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Short cuts

A Robert Wyatt collection and a Velvet Underground anniversary edition.

Robert Wyatt, coverRobert Wyatt is an uncommon example of a musician who knows when to quit, despite being someone who could probably proceed admirably well into his dotage. His lengthy career has been well covered in Marcus O’Dair’s recent biography, Different Every Time. The accompanying O’Dair-assembled double album devotes a disc to Wyatt’s collaborations with the likes of Björk, Hot Chip, John Cage and Phil Manzanera, while attempting to condense almost a half century of atypical music into far too small a space on the other.

Given Wyatt’s singular cooing voice, Kent accent and penchant for slyly punning wordplay and tender silliness, his legacy stands alone. His presence has been far more keenly felt and appreciated among his fellow musicians than the wider public, and that’s unlikely to change, even with this compelling collection. He’s probably best known for Shipbuilding, the song Elvis Costello wrote for him during the Falklands War, and those in search of the spirit of Chic should check out his cover of At Last I Am Free – it simply doesn’t get any better.

DIFFERENT EVERY TIME, Robert Wyatt (Domino)

Velvet Underground, coverAlthough there’s probably no real need for any more Velvet Underground reissues or freshly unearthed material, it’s hard to find too much at fault with the 45th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of their eponymous 1968 third album. Disc one features the original Val Valentin mixes of classics such as Pale Blue Eyes and What Goes On, all of which are far more appealing than Lou Reed’s own ego-fuelled guitar and vocal-heavy versions. With five previously unreleased recordings, including Over You and a languid, bluesy take on I’m Waiting for the Man, the accompanying live disc recorded during their stint as residents at San Francisco’s The Matrix is a worthwhile document of the post-John Cale incarnation of this ruthlessly copied outfit.


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