About 20 years ago, I almost bought a synthesizer that once belonged to British rocker Robert Plant. At the time, I don't think I could have told you the title of any Led Zeppelin songs, and I probably would not have recognized one on the radio. I was just in the market for a used synthesizer, and the fact that it had once belonged to Robert Plant (and had documentation to prove it) was irrelevant to me. I should point out that I would probably recognize Led Zeppelin's music today.
Fast forward to Christmas 2007, and my Sister-in-Law bought my Wife and me a CD called Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. I have to admit, I was more familiar with Krauss's work than Plant's, having been through a phase of listening to a lot of bluegrass music. I just knew from the first time I listened to the album, that it was very special. The songs, the arrangements and the blending of the voices were magical. Who would have thought that the collaboration of a British rock god and an American bluegrass fiddler and vocalist would yield such a potent brew?
Plant and Krauss first performed together at a concert to celebrate the music of Lead Belly. They thought the pairing sounded promising, so they brought in producer T-Bone Burnett, most well known for producing the soundtrack to the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? Burnett's selection of songs, mostly classics and standards, and his production, "Built on a shared core of modal blues and country soul, filtered through alternating layers of unadorned tenderness and thick, shifting textures" provided the final pieces of the puzzle.
Last weekend, Brits won big at the Grammys, with awards going to Coldplay, Adele, Duffy and Radiohead. Performances at the show included one by Paul McCartney. However, Robert Plant headed what much of the British press described as a British Invasion. Raising Sand won 5 Grammys: Album of the Year; Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album; Record of the Year (for "Please Read the Letter"); Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals (for "Rich Woman"); and Best Country Collaboration with Vocals (for "Killing the Blues").
The British press also speculated that the organizers had been desperate for big wins by American artists to help reverse years of declining domestic TV audiences. However, the 12,000 voting members of the Recording Academy apparently did not play ball, and American wins were largely restricted to relatively minor awards.
What did you think of the Grammys? What do you think of "Raising Sand?" Please let us know by sharing your comments.
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