Robert Wyatt: Different Every Time

Wyatt’s personal selection of his solo and collaborative work.

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This release coincides with the publication of Marcus O’Dair’s excellent authorised biography of the same name (reviewed on page 113).

The only song with Wyatt on full drum kit is the 19-minute suite Moon In June, from Soft Machine’s Third. This showcases his ability as a composer, and on the shorter God Song and Signed Curtain (with Matching Mole), he wittily questions both the demands of organised religion and the ability of songs to convey meaning. After his accident in 1973, which left him paraplegic, his singing and writing continued to evolve, as on the gorgeous Chic cover At Last I Am Free, and his duet with Karen Mantler on the ominous Beware. Wyatt has a reputation for being a slow worker, but he has recorded dozens of guest appearances and collaborations, and the second disc focuses on these. His uniquely moving man-child’s voice holds its own in all sorts of contexts: the extraordinary a cappella vocal labyrinths of Björk’s Submarine and overlooked gems like Siam from Nick Mason’s solo album Fictitious Sports. And of course there’s Shipbuilding, which is still one of the most poignant political chart hits of all time.

Mike Barnes

Mike Barnes is the author of Captain Beefheart - The Biography (Omnibus Press, 2011) and A New Day Yesterday: UK Progressive Rock & the 1970s (2020). He was a regular contributor to Select magazine and his work regularly appears in Prog, Mojo and Wire. He also plays the drums.