Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Plan B is back - but which Plan B?

When Radio 1 announced it's Big Weekend line-up last month, one name really stood out: Plan B, who had been given a headline slot five years after his last album, Ill Manors. Clearly, the station's head of music, Chris Price, had been played hear his new material; and walked away impressed. Very impressed.

Tonight, we got to hear why, when Ben Drew premiered a new song, In The Name Of Man on Mistajam's Radio 1 show. So which Plan B is it? The furious polemicist of Ill Manors, or the soul storyteller of Strickland Banks. In the end, it's a bit of both.

In The Name Of Man is a broiling, slow-motion scowl of a song; as the singer rails against fanatacism: "Hey man, what's the use? There's no talking to you when you think it's God's words that you preach," he sings. "Everything you love, you hurt."

"I wrote that a good few years ago, when we first invaded Iraq," he told Mistajam. "It was seeing the media footage of, sorry to take it really dark, but this song's about dead children. i don't see how we can ever excuse death or harm [to] long children. But we do. We say our armies are invading these countries for the greater good - but I don't think it's as black and white as that."

He promised the forthcoming video, which he directed himself, would also address the plight of immigrants, many of whom who die in their attempt to get to the shores of the UK. "I don't know when that is ever right, to allow that to happen to young people," he said.

So it's a sombre, excoriating comeback - but In The Name Of Man is pointedly not the first single.

"When I listen to this song, I don't necessarily think, Hey this is a radio hit'. I don't expect to get chart success with it. But it's not all about that Sometimes you've just got to come and say something to the world that sparks a conversation."

Either way, Plan B's voice is better than it's ever been, that beautiful Smokey Robinson tenor scarred with gravel and fury, while the music reminds me of Massive Attack's collaborations with Smokey Robinson.

Looks like Radio 1 made the right call.

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