Speakers Push Air

December 15, 2007, 7:26 pm
Filed under: 2007 Top 20

I can’t bang on about how good it was seeing Robert Wyatt play live this year because (the odd cameo aside) he doesn’t. But I did get to see him in conversation on the South Bank a few weeks ago, and that was a brilliant experience (he also explained how to deal with the fact of him not playing live: “Just pretend that I’m dead.. that way, the new albums are more surprising as well”). By the end of the couple of hours in his company, I didn’t know whether I wanted to hug him, elect him or invite him home for dinner. A more charming, diffident, honest, caring man you couldn’t hope to come across.

He’s had a rough time of late, it seems – come to terms with his alcoholism and its effect on his relationship; watched more national and international events that would trouble him deeply… And, being as open as usual, it’s all on the album somewhere.

Comicopera is my favourite of the handful of albums that have come out in this kind of renaissance period (after Shleep and Cuckooland). It’s got the usual suspects – Eno, Weller, Atzmon – and the same mixture of jazz, latin, ballads and that voice, which even now sounds shocking in its vulnerability. I won’t go into the triptych format of the album because it’s been covered so much elsewhere (somehow Wyatt got more press than ever this year, and it got to the point that I knew what questions the journo were going to ask, so god knows how he felt) so I’ll just post a song – the heartbreakingly honest one written with his partner about their troubled relationship – and encourage you to listen to the album.

Robert Wyatt – Just As You Are
from the album Comicopera (Domino)

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