VA – MW Pour Robert Wyatt (2001)

Posted by Green on January 8, 2022as

320 | FLAC

From his earliest days with Soft Machine in the late ’60s through his solo and collaborative efforts stretching over 30 years (and counting), Robert Wyatt has remained one of the most idiosyncratic and subtly uncompromising artists in all of pop music. At various stages of his life in the public ear, Wyatt has worn the mantle of proto-psychedelic vocalist, jazz-rock drummer, sonic experimentalist, ambient keyboardist, and activist for progressive political and human/animal rights causes. And, of course, he is a very fine singer/songwriter. When performing his own material, Wyatt’s voice and delivery are vulnerable and offhanded, while his words and imagery possess their own sometimes peculiar power. With Wyatt himself creating such an indelible impression, it’s sometimes easy to gloss over how great his songs are. So perhaps the enduring qualities of Wyatt songs are best illustrated when others reinterpret them, as on the Italian The Different You various-artists compilation from 1999, Annie Whitehead’s Soupsongs Live project recorded live in 1999, and 2001’s MW Pour Robert Wyatt. Released on the French InPolySans label, MW Pour Robert Wyatt combines material from two CDs previously packaged with the books M2W and MW3, which contained color prints by Jean-Michel Marchetti along with Wyatt song lyrics translated into French by Marchetti. Sold separately from the books, MW Pour Robert Wyatt features 18 Wyatt songs (originally on the MW3 CD) representing all the major phases of his career, performed mainly by French artists. And Wyatt himself appears in several spoken word interludes (previously on the M2W CD), including readings of his lyrics for “Blues in Bob Minor” from 1997’s wonderful Shleep, a highlight in the Wyatt discography, and “The British Road” from 1985’s Old Rottenhat. As one might expect, Wyatt’s readings are disarmingly informal and intimate, and when flubs occur they just seem a natural part of the Wyatt charm. As for the 18 musical tracks, they are all over the map, with the best ones reflecting Wyatt’s own restlessly experimental spirit. “Caroline,” by Dominique Fellmann and Julien Goetz, begins as a fairly straight reading of the Matching Mole classic before an onslaught of fuzz bass, electronic beats, and repeating vocal snippets (including a recitation of “A Concise British Alphabet” from Soft Machine’s Volume Two) completely disrupt the song. “Heli Plop,” by Alain de Filippis, is structured as a four-minute journey through Wyatt musical highlights, incorporating samples from both Soft Machine and his solo work; it’s successful both as a nostalgic look back and a thoroughly up-to-date example of avant-garde sound collage techniques. Scattered through the experimental tracks are more straightforward readings of Wyatt tunes. L’Ensemble Rayé approaches “Left on Man” (from Dondestan) as Phil Manzanera might, with overlays of treated guitars strumming and gliding above a cruising rhythmic vamp that recalls “Solar Flares” from Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard. “Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road” (from Rock Bottom), performed by programmer Jo Bogaert and vocalist/organist An Pierlé, features not only wonderful singing from Pierlé but also saxophone embellishments from John Snauwaert that recall the Soft Machine days of both Elton Dean and Karl Jenkins. Not everything works: “Sea Song” (also from Rock Bottom) is given a rinky-dink, nearly lo-fi instrumental treatment by Klimperei that eliminates the original’s strange beauty and otherworldliness, not to mention its dramatically building coda. Nonetheless, MW Pour Robert Wyatt is a worthwhile compilation of Wyatt songs, often capturing something of his essence no matter how far the pieces are twisted out of their original shapes. Wyatt fans and newcomers alike should find much to enjoy in this compilation — and proceeds from CD sales go to Penal Reform International, an organization working to improve prison conditions. Very commendable, and very much in the spirit of Robert Wyatt.

Tracks

1 Robert Wyatt– Some “Words” Of Introduction 0:13
2 Toupidek Limonade– P.L.A. 1:41
3 Jean-Marc Montera, Elio Martusciello, Fabiana-Yvonne Lugli-Martinez– Toledo Texas 3:54
4 Look De Bouk– En Dondekistan 3:29
5 Klimperei– Sea Song 3:15
6 Dominique Répécaud– Born Again Cretin 4:24
7 Jagger Naut– Little Red Riding Hood Hit The Road 4:24
8 Richard Robert & Gilles Tordjman– Alifib 3:00
9 Dominique Grimaud– To The Old World 1:57
10 L’Ensemble Rayé– Left On Man 3:54
11 Kafka– Robert Et André 3:54
12 Jo Bogaert & An Pierlé– Little Red Riding Hood Hit The Road 6:21
13 Dominique Fellmann & Julien Goetz– Caroline 4:36
14 Robert Wyatt– Blues In Bob Minor 3:14
15 Robert Wyatt & Philippe Fretun– The British Road 1:05
16 Philippe Fretun & Michel Benita– Mass Medium 2:14
17 Pascal Comelade– Alifib 1:25
18 Alain De Filippis– Heli Plop 4:08
19 Jean-François Pauvros– Toledo Texas 1:36
20 Jean-Marc Montera, Chris Cutler, Jean-François Pauvros & Tony Buck– For R.W. 5:09
21 Jean-Michel Marchetti– Alifib (Le Piano De La Rue Vergennes) 2:13
22 Robert Wyatt– Some “Words” Of Conclusion 2:44

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