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ROBERT WYATT

Canterbury Scene • United Kingdom


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Robert Wyatt biography
WYATT must hold a special place in many proghead's hearts as he was at the forefront of the progressive movement from 66 until his grave fall from a fourth story window which has kept him in a wheelchair. Even since then, Robert has been a real prog talent. He had started in the WILDE FLOWERS (which split into SOFT MACHINE and CARAVAN) and held the drum stool and singing mike for years before leaving to found MATCHING MOLE (a pun from the French translation of his former group MACHINE MOLLE) but had also participated to many projects involving many musicians at the forefront of progressive music before his fall. While at the hospital, he started to write one of the most personal and intimate album ever "Rock Bottom", realizing that he would never walk again let alone drumming. He also took another approach to songwriting as he also realized that he would never be in a band anymore and therefore would not write songs according to the musicians in the group. The following albums will be less interesting for progheads and his discography become erratic. Only in the last years will he come back with new albums, some superb.

WYATT is one of the great musicians focused upon in Prog Archives and every proghead should investigate his oeuvre.

: : : Hugues Chantraine, BELGIUM : : :

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Different Every TimeDifferent Every Time
Domino 2014
Audio CD$15.98
Rock BottomRock Bottom
Import
Domino Records UK 2008
Audio CD$6.75
$5.67 (used)
Rock Bottom [Vinyl]Rock Bottom [Vinyl]
Import
Domino Records UK 2008
Vinyl$18.08
$19.74 (used)
'68'68
CUNEIFORM 2013
Audio CD$10.05
$12.19 (used)
Old RottenhatOld Rottenhat
Import
Domino Records UK 2008
Audio CD$10.17
$16.42 (used)
The End Of An EarThe End Of An Ear
PID
Audio CD$2.41
$4.08 (used)
Ruth Is Stranger Than RichardRuth Is Stranger Than Richard
Thirsty Ear 1998
Audio CD$19.99
$8.99 (used)
ShleepShleep
Thirsty Ear 1998
Audio CD$22.50
$8.98 (used)
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ROBERT WYATT shows & tickets


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ROBERT WYATT discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ROBERT WYATT top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.22 | 90 ratings
The End Of An Ear
1970
4.30 | 552 ratings
Rock Bottom
1974
3.48 | 82 ratings
Ruth is Stranger Than Richard
1975
3.65 | 50 ratings
Old Rottenhat
1985
3.75 | 54 ratings
Dondestan
1991
3.81 | 85 ratings
Shleep
1997
3.51 | 59 ratings
Cuckooland
2003
3.80 | 53 ratings
Comicopera
2007
3.29 | 7 ratings
Radio Experiment Rome, February 1981
2009
3.00 | 21 ratings
For The Ghosts Within (with Atzmon and & Stephen)
2010
3.88 | 20 ratings
'68
2013

ROBERT WYATT Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.95 | 40 ratings
Theatre Royal Drury Lane
2005

ROBERT WYATT Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ROBERT WYATT Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.23 | 29 ratings
Nothing Can Stop Us
1982
2.96 | 4 ratings
Compilation
1986
3.38 | 10 ratings
Mid-Eighties
1993
4.08 | 4 ratings
Going Back A Bit : A Little History Of Robert Wyatt
1994
3.90 | 12 ratings
Flotsam & Jetsam
1994
3.14 | 12 ratings
EP's by Robert Wyatt
1999
0.00 | 0 ratings
Best Selection: Strange Days
2003
3.83 | 6 ratings
Solar Flares Burn for You
2003
3.23 | 7 ratings
His Greatest Misses
2004

ROBERT WYATT Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 1 ratings
I'm A Believer
1974
5.00 | 1 ratings
Yesterday Man
1974
3.00 | 1 ratings
Arauco
1980
5.00 | 1 ratings
At Last I Am Free
1980
3.00 | 1 ratings
Stalin Wasn't Stalling (with Peter Blackman)
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
Grass (with Disharhi)
1981
3.51 | 13 ratings
The Animals Film
1982
3.28 | 6 ratings
Shipbuilding / Memories of You
1982
4.33 | 3 ratings
Work In Progress
1984
3.11 | 8 ratings
Peel Sessions
1987
5.00 | 1 ratings
Chairman Mao
1987
3.33 | 6 ratings
Short Break
1996

ROBERT WYATT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Rock Bottom by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.30 | 552 ratings

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Rock Bottom
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This genre called Canterbury leaves me baffled every time. It is such an askew sounding genre, yet extremely focused and visionary. There's plenty of jazz, plenty of rock and plenty of everything and then stuffed into one big bucket of prog. Actually, I think that Canterbury may well be the prime example of prog in it's most vivid and exploratory manner.

As such it demands something special of the listener. Though melodic it is also, as stated, askew and spinechilling. Prog is by definition something to sink your teeth into but Canterbury, like zeuhl for instance, is really something else. Demanding, yes. Rewarding? Absolutely.

I came across this album having read about it's glory and godliness. At first I found it just a tad too bleak. It is not an uplifting listen, though I would not necessarily say it's a downer either. It is, really, a strange trip. Wyatt manages to create an album of sparsity though really rich in texture and body. I suppose you need to hear it to understand it. To me it is a wonderful example of restraint without holding back. Is that talking nonsense? I think not.

The first two tracks are incredible. "Sea song" is inexplicably beautiful, mellow, melancholic and simple in in it's complexity. "A last straw follows". A bit more rock feel to it, though jazzy. "Little red riding hood hit the road" is effect laden and full lf intricacy in instrumentation. Wonderful. "Alifib" recalls Hatfield & The North, I think, which is great. (Wyatt contributed vocals on the first Hatfield album.) "Alfie" is the strangest song on the album. Really it is scary, with it's half spoken vocals and eerie effects. The album ends with "Little red robin hood hit the road", on which Mike Oldfield adds some distinct guitar playing. An awesome track and a great way to end this gem of an album.

In conclusion, this is one great example of Canterbury but also prog in general. Eerie, demanding, bleak, rich and rewarding. It has everything one could hope for, really. However good, I cannot reward it five stars. This is an amazing album and I think an excellent addition to any collection. Essential? Well... In parts I think so but on the other hand no. I cannot put my finger on it. If you are looking to investigate Wyatt, start here. It is a good place to begin.

Four shining, glorious stars.

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 Rock Bottom by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.30 | 552 ratings

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Rock Bottom
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by BrufordFreak

4 stars I've owned and listened to this album regularly for a few years now but to this day fail to feel the sadness others associate with listening to it. I know the story, and I can imagine Robert's mood and mindset whilst creating this album (how cathartic and, hopefully, healing!) To hear the man's shift in instrumental orientation is quite extraordinary. And the emotion in his voice is quite raw and beautifully, expressively carefree. The contributing band members must have been quite focused in the making of this one. The contributions of Richard Sinclair, Mongeza Feza, Gary Windo and Mike Oldfield's are especially notable, though Fred Frith's viola play in the second half of "Little Red Robin Hood Hit The Road" is exemplarily of the album's seriousness.

1. "Sea Song" (6:32) (9/10) is plaintively beautiful if a bit monotonous.

2. "Last Straw" (5:47) (9/10) is most remarkable to me for Robert's vocalized 'trumpet' play-- something I quite enjoy.

3. "Little Red Riding Hood Hit The Road" (7:41) (10/10) is a gorgeous song with amazing piano chord play, bass lines, and multiple tracked trumpets weaving among and beyond the tick-tocking percussive play. The distorted and reverse-effected keys, guitars and vocals are used to amazing effect. The Hedgehog is just weird.

4. "Alifib" (6:55) (8/10) is probably the album's oddest, saddest foray into self-pity and opiate- induced nonsense. Thank goodness it shifts into some more expressive free-form jazz with

5. "Alifie" (6:32) (8/10), an excursion into some deeper, darker expressiveness primarily via the inspired saxophone play of Gary Windo.

6. "Little Red Robin Hood Hit The Road" (6:09) (9/10) is highlighted by some vintage Mike Oldfield guitar work (on multiple tracks) as well as some of Robert's cleverest wordplay.

Definitely a better listen if on headphones and while giving it one's full attention. It has a timelessness to it that makes it rise above the 4 stars it might otherwise deserve. The Hedgehog is just weird.

"Dinsdale!" . . . "Dinsdale!"

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 Rock Bottom by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.30 | 552 ratings

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Rock Bottom
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by LinusW
Special Collaborator Italian Prog Specialist

4 stars Intimate, fragile, unstable and delicate - Rock Bottom is a reserved but bustling musical odyssey inwards. A perfect marriage of the personal and the abstract.

While never outright showy, there's just a subdued shimmering and hazy richness and gentle grandeur that make this album positively simmer in a unique and self-contradictory hallucinatory clarity.

A freely flowing, kaleidoscopic enigma of intimate beauty in predominantly colder colours, it's made full by layer upon layer of droning, eerie ambience, psychedelically immaterial or squealing guitars and the entirety of the zany zoological garden of sounds you find on the Canterburian experimental side. Sweetly innocent and clear melodies alongside Wyatt's almost tangible, vulnerable and very personal vocals fuse with darker streaks of wavy and diverse keyboards or a low-intensity jazz glow with gently crackling drums and unpredictable, fiery, but ultimately restrained woodwind and brass. Substantial, melodic, but sometimes detached, freely roaming and wilfully strange piano and importunate, entrancing percussion and imploring saxophone. Viola, concertina...there's room for so much. Every track is a new adventure, rewarding patience and attention in order to fully soak up all the nuances and minute twists and turns in the crisp and clear atmosphere.

The songs drift away into the unknown on a steady, patiently repetitive beat, but soon develop into isolated and hypnotic universes of their own when all the restless instrumental opulence gradually kicks in. It's fractured and jumbled, undependable and shaky, free-form, but often bent towards naked melancholia and sadness or even sinister, looming danger. And there's even room for a twisted sense of fun, creating a schizophrenic tension that never really goes away, and which only further adds to the vibe of uncertainty. But in the end it's always so wondrously, surprisingly, controlled. The emotion and instrumentation are like embers in the dark, with a constant deep red intensity that says it all without ever having to resort to wildly dancing flames.

While the charms of this one eluded me for a long time, the more I've listened to it the more I've come to adore it. It's an intense and intruding, but simultaneously restrained and naked affair, which if you let it in under your skin can cause exhilarating dizziness and lasting shortness of breath. And that's a good thing.

4 stars.

//LinusW

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 Dondestan by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.75 | 54 ratings

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Dondestan
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Robert Wyatt followed up the Casio-tastic Old Rottenhat with one of his strangest albums, which emerged first in 1991 in a somewhat rushed mix due to running out of time and recording budget. Later, thanks in part to the success of Shleep, a new remix of the album would emerge entitled Dondestan Revisited, which teases out the subtleties of the compositions. Like Old Rottenhat, it's a multi-instrumentalist effort with strongly politicised lyrics and more than a touch of free jazz influence here and there, and I certainly wouldn't recommend it to anyone new to Wyatt's discography (especially when the gorgeous Rock Bottom is such a brilliant starting point). At the same time, it builds on the quirky foundations of its predecessor admirably and is an intriguing experiment in its own right.

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 '68 by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.88 | 20 ratings

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'68
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Despite its simple and evocative title, this album does deserve quite an explanation in terms of context. These studio tapes were thought to be missing and only acetates had survived, and were never thought to be issued as an album, beit under Wyatt's name or Soft Machine's. If I mention the Machine, it's obviously that these sessions were recorded in Lost Angeles while Soft Machine had temporarily ceased action, after touring the US with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. And if the tapes still exist today, it's precisely because the JHE management paid the session bills (they also had used the studios) and took the tapes with them. After the US tour, where future Police guitarist got fired and left stranded in the US (he managed to find engagement in Eric Burdon and The New animals, then based in California), only Wyatt remained overseas and just hung around with the JHE and was even using the spare bed in the band's accommodation in LA's canyons.

Anyway, the four tracks on this session have all a strong link with Soft Machine, since the opening track Chelsa (sic) bears lyrics of Kevin Ayers, and it may just sound very familiar in a later Matching Mole album with different lyrics. While we're busy with the short track, let's mention that Slow Walkin' Talk (a Brian Hopper composition that sounds furiously Hendrix-ian) features that very same Jimi on bass - most likely playing left-handed on Noel Redding's right-handed bass.

As for the two longer tracks, Ryvmic Melody, but the first part is very reminiscent of the Alphabet of SM's Vol 2 album (yet not even recorded), but to be honest, it overstays it's welcome under this repetitive form: the only interesting time comes when he spells involuntarily BBC. Indeed, the "Dada Was Here" second section outclasses the psychedelic delirium of the Alphabet, but Wyatt's dope purveyor must've been good, because he psycho-babbles in Spanish (actually "guiltying" about missing his fatherhood back home) under McCoy Tyner-ian piano chords and later on thanking the full JHE. Personally, I find this second section the most interesting archives document of this release.

As for the 20-mins+ Moon In June all-Wyatt version, it's pure candy, with these effects around the 6th minute. Needless to say this version is much more sung that its official Third version, but the second part is from a session where Hopper and Ratledge do their usual things; this is a montage of different studio tapes (already done on another Cuneiform release Backwards). Needless to say that this second half holds as much interest as its preceding collaged companion piece and this could be one of my fave versions of this track.

Aymeric Leroy's liner notes (based on fresh e-mail interchanges and original Wyatt French-press interviews) are of great interest, as usual, and reconstruct the era, which Wyatt didn't seem to remember too much at first. This includes a fairly interesting passage where Wyatt explains (+/-) how to proceed recording the sequence and actual every recording track of a composition when not using a metronome (remember the era's rudimentary studio technology). My main (only?) gripe is that while the album is indeed a Wyatt archives release, it might just induced some newer (90's and 00's) fans into error (though the title and line-up are evident enough), because I might even think this could've been a Soft Machine-named archive album, for it would have less chance to WTF unaware acquirers. So while this release is "for aware fans only", it's of real interest for Machine fans.

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 '68 by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.88 | 20 ratings

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'68
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Just four songs, a fraction over 45 minutes long, comprise this release, which is a complete set of Robert Wyatt's solo recordings made in the US in late 1968. Until reappearing last year, the demo for "Rivmic Melodies" (all 18 minutes of it), an extended sequence of song fragments destined to form the first side of the second album by Soft Machine, was presumed lost forever while the shorter song on the same acetate, "Chelsa", wasn't even known to exist! Wyatt recorded these songs during some down time during and after Soft Machine's second American tour with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. He multi-tracked the recording, playing piano and organ as well as drumming and singing, and even some bass - although Hendrix himself provided the bass for "Slow Walkin' Talk.

There is something incredibly fragile about these recordings, with Wyatt alone in the studio setting the scene for what the Softs were going to be doing in forthcoming years. It is quite hard to judge this music on its' own merits, given it's importance historically, but fortunately this is something that every Softs/Matching Mole/Wyatt (and even Hendrix) fan will want to have not because it was going to form the basis for so much musical experimentation, but because it is so damned good. There is a depth and quality to this music that belies the fact that these songs were recorded on acetate 45 years ago. They have been cleaned up incredibly well and I am sure that they sound better now than when they were first heard all those year ago. Robert's pianowork is strident, structured and fluid yet also staccato, while his drumming is an incredibly important part of the overall sound. His vocals are delicate, emotional, fraught and another sound to be utilized. To me "Rivmic Melodies" is a stunning piece of work, with the repeated high notes taking the song into another area altogether.

This has been made available on CD with a 16 page booklet, and as seems fitting it is also available on limited edition vinyl (with the same information on an insert). Released with Robert's approval and full co-operation, this is essential stuff.

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 EP's by Robert Wyatt by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1999
3.14 | 12 ratings

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EP's by Robert Wyatt
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

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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 '68 by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.88 | 20 ratings

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'68
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars There certainly has been a buzz about this archival release created by an inspired Robert Wyatt back in 1968. SOFT MACHINE had just finished an exhausting tour of the U.S.A. opening for a very popular Jimi Hendrix, and when it ended the SOFT MACHINE members all went their seperate ways as the band had broken up. Their first album still hadn't even been released yet but it had been finished and ready to go for 6 months. Robert looked at this time as a chance to work on his own ideas as a solo performer and stayed in America at the request of Jimi Hendrix, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell. The band had rented a house in Laurel Canyon for 2 months in L.A., this particular house was used to film the Perry Mason TV series, but when they weren't filming they would rent it out. Robert describes it as having lots of windows and big swimming pool. Here he would work on his songs and visit other U.K. musicians who lived in the area like Andy Summers and Eric Burden. Wyatt says he had no interest in the West Coast music scene but did go and see THE CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY who impressed him with their brass rock style. He credits them for moving SOFT MACHINE to add Keith Tippett's brass section to SOFT MACHINE's lineup later on.

After some weeks Robert and THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE would head north to New York City where Wyatt would continue to work on his material and go out with Redding and Mitchell to clubs etc. They knew Robert had a small allowance from the record label so they paid his way, happy to have this charismatic englishman at their side. I should mention here that Mitch Mitchell gave Robert his custom made drum-set after the tour as he couldn't bear to see Wyatt playing the cheap set he owned. While in New York City Jimi paid for the studio time for Robert to record these particular tracks, even helping him out with the bass on "Slow Walikin' Talk". More on that later. These recordings would take a back seat when a homesick Robert Wyatt returned home to the U.K. only to see the band re-unite. Now these particular tracks would show up in various forms with SOFT MACHINE, MATCHING MOLE and Wyatt solo, but for the most part I prefer these originals. So yes when I heard this album for the first time it was all familiar to me just different. The sound quality is very good as well.

Up first is "Chelsa" a song Robert believes was written by Kevin Ayers because Kevin liked this girl in Canterbury named Chelsa. The music here is Robert's though and the music would end up as "Signed Curtain" on MATCHING MOLE's debut record. I must also mention here that Robert really compliments Ayers ability for making a beautiful melody saying that he kept all the songs that Kevin discarded, keeping them on a cassette, eventually using some and adding his own words to them. Next up is "Rivmic Melodies" at over 19 minutes in length. This would end up as a series of songs completing side one of SOFT MACHINE's "Volume Two" album. I never dreamed that someone singing the alphabet could make me laugh like Wyatt does here. Classic ! There is a white noise bit later on that perhaps inspired Robert on his "End Of An Ear" album, plus he sings a thankyou section directed to Noel, Mitch and Jim, and also sings about missing the rain back in England. Just an entertaining track to say the least.

"Slow Walkin' Talk" was written by Brian Hopper back in the WILDE FLOWER days and it's here where Hendrix comes in the studio and asks Robert if he wants him to play some bass on that track. Of course Wyatt says yes and marvels as Hendrix takes Redding's bass and turns it upside down(as he was left handed of course) and gets it on the first take. Robert describes that moment as "Staggering !". This would later become "Soup Song" on Wyatt's "Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard" album. Lastly we get the famous "Moon In June" and yes this is the best version I have heard of this track and i've heard many. Robert says he named it that based on the American pop music he was hearing which he felt had bad lyrics despite the music being good. So "Moon In June" was a joking reference to the soap opera songs he was hearing in America. On this track he sings about his first wife and also about living in New York City. The second half of the song which was finished in 1969 includes Hugh Hopper on bass and Mike Ratledge on a fuzzed out Lowrey organ. Man this second half smokes ! I love Robert's vocal melodies over top of the killer instrumental work.

Essential for Wyatt and SOFT MACHINE fans.

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 Old Rottenhat  by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.65 | 50 ratings

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Old Rottenhat
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Robert Wyatt's sole album-length work of the 1980s (aside from the Animals Film soundtrack and the EP and singles collection Nothing Can Stop Us) is a strange beast. Performed by Wyatt himself, some artificial-sounding (but interestingly so) 80s keyboards, and Alfreda Benge (who pops in for a brief vocal cameo), the album finds Wyatt in outraged lefty mode, though to be fair this was the middle of the Thatcher era and anyone whose politics leaned towards the left was feeling besieged at that point.

With incisive lyrics - "You say you're self sufficient (but you don't dig your own coal)" is a razor- sharp takedown of the rhetoric of Tories and yuppies of the era who liked to pretend that the world could get by without the working class entirely - and intense, dramatic compositions given an eerie, otherworldly air by his synthesisers, Wyatt's voice is the odd feature out here - he sounds like a genuine human being who's wandered into a cold world of emotionless machines and isn't impressed by what he's found there. Perhaps an album to visit late in one's exploration of Wyatt's back catalogue, but I think it represents a very significant achievement in his discography - certainly, there's almost nothing out there that sounds like it. Genuine outsider art for those who who themselves have been shoved outside by compassionless Tory policies of the 1980s - or today, for that matter.

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 Comicopera by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.80 | 53 ratings

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Comicopera
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Comicopera forms the third part of a run of solid albums from Robert Wyatt which all build on the same essential recording method in which Wyatt is backed by a wide range of guests from across the musical world, with enough common personnel between tracks to give things a sense of cohesion (in particular, Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera, Paul Weller and Annie Whitehead have been stalwarts of these albums) and enough variance to work in the wide range of sound Wyatt seeks to capture.

Having established and refined this approach on Shleep and Cuckooland, Wyatt has here unleashed Comicopera on the world, an album which as usual with Wyatt's work keeps returning to jazz but goes on a dizzying journey around the musical world along with it. Perhaps the most wide-ranging and original of the lot, Comicopera takes the listener far and wide - there's some downright surprising excursions into strange electronic realms thanks to a little Eno magic here and there - and the extra cohesiveness lent by the act structure pushes this album to exceed the accomplishments of its two predecessors.

Few artists are able to pull off genuine artistic coups as they are entering the fifth decade of their career in music, but here Wyatt is able to pull off another five-star solo album - by my estimation his first truly top rank release since Rock Bottom - for the 40th anniversary of the London demo recordings that kicked off the fortunes of the Soft Machine. It might be miles away from the expected sound of the Canterbury scene, but Wyatt has been in his own musical cosmos ever since the Rock Bottom era, and Comicopera proves he's still making amazing discoveries out there.

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