Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Day is Done.
As a fan of the band and its various configurations, I subscribe to the StrawbsWeb news email feed...and the latest one, which I got yesterday, bore some sad news: Robert Kirby (pictured above), who did string and wind arrangements for a lot of musicians most notably in the 70's but right up till today, died last Saturday.
His biggest claim to fame came, I suppose, as the arranger for Nick Drake's first two albums (interview here), but his name first came to my attention with a credit on Strawbs member David Cousins' first solo album, Two Weeks Last Summer, back in 1972. I think I first acquired my copy around 1978 or so, it was not released officially in the US, and mine was a Canadian import. As a budding Strawb fan (I had just purchased the wonderful Ghosts album not long before), I loved the album...and one cut in particular, credited to "Robert Kirby's Wind", stood out. Titled "That's the Way it Ends (Including the World)", it featured a gorgeous melody on the intro, a prim, melancholy arrangement made up of oboes, flutes and clarinets, with Cousins accompanying himself on piano on the second part of the track. Here's an interview with him dealing with his Strawbs work. I kept seeing his name pop up here and there on albums I'd pick up, and eventually (even though I had owned Pink Moon on vinyl a couple of years previous) I obtained the CD reissues of Nick Drake's records and discovered the excellent work he brought to them as well. Probably the first place I ever saw his name in the credits was as choir arranger and conductor for two tracks on Elton John's Madman Across the Water album, which I first heard in 1974.
An obscure sort of figure, unless you're an ardent British folk/rock fan, but a part of my musical upbringing just the same, and I salute him for what he contributed, as well as hope he rests in peace.