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ROBERT WYATT

Canterbury Scene • United Kingdom


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Robert Wyatt biography
Robert Wyatt Ellidge - Born January 28, 1945 (Bristol, England)

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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ROBERT WYATT discography


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

3.22 | 133 ratings
The End Of An Ear
1970
4.28 | 891 ratings
Rock Bottom
1974
3.47 | 128 ratings
Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard
1975
3.70 | 84 ratings
Old Rottenhat
1985
3.77 | 90 ratings
Dondestan
1991
3.83 | 138 ratings
Shleep
1997
3.52 | 86 ratings
Cuckooland
2003
3.78 | 82 ratings
Comicopera
2007
3.06 | 18 ratings
Radio Experiment Rome, February 1981
2009
3.00 | 34 ratings
Wyatt / Atzmon / Stephen: For The Ghosts Within
2010
3.70 | 37 ratings
'68
2013

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

4.11 | 72 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 | 37 ratings
Nothing Can Stop Us
1982
3.00 | 6 ratings
Compilation
1986
3.37 | 12 ratings
Mid-Eighties
1993
4.06 | 7 ratings
Going Back A Bit : A Little History Of Robert Wyatt
1994
3.82 | 19 ratings
Flotsam & Jetsam
1994
3.18 | 18 ratings
EP's by Robert Wyatt
1999
4.00 | 2 ratings
Best Selection: Strange Days
2003
3.68 | 13 ratings
Solar Flares Burn for You
2003
3.30 | 11 ratings
His Greatest Misses
2004
3.96 | 9 ratings
Different Every Time
2014

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

3.33 | 3 ratings
I'm A Believer
1974
4.00 | 2 ratings
Yesterday Man
1974
2.67 | 3 ratings
Arauco
1980
4.33 | 3 ratings
At Last I Am Free
1980
2.67 | 3 ratings
Stalin Wasn't Stalling (with Peter Blackman)
1980
2.00 | 1 ratings
Grass (with Disharhi)
1981
3.46 | 16 ratings
The Animals Film
1982
3.33 | 8 ratings
Shipbuilding / Memories of You
1982
3.67 | 3 ratings
4 Track EP
1984
4.00 | 6 ratings
Work In Progress
1984
3.17 | 10 ratings
Peel Sessions
1987
3.75 | 4 ratings
Chairman Mao
1987
3.17 | 12 ratings
Short Break
1996

ROBERT WYATT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The End Of An Ear by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.22 | 133 ratings

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The End Of An Ear
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars ROBERT WYATT was of course one of the founding fathers of progressive rock's Canterbury Scene given his membership of the archetypal Canterbury group The Wilde Flowers which quickly disintegrated into Soft Machine and Caravan. It's no secret that ROBERT WYATT's stint with early Soft Machine was a tumultuous one but they managed to crank out a couple unique albums before totally shifting gears on the band's lauded masterpiece 'Third' which forewent the psychedelic pop tendencies of the first two albums and took the leap of faith into the world of avant-garde jazz-rock with instrumental sprawlers that led to a double album.

By this time WYATT's vocal oriented musical ideas were becoming increasing rejected as Mike Ratledge, Hugh Hopper and Elton Dean were making a beeline to the world of instrumental extremism with no time for the cute, cuddly melodies of the psychedelic pop past. This obviously caused great friction in the band and although WYATT's inevitable exit from the Softs would occur in only a year's time, in 1970 when 'Third' was released WYATT decided to use some of the rejected ideas and craft his own bizarre amalgamation of avant-garde jazz rock which surprisingly were unlike anything he would release in later years. The album made the perfect counterpart to what the Softs released the same. year.

THE END OF AN EAR is WYATT's debut as a solo artist and the only one in his canon before his horrible accident that ended his drumming career and left him a paraplegic. This album therefore is unlike anything that came after and in reality is the bridge between the avant-skronk proggy jazz-rock of 'Third' and WYATT's soon-to-be band Matching Mole which would find the lyric based vocal aspect in his writing again. Being somewhat of anomaly, THE END OF AN EAR is an exercise in free jazz mixed with heavy psychedelic organ sounds, hi-jazz piano techniques and progressive rock heft along with a wide variety of electronic accoutrements, sound techniques and freaked out esoterica. Vocals do occur but when they do they are wordless and provide bizarre rhythmic counterpoints to the incessant flow of avant-garde freakery.

While the music itself is calibrated to some weird parallel universe where customary conventions are far from the norm, the Canterbury whimsy shines through in the playful antics as well as the interesting track titles that refer to various Canterbury stalwarts such as Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth, Nick Evans, Caravan, Jimmy Hastings, Kevin Ayers as well as others like Carla Bley, Marsha Hunt, Caroline Coon and WYATT's own half brother Mark Ellidge. Considered on his strangest solo offerings, THE END OF AN EAR takes on many familiar styles of music but finds them collaborating them in strange ways. Jazzy McCoy Tyner piano runs that spastically turn into demented Cecil Taylor bizarreness are accompanied by eerily hypnotic bass grooves, ethereal female vocals, atonal squawks from the cornet, saxophone and saxello along with various percussive noises dish up a strange interesting procession of sounds that take the most psychedelic features of the 60s and marry them with the demanding jazz techniques of the avant-garde free jazz crowd.

Despite the jazz and rock experiments, THE END OF AN EAR ultimately comes off a very transcendental hypnotic album takes all the rules of the prog and jazz playbooks and throw them out the window in lieu of a more uniform flow of sound that slowly unfolds with more sounds slowly accruing onto a glob of musical counterpoints. This one will come as a true surprise for anyone who has only experienced ROBERT WYATT's works from 'Rock Bottom' on but the unique delivery of different styles all mixed up in the most deliciously avant-garde methodologies is what makes this one so utterly addicting as it literally sounds like nothing else ever created.

While this one may come off as too weird for many, this is the kind of music avant-garde dreams are made of. The music is simultaneously mellow and soothing while offering some of the most unexpected hairpin turns of weirdness in all of Canterbury. This one may be the odd album out of the WYATT discography but is by no means one that should be missed. It really comes off as an early free form organic version of downtempo as the beats are steady and deliberate while the accompanying contrapuntal elements of piano, horns and percussion literally exist on separate plains of reality but somehow collude to craft a bizarre amalgamation that works quite well. Devoid of the emotional heart-wrenching subject matter of the future, THE END OF AN EAR is nevertheless a really brilliant album simply to get lost within its magnificent charm.

 Rock Bottom by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.28 | 891 ratings

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Rock Bottom
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Here's to you Rock Bottom, 1974, produced by Nick Mason.

Side A. 1. Sea Song (6:31). First piece: carpet of keyboards, hinted percussion, evocative singing that becomes beautiful when it rises in tones, moving, then there is an instrumental break with keyboard solo (I guess Wyatt plays three kind of keyboards in this track), sweet lullaby. In the middle begins an angelic chorus, and finally again the singing with celestial orgiastic atmosphere dominated by onomatopoeic sounds. Masterpiece that introduce the atmosphere of the record. Rating 9.

2. A Last Straw (5:46). The second piece is shortest, it's a more rhythmic song, which begins with drums and bass (Hugh Hopper) in evidence, producing a very jazzy sound, and good guitar phrases (Wyatt): In the background estatic keyboards that fade after other onomatopeic sounds with the trumpet of the third song. Another great track without schemes. Rating 8,5/9.

3. Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road (7:38). The third song, which produces a leap in quality for the very avant- garde arrangements, has got a very solid bass (Richard Sinclair) and an exceptional performance on trumpet by Mongezi Feza. Wyatt's voice (with an help from Ivor Cutler) does the rest. A peak, a gem of contemporary music. Rating 9.5.

Overall, a side A consisting of three mixed songs, almost a single suite, with a sober and moving first part for arrangement that then becomes more and more elaborate for rhythm and arrangements becoming total music, pure avant-garde. The quality level is very high, we are around 9+/10.

Side B. 4. Alifib (6:55). It starts with the sound of the voice making a rhythmic verse that replaces percussion, then, for about half of the song there is only instrumental music: keyboard in evidence, it's free-jazz music. Then finally begins the singing, which has lyrics formed by assonances of words. The pathos reaches high peaks when Wyatt flies to the high notes with his voice, accompanied by screeching on the keyboards. Rating 8.5/9.

5. Alife (6:31). The second song, which echoes Alifib's lyrics, is the peak of the second side, for its sense of estrangement and schizophrenia, with a voice (Alfreda Benge) with a demented cadence. It starts with avant-garde noises and sounds (Gary Windo on alto & bass clarinets), as if it wanted to deconstruct and make the celestial sound of the previous one distressed and cacophonous. Final piece with beautiful clarinet solo that rises above a catastrophic atmosphere, where Wyatt's voice returns. Rating 9,5/10. Absolute masterpiece.

6. Little Red Robin Hood Hit the Road (6:08). Last song with beautiful beginning, almost psychedelic, with guitar (Mike Oldfield), repetitive text, obsessive. Then about three minutes the music stops and begins a dissonant folk with the viola in evidence (Fred Frith), a paradoxical, alienating voice (Ivor Cutler), which recites an almost martial text, atmosphere Dadaist, surreal, robotic. It's the least musical song on the album, which closes it like a sneer, as if to say: Don't take me too seriously.

The B-side starts similar to the previous one, in fact the atmosphere of Alifib is comparable to that of Sea Song but after the first track the music turns into paradox and estrangement. The quality is equally high: 9+.

Medium quality of the songs: 8,96. Unbelieveble. Rating 10/10. Absolute masterpiece, six stars.

Two words about Wyatt's lyrics: evocative, full of non-senses, dissonances, meaningless assonances, pataphysics, creators of atmospheres or sounds. Perfectly calibrated and consistent with music, in short.

And now, a reflection on the importance and uniqueness of this album. There are great prog artists, such as EL&P and Yes, who are not loved by those who are not passionate about prog. Keith Emerson, for his excessive virtuosity, Jon Anderson for his contralto voice, are often hated by classical rock listeners. But in general, all the symphonic rock of the golden-age of prog is not well seen by many listeners of rock, blues, country, pop, melodic music etc.

Genesis are often respected, but are considered boring (while Peter Gabriel, starting with his third album, is seen as an innovative experimenter). Pink Floyd, with their operas from Atom Heart Mother (which marks their transition from psychedelia to prog), to Wish You Were Here and Animals, two notable albums (I consider WYWH a masterpiece, while I consider Animals good but a minor work) , they were seen as enemies by punk artists, and in fact Syd Vicious to justify the birth of punk, quoted Pink Floyd, to make it clear that punk was against mammoth art- works like Pink Floyd albums, produced with super elaborate music, full of suites, dilated songs, virtuosity, studio effects. He would have taken it with Yes and EL&P and Genesis if they were still on the crest of the wave, but in 1976-77 they were in decline, or were beginning to become pop. In contrast, Syd Vicious expressed appreciation for Peter Hammill for Nadir's Big Chance, which contained several songs of raw rock, the forerunner of punk.

Well, the eclectic prog, represented by VdGG and King Crimson has always been more respected by lovers of classic rock, blues, pop etc. Peter Hammill and Robert Fripp are much loved and appreciated, for their coherence, for their lack of interest in the show business and for the ability to make a prog rock not by dinosaurs but very capable of renewing itself and getting out of the schemese.

But... and here comes the point.... From my point of view on the world, no artist is as loved as Robert Wyatt. And not for the whole of his career, because yes, it is true that Soft Machine enjoys the same consideration as VdGG and KC (moreover, groups that have all given their best in the years between 1968 and 1971) but in the case of Wyatt , it's different: Wyatt is not loved for his Soft Machine career, nor for his later solo career (as with Hammill, Gabriel, or Fripp), Wyatt is loved almost only for Rock Bottom.

I heard the praises of Rock Bottom on Mucchio Selvaggio (The Wild Bunch), the most beautiful newspaper of Italian classic rock. But also in any other newspaper or rock site where users are not lovers of prog. Why this? First of all, because Rock Bottom is not a prog opera. It is a total art-work, which does not belong to any genre. It has nothing to do with, for example, In The Land of Grey and Pink, which is perhaps the most well-known and considered art- work of Canterbury Scene. The sound, the arrangement, the atmosphere, the music, the structure of the songs, everything has nothing to do with Canterbury Scene.

Of course, there are many Canterbury bands that diverge a lot from Caravan, as well as Gong, and make much more personal music, for example Henry Cow. But Henry Cow also goes beyond the patterns of the prog and in fact is appreciated very cross-cutting, only that he is less known than Wyatt.

Piero Scaruffi, the Italian American historian of music, who has written the history of rock, greatly appreciates prog but its preparation is transversal. He has a background that comes from jazz and classical music, and he appreciates prog more than classic rock (and despises country, folk, pop and everything commercial). Well, it's no coincidence that he considers Rock Bottom the second biggest record of the twentieth century (after Trout Mask Replica): it's a record that breaks every pattern, every genre, it's not even rock, it's absolute music, which is not catalogable either as light music or as cultured music - and it's almost new age music and almost Zen meditation music.

And perhaps the fragility of Wyatt, which is felt in his voice, in the sober and ecstatic arrangements, in the minimal percussion, his vulnerability makes this record a rare pearl that excites and almost creates a sense of intimacy, of protection of a sacred treasure. Maybe that's it, maybe it's something else but Robert Wyatt is loved by everyone (or almost) and considered one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century, a total artist, not a prog artist, just for this album. This album is an absolute case, worldwide, despite the masterpieces of the first three albums with Soft Machine and those with Matching Mole.

This album, I repeat, belongs to everyone, not just the fans of the prog, and has something unique, it sounds extremely authentic, genuine, unfiltered, totally uncovered and vulnerable. Thank you, Robert.

 Rock Bottom by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.28 | 891 ratings

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Rock Bottom
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Although the relatively light Rock Bottom is considered to be a 'Canterbury Scene' album, I associate it more strongly with Van der Graaf Generator and with the Krautrock style than with, for example, In the Land of Grey and Pink (though bassist Richard Sinclair appears on both albums).

At least here on Rock Bottom, Wyatt's lyrics are reminiscent of Peter Hammill's insofar as they combine the literal and the impressionistic. Both writers imply that their antagonist is not fully sane, or perhaps not fully lucid; the listener seems to be eavesdropping on the private thoughts of the singer. But whereas Hammill's musings (or ravings) tend toward the nightmarish - - and occasionally homicidal - - Wyatt's are more sentimental. Although some of the lyrics on Rock Bottom are a bit dark, especially in the context of the eerie music of songs like 'Alifib' and 'Alife,' they are just as often childlike or doddering (e.g., from 'Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road,' 'You've been so kind / I know, I know / So why did I hurt you? / I didn't mean to hurt you').

As a musician, singer, and composer, Wyatt defies the stereotype of the rock drummer. Tom Barnes expresses the cliché on mic.com: 'According to rock mythology, drummers are the Neanderthals on the scale of musical evolution. They don't understand melody or composition. They're only good for two things tops: keeping the tempo steady and coming down hard on the one.' Of course, the prejudgment is faulty and unfair, and et cetera, but the stereotype seems to be based on some shred of reality. At a minimum, many musicians self-select into their roles in a band, and there are characteristics many drummers seem to share that set them apart, say, from pianists or lead singers.

Anyway, the stereotype exists, and it couldn't be more alien to the Robert Wyatt of Rock Bottom. He's introspective, delicate, and as a vocalist, he even seems to overlook the rhythm in places.

The standout track here is 'Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road,' a near-perfect melding of accessible pop and high-minded art. As this song is as much a studio creation as a traditional composition, producer Nick Mason probably deserves much of the kudos. 'Little Red Riding Hood' is built on a wall of trumpets,* percussion, bass guitar - - but most notably trumpets. At some point the various tracks begin to run backwards, although we're not just hearing the whole song in reverse; the vocals, for example, are still phrased as per the usual. Eventually forward-running instruments and vocals join back in. As impressive as the production technique is, it never casts a shadow over the music itself. In this sense, Wyatt - - and Mason - - defy another stereotype: the drummer as technician rather than artist.

The other tracks on the forty-minute Rock Bottom are also solid, if bewildering upon the first listen. In a lot of respects, this LP is like an earlier-1970s 'Krautrock' album, sharing a general ambivalence toward convention with that German style: parts of 'Sea Song' and 'A Last Straw' border on the accessible, while 'Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road' and its companion piece 'Little Red Robin Hood Hit the Road' are far more experimental. There are also hints of Floydian psychedelia, perhaps thanks to Mason, and there are echoes of folk-prog throughout.

My main gripe with the album is Wyatt's off-kilter, and sometimes off-key, warbling. It's grown on me a bit, partly because it's a bit endearing, and also because I can't really separate his vocal performance from his lyrics, which (at least to me) are essential to the album.

In short, Rock Bottom is well-composed and well-performed. Other than 'Little Red Riding Hood,' I don't find it to be as innovative as many other reviewers do, but it certainly doesn't seem derivative.

*courtesy Mongezi Feza, who died just a little more than year after the album was (famously) played at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane in September 1974.

 Rock Bottom by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.28 | 891 ratings

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Rock Bottom
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by Foxprog

5 stars What a story!

Robert Wyatt's debut album, just wow! A former drummer from "Soft Machine" falls out from the third floor window and writes this album in hospital as he is pain. Robert knows that he will never play drums again. He starts writing this album in the hospital and learns to play keyboards and sing, truly outstanding. Robert really does what he loves, to be one with the music. You can really hear on this album that he is suffering. The dark and moody melodies are really, really good.

1. Sea Song 9/10, The whole album is really keyboard intensive as is also the first song. Great lyrics and piano. Most importantly the song brings a dark atmosphere, which really strikes me. Around 4min mark he starts singing as he is in pain, sad and beatiful at the same time...

2. A Last Straw 9/10, I don't know how to describe this one. I just really like this one. Great bass, piano and some nice guitar too in the last part. The atmosphere is just too good!

3. Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road 9/10, Beware of the trumpets! It feels like someone is chasing you in the whole song. I don't know if Robert meant that death is chasing him but it sure sounds like that! A fast-paced song, flows really well! Get ready for a ride.

4. Alifib 8/10, Okay, the next two songs are the strangest ones on the whole album. If you listen them individually without the whole album you propably would be like "wtf is this". Guitar is in a big part. Also the backing lyrics are there trough the whole song too.

5. Alife 8.5/10, This one continues straight from the previous one. Such a dark song, very "Van Der Graaf Generator" like. The wind instrument does some serious crazy stuff here. This always gives me Shivers...

6. Little Red Robin Hood Hit the Road 10/10, Jesus christ that guitar solo... The whole album is build up for this one and it truly works well. The legendary Mike Oldfield is playing one of the most beautiful, sad and epic solos of all times. Feels like the guitar is crying. Has a little bit same feeling as the solo in "Firth of Fifth". Also the album sounds like it has a happy ending, which is nice.

This album is not flawless by any means, but it's epic! For me this is one of the best albums ever. You really can't listen this one like pick one song and listen it. You have to put earphones on and focus trough the whole album. As I said before, the atmposhere is unique. Bravo Robert!

 Rock Bottom by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.28 | 891 ratings

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Rock Bottom
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

5 stars There is no album like it in my collection, even Soft Machine. The album has a "downer" mood to it, many thanks to the accident (pushed out of a third story window) that left him wheelchair bound, but the surprising thing about all this was the material was written before the accident, but recorded after, so I'm sure the mood was caused because of the accident, but not the lyrics. Sadly he was no longer able to play a full drum kit anymore, so he had to switch to keyboards and hand percussion. He brought in some guests that many will recognize, such as Mike Oldfield, Richard Sinclair (Caravan, and by then a member of Hatfield & the North), Fred Frith, Hugh Hopper, Laurie Allan (who played drums on Gong's Flying Teapot), Ivor Cutler (no relation to Chris), and others. So the music has the somber, reflective tone to it, instead of manic drumming like he did on Soft Machine and Matching Mole. The music has a rather experimental edge and tends to have a more RIO feel to it, so I can't see why RIO fans wouldn't like this. Besides I'm certain this album did have a major impact on RIO to begin with. It's not an easy listen and it's not something you'd listen to everyday, but it's one of the greats of music regardless of genre well worth seeking out. I'm discouraged to throw five stars just anywhere (like what happens at Amazon), but this is truly deserving of it! Of course, don't expect anything like Soft Machine's first three albums (I know he's on the fourth one as well, but was forced by the other band members not to sing, a big reason he left), as this is totally different (he was clearly letting everyone know that he's not completely bound to the legacy of Soft Machine).
 Solar Flares Burn for You  by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2003
3.68 | 13 ratings

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Solar Flares Burn for You
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

4 stars This is an overlooked gem, and while it contains mostly early BBC recordings, demos, outtakes, long-lost movie soundtracks and private recordings, the pieces are very musical and anyone who likes Rock Bottom (one of my top 10 albums ever, so you know I am a huge fan), or Wyatt's music in general, will find this a treasure. It contains early Wyatt demos and BBC recordings of some of his best pieces, including 'Sea Song', 'Soup Song', 'Alifib', 'I'm a Believer', and 'God Song'. The recording of 'Alifib' here (originally from Rock Bottom) is wonderful. I have always loved that song, one of Wyatt's best - this version is just him at the piano live at the BBC. Very poignant. The title track ('Solar Flares Burn for You') was written as the soundtrack to a short film of the same name by Arthur Jones in 1973, recorded at Nick Mason's house. The album will appeal to RW fans for this piece alone, which is very quirky yet strong enough it should have been released back in the 70s. There are also short Hatfield ('Fol de Rol') and Matching Mole ('Righteous Rhumba') demos, some silly pieces never intended for release (including hilarious grunting through "We got an arts council grahhnt", not so musical but funny and short), and a few Hopper-Wyatt sound experiments ('Blimey O'Riley', and 'Twas Brillig'). The cover of 'Little Child' here (recorded in 1972) is emotionally devastating - it will bring tears to your eyes. Topping it off is the last song "The Verb" recorded by Wyatt at home in 2003, likely from the time of the Cuckooland sessions. It sounds like it belongs on Dondestan and is as strong as any of the other tunes on that album. While as a fan, I can be expected to like this collection, I actually think this is musically stronger and more consistent than a number of his regular albums (I rate it higher than Ruth is Stranger than Richard, Comicopera, etc). Listen to Rock Bottom first, then perhaps Dondestan, and Shleep. If you like those, I am very confident you will love and treasure this. I give it 8.2 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.
 Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.47 | 128 ratings

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Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Jazzier, and always innovative.

Wyatt's follow-up to 'Rock Bottom' mixes up the styles, and once again sees Wyatt innovating and taking his music closer to jazz. Of course, 'Rock Bottom' is amazingly innovative and musical, too, and to be honest I am not sure it would be possible to top that. So, instead, Wyatt recorded a more collaborative album, with songs written with Hugh Hopper (the opener, "Soup Song"), Bill McCormick and Phil Manzanera ("Team Spirit"), Offenbach via Brian Eno ("3 Black Notes and 1 White Note"), as well as two covers. For the latter, Wyatt features an instrumental ('Sonia') written by his friend, trumpeter Mongezi Feza, and the classic Charlie Haden song "Song for Che" (written for Che Guevara). There are some great Wyatt songs here. "Soup Song" is a classic, and very catchy. "Solar Flares" and "3 Black Notes and 1 White Note" are excellent instrumentals, as is the cover of Haden's "Song for Che". However, my favourite song here, and indeed one of my favourite all-time Robert Wyatt songs, is the Frith-Wyatt composition "Muddy Mouse". Recorded in three snippets (two very-short, and one longer, part), this song sees Wyatt stretch and squeak his vocal chords to amazing lengths, but in an amazingly musical and jazzy way, accompanying acoustic piano. A truly awesome vocal performance, and really unique. This song totally makes it worth it to the pick up this album. So, even though on the whole, the album is a bit mixed, I would wholeheartedly recommend owning this album if you are in any way a Wyatt fan. On balance, I give this album 7.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to higher 3 PA stars.

 Rock Bottom by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.28 | 891 ratings

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Rock Bottom
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

5 stars One of the Top Ten Albums of all time.

Largely written before his paralyzing fall, but recorded afterward (including, partly, in the hospital), this is Robert Wyatt's shining gem, and for me one of the most musical albums ever recorded. I have listened to this so many times now it is part of me. This album is totally original, with Wyatt creating a music that is not rock or folk, much improvised but not quite jazz, somehow avant but not avant-garde, not classical but a total classic. There really is nothing like it. Wyatt is such a unique and emotive singer, and his lyrics are both obtuse, even bizarre, yet somehow deeply personal. His sense of timing is also unique, sometimes lingering on chords or notes for seemingly long times before key transitions, building up sections by adding 'jazz noises' only to wash them away with a sigh. The first track, 'Sea Song' is a classic, one of Wyatt's best-ever songs, unforgettable. 'A Last Straw' mixes Eno and jazz, but with a twist, bringing the listener down to Wyatt's rocky bottom. The two very different tracks which close each side of the Vinyl album, both called 'Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road' are highly inventive, the second one seeing Ivor Cutler (the well-known Scottish sortof-Poet) voice the oddest lyrics that must have ever been recorded, over a theme that features Mike Oldfield on electric guitars. But the tracks that really do it to me are 'Alifib/Alife', Wyatt's love letter to the woman who would remain his wife for the rest of his life. Not only is this one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written, but I love how Wyatt deconstructs it both lyrically and musically over the course of its collective 13 minutes. I can't express just how impressive and special this music is. You just need to listen with open ears, and give it a number of spins - as with most things really valuable it sometimes takes a few to realize just how musical it is. I give this album 9.7 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is right up there with the best of the best.

 The End Of An Ear by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.22 | 133 ratings

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The End Of An Ear
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

2 stars While I love Robert Wyatt's music, including some on this album, and I love jazz (including avant-garde free jazz), it doesn't always work. I admire the spirit of innovation and exploration, and the great thing about improvisation is that it could succeed or fail spectacularly. This album contains some great musical moments, but also a lot of moments that are difficult to get through. It is thus quite fragmented, so although I encourage readers to pick up RW's music, as an album I would not recommend they start with this one. It is really for fans. I give this 5.1 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 2 PA stars (I had been wavering up to 5.8, but gave this another listen).
 Rock Bottom by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.28 | 891 ratings

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Rock Bottom
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by Kaelka

5 stars The story is told in M. O'Dair's wonderful biography, "Different Every Time" (the title is of course taken from the lyrics of "Sea Song") : when they were on their way to that fateful party on June 1st, 1973, Robert Wyatt, who was more or less chronically depressed since he'd been thrown out of Soft Machine two years earlier, told Alfie something he had not said for a very long time : "I'm happy". That's how he ended his first life, his life as Robert-the-half-naked-drummer, and started his second life as a legend.

Most of the material recorded here was written in Venice, Italy, the previous winter, where Alfie worked as an assistant director to some avant-garde film maker and he spent his days alone on Giudecca Island with a small toy-organ she'd offered him. This is really important, and keep it in mind next time you listen to "Rock Bottom" : It was conceived by a man who could walk, run, and play the drums, and recorded by a cripple in a wheelchair, who had to be carried up to the studio (access ramps didn't exist). If you think about this, you will listen and enjoy the album in quite a different, and probably darker, mood.

Read the other reviews for a description of those 6 eternal jewels. I'll only say a few words about one : "Alifib" is probably the most beautiful love song ever written. Picasso used to say that he had spent most of his life learning to paint like a little child (he finally succeeded, as shown in some of the "Menines"), Wyatt did the same here.

The whole album was played and recorded live by "Wyatt and friends" on the wonderful album "Theatre Royal Drury Lane 8th September 1974", which is also a must for all Wyatt (and prog) fans.

One last word : no serious discography, not only of rock n' roll or pop music, but of the whole 20th century music, will ever be complete if it doesn't include "Rock Bottom".

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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