Best Albums of the 00s: Raising Sand

Raising Sand - Robert Plant & Alison Krauss (2007)

The 2007 collaboration between the former lead singer of Led Zeppelin and an American bluegrass musician is number nine in my chronological countdown of the albums I’ve enjoyed the most since 2000. Raising Sand is a country-flavoured collection of thirteen cover versions of songs written by such renowned songwriters as Gene Clark, Tom Waits and Townes Van Zandt. The songs were chosen by the album’s producer and guitarist, T-Bone Burnett, who also assembled the excellent band that includes such wonderful musicians as Marc Ribot and Norman Blake. The real delight, however, is the pretty impressive vocal collaboration between Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, who also plays a mean fiddle. I must admit that I was surprised when I first heard that they would be working together

I had been impressed by Krauss’ harmony singing on a number of songs on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, which had also been put together and produced by Mr Burnett. Plant would be familiar to most fans of music as vocalist of Led Zeppelin and I was pleasantly surprised at how well he worked with Ms Krauss. In fact, they are so good together that they recall the musical pairing of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris from the early seventies. Possibly due to Plant’s presence this American album was surprisingly nominated for the 2008 Mercury Prize. It didn’t win that one, but it did have five big wins at the following year’s Grammy awards. I’ve managed to track down all but three of the original versions of the songs from the album. I think the versions by Plant and Krauss improve on many of these, particularly the earlier take on Please Read the Letter

01 Rich Woman – Little Millette & His Creoles (includes Bob Dylan intro)

02 Killing the Blues – John Prine

03 Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us – Sam Phillips

04 Polly – Gene Clark

05 Gone Gone Gone – Everly Bros

06 Throught the Morning, Through the Night – Gene Clark

07 Please Read The Letter – Jimmy Page & Robert Plant

08 Trampled Rose – Tom Waits

09 Fortune Teller – Benny Spellman

11 Nothin’ – Townes Van Zandt


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