Long before singer Robert Plant formed the legendary rock group Led Zeppelin, he was a member of a blues band called Band of Joy. Now, some 40 years later, he's released a new CD by the latest incarnation of Band of Joy, with members that now include acclaimed singer-songwriters Darrell Scott and Patty Griffin.
At age 62, Robert Plant is singing a bit softer than he did during the days of Led Zeppelin. "Band of Joy" finds Robert Plant blending the "old-time" and bluegrass sounds from "Raising Sand," his Grammy-winning duet with Alison Krauss [rhymes with "house"] with the more bluesy rock sounds of early Led Zeppelin.
The songs on "Band of Joy" are an eclectic mix of country, rock, and folk. There's even a remake of Texas R 'n'B singer Barbara Lynn's 1960s' hit "You Can't Buy My Love," originally an answer song to The Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love." On the album it's given a bit of a rockabilly twist, turning the song into a country shuffle.
"Band of Joy" was produced by Robert Plant and guitarist Buddy Miller, who was the bandleader during Plant's "Raising Sand" tour with Alison Krauss. Miller also sings on a few tracks, including "Falling In Love Again," originally recorded by Chicago soul group The Kelly Brothers. Plant and Miller have re-envisioned the song for "Band of Joy." Darrell Scott is the other voice making up the Southern Gospel-esque choir.
Not all the songs of "Band of Joy" are covers of hits by obscure American bands. "Band of Joy" even finds Robert Plant doing a bit of songwriting with co-producer Buddy Miller. Robert says he was encouraged to do so by bandmate Patty Griffin.
British folk rock legends Richard Thompson and Linda Thompson are also represented on "Band of Joy." Their "House of Cards" is here, but with a bit of an update to the original sound. In interviews, Plant refers to Richard Thompson as "another music nut," adding that this song is "so good and so finite, the lyric is superb."