Mysterious Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant is still full of surprises. Late last month he announced plans to head into the studio in October to record his first solo album in eight years with his touring band, Strange Sensation. Now he's pulled another strange move by canceling his end-of-July performance at this year's WOMAD USA world-music festival in order to get a jump-start on the record. His management company said Plant would begin to record the new record within a few weeks.
A joint press statement from WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) and Plant's management stated simply, "The cancellation is due to unforeseen scheduling conflicts between live performances and the availability of band members to record their new album." On Monday, WOMAD USA replaced Plant with Gregg Allman. It has also just recruited Perry Farrell, who will perform a DJ set as DJ Peretz. WOMAD USA, founded by Peter Gabriel, diplomatically added that it "hopes to bring Robert Plant and Strange Sensation to Seattle for next year's festival." The upcoming record will likely feature songs the band has been playing on tour, according to Plant's management, including reworked Zep classics such as "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You," "Misty Mountain Hop" and "Whole Lotta Love" as well as such covers as Billy Roberts' "Hey Joe" and Donovan's "Season of the Witch." The Strange Sensation album will likely be released on Atlantic Records, a publicist at the label said.
While Plant won't play this year's WOMAD USA Festival, which takes place July 27-29 in Redmond, Washington's Marymoor Park, Gabriel will appear there for the first time since 1994 as a guest performer with African-Irish act Afro-Celt Sound System. Other outfits playing this year's WOMAD include Steel Pulse, the Neville Brothers, Youssou N'Dour and the recently added Pato Banton and the Reggae Revolution.