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Robert Wyatt — '68
(Cuneiform Rune 375, 1968/2013, CD)
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 Jeff Melton, Published 2013-10-19
by Jon Davis, Published 2013-10-25
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