Reviewed by Chris Sherman (Sky Picnic)
Earlier this fall saw the release of Canterbury prog rock legend Robert Wyatt’s album ’68, a series of demos and previously thought lost recordings he made (mostly) solo in the fall of 1968 in America. This of course occurred after the Soft Machine toured as openers for the Jimi Hendrix Experience and briefly disbanded (re-uniting early in 1969 Kevin Ayers-less). Wyatt spent this alone time getting these songs committed to tape.
As with all archival releases, there tends to be some unpolished portions and a slightly rougher sound, but really, that is part of the charm; albums as such are what keeps the thirst us hardcore fans have for alternate takes and demos satiated. What we have on this album shows just how talented the multi-instrumental Wyatt was. To me, he was the Soft Machine, and upon leaving the group, their subsequent output was spotty at most. In all honesty, one could even argue this change happened around the time of their masterpiece double LP Third, as by 1971’s Fourth, Robert was no longer singing nor composing for the Softs. But that’s a discussion for another time…
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