Robert Calvert

Test Tube Conceived

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In that it incited Robert Calvert to tour for the first time in years, an outing that spawned, in turn, the At the Queen Elizabeth Hall live album, Test Tube Conceived should be regarded among the jewels of the man's back catalog. Certainly period reviews were more than generous, and the ten songs that make up the disc include a handful of career-best doozies. Instead, Test Tube Conceived has been all but forgotten, lost beneath the roars of applause that greet Captain Lockheed and Lucky Leif, and obscured even by the standards of Hype and Freq. Stumble across the album by accident, however, and a concept based loosely on the pros and cons of starting life in a petrie dish emerges a lot warmer, and an awful lot more hopeful, than so dry a synopsis ought to. As with Freq, the presentation itself is somewhat spartan, with Calvert often unaccompanied bar the machines that now seemed his closest musical companions. But the rawness only amplifies the strength of his lyricism and, though the album was Test Tube Conceived, the emotions behind it certainly weren't.