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Robert Wyatt - For The Ghosts Within (with Atzmon and & Stephen) CD (album) cover

FOR THE GHOSTS WITHIN (WITH ATZMON AND & STEPHEN)

Robert Wyatt

 

Canterbury Scene

3.00 | 21 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Syzygy
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Definitely one for collectors and established fans. It goes against the grain to give such a low rating to a Robert Wyatt album, but this is Progarchives and there's barely a hint of prog - or indeed rock of any kind - to be heard on this album.

Fist things first. This isn't a Robert Wyatt solo album - the credit is shared equally with Ros Stephens, leader of the Sigamos string quartet and main arranger, and Israeli sax/clarinet player Gilad Atzmon, who previously worked with Wyatt on Comicopera. Stephens and Atzmon each co-wrote one of the three original songs, with lyrics by Wyatt's wife Alfreda Benge. There are no new songs by Wyatt himself, and he even revisits some of his old cover versions. The album does relate very strongly to Wyatt's political beliefs, especially the Palestinian cause, and also his love of jazz standards from the pre rock and roll era.

The album opens with a lush reading of Laura that wouldn't sound out of place on an oldies station aimed at the over 80s. Things then take on a middle eastern flavour with the album's 3 originals, each of them dealing with the Palestinian conflict. Where Are They Now? is the albums loudest and fastest track, built around a fragment of Dondestan and featuring an impassioned Palestinian rap. Things cool down with a beautiful reinterpretation of Maryan, one of the stand out songs on Shleep and the closest that this album ever comes to the Canterbury sound of yore. Then we're back with the cover versions, including Thelonious Monk's Round About Midnight, whistled rather than sung this time, and Chic's At Last I Am Free, both songs which he recorded in the 80s. What A Wonderful World closes the proceedings, and while Wyatt's voice has the necessary world weariness and venerability to do it justice I have to agree with Sean Trane that there's no comparison with Satchmo.

If you're a fan, and if you're familiar with the source material, there's plenty to enjoy on this album. I suspect it's the album that Wyatt has wanted to make for a long time, and it could be argued that in some ways it's one of his best. The strings are a bit too saccharine, especially on the second half of the album, but Gilad Atzmon's playing is superb and Wyatt's interpretations of the songs transcend the limitations of his voice. If, however, you're coming to this album via Soft Machine, Matching Mole and his 70s solo albums, you're probably in for a bit of a shock. It's a bit self indulgent, but he is a national treasure after all.

Syzygy | 2/5 |

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