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Robert Wyatt - Theatre Royal Drury Lane CD (album) cover

THEATRE ROYAL DRURY LANE

Robert Wyatt

 

Canterbury Scene

4.10 | 76 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

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.

Sean Trane | 5/5 |

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