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Robert Wyatt

Canterbury Scene

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Robert Wyatt At Last I Am Free album cover
3.96 | 5 ratings | 1 reviews | 20% 5 stars

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Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 1980

Songs / Tracks Listing

A. At Last I Am Free
B. Strange Fruit

Line-up / Musicians

- Robert Wyatt / vocals, keyboards, percussion
- Frank Roberts / piano
- Mogotsi Mothle / double bass

Releases information

Vinyl 7" Rough Trade ‎- RT 052

Thanks to Per Köhler for the addition
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ROBERT WYATT At Last I Am Free ratings distribution

(5 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(60%)
Good, but non-essential (0%)
Collectors/fans only (20%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ROBERT WYATT At Last I Am Free reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Matti
4 stars I had found the early Soft Machine albums in my late teens, but my introduction to Robert Wyatt's solo music a bit later was a compilation disc Nothing Can Stop Us (1982). At the time -- roughly 3 decades ago -- I used to tape the best songs from the CD's I borrowed from libraries, and the mentioned, overall rather poor compilation contained three songs that I became pretty fond of. One was Elvis Costello's composition 'Shipbuilding', and also the other two, the ones on this single, are covers.

I learned only now by googling that 'At Last I Am Free' was originally recorded in 1978 by the pop group called Chic. Truth to be told, I always imagined the song to be Wyatt's own, since his version is so heartfelt and charming. Without a doubt Chic's version is radically different, but Wyatt really translated the song into his own unique style. The tempo is very relaxed and the spacey sound has jazzy elegance. Piano is played by Frank Roberts and double bass by Mogotsi Mothle (never heard of them). It's a very nice and dreamy song to my ears, but if you're not that much into slow and calm vocal music, you may get bored by it.

'Strange Fruit' is an older and notably more famous song. The shocking, metaphorical lyrics originated as a poem ('Bitter Fruit') published in January 1937 in "The New York Teacher" union magazine, written by Jewish-American writer, teacher and songwriter Abel Meeropol under his pseudonym Lewis Allan. The poem was a protest against lynchings of black people. Sometime later Meeropool wrote the music to his poem, and the song was at first performed by his wife. Someone introduced 'Strange Fruit' to the legendary jazz vocalist Billie Holiday who performed the song for the first time at Café Society in 1939. The song soon became one of Lady Day's best known numbers. It's indeed a song to give shivers down the spine, mainly due to the strong lyrics. Robert Wyatt cannot compete with Billie Holiday as a performer of this song, but he does a decent job with a ripped down arrangement.

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