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Robert Wyatt - Solar Flares Burn for You CD (album) cover


Robert Wyatt

Canterbury Scene

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4 stars This is an overlooked gem, and while it contains mostly early BBC recordings, demos, outtakes, long-lost movie soundtracks and private recordings, the pieces are very musical and anyone who likes Rock Bottom (one of my top 10 albums ever, so you know I am a huge fan), or Wyatt's music in general, will find this a treasure. It contains early Wyatt demos and BBC recordings of some of his best pieces, including 'Sea Song', 'Soup Song', 'Alifib', 'I'm a Believer', and 'God Song'. The recording of 'Alifib' here (originally from Rock Bottom) is wonderful. I have always loved that song, one of Wyatt's best - this version is just him at the piano live at the BBC. Very poignant. The title track ('Solar Flares Burn for You') was written as the soundtrack to a short film of the same name by Arthur Jones in 1973, recorded at Nick Mason's house. The album will appeal to RW fans for this piece alone, which is very quirky yet strong enough it should have been released back in the 70s. There are also short Hatfield ('Fol de Rol') and Matching Mole ('Righteous Rhumba') demos, some silly pieces never intended for release (including hilarious grunting through "We got an arts council grahhnt", not so musical but funny and short), and a few Hopper-Wyatt sound experiments ('Blimey O'Riley', and 'Twas Brillig'). The cover of 'Little Child' here (recorded in 1972) is emotionally devastating - it will bring tears to your eyes. Topping it off is the last song "The Verb" recorded by Wyatt at home in 2003, likely from the time of the Cuckooland sessions. It sounds like it belongs on Dondestan and is as strong as any of the other tunes on that album. While as a fan, I can be expected to like this collection, I actually think this is musically stronger and more consistent than a number of his regular albums (I rate it higher than Ruth is Stranger than Richard, Comicopera, etc). Listen to Rock Bottom first, then perhaps Dondestan, and Shleep. If you like those, I am very confident you will love and treasure this. I give it 8.2 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.
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Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2017 | Review Permalink

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