When you come to a style as unique and specialist as 'Canterbury' you might find it hard to imagine how on earth a tribute album to what is, after all, a somewhat spurious categorisation in the first place - and while you may be able to create the music, how do you get that 'Canterbury' feel if you're not part of the original crew? Well, with their own material, Volare got it spot on, so how do a bunch of groups of mainly European mainland origins and a prog-rock background fare? A whole lot better than you might think, is the answer Much of it is instrumental, which helps, and I was quite surprised to see the amount of bias given towards things to do with Robert Wyatt, with only one brave cover of fusion-era Soft Machine, and that is done so well, you wish there had been a lot more of it than the Wyatt stuff. After all, how on earth can anyone do his voice, anyway? There's a lot of music on here and CD2 is particularly outstanding.
But, taking CD1 to start with, the two highlights are a SUPERB rendition of Gong's 'Isle Of Everywhere' by some band I'd never heard of but whom really should do a full album and soon, if this is anything to go by. The other is USA artist Synthetic Block's interpretation of Soft Machine's 'Soft Weed Factor', here done primarily on synths/keys, giving the track a whole new outlook, and it works a treat. The rest of the CD features some neat interpretations and the only real turkeys are (sorry, guys) Hostonaten's lamentable version of 'Sea Song' - a thing you JUST DON'T COVER!!!! - and the synth medley of the Bruford-National Health tracks that really has to be heard to be believed, and even then you don't believe it.
CD2 starts somewhat unusually with a USA mob making an almighty meal out of Egg's 'Wring Out The Ground, Loosely Now', that makes up for the loss of spirit with some good, energetic work from the guitarists (yes, guitarists!!!), percussionist and keyboard player. In its own way, pretty interesting and I can imagine this improving with plays. Track three features Italy's L'imbroglio doing a corking take on National Health material, while Mary Newsletter, on track four, try hard to sound like Pink Floyd playing Robert Wyatt, and that works pretty well, too. There follows a trio of Wyatt tracks, all done quite differently and all sounding great, despite the obvious lack of THAT voice. The rest of the tracks are good, including a scorcher Camel cover. So, overall, it mostly works well, and I would imagine that most fans of the genre will get more then a their fair share of long-term entertainment out of this, deceptively curious, release.