The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & the Johnsons

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The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & the Johnsons
Live album by The Unthanks
Released 28 November 2011 (UK)
Label Rabble Rouser
Producer Adrian McNally
The Unthanks chronology
Last (2011) The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & the Johnsons (2011) The Unthanks with Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band (2012)

The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & the Johnsons, the fifth album by English folk group The Unthanks and the first to be recorded live, was released on 28 November 2011. Its extended title is: Diversions, Vol. 1: The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & the Johnsons – Live from the Union Chapel, London.

The album consists entirely of songs by Robert Wyatt and by Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons. It was recorded at the Union Chapel, Islington, London, on 8 and 9 December 2010.

Reception[edit]

In a four-starred review, The Observer called the album "A triumphant excursion".[1] David Fricke at Rolling Stone magazine said there was "a silvery deceptive spine running through the sisters' Earth-angel voices".[2] Reviewing the album for BBC Music, Martin Aston was struck by "hearing You Are My Sister sung to each other by sisters in blood as well as spirit, the arrangement and tone touching rather than cloying".[3]

Writing in The Independent on 27 November 2011, Nick Coleman said that "The Hegarty songs respond slightly better to the treatment than do Wyatt's, with the exception of 'Sea Song'."[4] MusicOmH said: "In a largely flawless set, the Antony & The Johnsons songs in particular are luminously beautiful, perfectly suited to the sisters’ passionate, breathy vocals and McNally’s elegant arrangements" but felt that The Unthanks are "at their best when providing a mixed palette of the centuries-old music of their native county and their own unique takes on the work of some of today’s most interesting performers. Just focusing on the latter, they’re marginally less interesting."[5]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Bird Guhl"    
2. "Man is the Baby"    
3. "You Are My Sister"    
4. "For Today I Am a Boy"    
5. "Paddy's Gone"    
6. "Spiralling"    
7. "Stay Tuned" (Anja Garbarek) from Comicopera"    
8. "Dondestan" (Wyatt) from Dondestan (revisited)"    
9. "Lullaby for Hamza" (Wyatt/Benge) from Cuckooland"    
10. "Lisp Service" (Hopper/Wyatt) from Dondestan (revisited)"    
11. "Free Will and Testament" (Wyatt/Kramer) from Shleep"    
12. "Out of the Blue" (Wyatt/Elfriede Ellidge) from Comicopera"    
13. "Cuckoo Madame" (Wyatt/Benge) from Cuckooland"    
14. "Sea Song" (Wyatt) from Rock Bottom'"    
15. "Forest" (excerpt) from Cuckooland"    

Personnel[edit]

The Unthanks
  • Rachel Unthank – voice, feet, dulcitone
  • Becky Unthank – voice, feet
  • Adrian McNally – piano on Robert Wyatt set, drums on Antony set, harmonium, voice
  • Chris Price – drums on Robert Wyatt set, electric bass on Antony set, voice
  • Niopha Keegan – violin, accordion, voice
Additional musicians
  • Ros Stephen – violin, voice
  • Becca Spencer – viola, voice
  • Jo Silverston – cello, voice
  • Lizzie Jones – trumpet, voice
  • Dean Ravera – double bass
  • Jonny Kearney – piano on Antony set

Arrangements[edit]

  • Strings on Antony set transcribed by Niopha Keegan
  • Strings on "Lisp Service" by Jo Silverston
  • Strings on "Out of the Blue" by Becca Spencer and Lizzie Jones
  • Strings on "Stay Tuned" by Niopha Keegan

References[edit]

  1. ^ Neil Spencer (20 November 2011). "The Unthanks: The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & the Johnsons – review". The Observer. Retrieved 30 November 2011. "...the Unthanks' intertwining voices – cadent, mournful, tender – never falter and the between-songs banter ('There will be clog dancing!') grounds an ethereal atmosphere."
  2. ^ David Fricke (1 March 2012). "The Unthanks: The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony and the Johnsons". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Martin Aston (24 November 2011). "The sisters’ voices, with Hegarty and Wyatt’s songs: a perfect match". BBC Music. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  4. ^ Nick Coleman (27 November 2011). "Album: The Unthanks, Diversion Vol 1: The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & the Johnsons (Rabblerouser)". The Independent. Retrieved 30 November 2011. 
  5. ^ Chris White (28 November 2011). "The Unthanks - The Songs Of Robert Wyatt And Anthony & The Johnsons". musicOMH. Retrieved 30 November 2011.