US label Cadabra Records have specialized in releasing Gothic and horror stories on vinyl for a couple of years by now, usually dramatized by way of a spoken words and instruments. On of their earlier productions were their take on Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem “The Raven”, which was released as a 7 inch one sided single in 2016.
What makes a dramatization like this one successful will obviously be very much in the ear of the listener. Spoken words are one thing, but poetry is quite another and rather more demanding task. One needs to get a good feel for both the words, the rhymes and the atmosphere, as well as rendering all of these in a manner that comes across as compelling to people whose taste in poetry and how it should be read will be rather varied.
In this case they have a spoken words performer with a good, strong and compelling voice in the shape of Anthony D. P. Mann, while the backing score is by Maurizio Guarini. I do find the latter aspect to be most successful in this case, the relatively simple keyboard arrangement doing a nice job in elevating the tensions of this Gothic poem.
But I do find Mann’s delivery to be a bit to filled with pace for my particular taste. It is, quite possibly, an aspect of the dramatization itself, partially transforming this poem to a thriller of sorts, but for me at least I prefer this poem to be read more as a gloomy, atmospheric piece where the hardness of delivery is better suited to the dramatic points than a combination of pace and intensity. The spoken word delivery is impeccable on all technical points otherwise, but for me at least giving it a pace-filled, nervous vibe doesn’t give quite the kind of life that I prefer to this classic piece of poetic art.
Amazingly enough Cadabra Records appears to still have some copies in stock of this 7 inch vinyl single. If you like Poe in general and “The Raven” in particular, and is curious about how this classic poetry would come across when taken on as more of a thrilling poetic tale, I doubt that anyone will create this any much better than what Mann and Guarini have done on this single. If you find this description to be compelling, some copies of this production are still available.
My rating: 60/100
1. Edgar Allan Poe: The Raven