn’t need to ever hear them again. Part of the challenge and excitement of revisiting a record upon reissue is trying to hear the music again with fresh ears, seeing if you can tap into that feeling of discovery that came from hearing it the first time. When I’m able to mentally put myself into this place— the kid who got his driver’s license a month ago, driving around listening to II on tape—the reissue sounds as thrilling as ever. Every track on this record is musically brilliant, and in the span of just a few months it’s amazing how much Page had enriched the band’s sound. Chiming acoustic guitars provide the contrast to the crunch in a whole new way on “Ramble On” and “Thank You”, offering yet another template for mixing folk with proto-metal. “Whole Lotta Love” might have gotten the band sued by Willie Dixon, but there was no sonic precedent for it in rock music—it’s a sound that would have been unimaginable without the rise of drug culture. MORE
RELATED: Led Zeppelin will be returning to the big screen on March 30, when a concert movie culled from various performances by the band will show for one night only. MORE