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'68

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 8, 2013
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Editorial Reviews

For over 45 years, Robert Wyatt has been a major, creative force in music, having had a major impact on the beginnings of both psychedelic rock and jazz/rock in the UK with Soft Machine, to his eventual long solo career as a unique singer/songwriter.
In September, 1968, the Soft Machine had just finished their second, exhaustive tour of the USA supporting the Jimi Hendrix Experience. At the conclusion of the tour, vocalist/drummer/multi-instrumentalist Robert stayed, working on recordings in Hollywood and New York City.
Upon Robert's return to England to re-start the Soft Machine in December, 1968, these documents lay forgotten. Two of them were eventually found and issued, but half of these recordings were unreleased and thought lost forever...
Now, for the first time, all four of the recordings Robert made in '68 are collected together and released!
This release is fully authorized by Robert and the liners include an in-depth interview with him about his recollections of this period of his work and life.
Two of the demos are shorter songs and two are side-long tracks; both side-long tracks were later re-recorded by the Soft Machine, one on 'Volume II' (1969) and one on 'Third' (1970). These tracks serve as a template for the post-psychedelic Soft Machine's career as founders of European jazz/rock and the entire release is a precursor to Robert's post-band, solo career.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Chelsa
  2. Rivmic Melodies
  3. Slow Walkin' Talk
  4. Moon In June


Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 8, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: CUNEIFORM
  • ASIN: B00EI63LJY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,425 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I would like to give this five stars, but there's a catch. I'll get to that later. First off, these four tracks and extensive interviews give us fans an illuminating insight as to Robert Wyatt's inner thoughts as of 1968. You really get a feeling of this man's sensitivity and appreciation of others. Second, a fan of Soft Machine will hear elements that are found on lots of early releases: the first three SM albums, the demo "Jet Propelled Photograph" tapes, End of an Ear, Matching Mole's first LP, as well as Ruth is Stranger Than Richard - all within just four tracks. It's amazing how much of Wyatt's early works can heard, in different forms, on this CD. Also, these tracks were clearly not meant for release (at least not in the the late 60's or 70s). Therefore it is a treat to hear Wyatt go off on his own tangents with no regard for commercial return. So why only four stars? I suspected that the Moon in June track would be the same track as the MIJ on Backwards (2002), only maybe it would have just Wyatt on the second half of the piece, without Ratledge and Hopper. It actually is the same track, only maybe cleaned up a bit, to my ears. But despite that dissappointment, I'm really happy with this new offering. Thank you Cuneiform.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I'm not of the "Robert Wyatt Only" school of Soft Machine nuts: just the Soft Machine school of nuts. My opinion is that 4 is their best effort (if you can overlook the lack of vocals, which I can). That being said, I'm pretty convinced with everything connected to Soft Machine from at least albums 1 through 5. On this disk, Robert autocomposes some Soft Machine favorites, like Moon in June and A Concise English Alphabet. In the liner notes, he muses on how he did this without the benefit of a piano, then hit the studio with well-realized piano arrangement. Well, it was the sixties, after all.
This fits nicely with the first three SM releases, at least. When you combine these with Kevin Ayers, "Joy of a Toy", Matching Mole's first and Wyatt's first solo album, the BBC recordings and maybe, "Noisette", you really have a nice bunch of music to wade in.
To my ears, Wyatt's singing recalls Skip Spence's "Oar". The voice and phrasing are similarly sibilant and humorous. Wyatt is much more sophisticated, I guess you could say - but "It's all good" you know.
In a way, this is a release I have been waiting 46 years for - the logical extension to the first Soft Machine album. I listened to it all day when I got it and felt perfectly satisfied throughout. Fantastic!
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Format: Audio CD
I've been watching a lot of "unofficial" clips of Soft Machine on Y**T*** recently, and despite the technical brilliance of later incarnations, the real heart and soul of the band is the trio line-up from 1968-69 of Robert Wyatt, Mike Ratledge and Hugh Hopper (who replaced Kevin Ayers after the first, self-titled album).

In particular, there's a wonderful French TV recording from 1968 (featuring tracks from The Soft Machine - Volume One), and a staggering Belgian TV clip (featuring "Moon in June" from Third) recorded in 1969. Those live TV recordings may not always be 100% "polished", but they still sound astonishing after all these years.

So, this archive release of Robert Wyatt's solo work in progress recorded when the band were "resting" between albums, is a fascinating insight into the band's transition from the psychedelic improvisation of Volume 2 to the jazz fusion of Third and Fourth, long before it got too jazzist and too rockist for its own good.... Probably one for the fans only, but worth taking the plunge if you need some inspiration.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Turns out the demos for "Rivmic Melodies" and "Moon in June" are nearly as musically compelling as the Soft MAchine versions, and if anything even more charming. Great to have this distinctive early work of a uniquely talented musician.
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Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
Great, mostly demo-level examples of Wyatt's creative genius in bloom. Moon In June is quite similar to the version on Third, at least when it comes to the second half featuring Hopper and Ratledge; the first section features a goofier take on the lyrics, but that is not unusual; not sure he ever sang the same lyrics twice.
Hendrix plays a nice bit of bass on Slow Walkin' Talk, but it's not earthshaking. A nice artifact.
The pressing has a LOT of surface noise, not unusual for white vinyl but disappointing. As this is most likely for Wyatt collectors, you may not mind.
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