First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2007, Volume 14, #4
Written by John Metzger
Dreamland, Robert Plant’s initial foray with Strange Sensation and his first solo endeavor in nine years, may have been a tentative excursion. Nevertheless, it featured quite a few highlights. Composed of a slew of cover songs and two new compositions — three, if one counts Dirt in a Hole, which appeared on versions outside the U.S.; five, if one also adds the pair of tunes that were sculpted from rock ’n‘ roll’s antecedents — the set was born from the collective’s rapidly developing chemistry, and it foreshadowed the powerful blend of modern folk and blues that would manifest completely on Mighty ReArranger. Granted, there were moments when Plant’s inimitable howl soared over the raucous clattering of guitars, drums, keyboards, and bass in ways that invoked the ferociousness of Led Zeppelin. Likewise, the ensemble’s process of transforming the past into the present mirrored the essential methodology that his former band frequently had employed.
The difference between Dreamland and Plant’s prior work, however, was that he had swapped the heavy metal theatrics of Led Zeppelin as well as the outdated polish of his solo efforts for a disquieting aura of moody, restrained nuances. Bukka White’s I Believe I’m Fixin’ to Die, for example, was recast as the heady, atmospheric Funny in My Mind; and Robert Johnson’s Milk Cow’s Calf Blues, John Lee Hooker’s Crawlin’ King Snake, and Arthur Crudup’s If I Ever Get Lucky and That’s Alright Mama were united within the ethereal spookiness of Win My Train Fare Home. The real treat of Dreamland, however, was the quiet, haunted subtlety that Plant and his supporting cast brought to Tim Buckley’s Song to the Siren, Bonnie Dobson and Tim Rose’s Morning Dew, William Roberts’ Hey Joe, and Jesse Colin Young’s Darkness Darkness. Retaining the primal urgency of his former band while gleaning profundity from the maturity of his approach, Plant transformed Dreamland into a captivating examination of his influences that allowed him to shake free, once and for all, from the artistic shackles that had been limiting his movements. Not surprisingly, the subsequent Mighty ReArranger became the pinnacle of his solo career. ½
Of Further Interest...
Dreamland is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
Dreamland is part of the 9 Lives box set, which
also is available from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box