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Robert Wyatt - Shleep CD (album) cover


Robert Wyatt


Canterbury Scene

3.86 | 160 ratings

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3 stars As compelling as he can be when he's making dense, emotionally-laden material a la Rock Bottom, there's something to be said for Robert Wyatt's ability to see the light side of life. The man may know how to make you cry, but he's no slouch in the humour department either, and Shleep generally sees him in sardonically jovial mood. Although I enjoy his work enough to be called a fan, the most recent album I had heard Wyatt on (before Shleep that is) was 1975's Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard. This 1999 album shows that time has done little to dim the man's unique vision.

Oddly enought, the pieces I enjoyed most on this album weren't really the most proggy ones. Free Will And Testament is a totally brilliant Lennon-esque song and Heaps Of Sheeps is a cheery ditty that actually reminds me of a Blondie song from time to time (you wouldn't believe me if I told you it was Heart Of Glass, would you?). Maryann is a languid folky reverie with a great violin solo stuck in the middle (and enough of those quirky melodic changes to keep you from getting lost inside the song). The highlights from a prog point of view would probably be the jazzy, largely instrumental September The Ninth and the dark Latin-inflected piece Alien.

Other songs of note include The Duchess, which borrows from the Grand Old Duke Of York to create a strange dysfunctional nursery rhyme, Was A Friend (which kicks off with a wierd little excerpt from another track I can't identify) and the strangely New-Wave sounding (I think the synth drum sound is probably responsible) Blues In Bob Minor, although I must confess that this album ran on a little bit too long to sustain my interest.

I have perhaps been a little harsh on my overalll rating of this album in that I think the material is generally impressive, but that it's more important that one visits his early 70s albums, both solo and with Soft Machine and Matching Mole, before coming here. I think this album is one of the finest to emerge from the generally barren 90s but having heard so much of what the great man has done before, it's hard to call this one anything except good, but non-essential. ... 58% on the MPV scale.

Trotsky | 3/5 |


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