Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Nothing Can Stop Us
Genres: Pop, Rock
Founding member of art rock group Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt, helped set the tone of the sixties psychedelic scene in the UK. With his distinctive drumming and vocals, Wyatt attracted a massive following across Europe. An... more »
Founding member of art rock group Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt, helped set the tone of the sixties psychedelic scene in the UK. With his distinctive drumming and vocals, Wyatt attracted a massive following across Europe. An accident in 1973 left the drummer paralyzed forcing him to shift efforts on solo recordings. His distinct style of mixing simple and effective keyboard melody lines with poignant lyrics, often filled with personal and political references, have proved both haunting and reflective. Rykodisc is proud to introduce you to 4 re-mastered Wyatt classics - Old Rottenhat, Nothing Can Stop Us, Dondestan (Revisited), Shleep.
The Worker's Lament
R. J MOSS | Alice Springs, Australia | 10/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wyatt was a peripheral interest for me, mostly post 'Soft Machine', with 'Matching Mole', 'Rock Bottom' & 'Ruth is Stranger Than Fiction'. The cover art on these unpretentious albums unobstrusively indicated a subtle sensibility. Though each of these outings has its merits, and Wyatt's continuing catalogue has given me sporadic joys, 'Nothing Can Stop Us Now' has been my absolute, compulsive favourite.Yes, even its avowed anarchism is not prosyletizing.(The cover notes inform us from some quip from a Yankee breast-beater in the 1930s, that the USA will not make the British mistake of trying to impose its order on the world, but merely own it..'nothing can stop us now'). Though this disc was assembled from singles, the sum of the parts make an eclectic satisfying whole.'Shipbuilding', author Costello in tow, receives its definitive reading. Awesome at the time of the Faulkland's fiasco, it has lost none of its clout. Peter Blackman's eloquent narration of his'Stalingrad' is moving. 'Strange Fruit' is delivered with such unnerving, piercing force, the image rides before my eyes with subdued horror.'At Last I am Free,' is sung with appropriate liberation, Wyatt's quivering voice, aching into melancholy. And 'Trade Union' with an ensemble called Disharhi adding to the universality of Wyatt's worker's ethic, uniting his sympathies with other ethnicities. It's brave stuff, stirring stuff, and though I'm not even a card-holding member of a political club, I hold a candle for Wyatt's music."
Uneven but still worthwhile
Steve Peters | Seattle, WA | 07/26/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In the midst of the darkness of the Reagan/Thatcher years, Wyatt emerged from a long silence with a series of 45s on Rough Trade - mostly covers of popular songs from various traditions and eras, many overtly political, others less obviously so. Gathered together on this release, they make for a thematically coherent if somewhat musically inconsistent collection. The first half of the CD is the A-sides, the second half the B-sides (here grouped together as they were originally released):
"Born Again Cretin" is the only original here, notable for its quirky layered vocal arrangement and scathing sarcasm ("at least I won't be shot for singing...this must be freedom, I must be happy"). It was backed by "Red Flag", a CP anthem surprisingly set to the tune of "O, Christmas Tree." Given a very minimal keyboard arrangement, it's strangely poignant.
"At Last I Am Free" is cover of a heartbreakingly beautiful song about love and disillusionment by the disco group Chic. It was paired with the classic anti-lynching ballad "Strange Fruit", which was pretty much owned by Billie Holiday and later Nina Simone. Wyatt bravely takes it on, imbuing it with a sadness that is incredibly moving. This was certainly the strongest of the original singles.
"Grass" is by the nutty Scots poet Ivor Cutler, who appeared on Wyatt's Rock Bottom album. Backed by droning Bengali shanai and drums, Wyatt transforms an absurd, whimsical ditty into a political argument: "While we talk I'll hit your head with a nail to make you understand me..." The B-side was given over to the Indian backing musicians, who perform a tune called "Trade Union".
"Stalin Wasn't Stallin'" was originally recorded by the great Golden Gate Quartet in 1942. It's hard to imagine this rousing bit of pro-Stalin propaganda ever being released in the US, let alone by a black gospel group, but Russia and the US were then allied against Hitler. I doubt Wyatt is cheerleading for Stalinism here; it's more like a compact history lesson. True to the original, Wyatt does it a capella, complete with vocal "percussion". Its companion track is poet Peter Blackman reading his own "Stalingrad", a stirring ode to the heroic tenacity of the Russians during the long siege. It's a hefty dose of romantic Soviet nostalgia, but inspirational all the same.
"Caimanera" is a version of "Guantanamera", the famous Cuban pop song appropriated as a nationalist/anti-imperialist anthem. It was paired with "Arauco", composed by the great Chilean folk and protest singer Violeta Parra. Along with the two non-Wyatt tracks, these two are perhaps the weakest links here, but make sense given Wyatt's own history of singing in Spanish, and especially in light of what was happening in Latin America in the 80s.
While this is perhaps not the best place to begin with Wyatt (that would be Rock Bottom), at least half of the tunes are winners, which is enough to make it worth having. Set aside your preconceptions about Wyatt's politics and listen to it as a profoundly humanitarian statement by a singular artist.
Note: When Rough Trade reissued the LP, they tacked on the songs from the "Shipbuilding" EP, which consisted of the absolutely essential title song (written for Wyatt by Elvis Costello) and a couple of so-so covers of jazz standards ("Round Midnight" and "Memories of You"). These are apparently NOT included on any of the recent CD reissues of Nothing Can Stop Us. However, they did get on the Compilation CD, a two-for-one released by Gramavision that combines Nothing Can Stop Us (minus the two non-Wyatt tracks) with Old Rottenhat (minus two songs). Happy hunting."
At last (least) it's been rereleased
John Warren | Maplewood, New Jersey United States | 02/17/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"If you're new to Robert Wyatt, don't start here. This uneven collection of singles for Rought Trade in the early 1980s has a few gems and a lot of chaff. My favorite, "At Last I Am Free," makes me cry just thinking about it. I have the LP just to play that song. "Born Again Cretin" has the trademark Wyatt whimsy and "Stalin Wasn't Stallin'" is one of the tastier servings of the old Commie's anachronistic politics. Most of the rest are forgettable. But, like all Wyatt releases, even the less successful numbers have his twinkling sincerity ("Caimanera," for example)."