January 10, 2008

Best of 2007, #2

#2: Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, "Raising Sand"
I went on kind of a Robert Plant kick this year. I bought a ton of his solo albums (reissued with bonus tracks not too long ago) when I was shopping at the intensely overwhelming Amoeba Music in San Francisco, most of which I had owned previously on LP or cassette -- well, I mean, how often do you listen to your old LPs? Especially the ones that are still at your parents' house in Phoenix? God, those are some good albums. I think I might need to play you one of my favorite tracks -- here's the Zeppelin-ish "Mystery Title" from "Pictures at Eleven".

Anyway, listening to all of those meant that I was primed to react with full excitement when I heard the news that there was going to be a collaboration between Robert Plant and bluegrass idol Alison Krauss, produced by T-Bone Burnett. I believe my considered opinion was, "HOLY FUCK THAT IS GOING TO BE AWESOME."

It didn't occur to me until yesterday, but this seemingly unlikely pairing was foreshadowed in 2004, when Alison Krauss made a guest appearance on her brother Viktor's album "Far From Enough", singing the Robert Plant song "Big Log". (Download that here.) Dunno whether that recording actually helped lead to this album, though; the New York Times article about the genesis of the project doesn't mention it. In any case, it's a good article and you ought to read it.

The album pulls songs from a wide variety of sources -- Tom Waits makes an appearance three songs after the Everly Brothers, and later on there's a song by Stax Records' Little Milton -- and makes them sound like stops along the same songwriting continuum. The arrangements are spacious but lush, and frankly I'm kind of a sucker for just about anything that Marc Ribot plays guitar on. There's a fair amount of variety in the vocal presentation; Plant and Krauss go back and forth from duetting to trading lead vocals. I've picked two duets here, since I particularly enjoy the way their voices blend.

Download "Killing the Blues" and "Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)". Or buy the CD, if you are so inclined.

Posted by Francis at 01:31 AM

Plant and Krauss. I have to say, I didn't see that coming. And it really is a nice article in the Times (even if I found Plant's "infinite myriad" incredibly jarring).

Downloaded; will listen shortly (and probably buy not long after).

Posted by: Lance at January 10, 2008 01:20 PM
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