Author:Robert Wyatt & Alfie Benge
I first heard Robert Wyatt on John Peel’s show in the mid seventies, and I was sufficiently intrigued to invest my limited cash in the albums Rock Bottom and Ruth is Stranger than Richard. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of them as they were quite unlike anything I’d heard before, a strange otherworldly voice set against an equally off kilter backing, with an overwhelming air of melancholy pervading proceedings. Fast-forward to 1982, and Wyatt’s wife and manager, the artist Alfie Benge, began writing lyrics for him to compose around, having already designed most of his album covers. Their ongoing partnership is explored in this collection of lyrics, which is divided into two parts, the first devoted to Wyatt’s lyrics, the second to Benge’s. The book is also dotted with drawings and doodles, but the most illuminating parts are where Benge elaborates on her songs. The book begins with a heartfelt introduction by Jarvis Cocker, before Wyatt and Benge add their own thoughts. Not every lyric works in this format, minus the accompanying music we’ve become accustomed to, and Wyatt’s lyrical style, part conversational, part political, part made up language in the vein of Lear or Carroll, can be hard to get a grip on at times. However, reading through these verses did inspire me to revisit Wyatt’s albums for the first time in many years, and that can only be a good thing. By the way, Robert’s excellent career spanning compilation, The Greatest Misses, is being reissued to tie in with this – a first class introduction to his work.
Length of Read:Short
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
His albums, Soft Machine.
One thing you’ve learned
Not everyone is a fan of this format of book I know, but I think they’re great to have on hand to dip into as and when the mood takes you – and they look great on the bookcase too!