18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Robert Wyatt - Misses the charts but hits the mark.,
This review is from: Greatest Misses (Audio CD)
It speaks volumes about the career of Robert Wyatt that the only other Amazon review thus far of this excellent introduction to the work of one of our finest and most original singer songwriters centres on the fact that a fellow countryman is a bit annoyed about the case and insert of this album. Just a thought but rather than land this majestic music with a single star perhaps he could print off the Amazon list of songs for reference? By the way the language on the album cover is Japanese.
Wyatt's career spans four decades and includes numerous albums and collaborations. It can be daunting as you approach the starting gate and this re-release by Domino is to much welcomed as a entry point to the works of the great man. As for the music Wyatt's wispy and wistful singing is here in all its glory as are some of his greatest songs. His ability since the days of Soft Machine to be transcend the musical boundaries of jazz, soul and incorporate avant-garde impulses is amply represented by the song choices on "Greatest Misses". However as other reviewers beyond Amazon have noted Wyatt of course is being slightly disingenuous since two of the songs here were in fact "hits". His brilliant "English" cover of Neil Diamond's "Im a believer" sung in his Kent accent still sounds as fresh to today as when he performed it on Top of the Pops and amazingly gathered complaints form some Neanderthal viewers because he performed it in his wheelchair. And then of course there is his truly epic cover of Elvis Costello's "Shipbuilding" released at the height of the flag waving zenith of the Falklands War campaign which Wyatt makes his own infusing it with his own special passion and strained regret. It is one of the most powerful anti war songs ever recorded and frankly one of the most powerful songs recorded full stop. It was only beaten to the top spot in John Peel's Festive 50 in 1982 by New Order's "Temptation". With hindsight I'm sure that Bernard and Hooky would accept that Wyatt should have held the crown.
Other highlights include "At last I am free" a song derived from the greatest disco band to "tread the boards" namely Chic, the eerie "Sea Song" which was later covered by Tears for Fears and the Spanish language `Arauco', which charts all the indigenous cultures in Chile that were eradicated by European invaders. Wyatt of course never hid his Marxist beliefs or seemed particularly worried about stirring controversy and this approach also defines his music. Thus quite what musical genre you place "Little Red Robin On The Road', that teams him up with that other great English eccentric Ivor Cutler on harmonium and is underpinned by patois singing is a bit of mystery. But that is the joy of Robert Wyatt and if all "His Greatest Misses" does is lead you on the winding trail of the musical journey of Robert Wyatt-Ellidge and deposit's you in his 2003 masterpiece "Cuckooland" it will have ably done its work. In short this is a great introduction to an artist who we should all embrace and cherish.