“Mighty Rearranger” by Robert Plant

Artist: Robert Plant
Title: “Mighty Rearranger”
Label: Es Paranza
Release Date: 8/25/2005
Genre: Rock
Rating: 8/10

After a six-year hiatus from recording new material bridged by the airing of favored cover tunes (on “Dreamland “) and the pre and post Led Zeppelin retrospective “Sixty Six to Timbuktu” Robert Plant returns with a dozen originals on the new album titled “Mighty Rearranger”.

Though much has been made in latter days of Zep’s willingness pilfer lyrics and licks from their favorite artists (Everly Brothers to Howlin’ Wolf) Plant’s musical strength, in tandem with his legendary vocals, has always come from his diverse musical tastes and his ability to assimilate them into his own creations. In that light “Mighty Rearranger” immediately lives up to its name on opening track “Another Tribe” which offers world beats, Eddie Cochran style acoustic guitars, an eastern string figure and a lyric lamenting the current state of a world at war – wondering if the meek will actually inherit the Earth.

It was smart of Plant to keep his touring group together and rely on their talents for this record rather than look to session players. The members of The Strange Sensation, have backgrounds as players with Portishead, Roni Size, Jah Wobble’s Invaders of the Heart and Sinead O’Conner and have backed Plant on stage since the “Dreamland” tour. The outcome is a much more organic feeling effort than some of his past solo albums.

The band is well up to the task of laying out a smorgasbord of textures to be sung over and they command the chops to pull off open-tuned “Page-ified” pastorals like “All the King’s Horses”, the North African rhythms versus “Black Snake Moan” interpolation of “Someone’s Knocking” through the electric 12-string hippie daisy glaze of “Dancing In Heaven”. Their Texas boogie stomp meets Ali Farka Toure on title track “Mighty Rearranger” is a treat and should be a great live showpiece.

Lyrically Plant goes “global to navel” exploring the current events of holy war (“Another tribe… another brother, caught between his lover and a gun/Another God…another mother, weeps to justify the damage done”) to assessment of his own predicament as former “golden god” of ‘70’s Rock in “Tin Pan Valley” (“My peers may flirt with cabaret, some fake the ‘rebel yell’/I’m moving up to higher ground, I must escape this hell”).

Ultimately ‘the mighty rearranger’ is revealed to be the universal curve ball of fate that none of us can predict. The wisdom to not to sweat the small stuff is professed with the classically florid Plantism “send your mind out on vacation/Let it wander like the wild geese in the West”.

At times this album makes you wish that some of these same paths had been better explored on the rather tepid Plant/Page collaboration “Walking Into Clarksdale”. But with an album that feels much more honorable than the perplexing forays of his former guitar partner, Plant admirably accepts his own past and (with Strange Sensation) forges an interesting future by doing what he has always done best – wearing his musical heart and influences unabashedly on his sleeve.

Track Listing:
1. Another Tribe
2. Shine It All Around
3. Freedom Fries
4. Tin Pan Valley
5. All The Kings Horses
6. The Enchanter
7. Takamba
8. Dancing In Heaven
9. Somebody Knocking
10. Let The Four Winds Blow
11. Mighty Rearranger
12. Brother Ray

Official Web site: www.RobertPlant.com

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