As the presenter of a regular music podcast for a national newspaper, I used to be in the happy position of interviewing one or two artists of my choice per month, provided they were signed to an independent label. So when Domino released a Robert Wyatt box set in 2008, I spent a glorious afternoon with Robert and his wife and creative partner Alfie, in their Lincolnshire garden. I enjoyed myself so much, in fact, that I set out to find an excuse to do it again.
Different Every Time, my authorised biography of Robert Wyatt, didn’t take me all those six years to write, although it has certainly taken a while longer than I, or my publisher, expected. (I recently showed up 15 minutes late to a meeting at the Serpent’s Tail office. "Don’t worry," said my editor, "the manuscript was three years late.") But the first copies have, now, arrived. And Domino are releasing an accompanying compilation album: one disc of "greatest misses", largely dating from after Soft Machine and entitled ex machina, and one of Robert’s finest guest appearances, called "benign dictatorships".