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Spinal Tap-esque in title alone,
This review is from: Rock Bottom (Audio CD)
This reviewer has a confession to make. When he was about fourteen years old -in 1975 as it happens- this album was one of the most frightening things in his relatively limited musical world. Why was this? Because it sounded like nothing else, and it's a tribute to Wyatt that it still doesn't, not even some other Robert Wyatt album.
Lyrically the themes are all over the place, or perhaps merely occupants of unique places. It's still difficult to decide which, which of course makes every listen as intriguing as the last.
Wyatt roped in as eclectic a bunch of session people as you could conceive of too. This accounts for why Mongezi Feza's delirious trumpet is all over "Little Red Riding Hood Hit The Road" even though Ivor Cutler's recitation, at one and the same time strident and measured as it refers to lying in the road trying to trip up the passing cars, sounds like the contribution of a man who just happened to wander into the studio with a text in his hand. It all makes for something else anyway.
"Alifib" is something else again. Wyatt's keyboards are accompanied only by Hugh Hopper's bass guitar and the meditative air the two men conjure up is the combined effort of a duo with their eyes on some rarefied imperatives. Then Wyatt tops it off with nonsensical lyrics which are partly a paean to his partner Alfreda.
Gary Windo, the man with the tenor sax tone you could strip paint with, is on the following "Alife" on both that horn and bass clarinet. On both of them he scrabbles away at the margins of a song in which Wyatt again exhibits lyrical concerns outside of coherence.
"Little Red Robin Hood Hit The Road" is measured and intense, all at once. Cutler's back on it, this time with his baritone concertina in tandem with Fred Frith's violin. His recitation is disorientating enough in itself, but his cackle at the end suggests the whole thing has been some kind of absurdist prank when what the album is in reality is a work so free of influence that it joins that limited rank of `rock records' that simply has to be dealt with on its own terms, or not at all.