Exposé Online banner

Robert Wyatt — '68
(Cuneiform Rune 375, 1968/2013, CD)

by Jeff Melton, 2013-10-19:

'68 Cover art

After Soft Machine’s first American tour both Kevin Ayers and Mike Ratledge hurried on back to Europe to lick their wounds while Robert Wyatt stayed on in the US with friends. Opening for the Jimi Hendrix Experience on a national tour had been a rewarding and exhausting series of events for the group. The band was well received on tour as freaky openers despite the disappointing fact the ABC/Probe records failed to release their first album in the US. Undaunted, Wyatt had been working on some new material which he was committed to getting down in the studio. The Cuneiform label (together with a few supportive friends including bassist Michael Clare) have carefully assembled the most complete audio picture of this time period. Two big pieces appear for the first time intact: “Rivmic Melodies” and “Moon in June.” Between recording locales in LA and New York, the composer laid down much more than just rough demos of his music. By playing organ, piano, bass and drums as well as singing lead and backing harmonies, it is remarkable that the man had so much of the songs together by himself, which is perhaps the clearest testament to his drive and creative spirit. “Rivmic Melodies” showcases the composer continuing on his unique brand of British whimsy which a goofier recitation of the whole of the British alphabet. The opening cut, “Chelsa,” is the lost treasure of the collection which uses a familiar chord structure Wyatt would use again later on the track “Signed Curtain” from first Matching Mole album. “Slow Walking Talk” with Hendrix on bass shows the singer’s familiarity with the blues and serves as a nice change of pace from the other multi-part tracks. Overall it’s an essential early piece of the Canterbury puzzle and a must have for any Soft Machine and Wyatt enthusiast.


by Jon Davis, 2013-10-25:

This is one of the most amazing archival releases of "lost" music ever presented, at least for Soft Machine fans. I always thought of the first two Softs albums as the first phase of the band, with their vocal tunes and psychedelic sound. I wasn't initially aware that the band actually broke up after their first US tour in support of Jimi Hendrix (which took place before the first album was even released). Before returning to England, facing a future without a band, Wyatt recorded a bunch of material, both newly composed and reworked from older material, some dating from many years previous. According to the wonderful liner notes, Wyatt then returned to England to find many people wanting more Soft Machine, so much of his demo material found its way into the new band's repertoire. In particular, the idea of long suites consisting of fragments of varying length finds its first expression in "Rivmic Melodies," presented here in different form than would later comprise side one of Volume Two, though with the same basic plan. The other long suite is "Moon in June," which wouldn't resurface until Third. Barring some parts later added by Hugh Hopper and Mike Ratledge in the second half of "Moon in June" — the demos were recorded with empty spots for their parts — Wyatt sings and plays all the instruments himself, mostly drums, piano, and organ. Brian Hopper's tune "Slow Walkin' Talk" features an appearance by Hendrix on bass. Among the many astounding factors of '68 is how thoroughly great it sounds, from the basic quality of the recording to the skill of Wyatt's performances. And the story told in the booklet is completely charming, as Wyatt is clearly amused by his inability to remember details from that long-ago time. This is 47 minutes of pure magic, and the world is a better place for having it available.

Filed under: New releases , 2013 releases, 1968 releases

Related artist(s): Hugh Hopper, Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, Jimi Hendrix

More info
http://www.cuneiformrecords.com/bandshtml/wyatt.html

Latest news

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Gregg Bendian - Research (Tiny Useful Secrets) – The challenge for a compositional drummer is for the solo percussionist to be consistently engaging to the listener. Dedicating each of the pieces to a specific personal influence helps create a...  (2009) » Read more

Adiemus - Songs of Sanctuary – The first major label release from former Soft Machine keyboardists Karl Jenkins and Mike Ratledge is a vocal/orchestral work based around varying Greek entitled themes. Having been out of the...  (1996) » Read more

Iona - Journey into the Morn – While this is for the most part an unabashedly pop-styled album, it also happens to be a solid, captivating, and thoroughly enjoyable listen. Similar to Clannad at times, Iona's music is a lush...  (1996) » Read more

C.W. Vrtacek - Days of Grace – Try tackling a review for a project like this and inevitably you end up with blank pages and a headache brought on by acute frustration. Whenever I listen to music of a very personal, experimental...  (1997) » Read more

The Underground Railroad - Through and Through – While this debut is impressive for its compositional savvy and great arrangements, one needs to remember that two of the main movers in this four-piece unit are guitarist Bill Pohl and keys-man Kurt...  (2000) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues