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Robert Wyatt - Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard CD (album) cover


Robert Wyatt


Canterbury Scene

3.48 | 113 ratings

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4 stars For a long time, this was the only Robert Wyatt album I've ever heard, and while I now feel that the emotionally draining Rock Bottom (1974) is his best solo effort (of the ones I've heard of course), I still really enjoy this stew of jazz and blues flavoured with politics and humour.

The former leader of both Soft Machine and Matching Mole is accompanied by a stellar team with some songs co-written by the Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera, Soft Machine's Hugh Hopper and Henry Cow's Fred Frith, while Pink Floyd's Nick Mason produces one of the tracks and Brian Eno also guesting. The first two tracks are fun but not really what one expects from a prog artist. Soup Song is a nice progressive blues tune while Sonia is a jazz-inflected reggae instrumental originally written by Mongezi Feza, who plays trumpet on this album. A real highlight then follows in the brilliant Team Spirit, which is jazzy prog guaranteed to warm the cockles. It's followed by a cover of Charlie Haden' Song For Che which is a jazzy mournful march. The three segments of Muddy Mouse are a typical Soft Machine meets Henry Cow experience marrying Wyatt's high pitched vocals with Frith's complicated modern classical sensibilities. These songs frame three of the best pieces on the album. Solar Flares is a driving jazz-rock number, 5 Black Notes and 1 White Note is a melancholy, haunting affair that sees Wyatt expanding on classical composer Jacques Offenbach's Baccarole and Muddy Mouth is an intriguing piece ... although I'm not really a fan of Wyatt's attempt to give his vocals a wah-wah effect.

Having now heard Rock Bottom, I have little doubt that the "lightness" of this album (which is still far from easy listening) is a reaction to the soul-searching he did on his previous album. I repeat ... I really enjoyed it. (BTW, you'll note that "the old sides A & B" have been flipped on my version of this album, which may well have had an effect on how I view this album). ... 71% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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