Robert Wyatt's first solo album, recorded immediately before or more likely immediately after he left Soft Machine. It too is the first RIO album. RIO? Rock in opposition, a small but distinction group of musicians who do anti-rock - but when did you last read about RIO in the media? The best known RIO bands are Henry Cow and Univers Zero; plus other artists who record for Cuneiform and RER.
It is a difficult album but rewarding if you listen with open ears. It is experimental, and nothing Wyatt recorded before this will prepare you for its radical differences, (although the subsequent release, Matching Mole album "Radio One In Concert" has more free improv cum avante jazz - can you imagine Radio One being so outrageous nowadays?). The album inpart is collage of sound samples: samples of drumming, keyboards and Wyatt's mates friends coming in to lay down sax or other snatches of instrumentation. And over most the album is Robert's wordless vocals, primitively (by today's standards) treated to give this weird but interesting series of sound tracks.
Most of the tunes are dedicated to 'Canterbury' friends (e.g Caravan) and it is fun try to work who he is refering to. There is a future and distant echo to 'End of an Ear' in the form of Hugh Hopper's 2003 release 'Jazzloops'.
If you want a challenging night in, gathered around the CD player, and you could do no better than play this album and Hugh Hopper's '1984' back to back.
(Did you know: for the single 'Kiss', Tom Jones/Art Of Noise sampled Steeley Dan's drum track from 'Do It Again' - but if you go further and check out the extended mix version, you will find Steeley Dan gives way to a Wyatt drum track lifted from this album).