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Hendra Deluxe Edition, Extra tracks

4.6 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (14 April 2014)
  • Deluxe Edition edition
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Deluxe Edition, Extra tracks
  • Label: Caroline International S&D
  • ASIN: B00IDRVISU
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,939 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Hendra
  2. Forget
  3. Spring
  4. Golden Ratio
  5. Matthew Arnold's Field
  6. The Gun
  7. Nathaniel
  8. The Levels
  9. Young Man's Game
  10. The Heart Is A Mirror
  11. Hendra (Demo)
  12. Spring (Demo)
  13. Young Man's Game (Demo)
  14. Forget (Live)

Product Description

Product Description

Recorded in London and Berlin, the music is a meeting of worlds: languid folk, distorted rock and fizzing electronics; in part a result of the album's two central collaborators, ex-Suede guitarist, Bernard Butler, and Berlin-based producer Ewan Pearson.

'I turned instinctively to Bernard very early on,' says Ben. 'I knew his overdriven, string-bent intensity would be the perfect foil to my own warm open-tuned style. It adds tension to the songs. Ewan has a foot in both my recent worlds. He can do thrumming Berlin techno, but also things of great delicacy and grace. I also wanted his vintage 70s poly-synths as a contrasting colour, and a burnished 3-D sound, which of course both play to his strengths.'

The album also includes one other unexpected stellar cameo - Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, who adds plangent slide guitar and backing vocals on 'The Levels'.
This format includes 4 bonus demo & live tracks.

About the Artist

After twenty years in Everything But The Girl, and ten years as a respected DJ and record label boss of Buzzin' Fly, Ben Watt announced last year he was parking everything to complete two long-planned creative solo projects.

The first is his long-awaited second book, 'Romany and Tom', a dazzling portrait of his parents. The second is 'Hendra', his first solo album for over thirty years, released on his own new imprint, Unmade Road through Caroline International. It is, in Ben's words, 'simply a folk-rock record in an electronic age'.
It was in 1981 that Ben first appeared on London indie, Cherry Red, as a young nineteen-year-old experimental folk artist. His first single was produced by the maverick Kevin Coyne. With his second - 1982's 'Summer into Winter' EP - Watt coaxed alt-folk icon Robert Wyatt into collaborating on two tracks. His early work drew comparisons in the press to Tim Buckley and John Martyn and culminated in his debut album - 1983's 'North Marine Drive'.

'I put it all away when I teamed up with Tracey as Everything But The Girl in 1983,' he says. 'But as time has gone on - even in spite of the last ten years in the electronic world - something has made me want to go back to see what I left behind. And I realised I'd left things unfinished.'

'In the end I wrote the songs for 'Hendra' unexpectedly. My sister died suddenly as I was finishing the book. I think it all came to a head. My mind was full of a lot of stuff. I just went down into the basement at home every night and re-tuned all my guitars into unfamiliar tunings as a way of beginning again and just started singing.'

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Red on Black TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 April 2014
Format: Audio CD
It could be argued that a gap of 31 years between recording albums should at least merit a small investigation from the Guinness Book of Records. Although to be fair to Ben Watt he was somewhat preoccupied in the time between with his sterling work with soul mate Tracey Thorn and constructing the many albums of Everything but the Girl. "Hendra" is Watts first album since his debut and he describes it as "a folk-rock record in an electronic age". It features Berlin-based producer Ewan Pearson and Pink Floyd's David Gilmour on the slow ballad "The Levels" a real standout track. Fundamentally the musical supporting bulwark of the album is the great ex Suede guitarist Bernard Butler whose choice finger picking and riffing throughout is another reason to buy this excellent record.

Watt has a good ear for a song and the title track for the album sets a shimmering mood for the rest that follows. There are two versions of "Forget" on the deluxe album and this reviewer is edging to the more acoustic based live version although both are splendid. It is true that the jazzy rumba of "Golden Ratio" does have a slightly ETBTG vibe and what is wrong with that if the music is this good? It is chillout music of the highest order and could soundtrack the slow end of warm summer evenings. Other songs which immediately draw the listener in are the gorgeous "Matthew Arnold's Field" a slowly rolling piano driven song filled with latent grief and concentrating on the death of Watt's father and the scattering of his ashes. In a similar vein the albums concluding song "The Heart is a Mirror" is a song about self-reflection and resilience, which swirls with dark emotions.

More upbeat is "Nathanial" with great playing by Butler.
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Format: Audio CD
What a treat it is to hear the return of such a talent - or perhaps that should be talents since this feels more like a collaboration with Bernard Butler than a completely solo effort. All the songs are written by Ben Watt, but there is also a lot of really beautifully restrained electric guitar supplied by one of this country's finest.
I was lucky enough to catch them both live earlier this week playing everything from this album, and the song introductions made it clear that most - if not all - of these songs are inspired by personal experiences (growing older, revisiting a former home, the loss of his sister and father).
The overall feel of this is closer to his other solo outing of 3 decades ago than anything put out with Tracey Thorn. Of course he is no longer 19 years old so there is more heart and a stronger voice here.
I bought the Deluxe copy of this album and I would recommend you think about doing the same as the 4 extra demo versions with Ben just accompanying himself are very direct and powerful. The guy certainly knows how to tell a story.
Whilst musically this is completely different from Lennon, I felt touched by this album in the same way I am touched by both Imagine and Mind Games. Of course this will never sell in such quantities, but it's a measure of the emotional content to be found in here.
A terrific return with a warm glow.
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Format: Audio CD
It's been a long time since there's been any release by Ben Watt and then in early 2014, he's delivered a well-written book about his parents marriage and decline into old age (Romany and Tom) and this set of songs. That book and the lyrical approach of Mark Kozelek focusing on memories and associated minutiae informs a number of the tracks here - scattering his father's ashes in Matthew Arnold's Field and the recent passing of his half-sister informs both the title track and The Levels. The songs are all well structured and delivered with great assistance from Bernard Butler and David Gilmour on guitar, and Watt's voice, while not the strongest you'll ever hear, has aged well. The album has a good twilight/evening feel but there are a few tracks like 'Nathaniel' that shows Ben can still make a noise if he wants to. If you're looking for tracks similar to Watts' Buzzin' Fly imprint or later Everything But The Girl, there's very little here but there are nods and links to Watt's 'outspoken' project (that spread across Buzzin' Fly 1-3 with Jennifer Valone and which Watt should have made more of) in 'Forget' and a regretful goodbye to the DJ world in 'Young Man's Game'. It's a hopeful album despite its sad subject matter which is not easy to pull off. Welcome back Ben
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Chances are, if you're reading this, you know a fair bit about Ben and EBTG already, so let's talk about "Hendra". Like all good albums, you need to listen to this a few times before judging. There is no doubt, in my view, that Ben has always been a good writer. And he is a very good singer as well. Maybe it's unfortunate that he's largely been the other half of Tracey (who let's face it is the Voice). But Ben has always been her perfect complimentary counterpoint, and a great singer in his own way when he takes the lead. (See previous perfect gems like "The Night I Heard Caruso Sing", "Boxing and Pop Music", "The Road").
Ben describes "Hendra" as a folk rock album, and it is, in the best sense of that term. If you're old enough, think of those ageless classic "Island" albums of the late 60's / early 70's e.g. Fairport, Fotheringay, John Martyn, Nick Drake, etc., and you'll get the idea. Yet it is contemporary at the same time. Without repeating Ben's family background to the genesis of these songs, they are clearly very personal indeed. In a lesser writer, this could be a bad thing, distancing rather than connecting. But here they travel well and inhabit a wider landscape. (N.B. If you really want the connections, check out Ben's book "Romany and Tom".) The instrumentation and arrangements are spot on for what Ben's creating. Bernard Butler is a plus, but it's still Ben's album.
I'd suggest you get the "de luxe" version, because the extra acoustic versions are well worth having. (Perhaps there'll be an extended double album released years later with all the demos on it like the recent EBTG re-issues.)
Mostly, the whole album has a cohesive feel to it.
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