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Robert Wyatt - Wyatt / Atzmon / Stephen: For The Ghosts Within CD (album) cover


Robert Wyatt


Canterbury Scene

3.01 | 36 ratings

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Robert Wyatt has been honoured by many admirers in recent years. There have been much- praised collaborations with the trombonist Annie Whitehead, and more recently with the French National Jazz Orchestra. Now the British violinist Ros Stephen has come up with the idea of arranging a few RW classics and some jazz standards for string quartet (with added double bass). Robert Wyatt himself overdubbed lead vocals, and the eminent Israel-born sax player/clarinettist Gilad Atzmon added some of the freshest and loveliest solos you could imagine.

Progressive rock this ain't, and strictly speaking it isn't even a RW solo album (it's credited to "Wyatt/Atzmon/Stephen") but to all those who love Wyatt's singing and the predominantly melancholic mood of his solo career, FOR THE GHOSTS WITHIN is a must.

Where are the days Wyatt told the world he couldn't sing properly anymore, because his voice was now no more than "a croak"? (I believe that was just a few solo albums ago.) Judging from this album, his vocal range may have diminished, but his voice sounds warmer, more mature and more endearing than ever. With the coming of old age, it has also gained in grace. Wyatt's interpretation of ballads like "What a Wonderful World" sounds amazingly tender, not schmaltzy in the least. At the same time, his rebellious nature can be discerned in the disorienting reworking included here of the beautiful "Maryan" (a track he co-wrote with Philip Catherine), and in two melancholy tunes which express the suffering of Palestinians driven from their land.

Among the Baby Boomer generation, there are those who pretend they will be adolescents forever (Mick Jagger, most notably) but fortunately there are others who keep finding new and wiser ways of expressing themselves. (Robert Plant, too, belongs to the latter category.) I can only hope Robert Wyatt's "Indian Summer" will go on for many years.

fuxi | 4/5 |


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