Most of the free world — including Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, we hear — would probably love to see Robert Plant move past his recent O Brother, Where Art Thou? phase and get on with a full-scale reunion of (what's left of) Led Zeppelin. No dice. Ol' Bob seems to have settled nicely into the role of stately English countryside gentleman, and he much prefers performing rustic, old-timey Americana/bluegrass over attempting to squeal "Whole Lotta Love" in the bombastic manner it and other Zep classics deserve for belly-bumping weekend warriors with hundreds of dollars to burn on concert tickets. And, yeah, it's not like he needs the paycheck. So Plant returns with Band of Joy, a similarly styled follow-up to Raising Sand, his acclaimed 2007 collaboration with Alison Krauss. Band of Joy, as Led Zep die-hards surely know, was Plant's pre-Zeppelin psychedelic rock outfit. His current Band of Joy — which helped him record the eponymous new disc — is a sextet that includes old-school Nashville songwriter/guitarist Buddy Miller and singer-songwriter Patty Griffin. In many ways, Plant has returned to the music that inspired Led Zeppelin in the first place, and his latest explorations sound terrific. Embrace it, because the likelihood of a Led Zep reunion is over the hills and far away.
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