Robert Plant and Alison Kraus – Just one album Raising Sand (2007). Of course, Robert was the singer in Led Zeppelin (who I have bever bought) and this album is quite different, almost Americana; Alison was known as a bluegrass singer. I quite like the record, but I feel it is missing a bit of edge, it is really quite laid back and sadly most of the songs aren’t really strong enough. So, a pleasant listen but not in my top albums.
Portishead – this Bristol band almost single-handled created the trip hop genre; they formed in 1991 – Adrian Utley and Geoff Barrow created the music which was enhanced and completed by the remarkable vocals of Beth Gibbons. Their album Dummy, released in 1994 was an instant hit and featured hugely in the BBC series This Life, a British sort of Friends only more serious. Anyway, the album is brilliant – very moody and the beats are amazing, but as always it is Beth’s haunting vocals that make it exceptional. Hard to pick a favourite track but ‘Wandering Star’, ‘Sour Times’ and ‘Glory Box’ stay in my brain longer than most. Their second album simply entitled Portishead came out in 1997; a bit harder in feel, with the vocals more pronounced really, but another stunning album. They really defined their sound with this record, especially on tracks – ‘All Mine’, Half Day Closing’ and ‘Western Skies’ – though the album should really be listened to as a whole piece. They toured, especially festivals for the remainder of the decade. But then they fell almost silent, releasing the occasional song on their website and had practically disbanded, with always the hint in the air of new material, for over ten years. They did release one live album…PNYC from a show they did in New York in I think 1998, which is pretty good; slightly expanded versions of songs from their two albums – nothing new. We then had to wait for almost a decade until 2008 for anything new. Third was a bit of a departure -a couple of tracks much louder and drums featured on most songs; especially ‘Machine Gun’ which was very loud. But somehow the album didn’t have the appeal of their first two. No other songs really stood out for me. And so far nothing since…constant rumours of a new album….but nothing materialises.