hits counter Different Every Time: The Authorised Biography of Robert Wyatt - Ebook PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Different Every Time: The Authorised Biography of Robert Wyatt

Availability: Ready to download

This is the first and definitive biography of Robert Wyatt, Britain's greatest cult musician. Robert Wyatt started out as the drummer and singer for Soft Machine, who shared a residency at Middle Earth with the Pink Floyd and toured America with Jimi Hendrix. He brought a Bohemian and jazz outlook to the 1960s rock scene, having honed his drumming skills in a shed at the e This is the first and definitive biography of Robert Wyatt, Britain's greatest cult musician. Robert Wyatt started out as the drummer and singer for Soft Machine, who shared a residency at Middle Earth with the Pink Floyd and toured America with Jimi Hendrix. He brought a Bohemian and jazz outlook to the 1960s rock scene, having honed his drumming skills in a shed at the end of Robert Graves' garden in Mallorca. His life took an abrupt turn after he fell from a fourth floor window at a party and was paralysed from the waist down. He reinvented himself as a singer and composer with the extraordinary album Rock Bottom that has brought him a loyal following not just in Britain but in France, Italy and Germany. Today, Wyatt remains perennially hip, guesting with artists such as Bjork, Brian Eno, Scritti Politti, David Gilmour and Hot Chip. Marcus O'Dair has talked to all of them - indeed to just about everyone who has shaped, or been shaped by, Wyatt over five decades of music history.


Compare

This is the first and definitive biography of Robert Wyatt, Britain's greatest cult musician. Robert Wyatt started out as the drummer and singer for Soft Machine, who shared a residency at Middle Earth with the Pink Floyd and toured America with Jimi Hendrix. He brought a Bohemian and jazz outlook to the 1960s rock scene, having honed his drumming skills in a shed at the e This is the first and definitive biography of Robert Wyatt, Britain's greatest cult musician. Robert Wyatt started out as the drummer and singer for Soft Machine, who shared a residency at Middle Earth with the Pink Floyd and toured America with Jimi Hendrix. He brought a Bohemian and jazz outlook to the 1960s rock scene, having honed his drumming skills in a shed at the end of Robert Graves' garden in Mallorca. His life took an abrupt turn after he fell from a fourth floor window at a party and was paralysed from the waist down. He reinvented himself as a singer and composer with the extraordinary album Rock Bottom that has brought him a loyal following not just in Britain but in France, Italy and Germany. Today, Wyatt remains perennially hip, guesting with artists such as Bjork, Brian Eno, Scritti Politti, David Gilmour and Hot Chip. Marcus O'Dair has talked to all of them - indeed to just about everyone who has shaped, or been shaped by, Wyatt over five decades of music history.

30 review for Different Every Time: The Authorised Biography of Robert Wyatt

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  2. 4 out of 5

    Karl

    The life of Robert Wyatt through his music is masterfully presented in this thoroughly researched biography of his life. There has been little documented regarding the Canterbury music scene in England . This book takes a giant step forward to change that situation. Robert Wyatt's involvement with bands such as "Wilde Flowers" , "The Soft Machine" , "Matching Mole" to name just a few from that era are well documented. With the peripheral musicians from bands such as "Caravan" , "National Health" The life of Robert Wyatt through his music is masterfully presented in this thoroughly researched biography of his life. There has been little documented regarding the Canterbury music scene in England . This book takes a giant step forward to change that situation. Robert Wyatt's involvement with bands such as "Wilde Flowers" , "The Soft Machine" , "Matching Mole" to name just a few from that era are well documented. With the peripheral musicians from bands such as "Caravan" , "National Health" , "Gong" are also covered within this book as most of the members were friends or played within each others bands. The book, like a record, is divided into two main sections. Side One - The early years, and Side Two - The years following Robert breaking his back from a fall from a Fourth floor window. Side two also details extensively with Robert Wyatt's political views and his participation within the various organizations. Overall the book gives a fantastic view of that Music Scene, Including the members of "Pink Floyd" and "Jimi Hendrix" - "Soft Machine" toured with both bands - and what life was like at that time. Robert Wyatt was born as Robert Wyatt-Ellidge on the 28 January 1945. And is still creating music today. He truly is an amazing fellow. Check Out his music.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tosh

    This is not really a biography on Robert Wyatt, but more like an intense love-fest for the artist. And really, who would want less than that? Wyatt is one of the great music figures of the 20th century. A great singer in that Chet Baker mode of intimacy, with a mind like Alfred Jarry and the politics of a hard-left fellow. The book is very strong with respect to the early world of The Soft Machine and Kevin Ayers - another iconic wayward genius. One gets detailed information about the making of This is not really a biography on Robert Wyatt, but more like an intense love-fest for the artist. And really, who would want less than that? Wyatt is one of the great music figures of the 20th century. A great singer in that Chet Baker mode of intimacy, with a mind like Alfred Jarry and the politics of a hard-left fellow. The book is very strong with respect to the early world of The Soft Machine and Kevin Ayers - another iconic wayward genius. One gets detailed information about the making of all of Wyatt's recordings as well as interviews with the musicians who worked with him. Wyatt comes off as a modest man with elements of genius. One thing that makes clear is that Wyatt's wife and muse, of sorts, Alfreda Bengie is a major force in his life. In many ways, she is George to his Gilbert. Plus her best friend is Julie Christie. Wyatt sees his life (so far) in two sections. Before and after his accident which made him wheel-chair orientated for the rest of his life. Nevertheless the accident (fall from a window) seemed to give him focus, which leads to works like the classic "Rock Bottom." A perfectionist who sometimes takes great time between albums, is also a musician who likes to work with others on their projects. But whenever Wyatt opens his mouth and sings, it becomes very much a Robert Wyatt recording. The book is essential for Wyatt fans and for those who want to research the early 60s life of bands like Soft Machine, Pink Floyd and a touch of Jimi Hendrix.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Barefoot Danger

    ROBERT WYATT IS A GODDAMN GENIUS AND IF YOU DON'T LOVE HIS WORK THEN YOU ARE NOT MY FRIEND or at least, you know, we differ in our opinions on this topic ROBERT WYATT IS A GODDAMN GENIUS AND IF YOU DON'T LOVE HIS WORK THEN YOU ARE NOT MY FRIEND or at least, you know, we differ in our opinions on this topic

  5. 5 out of 5

    Martin Raybould

    An exemplary biography of a great artist and national treasure. Meticulously researched and written with the intention to inform rather than merely to impress the reader. Highly recommended.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week Marcus O'Dair's biography of English musician Robert Wyatt. Read by Julian Rhind-Tutt. From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week Marcus O'Dair's biography of English musician Robert Wyatt. Read by Julian Rhind-Tutt.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lukasz Pruski

    "[...]Robert has achieved spectacular success by another definition: longevity without compromise. In politics as in music, he has become a byword for integrity [...] In fifty years of making music, there seems not to have been an insincere note." For once I agree with the critics. Marcus O'Dair's Different Every Time: The Authorized Biography of Robert Wyatt (2015) won accolades from British music critics: it was selected as the music book of the year by Guardian and Times, among other British n "[...]Robert has achieved spectacular success by another definition: longevity without compromise. In politics as in music, he has become a byword for integrity [...] In fifty years of making music, there seems not to have been an insincere note." For once I agree with the critics. Marcus O'Dair's Different Every Time: The Authorized Biography of Robert Wyatt (2015) won accolades from British music critics: it was selected as the music book of the year by Guardian and Times, among other British newspapers. Indeed it is an excellent book, extremely informative, well-written and captivating. Robert Wyatt, "one of the greats of English music," is mostly known as the drummer for Soft Machine, the extraordinary British band, during their 1966 - 1971 period. The detailed history of Soft Machine can be found in another outstanding book Out-Bloody-Rageous , which I review here on Goodreads. Different is remarkably rich in details: we read about the artist's bohemian childhood, how he met his future bandmates in the secondary school, and we learn about his interest in Rimbaud's poetry, Thelonious Monk's and Igor Stravinsky's music, and paintings by Georges Braque. In 1965 Mr. Wyatt becomes a member of Wilde Flowers, one of the founding bands of the Canterbury Scene characterized by "jazz-tinged, pastoral and very English psychedelic rock." In 1966 Soft Machine is born and the band creates some of the best music of the era (to me absolutely the best - but then I am heavily biased). Yet soon the musical trajectories of Mr. Wyatt and Soft Machine diverge: in fact he is basically fired from the band. The separation is not all the band's fault - Mr. Wyatt has always wanted to play songs rather than the cerebral music based on jazz, avant-garde influences, and technical virtuosity. Depressed and suicidal he creates the Matching Mole band, its name being a superb pun, based on the French translation of "soft machine". He meets a Polish émigré Alfreda Benge, the woman of his life, but then a horrible accident happens: he falls out of a window and gets paralyzed from waist down for the rest of his life. Thanks to Alfreda he survives and spends 40 further creative years in a wheelchair making wonderful music - which includes recording eight successful albums - on the boundaries of pop and avant-garde. While one needs to distinguish Robert Wyatt the artist from Mr. Wyatt a person, the biography makes it clear that certain amount of crossover cannot be avoided. Usually the artists' strengths come from their force of conviction and in Mr. Wyatt's case the conviction is mainly political in nature: he has always been a left-winger, and quite radical at that. However, even being myself on the left side of the political spectrum I am unable to understand Mr. Wyatt's long-time membership in the Communist Party of Great Britain. Joining the party in 1970s, when the extreme range and depth of Soviet crimes against humanity were well known, can only be treated as lunacy. The author calls Mr. Wyatt a "Marxist jazz fan" but to believe that any communist party is guided by any ideas other than grabbing and wielding total power is akin to hallucinating. Still, even if I am eager to call Mr. Wyatt a complete idiot for his communist sympathies, I admire his music and his singing. A very good book, meticulously researched and referenced. A great source of information not only about one of the most important and serious artists of British popular music but also about the times from the early 1960s to the current day. No gossip, no tabloid stuff, no name dropping. A sincere and focused book in which the author is basically invisible: almost a five-star book - maybe I will change my rating over re-reading. Four and a half stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    really enjoying this musical biography,lots of musical connections from the seventies; like everyone else, probably rushed to the part where he ended up paralysed in a wheelchair after the fall, fascinating how his music changed after too,and how relationship with Alfie grew too. Back to Spotify again for hunting down those bands I never had the time to listen to then 😎

  9. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    bbc BOW (view spoiler)[ 1. A happy childhood surrounded by influential family, plus a love of jazz and a sense of the absurd. Then the young Wyatt starts to play drums. 2. Wyatt perfects his drumming style, even practicing at the Mallorca home of poet Robert Graves. Then he gets married and afterwards it's the emergence of The Soft Machine, playing psychedelic pop 'happenings' and 'freak outs'. 3. In 1970 Wyatt splits with Soft Machine and goes on to play with Matching Mole. Three years later, at a part bbc BOW (view spoiler)[ 1. A happy childhood surrounded by influential family, plus a love of jazz and a sense of the absurd. Then the young Wyatt starts to play drums. 2. Wyatt perfects his drumming style, even practicing at the Mallorca home of poet Robert Graves. Then he gets married and afterwards it's the emergence of The Soft Machine, playing psychedelic pop 'happenings' and 'freak outs'. 3. In 1970 Wyatt splits with Soft Machine and goes on to play with Matching Mole. Three years later, at a party in London, comes the moment that will change his life forever. 4. He records the sublime song Shipbuilding, with Elvis Costello and Clive Langer. After that, some great records follow, penned and arranged at his home in Louth, Lincolnshire. 5. Wyatt curates a very successful Meltdown Festival in London. We learn about 'le trac' - his particular form of stage fright - and meet some of his famous collaborators. (hide spoiler)]

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brian Yatman

    Really well-written and researched, and wonderful and inspiring in so many ways. I really didn't want it to end, which is perhaps an unusual thing to say about a biography. The more I know about Robert Wyatt and Alfie, his wife, and their struggles and triumphs, the more I admire them. Such good people. Mostly, this made me want to go out and listen to everything Robert Wyatt has ever recorded, and I did not realise he had had recorded so much. Really well-written and researched, and wonderful and inspiring in so many ways. I really didn't want it to end, which is perhaps an unusual thing to say about a biography. The more I know about Robert Wyatt and Alfie, his wife, and their struggles and triumphs, the more I admire them. Such good people. Mostly, this made me want to go out and listen to everything Robert Wyatt has ever recorded, and I did not realise he had had recorded so much.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nick Carnac

    Canterbury jazz-rock musical phenomena dealt with ,concisely reviewing the personages and collaborations that have rendered this man's musical and moral statements at the heart of the UK scene for 5 decades. Comparisons with the current politically illiterate styling that dominates artistes are indeed depressing .Hope for Happiness? Canterbury jazz-rock musical phenomena dealt with ,concisely reviewing the personages and collaborations that have rendered this man's musical and moral statements at the heart of the UK scene for 5 decades. Comparisons with the current politically illiterate styling that dominates artistes are indeed depressing .Hope for Happiness?

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gerald

    It's hard to rate a biography, because you probably won't read it unless you're a fan of Robert Wyatt. But if you are, then you'll love this.. it reveals lots about his character and music, is impeccably researched and very well written. It's hard to rate a biography, because you probably won't read it unless you're a fan of Robert Wyatt. But if you are, then you'll love this.. it reveals lots about his character and music, is impeccably researched and very well written.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stewart Smith

    Excellent biog of an inspiration figure. As Eno says on the back blurb, it's also a good history of the English leftfield pop scene. Excellent biog of an inspiration figure. As Eno says on the back blurb, it's also a good history of the English leftfield pop scene.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Daniele

    A truly inspiring biography, great writing style, detailed, enriched with accolades and interviews of all those who have been working with Robert Wyatt. It’s a choral biography, a rare document which gives an in-depth look into the Canterbury musical scene as well as into all of Wyatt’s passions and endeavours, with objectivity. Robert Wyatt is depicted for what he really is: a multifaceted talented musician and a passionate human being, always curious and ready to question his abilities in orde A truly inspiring biography, great writing style, detailed, enriched with accolades and interviews of all those who have been working with Robert Wyatt. It’s a choral biography, a rare document which gives an in-depth look into the Canterbury musical scene as well as into all of Wyatt’s passions and endeavours, with objectivity. Robert Wyatt is depicted for what he really is: a multifaceted talented musician and a passionate human being, always curious and ready to question his abilities in order to push his art forward, to improve. Definitely not a rock star, but someone with whom I’d like to sit and chat over a cup of tea.

  15. 5 out of 5

    The Book Grocer

    Purchase Different Every Time here for just $15! This biography of Robert Wyatt provides a complete, detailed overview of his musical career from the very beginning up to his recent retirement. An absolute must for people who have loved his music for decades, made by Soft Machine, Matching Mole, Robert Wyatt solo and in numerous collaborations with other musicians. Alicia - The Book Grocer Purchase Different Every Time here for just $15! This biography of Robert Wyatt provides a complete, detailed overview of his musical career from the very beginning up to his recent retirement. An absolute must for people who have loved his music for decades, made by Soft Machine, Matching Mole, Robert Wyatt solo and in numerous collaborations with other musicians. Alicia - The Book Grocer

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bill Reynolds

    A warm, wonderful and moving biography of one of the great musicians of our time. I've been a fan since 1968 and there was plenty that I didn't know. Marcus seems to have interviewed virtually every musician associated with Robert who is still living. Mandatory of any fan of Robert, certainly, but also of interest to anyone into progressive music, especially Canterbury or RIO, although Robert himself doesn't like those labels. A warm, wonderful and moving biography of one of the great musicians of our time. I've been a fan since 1968 and there was plenty that I didn't know. Marcus seems to have interviewed virtually every musician associated with Robert who is still living. Mandatory of any fan of Robert, certainly, but also of interest to anyone into progressive music, especially Canterbury or RIO, although Robert himself doesn't like those labels.

  17. 4 out of 5

    John Booth

    Decent biography of an interesting life though a little short when it comes to critical views and reviews. There wasn't quite enough depth to explanations of the genius of Robert Wyatt for those of us who haven't ever quite "got it", nor space given to those commentators who, like me (us), didn't "get it" either. Still, it made me want to search out the music to see what I was missing, to see if the genius was more evident (it wasn't, but maybe that's just me). Decent biography of an interesting life though a little short when it comes to critical views and reviews. There wasn't quite enough depth to explanations of the genius of Robert Wyatt for those of us who haven't ever quite "got it", nor space given to those commentators who, like me (us), didn't "get it" either. Still, it made me want to search out the music to see what I was missing, to see if the genius was more evident (it wasn't, but maybe that's just me).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Excellent biography of a magnificent, iconic musician.

  19. 5 out of 5

    JoJo

    I admit to not knowing of Robert Wyatt before I pick this up, not I know much more. Well written in covering his life and music, and I have been and listened to a number of tracks while reading this.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ralph

    Excellent. A perfect balance of the man and the music. Highly recommended

  21. 4 out of 5

    SL

    5 stars for Wyatt fans, three stars if you just want a pretty darn good book about the English music scene from the '60s to the present. 5 stars for Wyatt fans, three stars if you just want a pretty darn good book about the English music scene from the '60s to the present.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Hendrickx William

    My all time Hero to memory lane. As one of my friends says: what a Voice, even when he should sing the phonebook

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bluepoles

    The life of an extraordinary musician demands an extraordinary biography. This is that book. Essential reading.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lawrence

    The front cover blurb calls Different Every Time "an uplifting, inspiring book", and I actually find myself in complete agreement. For my take on Robert Wyatt, the subject of Different Every Time, himself, look here: http://www.artofthemix.org/FindAMix/g.... "THE MAN CAN DO ANYTHING," I jubilantly wrote of the then sexagenarian British musician back in 2005. But, of course, this isn't a review of Wyatt's music. ... I found Different Every Time, then, to contain quite a well-proportioned mix of ov The front cover blurb calls Different Every Time "an uplifting, inspiring book", and I actually find myself in complete agreement. For my take on Robert Wyatt, the subject of Different Every Time, himself, look here: http://www.artofthemix.org/FindAMix/g.... "THE MAN CAN DO ANYTHING," I jubilantly wrote of the then sexagenarian British musician back in 2005. But, of course, this isn't a review of Wyatt's music. ... I found Different Every Time, then, to contain quite a well-proportioned mix of overview of Wyatt's musical career with biography in the more traditional sense, a life story. There's something in it for people interested in both sides, I'd say. And, as much as I adore Wyatt's music, I do think I actually tip slightly more towards the life-story angle; so, for example, I'm interested in the rather ironic moment when O'Dair reveals Wyatt's psychological displacement within his band Soft Machine due to his excess of *extroversion*, or his focus on Wyatt's late-1970s music-making sabbatical that coincided with his joining the Communist Party: "'Though people say it narrows you culturally,' says Wyatt, 'funnily enough communism opened the way. One of my best friends in the Party just liked Gilbert and Sullivan, didn't know anything about pop music. It was such a relief not to be on that cutting-edge treadmill.'" (p. 249) I read through Different Every Time fairly quickly, for me, generally one chapter per day, and each new chapter really did tend to have opened up a universe of ideas for me by the time it ended, sometimes about creative practice, sometimes about politics and social conscience, sometimes even about how to live. Chapters 17-20, covering approximately the years 1990-2004, could themselves be expanded into a compelling book, in their description of Wyatt's climb from a debilitating mid-'90s depression to universal acclaim with the release of his 2003 album, Cuckooland. Chapter 19 alone, about his curation of a 2001 London music festival, is as feel-good as you could ever want: "'Although I don't believe in God and the Devil, I do believe in heaven and hell, because I've visited both. That was a moment in heaven.'" (p.339) I used to read plenty of rock biographies, but Different Every Time is no accounting of the alien world of pop stardom; on the contrary, it puts forward a roadmap to a creative life, with all the molehills and mountains along the way. O'Dair reveals plainly in this book just how much Robert Wyatt is a musician on his own terms -- a gleeful situation to read about, indeed.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Andreas Georgi

    I’ve been listening to Robert Wyatt’s work for several years now, and have become a big fan, so the release of his authorized biography is very timely for me. After just having finished it, I can strongly recommend it to anyone with an appreciation for this truly unique artist. For anyone interested in learning more about his work, this book also includes a highly comprehensive listing of all the recordings, videos, and print releases in his 50 plus year career. From a biographical standpoint, he I’ve been listening to Robert Wyatt’s work for several years now, and have become a big fan, so the release of his authorized biography is very timely for me. After just having finished it, I can strongly recommend it to anyone with an appreciation for this truly unique artist. For anyone interested in learning more about his work, this book also includes a highly comprehensive listing of all the recordings, videos, and print releases in his 50 plus year career. From a biographical standpoint, he certainly has not had a boring life, from his bohemian upbringing, to pioneering work in psychedelic & progressive rock, touring the US with Hendrix, to the various collaborations, and of course his life-changing fall in 1973 that left him paraplegic and the challenges he overcame as a result, turning difficulties into opportunities. The book does a good job in illuminating Wyatt as a highly complex, and often troubled, but ultimately highly likeable personality. Repeatedly he comes across as an extremely intelligent, socially conscious, empathetic and generous spirit. The book does a very good job at detailing how this empathy and generosity influenced his work. It’s a cliché, but in his case it is really true that he beats his own path forward. The book does not shy away from dealing with some of his darker moments of depression and abusive drinking, and how it affected his wife Alfie. Key to his story is the equally strong and creative character of Alfreda “Alfie” Benge, his wife, supporter and collaborator for over 40 years. Last year, at age 70, Robert Wyatt announced his retirement from music. Fans like me hope of course that he changes his mind, but in any event he has left an amazing body of work. There is an accompanying double CD compilation of the same name. The first CD is a compilation of his releases with Soft Machine, Matching Mole, and his solo albums. The second CD is a collection of collaborative efforts, some quite rare. This collection would seem like a good place to jump into his work. I don’t have the CD, but it looks great. Two thumbs up for the book, however!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cocaine

    Deserving the highest accolades this biography, written by Marcus O'Dair, not so much gets to the heart of the subject matter as it does live the life in narrative format of Robert Wyatt. It could be a hat or shirt the musician had often worn and which had been with him throughout his life soaking up the true nature before being presented to us to share. The intimacy here is warm, tender at times but also gob smackingly candid. No blushes spared, not that I think Robert Wyatt would want that. Fr Deserving the highest accolades this biography, written by Marcus O'Dair, not so much gets to the heart of the subject matter as it does live the life in narrative format of Robert Wyatt. It could be a hat or shirt the musician had often worn and which had been with him throughout his life soaking up the true nature before being presented to us to share. The intimacy here is warm, tender at times but also gob smackingly candid. No blushes spared, not that I think Robert Wyatt would want that. From the earliest days of the young Wyatt through his forming The Soft Machine to my introduction of him via Matching Mole we are given an unequivocally candid portrayal of the musicians life. We witness a man whose acts of whimsy have often upset apple carts, his early twenties spent womanising whilst neglecting his parental and matrimonial duties. All of it told in the self warm, affable tones as used by the man himself. I enjoyed this biography and the manner in which the biographer gets to the core of the subject. A little too deferential at times perhaps but that too summarises Robert Wyatt's own self deprecating manner. Each phase of the musicians development, be it lifestyle or the making of music, is faithfully presented in graphic detail. The dreaded telling of that horrid accident is painful to read, made all the more so by Wyatt's own candid dismissal of it. He, Wyatt that is, asks for no sympathy preferring to see it as a time by which he sees a line drawn, of a moment in his life when, having just meet and married his wife, something unpleasant happened, an end of one thing but a starts of something else. At the end of it, sad as I was to have reached that part, I felt I knew a great deal more about a man whose music I have long loved.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Hirsch

    I remember discovering Robert Wyatt's "Rock Bottom," while trolling through the Prog Rock Archives online, and being totally blown away by the music. Robert had a voice unlike any other, tentative, quavering, and the voice, like the music, was different from anything I'd previously encountered. Needless to say, after hearing "Rock Bottom," I've spent the last year or so searching out every bit of music by Wyatt that I can find, including early rarities and later oddities. And Wyatt, as his fans I remember discovering Robert Wyatt's "Rock Bottom," while trolling through the Prog Rock Archives online, and being totally blown away by the music. Robert had a voice unlike any other, tentative, quavering, and the voice, like the music, was different from anything I'd previously encountered. Needless to say, after hearing "Rock Bottom," I've spent the last year or so searching out every bit of music by Wyatt that I can find, including early rarities and later oddities. And Wyatt, as his fans know, never disappoints. This book is the perfect overview of the man, and, of both popular and avant-garde music from about the mid-1960s until today. Indeed, Robert Wyatt is a kind of Zelig, who found himself at ground zero for the birth of many musical movements, from Canterbury Scene to Post Punk. On top of being a great history of a half century's worth of music (and perhaps a bit more, since the musical tastes of Robert's parents is also addressed in the book), O'Dair has done an admirable job of including everything one would come to expect from a top flight biography. Robert's childhood in postwar England, where he picnicked in bomb craters left by the Luftwaffe, is covered in detail, as is his relationship with rock god Jimi Hendrix. Of course, his now infamous fall, while drunk, from a fourth floor window at a party that left him paralyzed is also dealt with. All in all, this is a deeply satisfying book, written in a clear, lucid prose style that recalls the work of Howard Sounes. Highly Recommended for everyone from casual music fans to completists.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    I am filled with gratitude for this sweet and meaty (can it be both things?) book. I purchased it knowing just a smattering of Wyatt's recordings (one mind-blow of a Matching Mole live video, the Rock Bottom LP, and a few tracks from Shleep & Cuckooland), and through the delicious process of digesting the book, I discovered everything else...and WOW! It's no wonder he is held in such high regard. A thorough story of the life of one of the most unique and gifted musicians (and extra-special human I am filled with gratitude for this sweet and meaty (can it be both things?) book. I purchased it knowing just a smattering of Wyatt's recordings (one mind-blow of a Matching Mole live video, the Rock Bottom LP, and a few tracks from Shleep & Cuckooland), and through the delicious process of digesting the book, I discovered everything else...and WOW! It's no wonder he is held in such high regard. A thorough story of the life of one of the most unique and gifted musicians (and extra-special humans) of his era. If you are even slightly curious to know more about him - do not hesitate to pick this up. The fact that Robert & Alfreda contributed to and approved of the telling of their lives together, the fact that the author is a friend, a musician, and an A-1 researcher, the fact that Wyatt's collaborations have spanned the 60's - the present (seriously, he knows everyone)...all of this coupled with unapologetic politics, unhidden vulnerabilities, and a seriously committed partnership/marriage of minds...it is endlessly fascinating and delightful. A love letter that made me fall in love.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Neale

    A fascinating biography of a man, a music and an era. It's all there: Wyatt's privileged bohemian childhood; his early days with pataphysical pioneers Soft Machine (a band that was most important for what its members did after they left it); his embarrassing and crippling accident and the triumph of 'Rock Bottom' (one of the strangest, silliest and greatest albums of the 1970s); his subsequent long and patchy career of musical and political contrarianism; capped off by a late career resurgence a A fascinating biography of a man, a music and an era. It's all there: Wyatt's privileged bohemian childhood; his early days with pataphysical pioneers Soft Machine (a band that was most important for what its members did after they left it); his embarrassing and crippling accident and the triumph of 'Rock Bottom' (one of the strangest, silliest and greatest albums of the 1970s); his subsequent long and patchy career of musical and political contrarianism; capped off by a late career resurgence and official installation as Beardy National Treasure (cuddly Karl Marx with the voice of an angelic tramp). The first half, as with most biographies, is obviously the most compelling. Given the importance of the great Daevid Allen to Wyatt's narrative, and the recent announcement of his intention to travel to Planet Gong for an indefinite period, I would love to see a book of equal quality as a tribute to Australia's greatest unknown counterculture icon. Mr O'Dair?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andy Larter

    I enjoyed the story of Robert Wyatt and Alfie. The writing was clear as well as straightforward and I thought the contributions from friends and collaborators were helpful in showing the man behind the music behind the man. Reading the book took me back to the music too. I've enjoyed Wyatt's music since Soft Machine "Third" and his politics have often intrigued me. He has never seemed to be the "Tankie" that his membership of CPGB suggested and the book helps to clarify that, especially by explo I enjoyed the story of Robert Wyatt and Alfie. The writing was clear as well as straightforward and I thought the contributions from friends and collaborators were helpful in showing the man behind the music behind the man. Reading the book took me back to the music too. I've enjoyed Wyatt's music since Soft Machine "Third" and his politics have often intrigued me. He has never seemed to be the "Tankie" that his membership of CPGB suggested and the book helps to clarify that, especially by exploring his internationalism and collaborations with so many musicians. I must say that, having read the book, I think I can understand more about how his oeuvre fits together. I found "Old Rottenhat" quite a difficult album - I probably still do - but the section on that album clarified it to some extent. I would give the book 5 stars but it's a bit dry. It could have done with some of the man's wit and irony I think.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.