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Robert Wyatt - The End Of An Ear CD (album) cover

THE END OF AN EAR

Robert Wyatt

 

Canterbury Scene

3.22 | 91 ratings

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Syzygy
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is one of those albums that seems to divide opinions, largely on the basis of the extraordinary 'Las Vegas Tango', which opens and closes the proceedings. Wyatt was unhappy with the new direction that Soft Machine were taking at the time, which was towards purely instrumental jazz fusion. On the sleeve he refers to himself as 'out of work pop singer', and he was to leave the Softs after 'Fourth'.

The album contains no songs as such, and is dominated by Wyatt's version of 'Las Vegas Tango', a Gil Evans composition (Gil Evans was probably most famous for his work as arranger on Miles Davis albums like Sketches of Spain). Not so much a cover version as a radical deconstruction, Wyatt sings all the horn parts and also accompanies himself on drums and keyboards. It's a unique, bravura performance, one of the most extraordinary demonstrations of the power of the human voice in prog, but it's not easy listening.

Sandwiched in between the two halves of Las Vegas Tango are a series of mostly instrumental pieces which feature a strong free jazz influence. Elton Dean and Mark Charig get to cut loose in a manner that anticipates the dual horn interplay on Henry Cow's first album, or recalls the experimentation of pioneers like Ornette Coleman. The drumming is superb throughout, and in parts you can hear elements of Matching Mole - the track To Carla Marsha and Caroline would be reworked as 'Instant Pussy' on the first Matching Mole album.

I'd recommend this album to anyone interested in the more left field experimental rock that would later become known as RIO. This is as experimental as Robert Wyatt ever got in his own right, and repays careful listening.

Syzygy | 4/5 |

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