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Here's that Robert Plant interview that I mentioned before. It's from Network magaizne Sept/Oct 1993: Plant's latest solo album, Fate Of Nations, features his trademark North African-styled wails, but it also delivers fresh, crisp playing by guitarists Kevin Scott MacMichael (a Halifax boy, formerly of Cutting Crew) and Francis Dunnery, bassist Charlie Jones, drummers Pete Thompson and Michael Lee, and keyboardist Phil Johnstone. The topical, environmentally-aware lyrics also place the project firmly in the '90s. "There are all sorts of comments to make without becoming heavy, like some sort of dull, aging folkie," explains Plant. "For instance, the color of the sky. You get on an airplane and at 30,000 feet it's still grey. When I was a kid travelling to America it was always blue. I think there's a mood set with people like REM, Dylan and Peter Gabriel commenting on the condition of our planet. I don't know whether [my stuff] is any good, but it's better than talking about your masculinity on every track." Don't worry, age hasn't slowed the libido of rock's reigning cock- of-the-walk. Instead of becoming blase, 25 years of having lust and love served up to him on a silver platter have made Plant surprisingly coy when speaking about his relationships. Is he romantically involved? "Oh yeah, all over the place," he says. Pause. "Well, not all over the place, but almost. I feel very comfortable with my being. I'm not chasing anything right now. I'm not focused, but I feel cool. And there are people who help me feel cool and are gentle and kind and yet have a sense of humour and know I'm primarily a funny guy. There's kind of ridiculous zone in me that is very light. So there are people who encourage me and they are not from my generation, so they don't have a build-up of anxiety." (The grapevine says he's seeing a friend of his 23-year-old daughter Carmen's.) What of the rumour that he and Canadian singer Alannah Myles had an entaglement? "We did your together," he says, a note of surprise in his voice. "We're good friends. I think the world of her. She's a great, powerful lady. She has one of the finest voicest of the idiom. She was always very kind to me, very warm-hearted. But the road is the road." Is that a cryptic 'yes' to the question? "Forget about all the rumours," he says, then quickly adds, "Everything is true and untrue." Putting two and two together, it seems the song "29 Palms", on the new album, could be about the sultry, raven-haired vocalist: "It comes kinda hard when I hear your voice on the radio/ Taking me back down the road that leads back to you." Confirms Plant, "'29 Palms' was written on tour, the last time we were in California." Plant won't be pinned down however. The subject changes to his peers and their latest albums. "Mick Jagger is singing and writing better than he has in years," he comments about the lead Stones' latest solo effort, Wandering Spirit. "Personally, if I were him, I think you can gain 10 years out of life and your career if you take something right the way down the line from your own angle. It would have been great if he had bitten the bullet and gone solo and meant it to the degree that he would stay with it for a while. I don't go back to Zeppelin." "Just as important, Keith Richards' last album was really great. I saw him playing with Steve Jordan in London and I've never seen him look so happy, play so good and the groove was cool." Has he heard the Coverdale/Page album? "Yeah, I have," he says flatly. A few years ago, in Musician magazine, Plant voiced his lack of respect for Coverdale, due to a mimicry of Plant's style. He refuses to be drawn into similar conversatopn today. "I haven't heard it enough to comment on it tactfully," he says with an uncomfortable laugh. Are there any younger performers he is championing these days? "Julian Cope's 'Jehova Kill' I really love. 'Soul Desert', the opening track is great. The inspiration behind the album is all sacred sites, especially in the British Isles. I know about those places, you see. That's what 'Stairway To Heaven' was about." More insights into Plant's inspiration will be presented in a documentry that's currently in production. "I'm doing some filming at the national festival of folklore in Morocco," he says excitedly. "There'll be hordes of Arab warrirors careening across a stage, baning drums and going [he lets out a high-pitched howl] 'Hey Allah'" Has he been to this festival before? "I went in "73 with Jimmy. That's when we wrote Kashmir." He laughs. "It all makes sense."

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