Selections from Plant's new album:
A few blasts from Plant's past:
Led Zeppelin in concert, circa 1975: Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page.
As Led Zeppelin's prancing golden-haired lead singer, Robert Plant symbolized the era of white-man's blues starting in the late 1960s. In the 25 years since the band broke up, Plant has continued to dabble in the blues and in recent years he's explored its North African roots.
"The marriage of music between North Africa and the Mississippi Delta... there's a very, very close link," Plant tells Melissa Block.
In his new CD, Mighty Rearranger, Plant continues to travel the musical landscape of North Africa. Several songs on the CD feature instruments native to the region, including the bendir (a drum that can be tuned by heat — from, say, a table lamp — as the skin becomes tighter) and the gimbri (which Plant calls "the great-granddaddy of the guitar").
Plant, who is 56, compares his matured voice — and attitude toward the music — now, with his experience as Led Zeppelin's frontman. "I was competing for attention in a four-piece band that was phenomenal, and I was trying to attack the blues from a kind of white English viewpoint as a singer… I found myself overdoing it, but it worked. It was great, I was young — I was 20 years old. Now I have the gift of perspective and I feel pretty good about it."