Classic Rock Review

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Robert Plant Mighty Rearranger (2006)

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Admirers of 2002’s “Dreamland” will be pleased to see Robert Plant’s run of form continue with “Mighty Rearranger,” an earthy album sprinkled with Middle-Eastern influences. Wonderfully, there are moments (such as on the hushed “Another Tribe”) that see Plant’s voice defying age and sounding just as it did thirty years ago, as he re-ignites us with the trance of understated “Morocco’n’roll,” amplifying the Sahara sounds of the badir and lute with a jagged, bluesy edge.

The Strange Sensation, for the most part, provide capable backing for Plant’s modern impetus, but at times are guilty of sounding little more than an assembly of various members of not-so-great bands of the late 90s (which, arguably, they are). The first single, “Shine It All Around” (a song where Plant sings of his regeneration while perhaps owing something lyrically to the Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Turn On Your Love Light”) is one such example, whereas “Tin Pan Valley” sounds like it’s veering a little too close to a Superunknown-era Soundgarden riff.

“Freedom Fries,” meanwhile, storms ahead, running the blues through the dust of the desert before the warbling intro of “Tin Pan Valley” threatens to put the listener right off. Thankfully, the other elements of the song manage to pull it together, with Plant’s near-whispering of his refusal to fall into the traps of his peers meaning that the wrinkles do make an (intentional) brief appearance, after all.

Though carrying a touch of “The Rain Song” to it (in fact, that same falling, open-chord sound can be found in numerous places on “Mighty Rearranger”), the excellent “All The King’s Horses” is a dreamy, acoustic reverie that has Plant at his most sublime. Things continue to come together nicely with the stirring “The Enchanter,” though the guitar interestingly sounds like it belongs to Jack White’s take on the blues. The political “Takamba,” meanwhile, feels as if it’s groping for the same vibe as Plant’s much favoured Moroccan nomads “The Berber Tribesmen”, but instead it closes down that route altogether and wastes no time in rocking things out, resonating Plant’s 21st century sound.

The warm, sifting sound of “Dancing In Heaven,” with its lovely, wordless chorus, helps to further tilt the balance of the album in favour of the good far outweighing the forgettable. There seems to be another shift in guitar sound for both “Let the Four Winds Blow” and the title track, as if, after much honing, Plant and co. have settled for a bluesier feel. Accordingly, these two tracks pull no punches, adding some meaty weight to the fold, straightforward as it may be. The final (listed) number is a quick, endearing jam as Plant reproduces the vowel sounds of Them’s “Gloria” to the sounds of an impromptu honky-tonk piano. The bonus track, however, is a new-age remix of “Shine It All Around” which tries its hand at tame drum’n’bass, and fails to work in any way.

In all, there’s much to like here, and Robert Plant’s die-hard contingent will doubtless feel that he hasn’t put a foot wrong. Though he’s guaranteed to never disappear from the musical map thanks to his achievements with Led Zeppelin, with “Mighty Rearranger,” Plant’s Indian dream-catcher brings together the nuances of Blues and Arabic folk with political commentary, showing that his sound is maturing gracefully, and just as importantly, that he’s still got that fiery roar.

February 19, 2013 - Posted by | Robert Plant Mighty Rearranger |

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