Album Remarks & Appraisals:
The Band of Joy (also known as Robert Plant and the Band of Joy) are a rock band from England. Various lineups of the group performed from 1965 to 1968 and from 1977 to 1983. Robert Plant revived the band's name in 2010 for a concert tour of the United States and Europe.
The band is notable for including two musicians, Robert Plant and John Bonham, who went on to join Led Zeppelin; and, to a lesser degree, because the band's one-time roadie was Noddy Holder, who later was in the band Slade.
The Band Of Joy was originally formed in 1966 in West Bromwich, near Birmingham, England by Chris Brown (keyboards), Vernon Pereira (guitar), and singer Robert Plant. Conflicts with the band's management led to Plant leaving the group after a few months. He quickly tried to form his own Band of Joy, but it soon folded. A third incarnation of the band, including Plant's childhood friend John Bonham, lasted from 1967 to mid-1968. Their brand of soul and blues was popular with Birmingham mods. This lineup recorded a number of demo recordings in early 1968, but broke up in May 1968 when a recording contract failed to materialise.
Albeit briefly, lead guitar duties were taken by Dave Pegg, who later played the bass guitar with Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull. Pegg rehearsed with Band of Joy but did not tour with them.
For a 1968 tour of Scotland, Plant and Bonham co-opted bassist John Hill (ex-Uncle Joseph) and guitarist Mick Strode to fill out a temporary lineup.
In 1977 Gammond and Paul Lockey revived the Band of Joy, rounding out the lineup with John Pasternak, Peter Robinson, and keyboardist Michael Chetwood. Gammond, Lockey, Pasternak and Robinson had previously played in Bronco. They invited Plant and Bonham to contribute to their 1978 self-titled album, but nothing came of it. The group released a second album in 1983 before breaking up.
In 2010 it was announced that Plant would form a new band and tour as Robert Plant & the Band of Joy.
"Having won enough awards to keep his mantelpiece groaning for years for his2007 collaboration with Alison Krauss, Robert Plant resists the temptation to repeat the Americana formula and give us Raising More Sand. Instead he invokes the name of Band of Joy, the psychedelic blues group he originally fronted before the birth of Led Zeppelin over four decades' earlier, for an album of bounding energy and unexpected eclecticism.
Produced with formidable intensity and an impressive sonic feel by Nashville-based country stalwart Buddy Miller, it offers yet another indication of Plant's commendably enduring desire to keep moving. Clearly neither advancing age nor years of unabated success have deprived Plant of either his constant appetite for challenge or his ability to deliver in a cogent, credible and thoroughly convincing fashion. Whether wailing yearningly over a buoyant acoustic rhythm on theLightnin' Hopkins blues Central Two-O-Nine or rockin'n'rollin' in time-honoured fashion on You Can't Buy My Love, Plant is in terrific voice throughout. Pounding drums (from Marco Giovino) are pushed to the front of the mix and steel guitar and banjos abound on an album with country roots but which quickly develops tentacles that spread in surprising directions, from the gothic chime of Monkey to a vivacious spin on the folk song Cindy, I'll Marry You Someday.
Patty Griffin pops up with sublime vocal harmonies as Plant tackles some intriguing material. Opening with rhythmic overload on a Los Lobos rocker Angel Dance, he conjures up an authentic 1950s sound on an old Jimmie Rodgers hit Falling in Love Again, delivers an edgy treatment of a lesser-known Townes Van Zant song Harm's Swift Way; creates a virulent swirling chorus on Richard Thompson's House of Cards; and performs a masterly arrangement of the spiritual Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down, spritely banjo vying with broody guitar and ghostly backing choir as the track develops its subtle air of menace.
Just as producer T-Bone Burnett deservedly copped much of the acclaim for Raising Sand, Buddy Miller merits much credit for the richness here. But the glory rightly belongs to Plant." - BBC
"Robert Plant's 2007 album with pop-bluegrass songbird Alison Krauss, Raising Sand, did something 25 years of solo records never quite managed: It fully transformed him from former Led Zeppelin golden god into a roots singer. Plant had never sung so tenderly or collaboratively, commanding a crack modern string band that defined power in terms other than Physical Graffiti.
Band of Joy - named after Plant's first band with late pal John Bonham - smartly takes some cues from Raising Sand. Plant uses an A list of country voices and players (Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller) and an inspired mix of vintage and modern songs. If it's not quite as seamless and sublime a record, well, it's pretty damn good, and what it lacks in coherence it makes up for in magnified rock & roll mojo.
Miller helps with the latter. The journeyman guitarist-songwriter (and former Emmylou Harris collaborator) co-produced the record with Plant, and he contributes muscular playing and singing. His guitar is low and nasty on the lead cut, a coiled, mandolin-dusted cover of Los Lobos' "Angel Dance." And he opens up on "House of Cards," a cover of Richard Thompson's scalding 1978 folk rocker, bright leads carving the air while Plant and Griffin's harmonies recall Zep's "The Battle of Evermore."
But what's most striking is Plant's vocal versatility. As a solo act, his songwriting has been spotty, if impressively versatile. But he's proved himself to be an excellent interpreter, from his 1984 Honeydrippers EP of old-school R&B and pop through Raising Sand. He does the same here, and the songs give him plenty to work with. He returns to the late, great Townes Van Zandt (whose "Nothin' " was a highlight on Sand) for the bleak "Harm's Swift Way," working a metaphor that turns the idea of time into a woman beyond a man's control. Plant doesn't oversing a whit, delivering poetic meditations on mortality with Griffin's harmonies clinging to him like a spangled death shroud.
The two most striking songs are the most left-field, both penned by the brooding husband-wife indie-rock band Low. "Silver Rider" is a glittering dirge, another showcase for Griffin, who's such a good songwriter that's it's easy to forget what a great singer she is. Plant sings "Monkey" almost as a whisper. "It's a suicide/Shut up and drive," he snarls, in what sounds like the opening scene of a David Lynch film. It's as menacingly restrained as anything he's ever uttered.
This is a record primarily about loss and time's march, and Plant sings with gravity, working his middle range. It doesn't all click. "Even This Shall Pass Away" tries too hard for profundity. And the old spiritual "Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down" mostly makes you want to hear Plant back cruising Lucifer's daughter on "Houses of the Holy."
But Plant isn't singing like the old days. The closest he comes is "You Can't Buy My Love," first recorded in 1965 by R&B singer Barbara Lynn. Plant knocks it out playfully, like a lost demo from Led Zeppelin I, with a few hollers and sexy woo-oh-ohs. And in 3:10, it's over. You can't buy his love, and you can't turn back time. It's a notion other rock vets could do well to ponder." - RollinStone
Rolling Stone - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "[W]hat's most striking is Plant's vocal versatility....The two most striking songs are the most left-field, both penned by the brooding husband-wife indie-rock band Low."
Entertainment Weekly (p.139) - "Plant sounds vocally reenergized on this covers-heavy follow-up to his Grammy-winning Alison Krauss collaboration, RAISING SAND..." -- Grade: A-
Billboard (p.28) - "[T]he Plant-Miller original 'Central Two-O-Nine' is a train song so authentic in tone that it almost sounds like a Johnny Cash chestnut."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.94) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "The tender, propulsive take on the late Townes Van Zandt's 'Harm's Swift Way' is a nice touch....It all adds up to more willful magic from Plant."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.52) - Ranked #32 in Mojo's "The 50 Best Albums Of 2010" -- "[A] textured solo effort."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.89) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "'Falling In Love Again' recalls Plant's days with The Honeydrippers, his voice as sweet and emotive as it's ever been."
Uncut (magazine) (p.82) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Rarely in his post-Zep years has Plant sung as well as he does on BAND OF JOY....The album's closing quartet of tracks is a microcosm of American folk song."
Uncut (magazine) (p.37) - Ranked #5 in Uncut's "The 50 Best Albums Of 2010" -- "BAND OF JOY found him delving deeper into Americana, assisted by Buddy Miller and another crack team of Nashville outriders."
Personnel: Patty Griffin (vocals); Darrell Scott (guitar, acoustic guitar, lap steel guitar, banjo, mandolin, accordion); Buddy Miller (electric guitar, baritone guitar, 6-string bass); Marco Giovino (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixer: Mike Poole.
Recording information: Clinton Recording Studio, New York, NY; House of Blues Studio, Nashville, TN; Woodland Studios, Nashville, TN.
Editor: Mike Poole.
Photographer: Michael Wilson .
Robert Plant revives the Band of Joy name for his new album, co-produced by and featuring Buddy Miller, whose fine guitar playing and presence on these tracks bring it close to being an actual collaboration.