Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Unthanks, Antony Hegarty, Robert Wyatt

The Unthanks’ new album, ”The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & The Johnsons” (Rabble Rouser 2011), is out now. The music was recorded live at The Union Chapel in London, and is probably the first one in a series a bit on the side of their ordinary releases, since it’s subtitle is ”Diversions Vol. 1”.

Previous to this one, The Unthanks, with sisters Rachel and Becky in the lead, have released four albums (the two first ones as Rachel Unthank and The Winterset), ”Cruel Sister” (2005), ”The Bairns” (2007), ”Here’s the Tender Coming” (2009) and ”Last” (2011).
On the albums they play traditional folk, self penned folk and a nice selection of cover songs by artists like Robert Wyatt, Nick Drake, Bonnie Prince Billy, King Crimson and Tom Waits. They have also done ”Sexy Sadie” by The Beatles on a CD included with Mojo magazine.

I guess it will not come as a shock, but on the new album they only sing Antony & The Johnsons and Robert Wyatt’s songs, all done perfectly (well “Dondestan” perhaps too lively!) with a touch of folk and presented in a charming way. Antony’s songs are mostly taken from the album "I am a Bird Now", while Wyatt’s are harvested from "Comicopera", "Dondestan (revisited)", "Cuckooland", "Shleep" and "Rock Bottom" ("Sea Song" of course!).
One of ”Wyatt’s songs” is Norwegian Anja Garbarek’s fantastic ”Stay Tuned”. Nice!

Oh yes, this is indeed a live recording. We hear several coughs, slips of the tounge and wrong starts, but that doesn’t matter really, it’s like being there in person. I play it loud (as suggested in the liner notes too), and like it a lot!

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