Shane’s Rock Challenge: ROBERT PLANT – 1993 – Fate Of Nations
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
One of Robert Plant’s most emotional solo recordings, Fate Of Nations (his sixth full-length solo album) is wonderfully moving and a delight to listen to over & over. I daresay it’s arguably my favourite of his post-Led Zeppelin works.
In getting so deep into his own feelings it must be said that he reached a little too far on one or two occasions – but who else has earned the right to drop a lyric like “life is a big tambourine/ the more that you shake it the better it seems” than Percy Plant! It’s not exactly “Oh let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dream/
I am a traveler of both time and space, to be where I have been” is it?
But that’s a minute quibble and this is a hugely enjoyable album.
Plant had re-embraced his Led Zep past with his previous two albums Now And Zen and Manic Nirvana, after years of refusing to go down the ‘Golden God’ road again. It was a welcome change and astonishingly brave for such a major artist, but he has mostly always been his own man. Fate Of Nations found him settling into a place where he could acknowledge and channel his famous past, whilst also experimenting with different instruments, sounds and rhythms.
Come Into My Life is a plaintiff call to a potentially kindred spirit, while I Believe is a tribute to his late son Karac, a soul who died far too young 16 years previously while Plant was on tour in America, fuelled by excess of all sorts.
29 Palms is perhaps the most one-dimensional track on show, a jaunty little pop number that was a minor hit as a single.
Plant’s cover of Tim Hardin’s If I Were A Carpenter is touching and emotive, but it’s Colours Of A Shade and The Greatest Gift which hit the hardest. They’re wonderful songs, beautifully rendered and it’s hard to hear them after I Believe and not suspect that the loss of his son might have needed a bit more healing therapy than just the one set of lyrics.
Collaborators on the album include Cutting Crew guitarist Kevin Scott MacMichael (He obviously didn’t die in anyone’s arms that night), co-called ‘punk violinist’ Nigel Kennedy, Clannad vocalist Maire Brennan and son-in-law Charlie Jones, who plays bass with intuitive skill and is credited with “everything else” on one or two tracks.
Plant would go head first back down the Zeppelin rabbit hole shortly after this album was released, reuniting with Jimmy Page for two albums and it would be nine years before he’d release another solo record.
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