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Robert Plant - Dreamland

Review: 171
Date: 26 Mar 04

 


Rating: 2 Stars

Musicians:
Robert Plant – Vocals
Justin Adams - Guitars, Gimbri, and Darbuka
John Baggat – Keyboards
Charlie Jones – Bass
Porl Thompson - Guitar
Clive Deamer - Drums, and Percussion

Tracks Listing:
Funny In My Mind
Morning Dew
One More Cup Of Coffee
Last Time I Saw Her
Song To The Siren
Win My Train Fare Home
Darkness Darkness
Hey Joe
Skip's Song

 


Do you remember your old School reports? Believe it or not some of the rock 'n' roll animals, who read these snippets of purported wisdom in the hallowed pages of Pattya's leading weekly tome, are actually young enough to still get school reports. (When are we going to get a review of' Linkin Park'?) However, I must admit there are more who actually write the reports, than receive them. Anyway, Mott always used to get his saying things like ‘Could do better, if only he paid more attention‘ or ’Underachieves due to lack of concentration’, or the one I always dreaded, the one word review ‘Lazy’. Still. it was better than the report that said ‘Tries very hard, but does not make much progress’.

Robert Plant's 'Dreamland' (2002) album would receive one of the former reports, as this collection of songs seems to have no focal point, but rather feels like thrown together. I find Mr. Robert (Percy to his friends, for obvious reasons) Plant rather caught between two stools. He had just come off the back of a couple of albums and a worldwide tour with old running mate Jimmy Page, which had been the biggest thing in the rock 'n' roll world that year. Enjoying the habit of touring, Jimmy Page had gathered up ‘The Black Crowes‘ and continued touring, leaving Robert Plant behind to contemplate his future. After a brief hiatus he put a new band together and came out of the recording studio with this collection of songs. Unfortunately for everybody the high expectations were soon shattered.

What you get is an album of some covers (a la David Bowie with 'Pin Ups' and Brian Ferry with 'Those Foolish Things' in the seventies) and some originals. Well, it's a bit more difficult than that. To be more precise there are definitely six covers and two originals with the originals being average songs. Nothing awful, but certainly nothing to make you gasp as in the days of Led Zeppelin. Two of the songs have writing credits for the band, but one of them, opening song 'Funny in My Mind', has the chorus of ‘The Country Joe and the Fish’ song 'I'm Fixin to Die'.

'Win My Train Fare Home' actually credits all the band with songwriting as well as acknowledging elements of Arthur 'Big Boy' Brown for ‘If I Ever Get Lucky’ and ‘That's Alright Mama’, Robert Johnson for ’Milk Cow's Calf Blues’, and John Lee Hooker for ‘Crawlin' King Snake’. Now that is a lot of Elements to get into six minutes of an original song.

The trouble with the six covers is that although they are not bad, it would be an achievement indeed to completely ruin songs of this caliber. All of these songs have been played better by both the original artists and other musicians, who have already given definitive versions. 'Morning Dew' by Tim Rose has been turned into a staple of Nazareth's live act and recorded on their debut album; 'One More Cup Of Coffee’ by Bob Dylan has been given a wonderful new spin by ‘Nutz’ on their third album ‘Hard Nutz’; 'Song to the Siren' by Tim Buckley was magnificently covered live by his own son Jeff Buckley as well as countless other artists; and 'Darkness Darkness’ by Jesse Colin Young of the Youngbloods has been set in the stone of rock by ‘Mott the Hoople’ on their ‘Brain Capers’ album. As for 'Hey Joe' by William Roberts, well, you just cannot play that song without being compared to Jimi Hendrix' first single and coming off second best. Final song on the album is Alexander Lee Spence's 'Skip's Song', originally recorded by his band ‘Moby Grape’. Now this is a song that just shouldn’t be messed with. And mess with it is what Robert Plant and his band of cohorts do. It leaves a very bad ‘taste’ in your ears, encompassing these songs.

It's not all bad, the band is competent throughout. Porl Thompson (ex ‘the Cure’) should be singled out for some fine axe work. Coming in to work with Robert Plant after Jimmy Page is always going to be a thankless task (or Robert Plant's ex-solo guitarist Robbie Blunt for that matter).But Porl pulls it off adequately while not exactly setting the world on fire with his version of reverb and fuzz tone.

Robert Plant himself whines and groans his way through every song. This method of Ooh's and Ahh's was satisfactory, even groundbreaking in its quieter moments with Led Zeppelin, except then they were able to follow that up with a musical one-two to your jaw and stomach. Here there is no light, no shade - perhaps a few belting rockers might of shaken off the lethargy…. But certainly as a whole this album is difficult to listen to twice.

Oh well, back to school reports. I think we will just mark this one ‘disappointing'.

 

Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew

E-mail: review@mott-the-dog.com


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