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Robert Wyatt - The End Of An Ear CD (album) cover


Robert Wyatt


Canterbury Scene

3.19 | 119 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Robert Wyatt's End of an Ear isn't a serious attempt to kick off a solo career - Rock Bottom would play that role four years later - so much as it represents Wyatt letting off a bit of steam. The Soft Machine had just recorded Third, an album on which Wyatt's drumming naturally played an essential role but on which his vocals were limited to one song - his own Moon In June, a composition the rest of the band were so disinterested in he had to perform most of it himself. This was all part of a general tendency in the Machine to veer away from the inclusion of vocals after the release of Volume Two (in which Wyatt's singing played a major role), which would culminate in their fourth album being released without any singing from Wyatt being included whatsoever.

The fact that Wyatt lists "Mouth" under his portfolio of musical instruments on the liner notes is a hint as to the point of this album - to give him a chance to express his unique style of scat singing and his use of his voice as his most delicate and diverse musical instrument in a way which he simply was no longer allowed to do in the Soft Machine. It's a stinging rebuke to Messrs. Ratledge and Hopper, who had been driving the Machine in a firmly instrumental direction at this point, as far as free jazz goes there's a delicate, shimmering beauty to the album which when it comes through clearly is quite delightful. The album doesn't soar to heights of supreme excellence, but it is a skilled reminder of just what the human voice can achieve, and in that sense more than exonerates itself as a showcase for Wyatt's vocal talents. Personally, I think the Soft Machine's decision to sideline Wyatt's singing was absolutely shameful, a waste of a wonderful talent. Fortunately, on Matching Mole's albums and in his solo career, Wyatt would not be silenced.

Warthur | 3/5 |


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