Different Every Time: The Authorised Biography of Robert Wyatt (Anglais) Relié – 3 avril 2014
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Praise for Robert Wyatt
'The most eloquently lackadaisical of jazz-loving English troubadours(Guardian)
If you don't believe avant-garde political music can be both playful and polemical, heartfelt and heartbreaking, you need Robert Wyatt in your life (NME)
A highly idiosyncratic and intuitively melodic maverick (BBC Music)
Robert Wyatt is one of the greats of English music --(Geoff Travis, Rough Trade 2014-06-08)
Présentation de l'éditeur
Robert Wyatt started out as the drummer and singer for Soft Machine, who shared a residency at Middle Earth with Pink Floyd and toured America with Jimi Hendrix. He brought a Bohemian and jazz outlook to the 60s 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. For twenty years he was a member of the Communist party, and in the early eighties his solo work was increasingly political.
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.
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Robert Wyatt - along with Mitch Mitchell, the drummer for Jimi Hendrix - basically invented jazz rock drumming when Robert was with Soft Machine a band he co-founded in 1966. What changed everything was Robert falling out of a window in 1974 that left Robert paralyzed forcing him to concentrate on vocals and keyboards. That is the basic plot line - the beauty of the story and this book is what Robert did from that point on. That is what Marcus O"Dair so brilliantly summarizes; the courage, the frailties, the politics and creativity that is Robert and Alfie's story. Robert did not get to be one of the most well respected and loved musicians overnight but we truly are at that point now. As an example I asked famous author Nick Hornby ( About A Boy, High Fidelity) once if he was familiar with Robert Wyatt. his immediate response? "Robert Wyatt is a F***** national treasure!" Enough said- buy the book.
This is an insightful, informative, sometimes harrowing, and interesting authorized biography of Robert Wyatt. The author, Marcus O'Dair, goes deep into Wyatt's lives--both personal and musical. It's high time that a proper book on someone who is so important to so many music fans has finally been written. O'Dair, through interviews with family and friends, has pieced together Wyatt's life from a seemingly idyllic boyhood up to the present, as life becomes harder with age. Something that seems typical of Wyatt, the book is divided into two parts--Side One and Side Two--like a vinyl album. There's also many b&w photos throughout the book, a Discography, Notes and Sources, and an Index. Plus there's a short Introduction by Jonathan Coe which sets up the book itself.
O'Dair doesn't shy away from the dark patches in Wyatt's life. It 's all here, from Wyatt's early self-doubt and suicide attempt as a teenager, to his second suicide attempt from trying to face a new life outside of Soft Machine in his early twenties. Plus his on-going battle with alcohol and his subsequent paralyzing injury from falling gout of a window--wheelchair bound for the rest of his life. Wyatt's continuing battle with depression, which kept him away from music for long stretches at a time is laid out in the bright light of O'Dair's researches on Wyatt.
But O'Dair balances all this with Wyatt's music--from his days as an inventive and exciting drummer, to his solo work with several fine albums to his credit as a singer/composer, to his work with contemporary artists. Adding many details of Wyatt's life in music--from the early days of pop/rock/jazz with Soft Machine, and later Matching Mole, to his move into more esoteric musical styles, with albums like "Rock Bottom", "Nothing Can Stop Us", and "Shleep", among others--you get an inside look at not only Wyatt the musician, but music in Britain during these periods. Wyatt's observations and insight into the music world (with O'Dair's help) give readers a look into various periods of British music that few (if any) of us would otherwise see.
Also here (and important for a deeper look at Wyatt) is his deeply felt political convictions that seemed to deepen with the many changes in Britain over the decades. His sometimes radical thinking and stances add much to an understanding of this unique person and musician. Wyatt's personal life as it relates to his son and Wyatt's difficulties at being a proper father, to his one constant companion, Alfreda "Alfie" Benge, helps round out Wyatt's life.
Wyatt's own kind of humor--sometimes dark--runs all through the events of his life. And at times it's difficult to tell if his humor is genuine or a way of coping (or not coping) with his many on-going struggles. But in the end, this great book on a true individual, gets added to my already sagging library shelves. This is a unique and deep look at a unique and deep person and musician. There's only one Robert Wyatt. And this book will tell you why.
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.
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