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THEATRE ROYAL DRURY LANE

Robert Wyatt

Canterbury Scene


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Robert Wyatt Theatre Royal Drury Lane album cover
3.84 | 45 ratings | 5 reviews | 47% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Live, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Introduction by John Peel (2:18)
2. Dedicated To You But You Weren't Listening (1:36)
3. Memories (3:58)
4. Sea Song (9:13)
5. A Last Straw (4:38)
6. Little Red Riding Hood Hit The Road (6:42)
7. Alife (4:28)
8. Alifib (6:24)
9. Mind Of A Child (5:26)
10. Instant Pussy (4:22)
11. Signed Curtain (4:42)
12. Calyx (3:19)
13. Little Red Robin Hood Hit The Road (6:12)
14. I'm A Believer (7:36)

Total Time: 70:54

Lyrics

Search ROBERT WYATT Theatre Royal Drury Lane lyrics

Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Robert Wyatt / vocals
- Dave Stewart / keyboards
- Laurie Allan / drums
- Hugh Hopper / bass
- Fred Frith / violin, guitar, viola
- Mongezi Feza / trumpet
- Gary Windo / reeds
- Mike Oldfield / guitar
- Julie Tippets / voice, keyboards
- Nick Mason / drums
- Ivor Cutler / voice

Releases information

CD Hannibal 1507 (2005)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Fassbinder for the last updates
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Rock BottomRock Bottom
Import
Domino Records UK 2008
Audio CD$7.22
$13.25 (used)
ComicoperaComicopera
Domino 2007
Audio CD$8.86
$2.50 (used)
His Greatest MissesHis Greatest Misses
Hannibal 2005
Audio CD$22.99
$43.21 (used)
Cuckooland (LP+CD) (Limited Edition)Cuckooland (LP+CD) (Limited Edition)
Limited Edition
Domino 2010
Audio CD$14.15
$87.12 (used)
'68 (color vinyl)'68 (color vinyl)
CUNEIFORM 2013
Vinyl$14.98
$31.37 (used)
Dondestan RevisitedDondestan Revisited
Thirsty Ear 1998
Audio CD$26.12
$2.08 (used)
ShleepShleep
Thirsty Ear 1998
Audio CD$22.51
$6.74 (used)
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ROBERT WYATT Theatre Royal Drury Lane ratings distribution


3.84
(45 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(47%)
47%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
39%
Good, but non-essential (8%)
8%
Collectors/fans only (5%)
5%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

ROBERT WYATT Theatre Royal Drury Lane reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
5 stars After his fall from the fourth floor from a hotel window while touring with Matching Mole and his sojourn in a hospital, Wyatt released one of the most poignant albums ever, the superb, superlative, ultra-emotional Rock Bottom, whose tracks were mostly written in his hospital bed. On Sept 8 of 74, there was held a support concert (this is almost like a tribute concert) from all of Robert's friends to help him out on the cost of new life. This album had previously seen a few boot releases, most notably on the Archives non-legit label, under the name of Las Vegas Fandango over a decade ago, but the sound is deplorable, proof that modern technology can do some miracles.

Until recently, the tapes from that night's concert where thought to be a waste as there was a definite technical problem. The second part of the concert had some major problems ("lost" seems to be the word Wyatt uses) and it was reconstructed from the monitor mixes and the least we can say is that the results are not really convincing. But this "small remark" aside, the rest of the tapes are absolutely brilliant and the sound quality is absolutely mint and quite an essential release for Wyatt fans and, dare I say it, to ALL Progheads. A quick look at the participants that night should convince even the most Wyatt non-fans that this was an absolute and unique night in the annals of rock history. By taking a quick peak at the track list, one will see the majority of the tracks played that night are from Rock Bottom (the whole album actually) and a few more come from Matching Mole (mostly the superb debut album) and almost nothing from Soft Machine - "the band that had made him unhappy" Wyatt was to say later - and only Hugh hopper is present that night on stage. One of the most poignant image of support and solidarity is the picture inside the digipack release showing all participants of that concert posing for a photo in the same position as Robert himself: in a wheelchair coming down stairs.

While I have had this album less than one month by the time I write this review, it has been on almost constant rotation in my deck, and after some few dozens of listens, I still experience back chills and tears of emotion while listening to it, and at some time, I while writing this review my computer screen gets blurry because of some strange occurrence of a mist passing through. If you love Rock Bottom and thought it would be difficult to reproduce the raw, bare, awesome emotions, you must get this album, as I believe that these live versions are even more poignant simply because they are played live and the sound is amazing.

I will not spend time running through the set played that night, but every track is absolutely essential and superb, and the tape-fixing (mentioned above) occurs from Julie Tippetts-Driscoll's track Mind Of A Child (to be released on her superb solo album Sunset Glow) onwards, but the quality stays quite correct at most times and the tampering is only sometimes evident, although there are some glaring problems at times but mostly in the last two tracks during Red Robin Hood and Monkees cover I'm A Believer.

Who cares about these last remarks, as the album is so spine-tingling that is clearly an essential masterpiece to all progheads even if they own the Rock Bottom album. Awesome, stupendous, mind-boggling, flabbergasting.. I think all of the previous words actually fail me to describe my emotions for this album.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#73635) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, March 31, 2006

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Theatre Royal Drury Lane 8th September 1974" is a live album release by UK progressive/experimental rock artist Robert Wyatt. As the title suggests the album was recorded in September 1974 but it didnīt see a label release until 2005 through Hannibal Records. Paralyzed from that waist down after his fall from a fourth-floor window in June 1973, Robert Wyatt was unable to tour as extensively as he had been used to when he was a member of The Soft Machine and Matching Mole. Therefore this live performance is a rare opportunity to hear what Robert Wyatt sounded like in a live environment in 1974. The album features an all-star cast of prolific progressive rock musicians. Dave Stewart on keyboards, Laurie Allan on drums, Hugh Hopper on bass, Fred Frith on violin, guitar and viola, Mongezi Feza on Trumpet, Gary Windo on Reeds, Mike Oldfield on guitar, Julie Tippets on keyboards and vocals, Nick Mason on drums and Ivor Cutler doing spoken vocals in addition to Robert Wyatt himself on vocals. A fantastic lineup that should turn quite a few prog heads.

"Theatre Royal Drury Lane 8th September 1974" features 14 tracks and a full playing time of 70:54 minutes. The band perform the entire "Rock Bottom (1974)" album which was Robert Wyattīs most recent release at the time. In addition to the 6 tracks taken from that album there is also a great performance of "Calyx" from the debut album by Hatfield and The North (where Robert Wyatt guested on the original studio version), a few Matching Mole tracks (from the debut album) have also found their way into the setlist but strangely enough there are no tracks from Robert Wyattīs debut album "The End of an Ear (1970)" and maybe even more odd no tracks from his time in Soft Machine. The track "Mind of A Child" is written and sung by Julie Tippets. The set ends with a cover of the Monkees classic "I'm A Believer".

With a few exceptions "Theatre Royal Drury Lane 8th September 1974" is an excellent listening experience. The performances by all involved and the interplay between them are outstanding. Add to that the intriguing track arrangements, and especially the great arrangements of the tracks from "Rock Bottom (1974)", and you have a powerful formula. Robert Wyatt sounds even more fragile and melancholic live than he does on the studio versions. A real treat. The sound production is of a good quality. This is not one of those official live bootlegs where you feel cheated because the word "official" doesnīt mean professionally produced like itīs supposed to. "Theatre Royal Drury Lane 8th September 1974" is in almost every way a great live release by Robert Wyatt and a 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#231148) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Rare live release presenting Robert Wyatt the top of his musical form. Recorded in 1974 and released for a first time in 2005 only, this concert is really wet dream of every Canterbury fan. Robert is in great form just released his Rock Bottom album, and musicians playing are almost all real legends.

Material comes mainly from Rock Bottom plus some Soft Machine early compositions and few Robert future songs. The show is introduced by John Peel (and recorded by CBS), and Wyatt's classic songs are played by Hugh Hopper, Fred Frith, Mike Oldfield and Dave Stuart between others!One song is sung by Julie Tippets even!

Recorded in similar time as his excellent Rock Bottom, this album presents highest intimate level and emotional field Wyatt ever demonstrated. Even if compositions are not so well arranged as on studio release,and sound mix quality is only average, strong point of this recording is its informal atmosphere. Musically compositions are longer than on studio recordings, includes more improvs and at the same time often are of higher (rock) energy.

All venue's atmosphere is relaxed,and even unfocused in moments, but some bulkiness of material is compensable by interesting longer soloing and even free jazz improvs. Melancholic Robert's voice is central accent of all recordings, but the album is no way vocalist plus back-up band's release. All musicians show highest respect to Wyatt's singing, but at the same time each of them have enough space for his own musicianship.

Excellent evidence of live Wyatt's show from his best period, this album is great musical release coming from Canterbury Scene of early 70s at the same time. Must have for any Wyatt's fan.

My rating is 4+!

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#412427) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, March 07, 2011

Review by Einsetumadur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 12.5/15P.: An essential live recording featuring Robert Wyatt and twelve other great musicians playing the complete 'Rock Bottom' album and other gems of the Canterbury Scene. Sadly, the sound gets worse in the last third of the recording...

In a way, it actually was quite predictable that after buying Robert Wyatt's Rock Bottom CD the corresponding live recording Drury Lane 1974 would be the next one to buy. And thanks to Amazon I could immediately download it as an MP3 for 8 Euros or so.

I do have to admit that I had been a bit sceptical about the sound quality of this record. I know the Refugee archive recording from the same year, and admittedly the sound of that one isn't the best. But the sound of Drury Lane is plain marvellous, at least in the first nine-and-a-half tracks (two thirds of the record): soundboard recordings without any speed problems or notable interferences. The master tapes of the last four-and-a-half tracks weren't completely available so that snippets of recordings of various sources were taken and glued together: interestingly, the sound is quite good here, too, even if the first two thirds are - of course - cleaner: but however, it's better than the typical bootleg quality and just a wee bit worse than Welcome Back My Friends... - in terms of sound quality, of course. ;-)

Some words about the record itself: the first thing to know is that, especially when you want to explore the jazz fusion scene, many jazz/experimental musicians participated in certain all-star-ensembles in the mid-1970s: the most popular example could be 801 (with Francis Monkman, Bill MacCormick and Brian Eno) - and this Robert Wyatt concert features 11 or 12 famous musicians from the surroundings of the Canterbury Scene who may also trod into the spotlight once or thrice. To understand that one should know the relevant events about Robert Wyatt's biography. This man, a drummer/singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, is one of the veterans of the Canterbury jazz scene, began with the Wilde Flowers (the bud of all of the most famous Canterbury groups), went on with the psych/jazz fusion band Soft Machine for some years and ended up founding the experimental band Matching Mole (Wyatt's most intense use of the Mellotron here, by the way). Before recording the third Matching Mole album in 1973, Robert Wyatt fell out of a window and now suffers from paraplegia; of course, playing the drums hence isn't possible to him no more.

But nevertheless he continued making music and - thanks to the help of some friends - had finished his first "post-traumatic" album Rock Bottom in 1974. And with this illustrious line-up - plus some musicians who didn't take part in Rock Bottom - Robert played the complete album and some other tracks from the Canterbury surroundings.

And not only the sound is deeply impressing, but the music and Robert's attitude towards it, too. In my opinion, a thing which is typical of good progressive rock is the balance between experimental and conventional elements: accessible sounds meet unaccessible ones, acoustic meets electric, rock meets folk music.

THE SOUNDBOARD QUALITY PART

On this album, Robert Wyatt does exactly this thing: he shocks his audience with concentrated strangeness and at the same time brings a smile on their faces.

One example is Dedicated To You But You Weren't Listening, an old relic from Soft Machine days, and the only one from this period to be played during the concert. The version to be featured here is extremely dissected and surreal, compared to the rather laid-back 1968 version. The sung melody is still the same, but the musicians ad-lib here and make this track sound quite chaotic: arhythmic Fender Rhodes sounds, stray violin noises and random drum strokes featuring Robert Wyatt's high, nasal voice singing: When I was young, the sky was blue And everyone knew what to do But now it's gone, the telly's here Mass media, the sewer too - yes, weird music to accompany these lyrics about technology or whatever. And still there is this wicked sense of humour spread all around in this piece. A minimalist starter, mere 90 seconds long, but it's a moment of incredible pleasure for me to hear that someone once started his one-and-only comeback concert with this daring piece. Eccentric and incredibly concise.

Memories is perhaps the right way to continue in order to retain the audience (mainly those who expected more songs like Robert's hit single I'm A Believer): an old piece written by Hugh Hopper already in the days of the Wilde Flowers, later played by the Soft Machine of 1967 and revisited in 1974 as the B-side of the I'm A Believer single. (Do check out the psychedelic Daevid Allen cover version, the alternative rock rendition by Mars Volta and Whitney Houston's jazz ballad cover of this song as well!) What you hear here is understandably most closely related to the solemn Wyatt solo version, a slow 6/8 ballad with partly rather weird chord progressions which in spite of that sound beautiful. The melody is really awesome, as well, unusually bluesy for Robert's means, and it sounds really emotional. Interestingly, from the very beginning on you know that the 3 guys of the rhythm section (Fender Rhodes, bass, drums) are to deliver some further great moments of music during this concert. Dave Stewart (then playing in Hatfield & The North) is on keyboards, Laurie Allan (previously with Gong and Coxhill&Miller) plays the drums and Hugh Hopper (also present on Wyatt's Rock Bottom) is the bassist. Dave Stewart (on keyboards) limits himself to mellow, laid-back jazz chords on the Rhodes piano here while Hugh Hopper gives the piece a certain groove with his well-arranged bass lines. Still the real star on this number actually is Fred Frith on the violin who leads the piece from 1:40 on, superbly counterpointing Wyatt's voice in the last stanza in a pastoral and lyrical manner: pop meets folk, it's nearly similar to the jazzy Pink Floyd tracks in its mood.

With Sea Song Robert Wyatt begins the Rock Bottom set and is granted the first applause within a song in this concert; what appeared as a slightly psychedelic ballad for one singing voice and a cheap organ, a love song of which you don't know if it's addressed to the sea or to a woman (or maybe to both?), has changed considerably towards a darker atmosphere which still retains the same kind of child-like optimism, parcelled in Wyatt's colorful, surreal soundscapes. The band line-up in a way gives this piece of music some extra rock/fusion feel once more, and the rhythm section again is a plain treat to listen to; just note the inventive tom tom work from 1:15 and the punch of the hi-hat at 1:30. But the real surprise doesn't start before 2:09 where Hugh Hopper, having already used a slight fuzz before to re-create the 'drone'-like quality of the studio version, turns on his fuzz box to play some mean licks to the dispersing of the drum rhythm, something which wasn't there in the studio recording. At this place Allan switches from the slow ballad rhythm to an unsteady, rugged free-jazz curling in which only the hi-hat stays in the straight 4/4 rhythm. This gently prepares Dave Stewart's *best ever* keyboard solo in which he starts up his whole array of keyboard instruments: I hear the Moog synthesizer and atonal electric piano clusters, but the lead instrument is a wah-wah-treated Hammond organ: the well-known Canterbury organ sound (Caravan, Camel), but even a tad sicker. Stewart's organ rambles and wails along a whole-tone scale, the scale which Robert Wyatt already disposed in the piano playing of the studio version, and the whole band playing is brutal and adventurous. I daresay that this is a keypoint of progressive rock which everyone should know, it sends shivers down my spine after repeated listening. This keyboard battle finally cumulates in an ascending scale to lead into the next stanza, in the mellow arrangement of the beginning. After some time Wyatt has his first vocal solo, similar to the one of the studio version, but here again a lot more eccentric - and this is where the opinions differ. Wyatt doesn't have a smooth voice, so those who do not like his voice will have problems listening to this album because his scatting appears quite often in this concert - even with one or two voice cracks. But I like this idea of using one's voice as an instrument with specific qualities and characteristics very much, and Soft Machine lost an important element in their music when Wyatt stopped singing and eventually quit the band, so I say that that's a very nice way to end this piece, especially the calming-down at 7:57 or so is cool. Thanks to the superb improvisation by Stewart and Wyatt and the fantastic band interplay this is the doubtless highlight of this album.

A short cesura and The Last Straw begins. It has always been a jazz piece, with typically jazzy chord progressions and an adventurous vocal melody, but the watery slide guitars and keyboards on the original version overlaid the jazz with clear psychedelic characteristics. What is featured here is a rough version: bass guitar, drums, electric piano and vocals. And this is a slight problem: the composition itself is a perfectly implemented Canterbury tune, combining playfulness with the genre-defining hint of oddness, but what made it stand out was the hypnotic piano accompaniment (think Old Brown Shoe by the Beatles), Wyatt's unorthodox approach to playing slide guitar and the drifting keyboards. After an unabridged instrumental introduction without a clear solo instrument Dave Stewart shows that he is quite in the free jazz mode - it nearly sounds like the Zawinul-Corea combo on Davis' Bitches Brew in a way. Hopper's elaborate bass lines guarantee rhythmic diversity and the drums play a usual swing rhythm. Because of these band limitations the solo parts are shorter, but the nice thing are the various band breaks, for instance after reminds me of your rocky bottom, and the mutual imitation, as in the when we collapse in which Stewart counterfeits Wyatt's descending vocal melody. Flamboyant is Wyatt's maybe crankiest scatting improvisation where he switches between scarce single notes and really mean squeaking and croaking: an acquired taste, and not as dreamy as the original version, but it certainly is a resourceful interpretation - although I reckon that listeners who (like me) aren't too much into jazz will have their slight problems with it.

I was really curious to hear how Little Red Riding Hood Hit The Road was realized live since it was the most tape-effect-heavy song on Rock Bottom, with the mechanical ticking of the looped bongos and the droning trumpets. And the live version is genuinely outstanding: there is a driving rock rhythm with prominent hi-hats, switching between 10/4 and 8/4 and Frith's clean and effective rhythm guitar backing. The role of the first solist is taken by the South-African trumpeter Mongazi Feza, improvising wonderfully on the ridge between tonality and atonality. Wyatt also sings in a lower register and hence the whole piece rather sounds dark and stormy than whimsical, it's the same rousing emotion as in the Sea Song. I always wonder from which genre(s) Wyatt took influence here, and I'd say that this is the most outright classical piece of music to sound absolutely un-classical. The chord progression and the desperate vocal melismas are utterly operatic, but the severity is counterfeited by the silly lyrics and the surreal arrangement. This is the "sonic humor" of Canterbury music which I love that much.

Alife and Alifib appear in reversed order and also have new arrangements, real band arrangements which are again quite stunning. Alife lacks the weird vocal interlude by Wyatt and his spouse Alfie Benge, but in spite of that faithfully reproduces the free jazz madness of the original album version - not much is changed here. In fact the whole piece is a saxophone solo, and the fact that Windo plays the tenor saxophone with its dark and sawing tone adds to this madness.. Alifib is soothing in its otherwordly babbling of vocals and lead bass guitar. The 'alif' sample has been replaced by a really slow drum rhythm: a brushed snare-drum and some minimal ride cymbal strokes, sometimes making way for a steady rock rhythm with more intense hi-hat work. I enjoy the texture of the electric piano and the wah-wah-treated electric guitar quite a lot, and Hugh Hopper again plays his outstanding gurgling bass solo in the beginning which sounds like a flamenco guitar played on a Fender Jazz Bass. The song itself is Robert Wyatt's idea of a love song which sounds more like slightly deranged nursery rhymes than poetry (No nit not, nit no not, nit nit folly bololey), and in its musical substance it reminds me of an English madrigal paired with jazz phrasing. Still, the most absorbing moment is the counterpoint which Hugh Hopper retains from the studio version at 3:05: simple, but most effective and damn catchy.

Mind of A Child is fascinating in its own way, and the concert benefits from this recording very much. Singer Julie Driscoll had great success in the 1960s with Brian Auger and Mellotron-laden hits like 'This Wheel's On Fire' until she married jazz pianist Keith Tippett who helped in making King Crimson's 'Lizard' suite as stunning as it is. Julie Tippetts' first solo album is regarded as the pendant to Robert Wyatt's Rock Bottom (=melodic, but experimental solo album recorded with many Canterbury musicians), and this meditative jazz ballad comes from this album. Performed solely by Tippetts' deep alto voice and her upright piano this piece blends in this album very well. It's a ballad, but it rather sounds like a precursor to Van Morrison's ad-lib mantra longtrack 'When Heart Is Open' than like a bland jazz pop tune, there is just so much dynamic variety in this piece, moments of peaceful tranquility and verses which rear and send shivers down your spine. Let me have the mind of a child again (...) there's a wisdom surely lacking in the heartache that I feel: yes, that's what so many Canterbury songs are about. Art which shows - both in terms of music and in terms of lyrics - that looking at complex things with the simplicity and intuition of a child is a perspective which isn't naive, but simply 'different'. And looking at jazz with a portion of humour and musical anarchy - yes, that's what the other pieces played during this concert really do.

THE BOOTLEG-QUALITY PART

The soundboard tapes of the following pieces are incomplete, but the sound falls short of the 'good bootleg'-niveau merely at some places. Instant Pussy is the heavily deconstructed version ā la Matching Mole, not the piano ballad which Wyatt already performed for the BBC in 1969, which means: exploration of the human voice by Robert Wyatt and Julie Tippetts to a sweet jazz mantra, a riff which stays the same in the whole piece but gets transposed into different pitches. However, the piece is exciting because you can hear how Robert Wyatt's voice sounds if he doesn't stretch it up to the highest notes: after an impersonation of a friendly goat at 1:56 he switches into a powerful operatic tenor, and meanwhile Julie Tippetts starts shrieking again. Exertive stuff, yes, but the way how the two voices entangle and squirm is very entertaining. Mike Oldfield now plays the guitar (with quite a delay-fed tone), but his playing becomes more prominent in the next piece.

Signed Curtain, another piece from the first Matching Mole album, is equally experimental since the only thing which Robert does all the time is describing the piece's structure, i.e. this is the first verse, and this is the chorus etc. Apart from this avantgardistic concept of the song this is the one in this concert which is closest to pop music - apart from the chord progression which also seems to be a problem for Mike Oldfield when he plays his solo in the end. Not a particularly memorable solo, but showing Oldfield's distinctive playing style without fuzz. I wish Matching Mole had also done a full-band version of this track; I like it better with drums and guitar.

Calyx is taken from Hatfield and the North's debut album which was published in 1974 - and it's kind of a mixed blessing. I thoroughly enjoy the original version, but the original version featured Robert singing without any words (i.e., scatting) whilst Wyatt prepared some words for this live version which sadly don't enhance the piece in any way. 2:01 really makes me listen up because from this moment Wyatt uses his voice as an instrument again, and it really sounds more noble without words. Seemingly, Calyx is the only piece in which some centimeters of tape are missing, although a clever use of studio delay effects hides this effectively. My choice of words reveals that these previous two pieces are, in spite of being perfectly listenable, the weaker 10 minutes of this concert. Perhaps I would judge differently if the sound was better.

Anyway, Little Red Robin Hood Hit The Road comes as a blow and finishes the 'Rock Bottom' set, a song which is stunning from the beginning onto its end, even though it is actually three different ideas cut together. After the hymnic vocal beginning (which sounds like two or three Roberts singing simultaneously - strange!) Mike Oldfield plays his outstanding guitar solo which has gained cult status among the Canterbury connaisseurs: Gibson SG, neck pick-up, slight distortion and lots of string bending and finger vibrato result in this characteristic soaring tone without which the piece wouldn't be as stunning. When Robert's vocals enter again Laurie Allan abandons the marching rhythm and plays on without any limits until the whole cacophony of sound is replaced by what sounds like a post-rock rendition of a sea shanty: Fred Frith plays a sustained viola drone which Ivor Cutler, a famous poet, takes over with this concertina until he starts reading Wyatt's famous poem which neither has a real sense nor a rhyme nor anything which a poem should usually contain (basically, it deals with broken telephones and a hedgehog destroying car tyres). This part even sounds more like The Velvet Underground with the distorted organ sounds in the end, but sadly this is the piece with the worst sound quality. Anyway, the quality of the performance completely makes up for that.

I'm A Believer was Robert Wyatt's single, and the song doesn't become less commercial when Robert sings it. Still it was his first and last single hit (#29 in UK), and I grant him the sum of pocket money he received for that. But this nearly gospel-like rendition of the old Monkees hit is pretty annoying, although Nick Mason plays the drums here. Okay, it's the throwaway song, perhaps the encore - but somewhere in the middle things change when the whole band starts a jolly carnival which sounds like a Bavarian marching band on LSD and speed at the same time. Feza and Windo on winds & brass join in as well and Julie Tippetts has her most eccentric vocal performance here. This ending which sounds like a mixture of Monty Python and Tom & Jerry saves the song. And don't worry: it's over after six minutes, the other 7 minutes of this track consist of silence and a strange mix of the 'Alife' riff (played on the guitar in the studio, I don't know where this comes from) and the please smile verse in 'Sea Song'. An easter egg - perhaps the booklet of the CD would explain more about it.

So, the first half of this concert is outstanding, and the last ten minutes, too. But the three middle pieces and the decay of the sound quality are disadvantages which must be considered in the overall rating. I thoroughly recommend this recording to every fan of the Canterbury Scene, no-one who likes Matching Mole, Soft Machine or Robert Wyatt will be disappointed by this adventurous live recording. A very good 4 star rating overall - a superb concert which fully deserved its (late) release.

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Send comments to Einsetumadur (BETA) | Report this review (#512519) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Robert Wyatt has only rarely given live performances since the launch of his solo career, so Theatre Royal Drury Lane is one of the few live albums we're ever likely to see from him. It is a shame, therefore, that I can't recommend it as heartily as I would like to. Wyatt is clearly in high spirits during the recording, opening the gig with a shambolic (and I suspect deliberately shoddy) runthrough of Dedicated To You But You Weren't Listening before getting to the meat of the matter. Naturally, material from Rock Bottom is present in spades, and whilst Wyatt and his backing musicians make a decent go of rearranging those strange studio nuggets into something resembling a tune a conventional band lineup could play, the process means that some of them lose their magic (though the version of Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road here is decent).

The main problem with the album is the sound quality, which is really rather poor even for the era - and the mix isn't great either, so the joyous cover version of I'm a Believer that ends the album is rather murky and Ivor Cutler's poetry readings are almost completely swamped - a crying shame. I'd say this definitely fits the criteria of "collectors/fans only", since I can't really recommend the album to anyone who wasn't already a huge Wyatt fan; anyone else is better experiencing the music here in the studio album renditions.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#528857) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2011

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