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Home arrow Reviews arrow Albums arrow Robert Wyatt and friends (incl. Nick Mason) - Theatre Royal Drury Lane 1974
Robert Wyatt and friends (incl. Nick Mason) - Theatre Royal Drury Lane 1974 Print E-mail

Robert Wyatt CD
Robert Wyatt and Friends
Live, 1974 CD

On Sunday September 8th 1974, Robert Wyatt, aided and abetted by a distinguished array of friends, including Mike Oldfield, Ivor Cutler, and Pink Floyd's Nick Mason, played an historic concert at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London.

With an amusing introduction by the late, great, John Peel, the album is a recording of a remarkable performance which has become the stuff of some legend. The blend of folk, jazz and rock has been captured in the past, poorly, on bootleg vinyl and CD, making this official release even more timely.

Kicking off with the very freeform "Dedicated To You But You Weren't Listening", things quickly turn to the more rhythmically stable "Memories".

The majority of the album is devoted to a live run through of Wyatt's then-latest album, Rock Bottom, with various friends lending a hand following his paralysing fall from an upper floor of a building at a party in 1971. This finds Wyatt still wheelchair-bound today.

Rock Bottom was to prove one of his finest works - a gorgeous, evocative look at life and love, and an outpouring of rich emotion. The performance captured here possibly betters that which was laid down in the studio, with his all-star cast (brought together from the normally seperate worlds of jazz and prog rock) shining through.

Wyatt's plaintive, yearning and in places, just plain unusual vocal demands the attention - either when singing or using his voice as an instrument - and whilst it couldn't be described as one of the best voices in the world, it gets under the skin quickly and draws you in for more. Heck - he even starts one song (Alifib) miaowing like a cat!

The concert recording cuts short after Julie Tippett's beautiful Mind Of A Child, so the rest of the set is made up of incomplete monitor mixes, etc., and is described by Wyatt on the cover notes as a "damage limitation exercise"! The sound quality certainly isn't as good in this segment, but still very listenable.

With the final track, we get the only clear indication of Nick Mason's involvement as one of the two drummers in the show, as he counts in The Monkees "I'm A Believer". Wyatt had a minor hit in the UK singles charts with the song, so a fitting choice for the encore.

This isn't the only track that Nick performs on - he does the honours on four tracks during the show (and his links with Wyatt run deeper, too; he produced the Rock Bottom album itself).

It is a cracking end to the show - a real, rocking version, with the performers throwing their all into the rendition. And a perfect finish to the CD, too.

For many, this concert found Wyatt at the very height of his powers. Despite still an active musician (with his recent album Cuckooland featuring David Gilmour on guitar), Rock Bottom, and this concert, are seen by his fans as his finest hour. This well-presented CD is a fitting tribute to those days.

The CD can be ordered online through these special links: UK/Europe, US/International, Canada, France, or Germany.

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