ROBERT WYATT — Theatre Royal Drury Lane (review)

ROBERT WYATT — Theatre Royal Drury Lane album cover Live album · 2005 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
2/5 ·
Warthur
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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