Robert Plant – Mighty Rearranger
Released: Sanctuary (EMI), 2005
I have to be honest. I really was looking forward to this release. Which is odd, because I was not a big fan of Plant’s last studio album (Dreamland). Unlike that album, this album has received a lot of good buzz and advance hype. I also heard the first release (“Shine it All Around”) and really enjoyed it. Below is my song-by-song review of the new album by Robert Plant (of Led Zeppelin fame, for those who have just crawled out from under their rock).
1. Another Tribe ? Starts off with an acoustic guitar and a good beat. This song contains a nice strings/orchestral arrangement ? reminiscent of ?Kashmir? by Zeppelin. Pretty cool. A good opener, but by no means a rocker. Haunting vocals?it?s clear Plant has lost none of his vocal abilities. He can still hit those higher notes.
2. ** Shine it All Around ? The first single from the album. A great song with an excellent beat and a great bass line throughout. A pretty good, mid-tempo rocker. Electric guitars are pretty prominent, with a really nice guitar solo halfway through. A pretty modern-sounding tune for an old rocker who is clearly far from ‘washed-up’.
3. Freedom Fries ? I wasn?t sure what to make of this song when I first heard it. It has that weird constant off-beat monotonous pounding, reminiscent of early-80s style Robert Plant material. Plant?s vocals on this song are great – they remind me of his vocals on the Honeydrippers material from the mid-80s (i.e. ?Good Rockin? at Midnight? and ?Sea of Love?). I also like the title of this song (a jab at the decision in 2003 by U.S. Congress and several restaurants around the country to remove “French” fries from their menus to protest French opposition to U.S. military action in Iraq. I?m all for protests, but this one was just silly).
4. Tin Pan Alley ? A pretty good song. It begins with a fairly quiet, slow section, which builds to an all-out rocking section which sounds a lot like old Zep material (i.e. heavy guitars and heavy drums). Not much in the way of melody, but hey ? it?s Robert Plant, so who cares.
5. ** All the King?s Horses ? One of my favourite songs on the album. A beautiful acoustic ballad. Classic Plant ? certainly up there with some of his best solo ballads (i.e. Ship of Fools, 29 Palms, etc.)
6. The Enchanter ? a nice, bluesy-feeling song. Another good guitar-rocker, with John Bonham-sounding drums throughout. Another Zep-sounding song (with a bit of electronica thrown in at the end to make it somewhat modern-sounding).
7. ** Takamba – Clearly the most Zep-sounding song on the whole album. This one is for the Zep-heads. Awesome ? cool Jimmy Page-sounding guitar riffs. Great rocker. Zep for the new millennium.
8. ** Dancing in Heaven ? Yikes! Another Zep sounding song. This one could have come straight off of Led Zeppelin III, with an acoustic opening riff that sounds an awful like ?That?s the Way?. There?s also an electric guitar bit that sounds like it came straight off ?In Through the Out Door?, Zep?s last studio album. Wicked. There?s also an homage to the Byrd?s Roger Mcguinn, with a neat jangly 12-string guitar bit. My favourite song on the album.
9. Somebody Knocking ? an ethnic, middle-eastern-sounding folk song. Pretty good, if you like ethnic, middle-eastern-sounding folk songs.
10. Let the Four Winds Blow ? A pretty raw, cowboy blues-sounding song (the best way I can describe it?you?ll know what I mean when and if you hear it). At times, this song sounds like a 50?s rock song (with some rockabilly style guitar riffs). Certainly different. A nice change.
11. ** Mighty Rearranger ? the title song. A great blues-rock song, with some cool honky-tonk piano playing, a nice drumstick shuffle throughout, and a bit of harmonica thrown in for good measure. Again, sounds a bit like something out of the 50s, with a modern-sound. Good stuff.
12. Brother Ray ? the closing song?and the longest one on the album, clocking in at nearly 9 minutes (yikes)! I?ve read that this is a tribute to the late Ray Charles, although it sounds no more like Ray Charles than I look like Brad Pitt. I?m glad Plant left this one until the end. It?s pretty freaky?a bit of a mish-mash of sounds. Part rag-time piano blues (the Ray Charles ?tribute? which makes up the first minute), which fades out and is then followed by 7 minutes of ?hidden track? garbage – part electronica, part ?Shine it All Around? reprise. These last seven minutes should have been left off the album. A complete waste of valuable CD space.
Overall, a great album by a classic rock icon. Definitely worth repeat listens, and definitely worth getting if you are a Plant or Zeppelin fan, as it contains a number of Zep-sounding moments throughout. Much better than his last solo album (?Dreamland? from 2002), which was somewhat disappointing with only a couple of stand-out tracks. Plant has definitely come full circle on this album.
** Reviewer’s favourite songs