January 28, 2011 Playlist

Happy Birthday
Robert Wyatt

Robert Wyatt, born 28 January 1945
and Johnny Rotten
John Lydon, born 31 January 1956
"Rock Bottom" by Robert Wyatt (1974)
Robert Wyatt  "Rock Bottom"  1974 (UK)
Today is Robert Wyatt's 66th birthday, so our CAOTW is this critically acclaimed and hard-to-classify masterpiece from 1974.  Wyatt's story is perhaps more famous than his music -- the biggest life-changing event in his biography being the accident that left him paralyed in 1973:  a tough blow indeed for a professional drummer who depended on his dexterous limbs to make his art and his living.  But rather than give up, Wyatt gave in -- producing this lunar underwater seascape of sound, a sort of spiritual drowning and rebirth if you will.  A startlingly original take on "the Caterbury sound", the only album with a remotely similar vibe is Brian Eno's highly acclaimed Another Green World album (which came out the following year and may have been very much influenced by this record, Eno and Wyatt being old friends and collaborators.)  Though Wyatt's work is arguably the greater album on account of Robert's amazing voice -- though somewhat thin and reedy, there is a core of emotional power in his singing comparable to Neil Young's  One could also make the case that Robert Wyatt is the most original "British jazz vocalist" there has ever been.
Here's a short video chronology of Robert Wyatt's formative years:  as singing drummer of The Soft Machine in 1967, one of the leading lights of British psychedelia alongside Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd.  By that group's fourth album (Wyatt's last with the band), they had mutated into a pioneering progjazzfusion band, as this clip of  The Soft Machine in 1970 shows.  Next, Wyatt created and recorded two albums with his "sequel" band Matching Mole (this band's name is a pun on the French words for "Soft Machine.")  After becoming paralyzed from the waist down in a tragic drunken accident, his next public appearance was a heartfelt cover of The Monkees' "I'm A Believer" in 1974 -- when he performed it on TV in his wheelchair, the BBC tried to avoid filming him below the waist (an interesting politically correct inversion of American TV's reluctance to show Elvis Presley's wiggly legs on TV back in the 1950's.)
(N) = New Release
Artist Song Album Year (label) Country
DMBQ Are You Satisfied? The Essential Sounds From The Far East 2005 Japan
Sex Pistols Johnny B. Goode (Chuck Berry)
 --> Roadrunner (The Modern Lovers)
The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle rec. 1976, rel. 1979 UK
Sex Pistols (I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone (The Monkees) A-side 7" single (The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle and also Flogging A Dead Horse compilation) rec. 1976, rel. 1979 UK
Sex Pistols I Wanna Be Me B-side 7" single (The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle and also Flogging A Dead Horse compilation) 1976 UK
Sex Pistols Liar Never Mind The Bollocks Here's The Sex Pistols 1977 UK
Public Image Ltd. Four Enclosed Walls Flowers Of Romance 1981 UK
Talking Heads Pulled Up 77 1977 USA
Wire Too Late Chairs Missing 1978 UK
Tyvek 4312 Nothing Fits (N) 2010 (In The Red) USA
Gang Of Four Do As I Say Content (N) 2010 (Yep Roc) UK
Blank Dogs Insides Land And Fixed (N) 2010 (Captured Tracks) USA
Suuns Sweet Nothing Zeroes QC (N) 2010 (Secretly Canadian) Canada (Quebec)
Syd Barrett Gigolo Aunt An Introduction To Syd Barrett (N - compilation) 2010 (Capitol) UK
The Budos Band Raja Haje III (N) 2010 (Daptone) USA
Konono No. 1 NO. K Tradi-Mods vs. Rockers (N - various artists) 2010 (Crammed Discs) D. R. Congo
White Fence Sticky Fruitman Has Faith White Fence Is Growing Faith (N) 2011 (Woodsist) USA
Ducktails Arcade Shift Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics (N) 2010 (Woodsist) USA
Can Spoon Ege Bamyasi 1972 Germany
Tomita The Harp Of The Ancient People With Songs Of Venus And Space Children (based on Prokofiev) The Bermuda Triangle 1979 Japan
Eloy Atlantis' Agony At June 5th, 8498 - 13 P.M. Gregorian Earthtime Ocean 1977 Germany
Shinki Chen The Dark Sea Dream Shinki Chen And Friends 1970 Japan
King Crimson In The Wake Of Poseidon In The Wake Of Poseidon 1970 UK
The Velvet Underground Ocean VU rec. 1969, rel. 1984 USA
Robert Wyatt Little Red Riding Hood Hit The Road Rock Bottom
1974 UK
The Soft Machine (Robert Wyatt) We Did It Again (live) Noisette rec. 1970, rel. 2000 UK
Robert Wyatt Little Red Robin Hood Hit The Road Rock Bottom
1974 UK
Banco del Mutuo Soccorso Il Giardino Del Mago Banco del Mutuo Soccorso 1971 Italy
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