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Different Every Time: The Authorised Biography of Robert Wyatt Hardcover – 30 Oct 2014

4.6 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (30 Oct. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846687594
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846687594
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4.1 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 225,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


The most eloquently lackadaisical of jazz-loving English troubadours (Guardian)

If you don't believe avant-garde political music can be both playful and polemical, heartfelt and heartbreaking, you need Robert Wyatt in your life (NME)

A highly idiosyncratic and intuitively melodic maverick (BBC Music)

Robert Wyatt is one of the greats of English music (Geoff Travis, Rough Trade 2014-06-08)

An uplifting, inspiring book ... compelling and entertaining (Mike Barnes Mojo 2014-12-01)

I loved Different Every Time ... a great biography and a terrific book (Jason Toynbee Senior Lecturer, The Open University)

English music has produced some fascinating personalities, but few are as unusual as Robert Wyatt. This excellent book captures his gentle, generous and intelligent personality, and is incidentally a very good history of the music scene in England from the sixties onwards. (Brian Eno 2014-08-19)

Wonderful and a huge pleasure to read ... Brilliantly researched and well told. Marcus O'Dair has written the book that Robert and Alfie deserve and I can't give higher praise than that. (Jez Nelson Presenter and Producer, BBC Radio 3 2014-10-22)

An informative biography ... makes thrilling reading. (Mark Hudson Daily Telegraph 2014-11-15)

A fascinating biography (Jeremy Harding London Review of Books 2014-11-20)

Meticulously researched [#2 in Uncut's Books of the Year 2014] (Uncut 2015-01-01)

The strange, varied and very English career of Robert Wyatt is done full justice in this authorised life. ... Wyatt is still one of the most genial rockers we have ... O'Dair gives a fine sense of Wyatt's personal and musical evolution. (Louis Wise Sunday Times 2014-11-30)

Different Every Time is a wonderful read. It's brilliantly researched, comprehensive and written with love and compassion.

Wyatt really makes his fans feel and think about the world we're in, not just through his music but through what he says. I learned so much more about Robert Wyatt from reading this book, and it has informed my understanding of his life and music greatly. It is a generous book in the same way that Wyatt is a truly generous and thoughtful person.

(Alexis Taylor, Hot Chip 2014-12-01)

I loved this book. Beautifully structured and narrated ... Wonderful. (Gideon Coe 2014-12-18)

A fascinating portrait of a musician who became a national treasure by remaining gloriously out of step with the world around him. (Alastair Mabbott Herald 2014-12-14)

Wyatt is an English pop maverick ... O'Dair relates these latter years with insight and flair. His prose style rarely attracts attention to itself, but he proves a shrewd music critic, diligent researcher and sensitive interviewer, eliciting hours of unguarded testimony from Wyatt and his collaborators. The reader is left with the sense of having borne witness to an extraordinary life. (Peter Murphy Irish Times 2014-12-13)

Different Every Time renders all other Wyatt books unnecessary (Wesley Stace TLS 2014-12-12)

Robert Wyatt's story is a kind of alternative cultural and political history of modern Britain, one of freewheeling experimentation, fun, dissent, laughter and conviction. Marcus O'Dair's wonderfully warm but incisive book gives the great man the biography he deserves. (Stuart Maconie 2014-12-19)

Exceedingly well written ... an honest determination to get under the skin of his subject ... without dodging awkward facts (Morning Star)

From the viewing point of Britain in 2015, Robert Wyatt looks as intriguing as he is needed. A quintessentially English creativity with an Internationalist outlook, always manifested with a soulful feel that makes his writing and performance one of the high marks in individual human expression. (Gilles Peterson Via the author 2015-02-26)

This book made me aware of tracks by Robert Wyatt that I'd never heard before and are now some of my all-time favourites. How often can you say that about a book? Ideal for both mega-fans and absolute beginners. (Jarvis Cocker 2015-04-15)

An extremely well-written and well-researched book on the genius that is Robert Wyatt and would be appreciated by any serious music fan. (AllAboutJazz 2015-03-18)

Book Description

The first and definitive biography of Robert Wyatt, Britain's greatest cult musician, with an introduction by Jonathan Coe

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Have just received the much anticipated authorised biography of Robert Wyatt by Marcus O'Dair. The intro by Jonathan Coe contains the following line which just says so much about the music scene in the 70s and even more today; "He (Robert Wyatt - my parentheses) once said something to the effect that he had no objection to songs not making sense, because when songs do make sense, more often than not he doesn't like the sense that they make." Whilst I sadly don't recollect meeting Robert Wyatt (it was the 70s) I did have the great good fortune to work with a goodly number of the musicians with whom he worked: Daevid Allen also from Soft Machine and Gong (who have just released a new album), Gilli Smyth, Henry Cow, the late Gary Windo (his wife Pam also has a book out: ), Lol Coxhill (RIP comerade Lol), Giorgio Gomelsky and many others. This is the book that I have been waiting for and has brought back to life for me a most important and influential period in my life. Different Every Time is what a musical biography should be. Kudos to the author, the editor and thank you to Robert Wyatt for being a truly inspirational musician and artist for many generations.

The book is beautifully produced and has a fantastically comprehensive index (thank you).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a friendly, warm, warts an all look at a true maverick. What a life. And what a well written book that captures it. Be warned though, if you only knew a little bit about, or had only heard some Soft Machine / Robert Wyatt, this book makes such vivid and compelling cases for the music, it will cost you a fortune buying the back catalogue. Luckily it's a case of brilliant book and brilliant music, and once discovered, you won't ever forget the man or the music.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The concept of the 'Rock Biography' is a frequently risible notion. More often than not, they're undisguised hagiographies, massively over-inflating the importance of any given artist, a puff piece to placate precious egos. Worse still is the 'scissors and paste' book, cobbled together from old articles and rubbish from the internet. Which makes this thoroughly researched, beautifully written and sensitively considered biography of Robert Wyatt by Marcus O'Dair a brilliant piece of work, never falling into slavish obsequiousness to the subject, highlighting the frequent contradictions at the heart of Wyatt's character, and is full in its praise of Wyatt's many achievements and idiosyncratic talent. It also neatly divides his story into two discreet sections - pre-accident Wyatt (Wilde Flowers, Soft Machine, Matching Mole) and post-accident (Solo albums like Rock Bottom, Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard, Nothing Can Stop Us) , and highlights the challenges Wyatt (and his wife Alfie) faced with his paraplegia, from the mid-seventies when the rights of the disabled simply didn't exist in the way that they now do. It also discusses Wyatt's devotion to the Communist Party of Great Britain, in the teeth of the general discrediting of Left wing politics in the 1980s. Wyatt comes across as a multi-faceted character, possessed of an enquiring mind and a feeling for the dispossessed and voiceless. If that all sounds very worthy, let me disabuse you of the notion. O'Dair places Wyatt in contemporary music as a genuine original, not without his faults, but a genuine survivor, and a link, if you will, from the British Psychedelic rock of the 1960s and the more politically-informed music of the 1980s.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
A tremendously vivid and expressive biography. Almost romantic in its style and prose.Always enjoyed Robert Wyatt as a musician and poet. The book goes into many aspects of his life and lifestyle, thoughts, and memories from a life which has been both fraught and magical. A beautiful hommage to a beautiful soul. I have only one disappointment and that is that there are no colour photographs, which is, perhaps, a deliberate omission...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I will beg to differ with Ogg Ogilby's opinion here. The book is not a complete hagiography, but the biographer clearly hopes to maintain a cordial association with his subject, and the result is a biography that is a little too anodyne. Unhappy details are not avoided but the necessary critical opinions and conclusions that better biographies contain is missing. THis is the problem of writing about a living subject - it is not just he publisher's fear of the lawyer's letter - it is more the author's fear of bumping into the subject (or more uncomfortably for him, Alfie) at a party after publication! For me, O'Dair's musical research is meticulous and he has many willing witnesses all happy to talk with great affection about Robert - (all of whom very also likely will bump into Robert at parties!). Where the book comes up short is the author's underlying insight and analysis of the facts he is presenting; for instance he occasionally offers opinions of the music itself (from good to brilliant usually) , but not the musician and his musicianship. Robert has perhaps the thinnest most untrained singing voice in all music, and the voice for good or ill is placed on a throne of brilliance throughout. Should it not be at least discussed whether Robert's refusal to ever challenge and push his voice harder, might have added another hue or dimension to his output? Perhaps he did, and the results were unsatisfactory, but we will never know. Too often the book falls back into a mere chronicle of events. Wyatt himself states that politics is now more important to him than music, yet for both these pillars of his life he simply states his mantras, when probing and discussion would compel him to articulate them with more passion, depth and clarity.Read more ›
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