The Last Nightingale

The Last Nightingale

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A lot of talent was assembled for this EP released to benefit the historic 1984 British miners' strike. It is something of a Henry Cow reunion, plus a Robert Wyatt vocal, plus several poems recited by Adrian Mitchell, plus a terrific album cover by Ralph Steadman. It all goes by very quickly, in literary terms more like a greeting card with some inspired verse scribbled on it than a novel or even a short story.

Fans of the musicians involved will no doubt favor the opening "Moments of Delight," a composition by Chris Cutler and Tim Hodgkinson that places Wyatt, his vocal stylings instantly recognizable, inside an ensemble arrangement that sounds comfortable despite its complexity. Bits of the horn writing touch at what might be found on a Charles Mingus record, but only bits; as is usual with the Henry Cow herd, nobody stomps too hard on the imitation turf. "Bittern Storm Revisited" gives Fred Frith a chance to blow forth on slurpy fuzzbox guitar, the track also featuring fine writing for the bassoon. Only the greediest of Henry Cow collectors will be let down by this smart, expertly produced release -- wanting more, more, more of their heroes and not able to appreciate both the special nature of what is here and the context in which it was originally issued.

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