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Robert Wyatt - '68 CD (album) cover


Robert Wyatt


Canterbury Scene

3.71 | 43 ratings

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kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Honorary Reviewer
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.

kev rowland | 4/5 |


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