Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"Different Every Time: The Authorized Biography of Robert Wyatt" by Marcus O'Dair

ISBN: 9781593766160 Soft Skull Press


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.
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