Moving Into the '80s … in 2021: How Robert Plant Influenced Marcus Singletary's EP Power Player

My post "In Context and Time" details the pseudo-history of each recording project I've undertaken, while simultaneously discussing the progression of each disc's chronological framework. To summarize, I traveled in a time machine back to the dawn of rock and roll, and wound up traversing through the worlds of fusion and concept before landing squarely upon somewhat of a late-'70s punk-rock ethos with Born to Be Wild, "Top of the Sky" and "Devil's Rage." In 2021, the challenge became entering the '80s - a decade in which I lived, and the answer was a back-to-basics approach consisting of reinterpreted tunes and a project inspired by The Honeydrippers: Volume One, Robert Plant's solo project from the '80s that honed in on classics from the 1950s.

The resultant EP, Power Player, references the '60s - my favorite musical era, and one I was immersed in when Plant's own retro EP was receiving heavy airplay on radio stations airing a then-new format called "classic rock." It kicks off with a rendition of the Rivieras' 1964 hit "California Sun." Their version has a truly effervescent vibe that would encourage any young man to explore the West. Here, I employ an acoustic Martin guitar as an electrified instrument, soloing with overdrive influenced by Keith Richards' similar use of the instrument on the Stones' 1968 release "Sympathy for the Devil." This was not my first time utilizing the acoustic in this way, as evidenced by several live performance videos that exist on YouTube.

Like most people, I initially heard Robert Johnson's "Love in Vain" on the Stones' 1969 album Let it Bleed. In a manner similar to Johnson's own cut, this was more of a "one-and-done" recording, where a single take (on each instrument, of course) was captured. Many others, such as Rod Stewart and the Faces and Humble Pie, have recorded it, but this version is distinguished by a mixture of Johnson's sorrowful narrative with less-dreary music. It signifies joy amidst loss, or idiosyncrasy atypical within commercial music forms.

A Fernandes electric guitar was employed on the final pair of tracks - a cover of the Yardbirds' "Shapes of Things," and an elongated performance of Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild" that features some soloing unheard on the 2020 album of the same name. "Shapes" adds jazz flavorings to the Jeff Beck Group's sketch from  '68's pioneering blues-rock LP Truth. Also originally from '68, "Wild" exposes a funkier groove than usual for this particular tune.

Power Player presents songs that I always enjoyed, as a kid, and wanted to play, as an adult. The tunes were fun to record, and as an objective listener, they are fun to hear.