Robert Rental’s final recordings – their story

Hilary Farrow:

Bob had been working on some music that he felt was ready for recording , so when a friend in Wales told Bob that he was going on holiday and that Bob could use his house for recording he approached Daniel (Miller) for some recording equipment. Daniel agreed which is how this music was recorded.

Bob’s and my son Dylan and friend Andy Aitken were also living in Wales, which is how Dylan played drums & Andy on percussion. Bob was in Wales recording this music in August 1999.
When Bob got home he had only got as far as he had on this cassette, he had hoped to go into a studio to finish it off. Sadly this music never got finished due to his illness.

Andy Aitken:

I have to tell you I’m blown away by the love, heart, soul and beauty of this music. It makes the loss of one of my closest friends that much harder to bare.

I can tell you that my contribution was minimal as I had got my degree at University of Central Lancashire and was about to start a Masters in Popular Music at the University of Liverpool in September 1999 and was living in Preston then. I remember there was a total solar eclipse in August and that Bob did manage to catch a later one in Cornwall.
I had done all my musical work with Bob in the studio he constructed in Battersea where we worked together as a duo from mid 80’s-1990. The drum kit on the recordings came from there as I sold it to Dylan when I left London. It was a Slingerland kit. Daniel (Miller) did set us up in a studio once (Blackwing Studios – Mute’s studio where Depeche Mode first recorded) but we just couldn’t make it work. Still, there were some amazing nights in the Battersea room which I look back on with fondness and a little regret that we never made more of it but it is what eventually led to the 4 recordings here.

About the songs:

Boom Boom Dust

Andy: Boom Boom Dust displays the Bob Dylan influence Bob had and I love the Alice reference but there is also the dark cloud of premonition in the lines ‘hope it don’t come to pass’ and ‘face to face with God’.

Yellow Meadow:

Hilary: Yellow Meadow was about a holiday that we had been on with our son Dylan, whilst still living in the tower block in Battersea. Bob bought a Metzeler inflatable boat, with some money from his music. We used to put it in a shopping trolley and take it down to St Mary’s Church where there was a slipway where we could inflate the boat when the tide was coming in and row (l don’t think Bob was interested in getting an outboard motor, too noisy) up river to Putney, have a picnic, then come back when the tide was going out.

Before we went on this holiday Bob got electrical piping to make a frame and l made a cover with an old Girl Guides tent (we had already started going further afield in Bob’s Reliant Robin car). This trip was 3 weeks on the Kennet & Avon Canal. We had been on the canal for quite a while, Bob decided it might be good to hike over a fence and spend a bit of time on a river, so that’s what we did. Going from the canal to the river we had young bullocks to contend with, who seemed very interested in our boat. Once on the river we got ready for staying the night, it turned out that we had moored next to bees living in the bank, which upset our dog Zeb. When we woke we found there was a fishing competition all along the bank either side of us. We decided to head off before breakfast and try and get away from the fishing competition, so headed off and finally came to a very small town. By this time it was raining and Bob & Dylan went off to explore while l had a bit of a meltdown.

It was later that day when we were looking for somewhere to camp (which could also be quite stressful) that we moored up and climbed up quite a steep bank to find a campsite. We put our tent up, collected wood for the fire, made some food which l seem to remember
was one of those best meals because we were so hungry, that even the Smash dried potato mix tasted delicious .
In the morning, we woke to find we were camped in the most beautiful YELLOW MEADOW.

Andy: Meadow is well described by Hil and incorporates Bob’s love for African & Blues music.


Andy: In Everywhere I detect a Television influence – a band we all loved.


Andy: Blind is acoustic brilliance – he wrote such great lyrics as well as music and the ‘elemental’ in the lyric was what Bob wanted to call any post R. Rental band – this one included.

I think you can hear that had he lived there was incredible potential in these songs. The one song I remember playing at these sessions which is missing, is Feelings, which recounted the life, times and people of the Sleeping Sun commune. But that’s another story which I’m still struggling to write. I’m overjoyed that these 4 songs will finally see the light of day and even though it’s 20 years down the line, now seems a good or appropriate time.
Peace & Love, Andy Aitken

Hilary has kindly made these songs available to download free of charge here: