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Robert Wyatt - Old Rottenhat  CD (album) cover

OLD ROTTENHAT

Robert Wyatt

 

Canterbury Scene

3.64 | 51 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars One thing that I shall not reproach Old Robert is that the 80's didn't seem to have a grasp on him. After sitting out the second half of the 70's, Robert came back with a vengeance and flooded the early to mid- 80's with some three albums and a bunch of singles (at least I think, because I was never able to know exactly what came out when in those years). So Robert's political views didn't change with the coming of Horrible Maggie, his way of writing songs didn't change much (except that it was less experimental as in the Ruth side of RISTR), and he didn't get influenced by the latest industry trends, such as crappy digital synths and not too much of those screwed-up 80's drumming (bar the short East Timor) and above all he remained himself.

On the other hand, this album verges on boredom, with an absolutely transparent 80's artwork, and very Wyatt-esque songs that resemble each other a little too close for comfort, which is quite sleep-inducing, even with some entertaining anti-imperialist lyrics (US of Amnesia, East Timor, Vandalusia, etc.) OR is probably his most political album to date, well ahead of Matching Mole's LRR. To top it all off, there are no songs that seem to stand out from the pack, except for the longer (8 minutes) Gharzadeghi, which does take a bit of time to expand and get almost exciting with Rob playing a good piano.

But, much to my dismay, ol'Rob has taken up the accordion (I hate those "things"), even if he doesn't use it as a lead instrument proper, but mostly like an organ layering (harmonium-like) the tracks in the background. The instrumental Speechless is a good example of him playing Of course using the usual popular feast instrument such as the accordion the way he does only manages to increase the usual gloom and doom of his albums, without the usual surprises that accompanied his previous albums: quirky changes and poignant instrument sounds and solos.

An under-average album for Robert when comparing to his whole career (incl MM and SM), but if you consider that it's the mid-80's, he's not faring that bad either, and this is far from his worst album as well. But better look elsewhere

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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