He's got a huge beard and he's releasing a new record: that is literally all you can ask from Robert Wyatt. 'Different Every Time' compile two elements of Wyatt's work. One side is for the wee perplexed, introducing the songwriter to a new, clueless generation, while the second collects together his best feature work in a career filled to the brim with successful collaborations -- from Bjork to John Cage to uh, Hot Chip? Go in, Robert.
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If the first half of this compilation of Robert Wyatt tracks was planned as `an introduction to’ rather than being aimed at long term fans then it seems an odd choice to open with Soft Machine’s endless impossi-listen ‘Moon In June’. Its 18 minutes of tedious progressive rock will put off any new fans before they’ve even got started. I guess the remit was to avoid his more well known songs but to be honest opening with ‘Shipbuilding’ might have been a good idea. His most well-known track is nowhere to be seen (yet.. but read on), neither is arguably the best thing he ever did ‘Gharbzadegi’.
Still, there are plenty of things to enjoy, particularly once Robert starts to cast off his prog-rock leanings over the first few tracks and truly finds his own style. His voice, is of course, the most wonderful thing in the world, high and pure, its the only thing worth listening to on the opening ‘Moon in June’. Once you work your way through to the middle part of the album then you start hitting paydirt. He comes across all Beatles on ‘Yesterday Man’ but its on his cover of Chic’s marvellous ‘At Last I’m Free’ where you see the blueprint for the music he would continue to make sporadically throughout the ‘80’s. Simple arrangements - rudimentary keyboards, drum machine and plenty of space for his lovely voice, a trial run arrangement-wise for the marvellous ‘Age of Self’ where his naturally melodic instincts are matched perfectly with his left-leaning lyrics.
In fact everything from then on is great; the jazzy ‘Worship’, the hymn like ‘Free Will and Testament’ being particular highlights until the closer, a duet with his wife which would be dreadfully mawkish if it weren’t for Wyatt’s vocal harmonies and the fact that he just seems like such an honest genuine guy that he means every word. The second half of the compilation is given over to collaborations - aha! ‘Shipbuilding’ appears here - hurrah - alongside work with Bjork, Phil Manzanera, Nick Mason, John Cage and (yikes!) Hot Chip.
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- Different Every Time by Robert Wyatt
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