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Robert Wyatt - Theatre Royal Drury Lane CD (album) cover

THEATRE ROYAL DRURY LANE

Robert Wyatt

 

Canterbury Scene

4.10 | 76 ratings

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jazz2896
5 stars How this album hasn't gotten more attention is beyond me. Released from the archival tapes long thought missing, in my view this is easily one of the top five Canterbury albums ever released. The lineup is utterly mindblowing, including Hugh Hopper, Fred Frith, Mike Oldfield, Nick Mason, Dave Stewart, and of course Robert himself to name just a few. Based on this lineup alone I'm surprised this album isn't more popular, but such is life. On to the music. Rock Bottom itself is a masterpiece in every way imaginable, and every single track from that album is represented in this glorious live set. The beautiful, yet frail arrangements on the studio album would be impossible to reconstruct in a live setting, so a carbon copy of the studio tracks was never going to happen, but how these tracks are transformed is where the beauty of this album lies. The songs are all beefed up with the individual talents of each of the players, who are all able to stretch out during each piece, which adds a new flavor to songs. The largest deviation from the studio album would be in the track Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road, where the trumpet loops are replaced with a jumpy guitar and bass riff, and the result is nothing short of astounding. Wyatt's voice in this live setting sounds as passionate and charged as ever, perhaps moreso than on the studio album. The non Rock Bottom tracks are excellent as well, representing various eras of Wyatt's musical career at that time. One of the largest complaints of this album has been the sound quality. The first 2/3's or so of the album has excellent sound quality, every instrument can be heard clearly. For 1974, the sound quality is excellent. While the last ⅓, yes the sound quality dips, but not to the point of being unbearable. I would say the sound is about on par with Welcome Back My Friends to the Show that Never Ends, which to these ears is a perfectly listenable album. Overall, this release is an easy 5/5, recommended for anyone interested in Wyatt's music, the Canterbury scene, and progressive rock in general. It may even be a good access point to Rock Bottom for those who find it to be too sparse and bleak. I cannot recommend this album enough.
jazz2896 | 5/5 |

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