on life, music etc beyond mainstream

Ja, es ist einige Jahre her, dass ich dieses Telefongespräch mit Robert Wyatt führte, ich fand es zufällig, und lauschte den 28 Minuten von Anfang bis Ende. Ich war überrascht. Natürlich ist der Anlass des Gespräches, die erstmalige Veröffentlichung von „Theatre Royal Drury Lane – Robert Wyatt & Friends In Concert“ (8. September 1974) keine essentielle Aufnahme, allenfalls als Zeitdokument. An grosse Wyatt-Alben (s.u.) kommt das Werk nicht heran.

Es war ein  munter drauflos improvisiertes Interview über Gott (den nicht!) und die Welt (kleine, grosse). Zur Erinnerung: 1973 fiel der Mann von Soft Machine aus dem dritten Stock eines Londoner Hauses, sturzbetrunken, und ist seitdem querschnittgelähmt. Keith Moon war auch auf der Party und erledigte seinen geheimen Todeswunsch gründlicher. Das besagte Konzert war sein erster öffentlicher Auftritt, es folgte das Meisterwerk ROCK BOTTOM. Und noch viel mehr.

Hören Sie, JETZT, wenn Sie mögen, ein Gespräch, das en passant Nat King Cole, englische Kinderbücher der 50er Jahre, indische Gesangstraditionen, Bela Bartok, die Siebziger Jahre, englische Politik, Krankenhausanrufe, Brian Eno, Mike Oldfield, John Peel, Billie Holidays Spätwerk, Phil Manzanera und die Lust am Gucken auf grosse Eisenbahngeleise vorüberziehen lässt. Normal würde man hier ein paar sog. „Leerstellen“ schneiden, aber das mindert eher den Reiz eines solch „gefundenen Objekts“.




Highly recommended for beginners and time travelers, drifting through decades …


1) Cuckooland

2) Rock Bottom

3) Shlepp

4) Dondestan

5) Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard

6) Old Rottenhat

7) Soft Machine: Third (incl. „Moon in June“)



Hier die Besetzung des – allemal – denkwürdigen Konzerts:


Robert Wyatt – voice

Dave Stewart – keyboards
Laurie Allan – drums
Hugh Hopper – bass guitar
Fred Frith – violin, guitar, viola
Mongezi Feza – trumpet
Mike Oldfield – guitar
Julie Tippetts – keyboard, voice
Nick Mason – drums
John Peel – voice
Ivor Cutler – voice

This entry was posted on Freitag, 15. August 2014 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Die beiden Alben von Phil Manzanera, von denen hier die Rede ist, heissen 6pm (das Bessere der beiden) sowie 50 Minutes Later. Der Klassiker von Phil M. ist ohne Frage „801 Live“. Es reicht die Einzelausgabe, die dicke Box ist was für Hard-Core-Sammler.

  2. Michael Engelbrecht:

    ‚Clouds from Cuckooland‘ was commissioned for an exhibition about the legend of the ‚Canterbury Scene‘, and in particular the work of Robert Wyatt. I was invited to create an installation from his ‚Cuckooland‘ album, which I evaporated into a 21 minute cloud of sound that floats around and around the gallery. Using 3 x FM transmitters I broadcast the composition to 3 groups of radios set out on a vinyl circle, accompanied by lasers, feathers, mirrors and glitter.

    Commissioned by Artistic Director Matt Wright for the Sounds New Festival, Canterbury 2014.

    It may be six years since Robert Wyatt’s last album (Shleep), and he may admit to a one song a year work rate, but the the end results contain a spontaneity and charm that remains peerless. Wyatt exists in a hermetic world where working methods remain unhurried by market forces and he regularly performs the seemingly impossible alchemical marriage of enchanting melody and politically charged lyrical content. It’s some balancing act; until you realise that he’s not even on the high wire. He’s wryly observing the bedlam we inhabit from the bottom of his garden. Listening to Cuckooland is akin to having a cup of tea with a very, very intelligent friend. It soothes as it pricks the conscience.

    Since Rock Bottom, his solo debut proper (he himself regards earlier effort End Of An Ear asjuvenilia), Wyatt has, along with partner Alfreda Benge and a host of eminent and multi-talented friends, made albums that run parallel to modern recorded art. By now we all know what he likes. Jazz (preferably with free or bop roots), charmingly spare arrangements and a plethora of interesting (read: slightly wonky) instrumentation. “Cuckoo Madame“ finds Robert even employing the same cheap keyboard sounds that he used on Rock Bottom. And why not? It suits his voice down to the ground.

    Of course since his earliest days with the Soft Machine he’s claimed to be more jazzer than avant gardener. With Cuckooland the influences are more evident than ever. Take “Trickle Down“ with its rising and descending bassline. Like so much on Cuckooland, it swings with aplomb. And it’s hardly surprising when you consider input from luminaries such as Gilad Atzmon, Annie Whitehead and, most importantly, Karen Mantler. (The daughter of Carla Bley; she provides vocals, songs and even harmonica on a host of tracks). “Old Europe“ even takes as its text the legendary Paris jazz scene of the late 50s. Yet you never feel that Robert’s wallowing in nostalgia, but painting an impressionistic world where Miles and Juliette Greco still romance each other in monochrome streets.

    Politically he’s as perplexed (and as pointed) as ever. The key title here is “Forest“. A scorching indictment of British immigration policy that, nevertheless, manages to be utterly lovely (only Wyatt could get old mate David Gilmour to deliver lines as fluid as he did back in the day). “Cuckoo Madame“ just may be about Margaret Thatcher and “La Ahada Yalam“ proves that there’s still something pertinent to be said about the atom bomb.

    This is classic Wyatt. Brian Eno adds his tell-tale fairy dust and Benge’s lyrics should now be recognized as the perfect match for one of England’s most enduring and endearing voices (special mention here for “Lullaloop“). Wyatt shows himself to be no slouch on the cornet (“Old Europe“ conjures up a veritable big band sound from two players), yet it’s the voice that remains his primary instrument. He modestly refers to it as ’now reduced to a wino’s mutter‘, but no other artist has yet to approach the abstractions, humbleness and, let’s be honest, cuteness that marks him as instantly recognisable. Time for England to listen to its conscience again: over a nice cup of tea…

  3. Michael Engelbrecht:

    There are degrees of amnesia, ways to forget
    Ways to remember all the good that you’ve done
    And if you can’t get a witness remind yourselves
    Nobody’s just perfectly good all the time

    And if you killed all those redskins long, long ago
    Well, they’d all be dead now anyway, anyway
    Don’t let that ghost disconcert you the lord will provide
    A nice little headstone for the brave Cherokee

    So let’s have no reservations, let’s have a clean sweep
    Clearing the way for the land of the free
    Let’s hear it for civilization once more
    Build your Aryan empire in peace

    Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
    From: Old Rottenhat, 1986

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