Friday, July 11, 2008

Music, Music, Music...

My week began with Jackson prodding me for a review of the new Judas Priest album. My brother gave me a copy of it during our reunion last week, but Mrs. Alva refused to let me plop it into the car’s CD player during the drive home. I was going to get to it yesterday, but after my brother mentioned the most excellent Frank Zappa album ‘Zoot Allures’ in a recent blog post, I got hooked on that instead. I WILL get to it Jackson, don’t worry.

Had a unexpected recording session this week with a young bass player looking to commit a couple of ideas to tape to share with some song writing buddies of his. Good kid and a great player.

Another excu... I mean, reason for not getting to the JP release (seeing a pattern of avoiding the JP album here), is I needed to spend my drive time re-familiarizing myself with the T Bone Burnett produced Alison Krauss/Robert Plant album ‘Raising Sand’ ahead of the concert we attended last night. Jackson’s and the Misanthrope’s opinion of Robert Plant, as well as Mrs. Alva’s for that matter, are well know to many and I myself run hot and cold on his vocal stylings (1st Zep and ‘Presence’ album MOST awesome, ‘I’m in the Mood For a Melody’ and most of his solo work dreadful), but even the reluctant Mrs. Alva had to concede that the guy delivered the goods last night.

This was the second time seeing Alison Krauss with Bob and Betty Builder at Atlanta’s Chastain Park Amphitheatre. The first time was when the Down from the Mountain Tour pulled into town a few years back. Down from the Mountain was a tour produced by T Bone Burnett which he launched on the heals of the overwhelming success of the soundtrack to the Cohen Brother’s film “O’ Brother Where Art Thou”. It included a menagerie of artists who lent their infinite talents to the film’s sound track along with some of the best bluegrass players in the world. Mrs. Alva and I were both immediately smitten with her as she and Emmy Lou Harris delivered an angelic version of “Down to the River to Pray”. It also happened to be the show where I first heard the haunting Darrell Scott penned tune ‘You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive’. Patty Loveless ripped through her rendition and I’ve been mesmerized by her and the tune ever since.

Alison Krauss can certainly hold her own and her band Union Station are arguably the best of the genre, T Bone Burnett along with a gang of top shelf players need no help either, but it was Plant who worried the four of us to varying degrees as we found our way to our seats. Especially since we paid $85 for face value for them. The ‘Raising Sand’ album is fantastic which is no surprise since just about everything T Bone touches is da bomb (not much beats the 1st and 2nd Peter Case records and to argue would only prove your tone deafness). But Plant impressed the most ardent skeptic last night. He possesses that familiar awe of American blues artists of yore so common amongst his British invasion brethren and humbly pays tribute to them all. I think this kind of music suits him well at his age. Absent were the attempts at high notes he can no longer hit and so prevalent at past Page/Plant shows. With both the ‘Raising Sand’ record and show, T Bone has managed to convey to him that he doesn’t have to try and relive his youth vocally. What we heard was a humble, somewhat subdued, but most importantly, comfortable Robert Plant for this show.

Yes, they worked in some organic arraignments of a couple of Zep songs (‘Black Dog’ eh, not so good, ‘Battle of Evermore’ phenomenal) and my least favorite song of his ever the aforementioned ‘I’m in the Mood For a Melody’ which actually took an amazing turn for the better when they segued into the 17th century folk love triangle tale ‘Matty Groves’. Other than those indulgences, it was all tracks from the record along with a few Alison favs including her beautiful a capella “Down to the River to Pray” with Robert and T Bone backing her beautiful voice.

I’m batting a thousand as far as concerts at Chastain go to date. I appreciated the fact that they turned it up a bit in comparison to previous shows we’ve seen there (the amphitheatre sits smack dab in the middle of some high dollar residental real estate). We’ve got Mark Knopfler at the end of the month which should be another winner. I hope he plays every song from “All The Road Running” album, peppered with stuff from “Ragpickers Dream”. It’s not a lot to ask for really.

Set list from last night:

Rich Woman / Leave My Woman Alone / Black Dog / Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us / Through the Morning, Through the Night / Goodbye and So Long to You / Fortune Teller / In the Mood (into Matty Groves) / Black Country Woman / Primitives / Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler / Trampled Rose / Green Pastures / Down to the River to Pray / Killing the Blues / Nothin’ / The Battle of Evermore / Please Read the Letter / Gone Gone Gone // You Don’t Knock / One-Woman Man / Your Long Journey

Now, let me drop this 'Nostradamas' disc in and see what magic Judas Priest have managed to make...

9 Comments:

At 5:40 PM, July 11, 2008, Blogger Dave Cavalier said...

No Stairway?

I have a feeling, based on the good reviews I have heard of this Plant/Krauss pairing that this is one of those things where I'd probably be more open to it if I didn't know it was Plant.

Psyched to hear that David Chastain Shredder Memorial Park came through again.

 
At 12:11 AM, July 12, 2008, Blogger Jackson said...

Coincidentally I have VH1 Classic on as I blog, and they're showing 'The Last Waltz', and just as I started reading this post Emmy Lou came on with that totally stellar version of 'Evangeline'. What a under valued talent. She's like Forrest Gump, showing up at just the right places at just the right time - Gram Parsons' 'Greivous Angels', Neil Young's Harvest LP,'The Last Waltz', the Knopfler record just to scratch the surface. I think she was criminally under-used in Neil's Prarie Wind movie. Plus she so fucking beautiful, STILL, at what age, 87? 90?

Plant? Still makes me think of Hobbits.

 
At 5:47 PM, July 12, 2008, Blogger milkyum said...

I actually just watched "Classic Albums" on "British Steel" today... Really cool old footage of JP on Old Grey Whistle Test with Halford in long hair....
Geezers.

 
At 10:18 AM, July 14, 2008, Blogger Tony Alva said...

Holy moly is the new album a pile of poop! Jackson was unfortunate enough to call me on my cell while on my way home in Friday rush hour and had to endure a small part of the stinkiness. You have to hear it to understand. It's not the guitar work or the production, all that actually sounds amazing. It is simply the lack of complete songs and of course the obligitory comical lyrics. Somebody should have stopped them and had the sit down talk.

 
At 8:44 PM, July 14, 2008, Blogger Jackson said...

That British Steel Classic Albums episode is pretty cool. I love the use of cutlery on a tray on 'Metal Gods'.

What happened to Halford? He used to write some fairly intelligent lyrics. It's like the price of coming out of the closet was a lobotomy. Even in interviews, like in the Classic Albums deal, he comes off as just above moronic.

 
At 9:07 AM, July 15, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a fellow Plant-hater, I have to admit I was not too excited at the prospect of having to endure 2 hours of his over-inflated ego eminating from the stage. I was proven wrong. The plain truth is, Alison Krauss clearly stole the show. Plant had his moments, but it's hard to compete with the sheer power and beauty of Alison Krauss' voice. If you get the chance, see the show. Totally worth the price of admission.
Mrs. Alva

 
At 2:22 AM, July 18, 2008, Blogger BeckEye said...

Alright, people are pissing me off. I swear every blogger on my blogroll has gone to see this show and I'm getting jealous.

However, I saw Plant on the Manic Nirvana tour and he was awesome. So I have that memory to keep me warm.

 
At 10:04 AM, July 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Zoot Allures," as I am sure you know, is a play on the French expression, "Zut alors," a mild expletive.

Your father

 
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