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'68

Robert Wyatt

Canterbury Scene


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Robert Wyatt '68 album cover
3.74 | 28 ratings | 4 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Chelsa (5:00)
2. Rivmic Melodies (18:17)
3. Slow Walkin' Talk (3:00)
4. Moon in June (20:33)

Total Time: 46:50

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Robert Wyatt / vocals, piano, electric piano, Hammond organ, bass, drums, percussion

With:
- Mike Ratledge / Lowrey organ (2nd half of 4)
- Jimi Hendrix / bass (3)
- Hugh Hopper / bass (2nd half of 4)

Releases information

Previously unreleased demos recorded in Oct-Nov 1968 at T.T.G. Studios, Hollywood & The Record Plant, NYC, USA; The 2nd half of "Moon In June" was recorded in mid-1969 in England.

Artwork: Bill Ellsworth

LP Cuneiform Records - Rune 375 (2013, US)

CD Cuneiform Records - Rune 375 (2013, US)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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6868
Cuneiform Records 2013
Audio CD$13.97
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ROBERT WYATT '68 ratings distribution


3.74
(28 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
21%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
46%
Good, but non-essential (18%)
18%
Collectors/fans only (11%)
11%
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)
4%

ROBERT WYATT '68 reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars There certainly has been a buzz about this archival release created by an inspired Robert Wyatt back in 1968. SOFT MACHINE had just finished an exhausting tour of the U.S.A. opening for a very popular Jimi Hendrix, and when it ended the SOFT MACHINE members all went their seperate ways as the band had broken up. Their first album still hadn't even been released yet but it had been finished and ready to go for 6 months. Robert looked at this time as a chance to work on his own ideas as a solo performer and stayed in America at the request of Jimi Hendrix, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell. The band had rented a house in Laurel Canyon for 2 months in L.A., this particular house was used to film the Perry Mason TV series, but when they weren't filming they would rent it out. Robert describes it as having lots of windows and big swimming pool. Here he would work on his songs and visit other U.K. musicians who lived in the area like Andy Summers and Eric Burden. Wyatt says he had no interest in the West Coast music scene but did go and see THE CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY who impressed him with their brass rock style. He credits them for moving SOFT MACHINE to add Keith Tippett's brass section to SOFT MACHINE's lineup later on.

After some weeks Robert and THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE would head north to New York City where Wyatt would continue to work on his material and go out with Redding and Mitchell to clubs etc. They knew Robert had a small allowance from the record label so they paid his way, happy to have this charismatic englishman at their side. I should mention here that Mitch Mitchell gave Robert his custom made drum-set after the tour as he couldn't bear to see Wyatt playing the cheap set he owned. While in New York City Jimi paid for the studio time for Robert to record these particular tracks, even helping him out with the bass on "Slow Walikin' Talk". More on that later. These recordings would take a back seat when a homesick Robert Wyatt returned home to the U.K. only to see the band re-unite. Now these particular tracks would show up in various forms with SOFT MACHINE, MATCHING MOLE and Wyatt solo, but for the most part I prefer these originals. So yes when I heard this album for the first time it was all familiar to me just different. The sound quality is very good as well.

Up first is "Chelsa" a song Robert believes was written by Kevin Ayers because Kevin liked this girl in Canterbury named Chelsa. The music here is Robert's though and the music would end up as "Signed Curtain" on MATCHING MOLE's debut record. I must also mention here that Robert really compliments Ayers ability for making a beautiful melody saying that he kept all the songs that Kevin discarded, keeping them on a cassette, eventually using some and adding his own words to them. Next up is "Rivmic Melodies" at over 19 minutes in length. This would end up as a series of songs completing side one of SOFT MACHINE's "Volume Two" album. I never dreamed that someone singing the alphabet could make me laugh like Wyatt does here. Classic ! There is a white noise bit later on that perhaps inspired Robert on his "End Of An Ear" album, plus he sings a thankyou section directed to Noel, Mitch and Jim, and also sings about missing the rain back in England. Just an entertaining track to say the least.

"Slow Walkin' Talk" was written by Brian Hopper back in the WILDE FLOWER days and it's here where Hendrix comes in the studio and asks Robert if he wants him to play some bass on that track. Of course Wyatt says yes and marvels as Hendrix takes Redding's bass and turns it upside down(as he was left handed of course) and gets it on the first take. Robert describes that moment as "Staggering !". This would later become "Soup Song" on Wyatt's "Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard" album. Lastly we get the famous "Moon In June" and yes this is the best version I have heard of this track and i've heard many. Robert says he named it that based on the American pop music he was hearing which he felt had bad lyrics despite the music being good. So "Moon In June" was a joking reference to the soap opera songs he was hearing in America. On this track he sings about his first wife and also about living in New York City. The second half of the song which was finished in 1969 includes Hugh Hopper on bass and Mike Ratledge on a fuzzed out Lowrey organ. Man this second half smokes ! I love Robert's vocal melodies over top of the killer instrumental work.

Essential for Wyatt and SOFT MACHINE fans.

Review by kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Prog Team
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.

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
4 stars Despite its simple and evocative title, this album does deserve quite an explanation in terms of context. These studio tapes were thought to be missing and only acetates had survived, and were never thought to be issued as an album, beit under Wyatt's name or Soft Machine's. If I mention the Machine, it's obviously that these sessions were recorded in Lost Angeles while Soft Machine had temporarily ceased action, after touring the US with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. And if the tapes still exist today, it's precisely because the JHE management paid the session bills (they also had used the studios) and took the tapes with them. After the US tour, where future Police guitarist got fired and left stranded in the US (he managed to find engagement in Eric Burdon and The New animals, then based in California), only Wyatt remained overseas and just hung around with the JHE and was even using the spare bed in the band's accommodation in LA's canyons.

Anyway, the four tracks on this session have all a strong link with Soft Machine, since the opening track Chelsa (sic) bears lyrics of Kevin Ayers, and it may just sound very familiar in a later Matching Mole album with different lyrics. While we're busy with the short track, let's mention that Slow Walkin' Talk (a Brian Hopper composition that sounds furiously Hendrix-ian) features that very same Jimi on bass - most likely playing left-handed on Noel Redding's right-handed bass.

As for the two longer tracks, Ryvmic Melody, but the first part is very reminiscent of the Alphabet of SM's Vol 2 album (yet not even recorded), but to be honest, it overstays it's welcome under this repetitive form: the only interesting time comes when he spells involuntarily BBC. Indeed, the "Dada Was Here" second section outclasses the psychedelic delirium of the Alphabet, but Wyatt's dope purveyor must've been good, because he psycho-babbles in Spanish (actually "guiltying" about missing his fatherhood back home) under McCoy Tyner-ian piano chords and later on thanking the full JHE. Personally, I find this second section the most interesting archives document of this release.

As for the 20-mins+ Moon In June all-Wyatt version, it's pure candy, with these effects around the 6th minute. Needless to say this version is much more sung that its official Third version, but the second part is from a session where Hopper and Ratledge do their usual things; this is a montage of different studio tapes (already done on another Cuneiform release Backwards). Needless to say that this second half holds as much interest as its preceding collaged companion piece and this could be one of my fave versions of this track.

Aymeric Leroy's liner notes (based on fresh e-mail interchanges and original Wyatt French-press interviews) are of great interest, as usual, and reconstruct the era, which Wyatt didn't seem to remember too much at first. This includes a fairly interesting passage where Wyatt explains (+/-) how to proceed recording the sequence and actual every recording track of a composition when not using a metronome (remember the era's rudimentary studio technology). My main (only?) gripe is that while the album is indeed a Wyatt archives release, it might just induced some newer (90's and 00's) fans into error (though the title and line-up are evident enough), because I might even think this could've been a Soft Machine-named archive album, for it would have less chance to WTF unaware acquirers. So while this release is "for aware fans only", it's of real interest for Machine fans.

Review by ALotOfBottle
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album is as close as you can get to real Robert Wyatt. This archival release shows some fascinating cuts from the master himself featuring the ultimate guitar god (you guessed it, Jimi Hendrix), Mike Ratledge and Hugh Hopper. Some of the tracks are quite sloppy-sounding, which gives the album a very "home brew" sort of feeling. Some of the tracks, namely well, everything besides "Moon In June" are songs only to be seen on this album. "Slow Walkin' Talk" is that track that features Hendrix on bass and magically, it immediately sounds like something that after a polish could appear on "Are You Experienced?". To me, the coolest thing about the album is a take on what would later become Soft Machine's proggiest song - a multimovement suite "Moon In June". Note that as the name suggests, this was recorded in the year of 1968 (when the group toured USA with Jimi Hendrix) when the piece was to be released two years later on "Third".

Overall, despite holding a strong archival and historical value, I feel like the album is not very enjoyable, because of the poor recording quality as well as the fact that these tracks were not previously released for a reason. However, this is highly recommended to any Canterbury collector and fan. 3 stars!

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