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Robert Wyatt

Canterbury Scene

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Robert Wyatt EP's by Robert Wyatt album cover
3.20 | 21 ratings | 2 reviews | 10% 5 stars

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 - Bits (18:46)
1. I'm a Believer (extended version) (4:55)
2. Memories (3:06)
3. Yesterday Man (3:39)
4. Sonia (alternate version) (4:01)
5. Calyx (live) (3:05)

CD 2 - Pieces (19:06)
1. Shipbuilding (remastered) (3:04)
2. Memories of You (2:58)
3. 'Round Midnight (4:10)
4. Pigs... (In There) (2:39)
5. Chairman Mao (6:15)

CD 3 - Work In Progress (16:35)
1. Yolanda (4:12)
2. Te Recuerdo Amanda (3:34)
3. Biko (4:38)
4. Amber and the Amberines (4:11)

CD 4 - Animals (19:38)
1. The Animals' Film (19:38)

CD 5 - Remixes (24:06)
1. Was a Friend (remix) (5:48)
2. Maryan (remix) (6:46)
3. A Sunday in Madrid (remix) (6:59)
4. Free Will and Testament (remix) (4:33)

Total Time 98:11

Line-up / Musicians

- Robert Wyatt / drums, bass, keyboards, vocals, trumpet, percussion
- Philip Catherine / guitar
- J. Johnson / vocals (background)
- Richard Sinclair / bass
- Hugh Hopper / bass, keyboards
- Evan Parker / soprano saxophone
- Laurie Allan / drums
- Chucho Merchán / double bass
- Mongezi Feza / trumpet
- Gary Windo / bass clarinet, tenor saxophone
- John Greaves / bass
- Brian Eno / synthesizer
- Nick Mason / drums
- Fred Frith / guitar, violin
- Paul Weller / guitar, Gut string guitar

Releases information

5CD Thirsty Ear 57062

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ROBERT WYATT EP's by Robert Wyatt ratings distribution

(21 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (43%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ROBERT WYATT EP's by Robert Wyatt reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This beautifully packaged 5 CD set gives a good overview of the solo career of Robert Wyatt, one of the most distinctive voices in English music and one of the most direct and emotionally honest performers of the last few decades. His voice is something of an acquired taste, and tends to divide opinion sharply. This collection also contains his re interpretations of other artists songs - the term 'cover version' really doesn't do them justice, as Wyatt is able to find things in songs that the writers never suspected were there. Check out his jaw dropping version of Chic's 'At Last I Am Free' for proof.

CD1 (tracks 1 - 5) gathers together some tracks from his brief flirtation with pop stardom in the mid 70s - the producers of Top Of The Pops were not happy about showing a wheelchair bound performer, so he only got to appear on the UK's longest running music show once, but the sight of him rocking in his chair to his unique rendition I'm a Believer (yes, the Monkees classic written by Neil Diamond) lives on to this day among music buffs of a certain age here in England. This release includes Fred Frith's manic viola solo, edited out of the original version. For good measure, we are also treated to his unreleased version of 'Yesterday Man', turned down by Virgin because it was 'too lugubrious'. The rest of the disc contains good live or alternate versions of Wyatt songs of the period.

CD2 brings us to the late 70s/early 80s. Following a few years of musical inactivity, he found a new deal and a new lease of artistic life with Rough Trade. Tracks 1 - 3 come from a 12" single which was a near hit. Shipbuilding was a song written by Elvis Costello (who released his own version) and Clive Langer in response to the Falklands war, the mournful tale of an unemployed shipbuilder who finds work thanks to the war, only for his son to die when the ship he helped to build was sunk. Eloquent and moving, it is one of the most poignant anti war songs ever. It was backed with his reading of a couple of jazz standards, Eubie Blake's Memories of You and Thelonius Monk's Round Midnight. The second EP is rounded off with another couple of Wyatt songs, including the musical reportage of 'Pigs in There'.

CD3 gathers some of his more explicitly political work from the mid 80s - his political beliefs never wavered throughout the Thatcher/Reagan years, which has to be respected whether you agree with his communist leanings or not. A couple of Spanish language songs are included, one of them by Victor Jara who was murdered by the Pinochet regime in Chile. Peter Gabriel's Biko is as intense and angry as the original, but also has an elgiaic quality which mourns Biko's passing as well as condemning the regime which was responsible. Amber and the Amberines is a song about the US invasion of Grenada.

CD4 is a version of his soundtrack to 'The Animals Film'. This was a grisly look at the way in which animals are treated before they wind up on supermarket shelves. The original tapes were lost, but an edited version had been released in Japan and is re released here. The music was quickly and cheaply recorded on a WASP synthesiser and was released on a poor quality pressing in the UK, and time has not improved it. For completists only, though there is a sort of charm in places.

CD5 contains remixes of songs from the Shleep album, which had recently been released to great critical acclaim and modest commercial success. The original songs were fine as they were, and while the remixes are well executed they also seem a little bit pointless, with the possible exception of the atmospheric 'A Sunday In Madrid'.

The whole thing comes in a box with 5 individual inner sleeves, all designed by Wyatt's wife and sometime lyricist Alfreda Benge, an exceptional painter who has been responsible for most of his cover illustrations since 'Rock Bottom'. For Wyatt fans this is an artefact to treasure, but it isn't really essential to the uninitiated.

Review by GruvanDahlman
3 stars Whenever I visit London I make my way through the busy streets with a feverish mind and clear visiom. And that is to browse the shelves of the still proud flagship that once blew my mind with it's sheer size back in 1992, the year of my first visit. This time around was no different. I had to go there and I did. At first I was in pursuit of other albums but came across this litte box set of Wyatt's. I had been wanting it for a long time, due to the track "Shipbuilding" which is such a beautiful, slightly sad song. The thrill of finding the perfect thing in record stores is mainly unmatched, as far as I am concerned. The shivers I felt at the time was very satisfying indeed.

But what of the content then? Well, I'd like to start off by saying that not all things on here could claim to be all that progressive. There are odds and sods of different styles and the quality shifts from the highest peaks to slopes of the mountain. Obviously, Wyatt manages to produce music not totally disastrous but then again sort of lacklustre.

The first EP is a collection of covers. "I'm a beliver" is surprisingly great and energetic. The song in itself is maybe not the greatest track when Monkees recorded it and maybe it still ain't when Wyatt does it either, but it is a fun, energetic and in the end fantasic rendition. I really like it. The rest of the EP is alright. The inclusion of "Calyx" is a stroke of genius, as the song in itself is tremendous.

EP 2 holds three great tracks: "Shipbuilding", "Pigs... in there" and "Chairman Mao". The first track is a cover aswell but what a cover! It is beautiful, haunting, sad and is like the perfect soundtrack to the early 80's, as far as Britain is comncerned, but I dare say it is applicable to all of Europe at the time. "Pigs..." is a hilarious track, sort of a modern, electronic piece of Canterbury song. "Chairman Mao" is a strange but evocative track. Simplistic, minimalistic and grand.

EP 3 is the weakest in my book. Except for the great "Amber and amberines" I find very little to like. Bland, charter pop. I know, it seems unfair to the old man but I think it is quite awful. "Te recuerdo Amanda" is fun to hear, since it is a cover of a Victor Jara song and fits in nicely with Wyatt's political views. I have heard it by a swedish performer, Cornelis Vreeswijk, who translated it into swedish. With that in mind I semi-like the track on th EP.

EP 4 is the soundtrack to a film about the treatment of animals in the meat industry. I guess it fits the movie like a glove. Electronic and sparse it really does the job. I can't say I enjoyit but I find it, as a context piece, quite brilliant. I have not seen the movie and I have no intention to, though it would be interesting to hear the music as it was intended, as an aural companion tomthe horrific images on the screen.

EP 5 is a bunch of remixes and stuff Wyatt was working on. I find this disc in some ways the most progressive, in a way. Demonstrating Wyatt's excursions into the electronic field as well. It is interesting, to say the least. "Was a friend" is really good, for instance.

I'd like to conclude this review by saying that this collectionof EP's is a mix of great and lesser great tracks. If you think you're gonna find the progressive genius of Soft Machine or "Rock bottom" I hope you won't be disappointed but chances are you might be. Wyatt put it in words when he said he had to put food on the table, as it were, and recorded stuff intended for the charts. It is at most times far from bland, often interesting and engaging but the mix of greatness and less so makes it a varied listen. I love the box, although I do have trouble embracing all of it. But that is not necessary either. I stick to the goodies and that is quite enough in itself. The genius on individuality of Wyatt is there and that is the Wyatt I love. I recommend this box to already fans of Wyatt. If you are investigting the man or wants to listen to his music for the first time I would seriuosly recommend "Rock bottom", or Matching Mole.

I will rate this box 3 stars, based on the overall quality of the songs.

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