I had been a fan of the Soft Machine and Robert Wyatt since the early days in the 1960s. The Soft Machine always being at their best I thought with Robert – usually bare chested – behind the drum kit. He gave a humorous dadaist twist to what could have been extended jazz noodlings.
This is an excellent biography, authorised but no hagiography, Wyatt is depicted succeeding and failing, an alcoholic , a committed communist, and a very difficult husband. Through it all though, his struggle to produce music of quality and depth shines through, helped greatly by his wife of many years Alfie.
I found this an entrancing book giving so much background detail on his life and recordings. We have to drive past Louth – his Lincolnshire home town now – on the way to visit my mother in law. I’m always tempted to call in and see if he’s in the town square having a cup of tea from his favourite tea vendor… maybe one day.
From the publishers website
Marcus O’Dair is a writer, lecturer and musician. He writes on music for the Guardian, Independent and FT. He is also a frequent contributor to BBC Radio 3 and BBC 6 Music. He is also one half of the Ninja Tune act Grasscut, who have performed at the Pompidou Centre and across Europe.
“English music has produced some fascinating personalities, but few are as unusual as Robert Wyatt. This excellent book captures his gentle, generous and intelligent personality, and is incidentally a very good history of the music scene in England from the sixties onwards”
.- Brian Eno