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Robert Wyatt – Rock Bottom (1974)

January 23, 2019

[Album 632/1001]

“I don’t even know what this is! This sort of thing ain’t my bag, baby!”
– Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Now it’s probably been a good 15 years or more since I’ve seen the first Austin Powers.

If memory serves correctly, I’m fairly certain Austin wasn’t describing a Robert Wyatt album in the quote above.

But 15 years ago, I likely would have had a similar reaction to Rock Bottom.

Art Rock?

What is this?

Why aren’t there more guitars?

Is he singing from a bathtub on the second song?

What’s the deal with the noisy horns on the third track?

Why does all of this remind me of Kid A, that bizarre Radiohead album?

No sir, this sort of thing ain’t my bag at all.




A decade and a half ago, if an album reminded me of Kid A, that wouldn’t be high praise.

But now, I’m pleased to report that I’ve changed my tune: that sort of comparison has become among the highest praise that can be bestowed on an album!rwrockbottom

Like a fussy eater who starts to enjoy food without excessive ketchup, I’m learning that music doesn’t always need to have guitars front & center in the mix.

A Last Straw‘s bathtub-esque vocals? Bring ’em on!

Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road‘s noisy horns? To quote Public Enemy & Anthrax, Bring the Noise!

Even if I’m still not quite sure what it is, it appears that Art Rock, at least when performed by Robert Wyatt, is my bag.





Verbalize the Positive

I have yet to hear his 1997 album Shleep – but I think it’s terrific that he has 2 albums on the list & their release dates are 23 years apart.

From → 1970s

  1. wdeod permalink

    Sea Song is fantastic.

  2. I like this one. The followup, Ruth is Stranger than Richard, has always been a pretty difficult album for me – it’s a lot more experimental.

    • And this one I don’t think would be considered playing it safe! So if the other’s that much more experimental, I may need to build up to it

  3. I don’t need guitars but I still can’t get into Radiohead.

    • I live for mid-90s Radiohead! Though it took me a long time to warm up to the 21st century stuff

  4. Your mellowing out Old Man! hahaha

  5. Geoff, this post gave me so much pleasure there may (or may not) have been a spot of moisture at the corner of my left eye.
    Sitting down with Wyatt’s biography and Soft Machine 1 on the holiday house stereo I checked my phone (as you do, it seems, even on holiday) and saw the familiar album title. I’m so chuffed for you that this 1001 journey has invited such an expansion of enjoyment. Wyatt is an absolute treasure, and Rock Bottom, though demanding, a fabulous and sometimes surreal trip. Shleep, you may be relieved to hear, is much more accessible. In fact I’d suggest readers curious about Robert’s singular catalogue start with Shleep and work towards RB.

    • What fantastic serendipitous timing! My thanks Bruce – I have a feeling Mr. Wyatt may have an album or two worthy of inclusion on the 101 additional list?
      Enjoy your holiday!

  6. This one and Kid A, I would say you could call them growers. Now, me, I dug Kid A straight away, so I’d wager this could be something I need to check out.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Big Star – Third (1978) & Soft Machine – Third (1970) | 1001albumsin10years
  2. 1974 | 1001albumsin10years

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