Monday, April 4, 2011

Robert Plant 9: Mighty Rearranger

Not content to look back, Robert continued working with a permutation of his most recent backing band, now dubbed the Strange Sensation. Together, they conceived Mighty Rearranger, a set of new original songs following the same themes of the sate of the world while exploring exotic and traditional sounds.
The album is pleasant, certainly, but like much of his solo work, doesn’t always resonate past the initial listen. “Another Tribe” sets something of a mood, but the first single, “Shine It All Around” tries too hard with its boomy drums and isolated guitar solo. (A remix, included as a hidden track, downplays both, but at the expense of the actual song.) Despite the pointed title, “Freedom Fries” struggles under an impossible meter, while “Tin Pan Valley” understates his determination to move forward via an imperceptible melody until the middle raveup section. One standout track is his own song called “All The King’s Horses”, a gentle acoustic number more satisfying than the one by The Firm. But “The Enchanter” fails to truly deliver on its title.
By the time “Takamba” comes around, the Mideastern touches become more welcome, but are interrupted by loud interludes, making one wish he could have worked without the electrics. But with its juxtaposition of those foreign instruments and blues references, “Somebody Knocking” delivers the desired feel much better. In between, “Dancing In Heaven” is more straightforward, with open-tuned acoustic and nicely layered harmonies, even if the lead guitar sounds a lot like Page. “Let The Four Winds Blow” is a step in the right direction, but the title track is just more of the same. Whatever finale it was supposed to provide is augmented by “Brother Ray”, a short, seemingly impromptu duet with barrelhouse piano.
Despite its best intentions, Mighty Rearranger is unfortunately another Robert Plant album that sounds fine when it’s on, but not likely to stay in the player for more than one go-through. At least he could hardly be accused of embarrassing himself or his legacy.

Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation Mighty Rearranger (2005)—2
2007 remastered CD: same as 2005, plus 4 extra tracks

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