Plant's Band of Joy
One of the weirder NYC boozing trends as of late is the faux speakeasy. Yes, that would be a room, usually subterranean, that for some unknown reasonperhaps every other cheeseball concept has been exhaustedtries to recapture some of those long lost flavors of the salad days of that joyous time in American history called Prohibition. You remember that grand social experiment perpetrated by the far right of American society that like all right wing idiocies, ignored reality and plowed ahead regardless of the damage it might have caused. Instead of stopping alcoholism, it spread the making and distribution of booze into the hands of criminals who got fabulously rich and turned horribly violent. Give those regressive social engineering types credit though; they sure know a good idea when they see one.
In any case, I was at the Backroom on Delancey Street on the LES (lower east side) which is one of these new speakeasythemed barrooms which serves booze in teacups, to hear the new Robert Plant record, Band of Joy which comes out on Rounder on September 14. The title recycles the name of Plant’s first band in the Sixties. A record of covers by the likes of the band Low, Townes Van Zandt, Los Lobos and others, the new record was made in Nashville and features contributions by Patti Griffith and Buddy Miller, both of whom will be in the band for an upcoming tour. As soon as the record was over, a bookcase (again, think speakeasy) which kind of spoiled the mystery by having an EXIT sign over it, swung open and out stepped “Mr. Nah-Nah-Nah-Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” With his blonde locks, Plant is easily the best looking for the remaining three members of Led Zep. And speaking the Zep, he gave a little speech about the new record that touched on how British musicians fucked up American music especially Roky Ericksonlike psychedelica, how much he thought of Buddy Miller’s musicianship (which is true God knows) and then a vague riff on how he had to go his own way musically with the Allison Krauss collaboration, despite the fact that others wanted him to go another way, i.e. a Zep reunion tour. I think he made the right choice not only because the Krauss/Plant record, Raising Sand is so great but also because Led Zeppelin died the day John Bonham’s stopped breathing thanks to inhaling his own vomit after 40 shots of vodka.
Damn, what an image that is. He had four quadruple shots of vodka at breakfast, which would be a bottle and eight shots if the shots are one ounce. Okay, enough with the hooch.
Anyway, the Plant record, and granted I only listened once, sounds like another triumph. He looks good although shorter than he once was (shrinking with age?) yet the blonde locks are intact. And his voice, always a tip to hear, still has its trademark squeak.