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Get this crazy baby off my head!

21.4.10

Robert Wyatt


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Robert Wyatt - Shleep - 1997 - Hannibal Records

Robert Wyatt continues to follow his singular musical path with the lovely Shleep, delivering another album of considerable quirky charm and understated beauty; a less melancholy affair than much of his recent work, the record is informed by a hazy, dreamlike quality perfectly in keeping with the elements of subconsciousness implicit in the title. © Jason Ankeny © 2010 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:wzfexqqjldte~T1

Representing another career high, 1997's Shleep stands as one of Robert Wyatt's most elaborate yet accessible albums, featuring a stellar cast of players (Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera, Paul Weller, Evan Parker and Annie Whitehead among others) and some truly beautiful arrangements, dampening down some of the quirks that tend to characterise Wyatt albums. This is probably attributable to the extremely collaborative nature of Shleep, meaning that initial spark of weirdness and off-kilter creativity diminishes somewhat as it passes through the hands of Wyatt's accompanists. The heightened sense of organization and structure has its benefits though, lending a real sense of warmth and consistency to the album's flow. Even the stranger moments - such as 'The Duchess', with its wailing, articulate soloing from Parker, and Wyatt's mumbled surreal lyrics - seem to be framed within the realms of comparative normality, with a swinging rhythm section and sturdily repetitious piano chord sequence. Recommended. © http://www.boomkat.com/item.cfm?id=144101

"How anyone can have been around as long as Robert Wyatt and end up putting out an album this good - easily the best of the best records he has ever made is completely beyond me. There could be no smoother blend of folk, pop, mingus style jazz meandering, and even at times almost a musique concrete feel. My hero!" - a brilliantly descriptive comment on this album sent to http://www.amazon.com/Shleep-Robert-Wyatt/dp/B0000057OK by "A Customer".

Really original and upbeat progressive rock in the Canterbury style from the great drummer of Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt. There is a wonderful percussive base to the music. The very English Robert Wyatt's typical quirky lyrics and eccentric rhymes abound. Musicians include Brian Eno, Paul Weller, and Annie Whitehead. Listen to Robert Wyatt's great "Rock Bottom" album, and Soft Machine's "Fourth" album. For music in a similar vein, it is worth checking out band's like Hatfield And The North, Caravan, Gong, Matching Mole, and other bands from the giant "Canterbury Scene" family tree of British progressive rock artists

TRACKS / COMPOSERS

1 Heaps of Sheeps (Benge/Wyatt/arr. Eno) (4:56)
2 The Duchess (Wyatt) (4:18)
3 Maryan (Wyatt/Catherine) (6:11)
4 Was a Friend (Wyatt/Hopper) (6:09) [Track 4 - Intro: sample from 'The Music of Robert Wyatt' by the Austrian group, The More Extended Versions]
5 Free Will and Testament (Wyatt/Kramer) (4:13)
6 September the Ninth (Benge/Wyatt) (6:41)
7 Alien (Benge/Wyatt) (6:47)
8 Out Of Season (Benge/Wyatt) (2:32)
9 A Sunday in Madrid (Benge/Wyatt) (4:41)
10 Blues in Bob Minor (Wyatt) (5:46)
11 The Whole Point of No Return (Wyatt) (1:25)

N.B: Tracks 6, & 10 may be repeated twice on this post. Please ignore the 2nd versions @ 192 Kbps
MUSICIANS

Robert Wyatt: Percussion, Trumpet, Guitar (Bass), Keyboards, Vocals, Voices, Choir, Chorus, Polish Fiddle
Brian Eno: Synthesizer, Vocals, Synthesizer Bass
Philip Catherine, Phil Manzanera: Guitar
Jamie Johnson: Guitar, Choir, Chorus
Paul Weller: Guitar, Harmony Vocals
Chucho Merchan: Percussion, Drums (Bass), Guitar (Bass), Double Bass
Evan Parker: Saxophone, Sax (Soprano), Sax (Tenor)
Annie Whitehead: Trombone
Chikako Sato: Violin
Gary Azukx: Djembe
Alfreda Benge: Vocals, Voices, Choir, Chorus
Charles Rees: Choir, Chorus

BIO

An enduring figure who came to prominence in the early days of the English art rock scene, Robert Wyatt has produced a significant body of work, both as the original drummer for art rockers Soft Machine and as a radical political singer/songwriter. Born in Bristol, England, Wyatt came to Soft Machine during the exciting, slightly post-psychedelic Canterbury Scene of the mid-'60s that produced bands like Gong and Pink Floyd. Unlike many of the art rock bands that would come later (Jethro Tull, Yes, King Crimson), Soft Machine eschewed bloated theatrical excess, preferring a standard rock format that interpolated jazz riffing, extended soloing, and some forays into experimental noise. Wyatt, then Soft Machine's drummer, left the band during its initial wave of popularity. His solo career was built less around his abilities as a percussionist and more around his frail tenor voice, capable of breaking hearts with its falsetto range. It was not long after his first solo release, End of an Ear, that Wyatt fell from an open window during a party, fracturing his back and permanently paralyzing him from the waist down. After months of painful recuperation, Wyatt reemerged with the harrowing Rock Bottom (1974) and the bizarre Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard (1975), the former dealing explicitly with his post-accident life, the latter a series of surreal fables. And while the music on these records is trance-like and experimental, Wyatt shockingly recorded a straight version of the Monkees' "I'm a Believer" in 1974 that became a big British hit. Controversy ensued when the BBC's long-running weekly pop music program Top of the Pops refused to allow Wyatt to perform the song in his wheelchair. After a significant protest played out in the music trade papers, Wyatt did perform. Despite his success, Wyatt remained quiet for much of the rest of the decade, breaking his silence during the punk era with a handful of singles recorded for the great English indie label Rough Trade. Again, going against audience expectations, he recorded a beautiful version of Chic's "At Last I Am Free." This signaled the start of a full-fledged career renaissance that included numerous albums and artists such as Elvis Costello writing songs for him. His albums were lush, at times almost meditative, and Wyatt's voice — clear, emotionally charged, and always on the verge of breaking — brought great depth and soul to songs that, if recorded by a lesser artist, would have sounded terse and tired. Always on the political left, Wyatt's radicalism increased exponentially during Margaret Thatcher's years as Prime Minister, as he maintained an unwavering support for Communism even as glasnost was nigh. The resulting music he recorded during this period reflects his strong, bordering on strident, political beliefs. As of the mid-2000s, Wyatt has comfortably worked in and out of the music business. He records when he feels like it, paints, writes, devotes time to political work, and continues to show no interest in the machinations of the music industry. But, despite his occasionally strident political posture, he has recorded some stunning music, full of wonder, possibility, and pure emotion, that remains undiscovered by many. © John Dougan © 2010 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:3ifixqr5ldfe~T1

28 comments:

A.O.O.F.C said...

LINK

p/w aoofc

Mike said...

After reading the description, I'm intrigued to hear this. Could be my kind of thing.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi, Mike. There's a lot going on sonically on the album. I'd like a higher bitrate version. Let me know what you think...Cheers P.

Mike said...

Last night, I tried to listen to it, 'tried' being the operative word. ...It was really bad. Strange experimental meandering is what I heard, not the melodic, structured material alluded to in the description. Pet Sounds comes immediately to mind. Baa-aa! MmoooOOOOOooo! Owk! Ba-gowk! Sorry, this isn't my kind of thing.

Bawk!

Sagittarius said...

With a passport figured out.
Good music.
Thank!

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hello, Sagittarius in Russia. Any volcanic ash falling yet? Password is always aoofc Glad you liked music. Take care, and please keep in touch

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi, Mike. Saw this review from A.S. Van Dorston at bookkat -
"Although his output has been spotty and sporadic, he has been revered for escaping the syrupy art-rock pretentiousness that his colleagues drowned in. Like Captain Beefheart, Wyatt has maintained a playfully unselfconscious experimentalism that may make for difficult listening, but is never boring. Shleep is a welcome comeback which, on first listen, reminded me of an old Brian Eno album. Sure enough, the booklet revealed that Eno did indeed arrange the first song, "Heaps of Sheeps." He also plays on two other songs. Wyatt's high, fragile voice is also similar to Eno's. Like this album, Wyatt's mid-70s solo albums, Rock Bottom (1974) and Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard (1975), mined the same cracks found between pop, art-rock and the avant-garde as Eno's post-Roxy Music solo albums of the same era. The main difference on Shleep is that the music is a gentler, prettier version of the old Wyatt, who could at times be abrasive in both sound and his ruthless politics. His lyrics are not all flight and whimsy, however. "Free Will and Testament" and "Blues in Bob minor" show that his politics have only grown more subtle in his old age, making more timelessly powerful songs in the long run" http://www.fastnbulbous.com/wyatt.htm
"Bad" is a very general term, Mike! Experimentation has always been part of Wyatt's music. No need to be sorry! If you don't like it, no harm done! The music is here for everybody to praise or criticise! Not everyone takes to Robert Wyatt, Soft Machine, Matching Mole, etc. At least you gave it a listen. Your "Baa-aa! MmoooOOOOOooo! Owk! Ba-gowk!"sounds like part of the Beatle's "Good Morning". (LOL!)Cheers, Mike, & TTU soon

Mike said...

It's definitely art-'something' but I don't know about 'rock'. Brian Eno has produced some good material. Like you said, difference of opinion. "Bad" to my ears but maybe not so for others. Ah well. You can't win 'em all. I've heard Pet Sounds and, although there are some off-kilter moments, there are some real gems on it.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi, Mike. It's all about opinions..No big deal. It's like governmental policies. I've never heard two politicians agreeing with each other. Who gives a f***? Makes life more interesting. I took you up wrong on the Pet Sounds album. I thought you were slagging it off. I listen to the album sometimes (skipping the odd track), and there are some beaut tracks on that album. Didn't somebody once say that Pet Sounds was the Beach Boy's "Sergeant Pepper"...Couldn't agree with that! Anyway, cheers Mike, & TTU soon

Mike said...

Actually, in the liner notes it says that when Paul McCartney and co. heard it, they thought that it was over, that The Beach Boys beat them. On that topic, remember when artists worked hard to gain a competitive edge over their 'adversaries'? There was the infamous Steely Dan/Eagles feud in which Steely Dan won by a landslide. Well ok, maybe not on the top 10 charts, but in terms of things like music, talent, lyrics, arrangements, production, etc. SD wins 100-0!

A.O.O.F.C said...

How are you, Mike? Yeah, I know Pet Sounds impressed George Martin, probably for the tech side more than the music. There's supposed to be an album out there called "The Beachles" which mixes S.Pepper with PS. I've never heard it. I can't even imagine what it would sound like! Thinking about the Beatles, is there any other band who in a 7 or 8 year span, released classic after classic albums? There are so many bands who fall by the wayside because of the sometimes wrong perception that the artist's first album can't be bettered. Yeah, the famous/infamous Dan and Eagles rivalry and debates. "Turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening" - sarcasm or respect? Some say the latter! Don't think so. "They stab it with their steely knives, but they just can't kill the beast". Interesting metaphors, and no disrespect to the Eagles, but I think we all know who won the musical gladiotorial contest. Like you, I agree with the 100-0, at half time!! Of course, we're down to opinions again. Nevertheless, an interesting topic for debate! Thanks a million for the great comments, Mike, & TTU soon

Mike said...

The Beachles? Haha, that's the first I've heard of it. You asked if there was any other band who in a 7-8yr span released one classic album after another besides The Beatles, only to answer your own question immediately following (Hint: Starts with an S...). Hmm, who else? I really don't know.

Of course that "Turn up the Eagles" lyric was a jab and vice versa with the "Steely knives" bit. But hey, screw The Eagles!

A.O.O.F.C said...

Well f*** me pink, Mike. I completely forgot about Spinal Tap. Who could ever forget that "Intravenus de Milo" album?...Only kidding, Mike. I always think of The Dan as a duo + session men. Cheers, Mike, & TTU soon

Mike said...

Give me some mon-naaaaay! Great film, great soundtrack. I also enjoy 'Earache My Eye' by Cheech & Chong. Great horn charts!

A.O.O.F.C said...

Walt & Don coulda helped them out on those charts (LOL!). Talking about non-fictional stuff, have you ever seen the Dan associated "You've Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You'll Lose That Beat" movie? I read somewhere that Don Fagen appeared in the pre-release for a few seconds, but the sequence ended up on the cutting room floor. Interesting Dan trivia! TTU soon, Mike

Mike said...

Nope, never saw it but I did read about that.

Actually it was Donald who was writing the charts and/or assisting in them, not Walter, which figures since most of the sophisticated sound is coming from Donald's jazz-bebop background. Walter just assisted Donald by playing bass alongside him (listen to their outtakes) and some blues-based licks on the guitar.

I've never heard of Walter coming up with sophisticated harmony in any way, shape or form. This is not to say Walter's role was useless. He assisted Donald in coming up with lyrical content and is a competent performer. Most of their early edgy rock sound was coming from Denny Dias and to a much lesser extent Jeff "Skunk" Baxter. Try to imagine songs like Bodhisattva, Reelin' in the Years, King of the World, etc. but replace Denny with Walter. Ugh. It just doesn't work. Part of being a great performer is knowing when to step aside and let someone who is more capable step in and do the job.

Mike said...

Haha nice! You made that, didn't you?

Isn't it great how we start talking about this or that group and, somehow, the conversation always mutates into Steely Dan?

Awesome.

A.O.O.F.C said...

I plead the 5th amendment! I'm glad you saw that pic, Mike. I'm gonna remove it pronto, before I'm sued by Mojo, and God knows who else. I got a legal warning last week about an Ian Dury album...I had to remove a photo and a link. Serious business! "Sue me if I play too long"! I overplayed that one! On the other hand I've also got e-mails from some famous musicians who were happy to see some of their old albums get my minute exposure. These musicians are not connected with Steely Dan, the band we never finish a conversation with!

Mike said...

They're insane with that sort of thing. There is so much music and videos everywhere online, on torrents, on peer-to-peer file sharing, et al. that it really is pointless to even try. It's funny because back in the day there were groups I wouldn't have known about if not by various means online and, as a direct result, I ended up buying massive amounts of music and movies. I must've spent over $20,000 on just music; if you saw my CD collection, you'd be impressed, to say the least. So for them to say that the online component is hurting the industry, well, that's ridiculous. If that were true then why bother with back catalogs of people like The BEatles since you can simply download everything of theirs online for free?

You remember that Beatles comp of their #1 hits? All those songs have been available forever ...and yet that didn't stop people from buying it in droves. As far as current music, it certainly has suffered, but, thanks to marketing/lowered CD prices + online distribution, they're still bringing in bread. If they're not making as much noney now, it's because the music is of lackluster quality and their means of advertising, e.g. MTV and such, are no longer taken seriously by avid music lovers. (Then again, you hardly ever hear any music by turning on those "music" channels anymore, so who's to blame?)

People WILL buy the things they want, myself included. Although I own the Citizen Steely Dan box set, I went ahead and got the remastered Aja and Gaucho. Now why would I bother to do that if I already own said music and can download it anytime? Could it be because I love their music and will support them?

And you're absolutely right -- I will not conclude this posting by making any sort of reference to Steely Dan.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi, Mike. A long, complicated, and now boring subject. The whole music business is riddled with irony, paradoxes, but mostly blatant hypocrisy. I'm like you. I have bought albums based on information seen in the most unlikely places...certainly not on mainstream media. I have bought albums by Kyla Brox, even though they are readily available on various internet sources. I have advertised a few of her albums on this blog, and know for a fact that people have bought her albums, and gone to see her in concert. Gotta few E-mails from people who never heard of the lady, and may never have heard of her without blog checking. I get tired of people telling me how much they are losing out financially by people downloading their music from blogs, torrent sites, etc. How much are they losing? If music is not well promoted, then obviously the records won't sell. If music is advertised by bloggers, and people buy merchandise as a result, how much is the music industry and the artists making? I'd like a figure on both scenarios. I have paid excessive prices for tickets to see many "rock stars" who have not given me value for money. In that respect, I have been ripped off. I've also stupidly bought albums based on "good" reviews, and been ripped off again. Who is losing money? As you say, if music is good, and people like the artists, then they will buy the album regardless of how many times it may have been remixed, remastered etc. The Beatles...My God!...How many different repackaged albums have been released, and snapped up like hotcakes. The Stones, U2, Abba..An endless list. A lot of money lost there through "illegal" downloading...I don't think! I said this was a boring subject, and I'm now looking at what I've written! I will end this epistle by not referring to the now rather "stale" subject of Steely Dan!!!

Mike said...

I agree 100%. I can't believe the outrageous ticket prices these days, and the mass fraud which Ticketmaster gets away with endlessly.

We must STOP bringing up Steely Dan every time we post! Instead, let's talk about Donald Fagen's new solo album!!!

A.O.O.F.C said...

Ticket prices are obscene. There is one "band" who are definitely milking it. I'd mention the name but I'm tired talking about Steely Dan. We really should be discussing the "new" album from Donald Fagen, the main man in (cough!)...Steely Dan

Mike said...

I wanted to talk some more about them but I just can't bring myself to. Nope, I'm not going to bring it up. Gotta hold myself back.

I...

can't...

URGH!!!! I CAN'T TAKE THIS ANYMORE!!!!!

SAY IT LOUD AND SAY IT PROUD!

STEELY DAN!
STEELY DAN!
STEELY DAN!
STEELY DAN!
STEELY DAN!
STEELY DAN!
STEELY DAN! OW!
STEELY F'N DAN!

I can't wait for Donald's new solo album. Hmm, lighter in tone than MTC. Not an extension of his Nightfly trilogy. What does it all mean? Who's playing on it? When does it come out? WE NEED ANSWERS!

A.O.O.F.C said...

We've gotta stop the rot now. This is the 23rd or 24th comment now about the band called STEELY F**K ING DAN. I'm now on 50 mg of Diazepam a day. What has all this manure to do with fu**ing Robert Wyatt? Can you answer me that? CAN YOU?! WELL CAN YOU?!!! .....3 nice blue valium....ten minutes later...Yes, Mike. Donald's new album. What an original and interesting subject! One would presume that since the album is not going to be part of some kind of Harry Potter series, we may expect an awe inspiring album from the great man. I would say that the "new one" will make "The Nightfly" sound like "William Shatner Sings Pink Floyd". But to be honest, Mike, I couldn't give a flying F**K. I'm just so happy that my head is now clear of that F***ING B*** A***H*** P*** MOTHERF***ING MR STEELY FU**ING DAN

Mike said...

Awesome. And yet again we've broken the post count for an album all because of, well, you know who.

A.O.O.F.C said...

We're not talking about S***** D**, are we? AAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! (TO BE CONTINUED)!! I was thinking of Gary Katz and the albums he has produced (not including Steely .......It's coming!...Can't help it!.....Too late!........DAN....AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

Mike said...

Diary - Arpil 27th

The day started out fine as usual. I've made the commitment to put my Steely Dan collection aside for awhile. I must confess, I don't know if there will be any long-term consequences of such actions, but I'm willing to give it a shot.

Oh, and I'm putting my Donald Fagen trilogy aside for good measure. Ha ha.

--------------------------
Diary - April 28th

I had a nightmare last night but don't wish to discuss it.

I woke up and had breakfast, took my shower, all the usual business. All except listen to Steely Dan.

Somehow I've worked up a slight headache. Maybe it's from staying up so late sifting through my CD collection looking for something which could replace my beloved Dan. Tough luck.

----------------------------
Diary - April 30

The moth went by fast enough, but these last few days felt like an eternity. Now I'm having more severe headaches and must pass on going out fishing tonight in favor of my bed. So soft and warm.

Had I known how difficult this Steely Dan withdrawl would've been, I probably would've opted to just "give in" to my better self and listen to a little Your Gold Teeth.

Throw out your gold teeth and see how they roll...

----------------------------
Diary - May 1st

Be laying in bed all day scratching myself. I think I'm getting a rash. My vision is bekoming bvlerred. Ow,m y head hurts. So. ,much. Incoherence is a word, or so theyu say. Uuuh.

-----------------------------
Diary - May 2nd

Is blur. Can't figer it out. wats wrong. itz a glamur profess. it itchjes.my headhurt, help. norone bu5t th ejig is up,.

------------------------------
Diary - May 3rd

I itch. i cry. pain. develop. lose connttoorrrooolllll. neeed sleeeeeeeeeeeeeepp[ppppp.
urrrrrgh. blloowejedbwshqcde1mrfe2v/

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi, Eric.

I studied your deranged diary carefully. On first glance, it reads like a cross between Jack Kerouac and James Joyce! Your May 3rd entry reminds me the lyrics from "Negative Girl". I also noticed that you made a garbled reference to "2N/"... It came after the anguished "urrrrrgh". This final SD reference is not unduly worrying me, as it is an obvious sign that your SD obsessive disorder is slowly vacating your tortured psyche. I am happy with your progress. I feel that the time is now approaching when we we will both be rid of this vile and unhealthy ailment Yes, Eric. It seems like only yesterday, we gazed through the glass, etc. But thankfully, that's all in the past. You know I'm right. The spore is on the wind tonight. You won't feel it till it grows. And it is growing! This is most definitely my last reference to...(muffled shriek, in a Cathy Berberianesque mezzo-soprano mode!) the band formerly known as.....sob, wail, ad nauseam...STEELY DAN