Robert Plant – “Rainbow” (Song Review)

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God bless Robert Plant! (For him, I guess that would be Odin or Pan.) The workingman’s Celt who burst on the rock scene as a grinning satyr has somehow managed to age gracefully as a performer. Embracing the limitations that time, moans, and smoke have placed on his voice, he has sought out musical contexts that suit his talents while not repeating his past performances.

“Rainbow,” a new track from his forthcoming album, lullaby…and The Ceaseless Roar, finds him once again at the intersection of North African drones and R&B handclaps. It would be easy to dismiss Plant as one of the restless who has gotten native were it not for the deep comfort he has with this music. I don’t mean to imply that Plant sounds any more authentic here than he did when he was evoking Sonny Boy Williamson’s mojo with Zeppelin. Rather, you get the sense that while PBS was out interviewing “authentic” street performers in Mali, Plant was camping out with locals under a sublime desert sky.

Alternating between Bono-like yodeling (circa 1987) and grainy singing, Plant delivers a life affirming message. The lyrical apex comes during the song’s bridge:

Now love is enough
though the world be a-waning
words have no voice
but the voice of complaining
my hands shall not tremble
my feet shall not falter
my voice shall not weary
my feet shall not alter

Credit should also go to the Plant’s proficiency as producer, helping capture the resonance of the drums and the grit of the guitar that buttress his poetic meditations. Too often the nuances of a rhythm track get muffled, making the singer sound like he’s performing at a honky-tonk karaoke night. Here, everything is brought out in sharpest relief.

With the recent release of remastered Zeppelin albums, Plant might have taken a victory lap with his old mates. But he opted out. Never bored, never content to go ice fishing on the devil’s lake, Plant continues to make compelling music.

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29 Responses

  1. Plant feels safe with this style of music. I don’t like it, and I been in love with Led Zeppelin since they came out as Led Zeppelin. Plant will not tour with the remaining members because he says he is not a jukebox. Well Plant, that is all you will be remembered for, Led Zeppelin. As hard as you may try to run from that……Led Zeppelin will always overshadow anything else you ever sing or do.

    1. If you don’t like it, don’t listen or buy it. It is really that simple…I don’t agree with you when you say that Zep is all that Plant will be known for. Since the end of Zep (34 years ago), Plant has led us on a journey, with some amazing musicians both backing and at times fronting him. He has been moving forward taking us to where he wants to go. I personally would like to actually thank him, bumps and all. I for one am really happy that he didn’t take the easy way out, that is taking the money and running with the Zep jukebox tour!

    2. If you cannot hear Robert Plant of Old in the song then you are not a fan. I love it. People like you expect someone to sound exactly the same after 40-50 years which, is impossible. You are the reason vocalists fear touring. Stick with your perfect CF version while the rest of us FANS beg for MORE!!

  2. 1. I didn’t know he was competing with himself!

    2. Even if he did what everyone wants there would be so much said about every move he made.

    3 Most singers are ever known by their first name just by the group they were in BUT EVERYONE KNOWS ROBERT PLANT..

    4. I SAW TO THE ONES THAT CAN’T MOVE FORWARD OR CAN’T SAY ANYTHING NICE DON’T LISTEN AND DON’T BORE US BY WRITING YOUR CRAP

    1. Apparently Free speech ends when one’s honest opinion is to criticize Robert Plant. Seig Heil, Ms. Johnson!

  3. I saw him on Hanna Highway in Maui and wow he is OLD looking ick.
    We almost ran head on into each other going 5 mph lol.
    He Must be slumming in Paradise.

    As far as album he released I love Led Zep and his comment on not being a Jukebox to reunite with them made me feel kinda slighted as a Fan yet Ill get over it LOL

    Oh well he may not be able to hit the notes again and not want to ruin the memories of all so we just get to reminisce.

    I bet it is good though but I don’t want to ruin memories of the Best band ever.

    1. If the name wasn’t Plant, no one would even bother writing about such basic, shitty music.
      Slumming in paradise…. that’s a good one. And that’s what it is.

  4. It’s a nice song. It’s in line with what he’s been doing for many years. Kudos to he who refuses to be the jukebox, take the unnecessary “victory lap” or cash-in needlessly. Plant
    remains a hero and a legend. He looks old? Funny. He is old. And he looks great, too —
    as if that matters. Keep on giving, Robert. Your friends and fans will always enjoy the ride with you.

  5. Now he’s decided to steal T Rex songs?..wow!..its Mambo Sun..I am sure Mark Bolan estate will see this…so much talent, but no original imagination

    1. Robert Plant is stealing for lowly t rex, u say… I listened to that nothing of a song ‘Mambo Sun’
      and while the beat may be a fraction similar in timing, the song does not.

      T Rex is a joke and always has been. With a voice of a whispering hobo on the, and music sound production like everyone was VERY high and confused though free wheeling and content.

      Robert is the man who wrote and sang the song Thats That Way, Ten Years Gone and
      Achilles Last Stand!
      YOU not a gman, YOUR really a pman.

  6. Michael Yellin: Article was very well written and while you are on pinpoint target for much of what u say.
    Now the concept about robert fishing in devils lake.. That is from someone who really likes Zeppelin, but is not an genuine Zeppelin aficionado.

    Plant is heading in s p e c i a l places on this song and record… he though in the end he has out of fear & doubt turned away his brothers dream of a one time only world tour.
    And he will ALWAYS be connected to that reality took.

  7. A singers voice is considered by the singer, an instrument. As with everything else in and out of our bodies, the vocal cords age and deplete. The highs are lower and the lows are higher. Range decreases.
    Robert Plant is an artist and a damned good one as are all of the members of Led Zepplin.
    Like all artists, they express themselves individually over time with new and fresh bodies of work. If you are a listener, you prefer the oldies or you prefer the oldies and all new bodies of work that compliment your taste for music just as you or I would for taste in fine art.
    How many of us have tried on fresh sounds being played today and liked them?
    In summary, Plant’s work is fresh, original, and all him. Like all great artists, he has sought to expand his creativity as opposed to being trapped in time replaying in jukebox format, the golden oldies.
    I applaud his artistic talent!

  8. A side note…….Plant and co. Are how old now. If you can look in the mirror when your his age and say you look like you did 37 years ago, God bless you.

    1. Joeee…Your post makes you look ignorant. Plant still has one of the best voices in music. Apparently you have never heard him sing live.

    2. Joeee

      You are an idiot. Every great singer is still better than most all who walk on the stage. They just don’t have the range they had when they were younger. Take a listen to the 2007 concert that was aired on cable. Awesome and still much like the old RP. Listen to his work with Allison Ksauss. The man is still amazing.
      You are like many who critique ANYTHING that represents change, you have to throw out the barbs just because you are an a-hole.
      Go play in the friggin street.

  9. I never listened to or liked Led Zeppelin very much. Some of their songs were ok.
    But I love what Robert Plant has done ever since. Great music, great singer. I think he is using his older voice to make some of the best music out there today.

    1. That is pure lovestruck BS. If the band had any balls, they’d be allowed to open up a bit and take this tedious bull in some direction. Any direction. But oh yes, though silly fans, he , the Plant , opens up everything in concert. Oh what greatness awaits. But the recordings suck.

  10. Robert is out there playing Zeppelin tunes with good musicians. Why not play Zeppelin tunes with the BEST musicians who are still around, Jimmy and Jonesy. I don’t get it.

  11. I have seen plant in concert since the zepplin days, and sorry to say I didn’t care for his sound now. And also can say this album will never go far. No matter what any of you say. Led zepplin was the best and will never come back.those days are over just as his are over.

  12. Meh. Not bad, but not very inspiring or captivating for me. I don’t care whether he wants to sing for Zep again or not, but I still prefer to hear him as a rocker. I know he can’t hit the highs like he used to, but he could still rock if he wanted to. Too bad he doesn’t.

    1. Correct. He chooses to hide behind a veil of , of…. whatever it is he does. Which is lacking in energy and compulsion. Rest easy Bob, rest easy.

  13. Look people…..Page and Jones want to tour, Plant refuses. Why? Because he knows the other two wont go out without him. In this way Plant holds all the cards. Who is playing King here? Touring would bring packed venues. I seen Zeppelin 4 times. Page on a solo tour too. Zeppelin runs threw my blood. Plant can keep on singing his Moroccan inspired crap all he wants, it isn’t where I want to be. I am not looking for the past to repeat itself with Led Zeppelin, Plant can sing with the remaining members if he wanted to, and bring in millions doing that , but he doesn’t care about his true “ZEPPELIN” followers, nope, he threw us away a long time ago…so he can go screw himself, I favored Jimmy Page anyhow.

  14. I am not sure why individuals feel it important or valuable to insist Robert Plant will only be known as the vocalist for Led Zeppelin. That was so long ago. I haven’t forgotten that voice either. I remember the first time I heard him sing Stairway to Heaven, but I also remember him singing his heart out for the crowd on October 4, 2014 at the Fillmore in Denver, Colorado.

    Wow, he and the Sensational Space Shifters were awesome. I was amazed at the talent on that stage. I loved the mix of Zeppelin and what was then his new album, Lullaby… And the Ceaseless Roar. His ballad, ‘Rainbow’ is my favorite, but the entire album is simply great!

    I cannot understand why people do not just let others, in this case Robert Plant just do what makes him happy, what fills his soul and spirit, and he has decided he wants to accomplish. I don’t dislike the man he has become or any changes in his music or his musical style. He has aged gracefully, despite a fan in the audience admonishing (seemingly to me) that his hair was grey; seriously people! He seems to enjoy his life, knows what makes him happy, and knows what he wants. Isn’t that what we all want in our life. It is what I want.

    The insulting words that are spread throughout this comment section, just bothers me. I’d prefer people expect this man to be something he isn’t or doesn’t fit in line with his values, goals, and dreams.

    I must say, I have stated these same words to Queensryche fans who believe Chris DeGarmo should return to the band and that Todd LaTorre (Queensryche’s new singer) isn’t as good as Geoff Tate. Again, seriously people, just let these men do what they want to do. Why can’t people just let go of the past and move on?

    I struggle myself to let it all go, but dang it, I try and others ought to too. I am sure it bothers these men too that so many just cannot let ‘it’ go! Do these men and me a solid, and please just let it go!

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