The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & the Johnsons
|The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & the Johnsons|
|Live album by The Unthanks|
|Released||28 November 2011 (UK)|
|Recorded||8 and 9 December 2010|
|Label||Rabble Rouser RRM009/ Rough Trade Records|
|The Unthanks chronology|
|The Independent on Sunday|||
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, which consists entirely of songs by Robert Wyatt and by Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons, was recorded at the Union Chapel, Islington, London, on 8 and 9 December 2010. It received a 4.5-starred review in Rolling Stone, four-starred reviews in The Guardian and The Observer and four-starred ratings from AllMusic and MusicOMH.
David Fricke, in a 4.5-starred review for Rolling Stone magazine, said there was "a silvery deceptive spine running through the sisters' Earth-angel voices". In a four-starred review, Neil Spencer of The Observer called the album "A triumphant excursion", adding that "...the Unthanks' intertwining voices – cadent, mournful, tender – never falter and the between-songs banter ('There will be clog dancing!') grounds an ethereal atmosphere". Robin Denselow, in a four-starred review for The Guardian, described the album as "a thoughtful, delicate and bravely original tribute to two fine contemporary songwriters". 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".
Writing in The Independent on Sunday 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'." In a four-starred review for MusicOMH, Chris White 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."
Antony and the Johnsons
- "Bird Guhl" (Antony Hegarty) from I Am a Bird Now (3:57)
- "Man is the Baby" (Antony Hegarty) from I Am a Bird Now (5:43)
- "You Are My Sister" (Antony Hegarty) from the single "You Are My Sister" (5:56)
- "For Today I Am a Boy" (Antony Hegarty) from I Am a Bird Now (4:06)
- "Paddy's Gone" (Antony Hegarty) from I Am a Bird Now (4:13)
- "Spiralling" (Antony Hegarty) from I Am a Bird Now (4:41)
- "Stay Tuned" (Anja Garbarek) from Comicopera (4:43)
- "Dondestan" (Robert Wyatt) from Dondestan (Revisited) (3:18)
- "Lullaby for Hamza" (Robert Wyatt/Alfreda Benge) from Cuckooland (3:44)
- "Lisp Service" (Hugh Hopper/Robert Wyatt) from Dondestan (Revisited) (3:11)
- "Free Will and Testament" (Wyatt/Kramer) from Shleep (5:03)
- "Out of the Blue" (Wyatt/Elfriede Ellidge) from Comicopera (4:11)
- "Cuckoo Madame" (Wyatt/Benge) from Cuckooland (5:13)
- "Sea Song" (Wyatt) from Rock Bottom (6:59)
- "Forest" (excerpt) from Cuckooland (2:51)
Total album length = 1:07:44
- 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
- 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
The album, which was recorded live at the Union Chapel, Islington, London on 8 and 9 December 2010, was mixed and produced by Adrian McNally. It was mastered by Denis Blackham.
The album cover, designed by Steven Wainwright, incorporates illustrations by Becky Unthank and photographs by Mark Winpenny.
Notes and references
- David Fricke (1 March 2012). "The Unthanks: The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony and the Johnsons". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
- James Christopher Monger. "The Unthanks: Diversions, Vol. 1: The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & the Johnsons – Live from the Union Chapel, London". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
- Chris White (28 November 2011). "The Unthanks – The Songs Of Robert Wyatt And Anthony & The Johnsons". musicOMH. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
- Neil Spencer (20 November 2011). "The Unthanks: The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & the Johnsons – review". The Observer. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
- Robin Denselow (1 December 2011). "The Unthanks: The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony and the Johnsons – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- Nick Coleman (27 November 2011). "Album: The Unthanks, Diversion Vol 1: The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & the Johnsons (Rabblerouser)". The Independent on Sunday. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
- Martin Aston (24 November 2011). "The sisters’ voices, with Hegarty and Wyatt’s songs: a perfect match". BBC Music. Retrieved 21 May 2012.