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 End Of An Ear + Robert Wyatt - Album By Album - Uncut N° 211 - December 2014




ROBERT WYATT calls a halt to his musical career. " We’re just getting through the day now..."

SOME SAD NEWS this month - Robert Wyatt has revealed to Uncut that "after 50 years in the saddle" he won't be making any more music. Wyatt puts the decision down to declining health and a desire not to tarnish his legacy, but he admits he feels "a bit weird" about stopping.

"I thought, train drivers retire when they're 65, so I will, as well," Wyatt, now 69, tells Uncut. "I've stopped, I don't really know why actually. And I do feel a bit... weird about it, but life is physically much harder for me and for [Wyatt 's wife] Alfie. It's getting a bit scary, and I can't sit around, messing around, thinking up new tunes in that, really. We're just getting through the day now, and trying to have bits of fun when we can. "At the moment, I've broken my foot and I'm sitting on a bed with my foot up. It happens, these things."

Though he hasn't released a solo album since 2007’s acclaimed Comicopera, Wyatt has remained active with collaborations, most notably on For The Ghosts Within, a 2010 album he made with Ros Stephen and Gilad Atzmon.

"I've had 50 years in the saddle, I've enjoyed them, and I've enjoyed the stuff I did towards the end, in this century, at least as much as anything I've done before. So I don't feel like I've done nothing... I always felt, in quite an old-fashioned way, you've got to do stuff. Not just have a nice time out, but actually get stuff down, accumulate material. I was only 28 when I broke my back, [so] I didn't know if I would still be able to work in a decade's time. So I did want to work and get stuff done. I’ve always had that, 'til very recently."

The news makes the release of compilation Different Every Time later this month more poignant - it seems the two-disc set now truly spans his entire career, from drumming in Soft Machine and Matching Mole, to his solo work after being paralysed from the waist down in 1973. The second disc features Wyatt's collaborations with the likes of Björk, Nick Mason, Hot Chip and Phil Manzanera.

"I'm very surprised I'm in this state, it isn't a state I imagined being in, but I nevertheless here I am," Wyatt says. "I never really got the hang of [music] as a job, to be honest. I just sort of kept trying to do stuff. But faculties are failing, and I don't want to churn out stuff that isn't quite right."

Wyatt is keen to stress that he has "stopped" rather than retired, and now plans to focus even more on his interest and involvement in left-wing politics. "I would say I’ve stopped, it's a better word than retired. Fifty years in the saddle, it's not nothing. It's completely unplanned, my life, and it's just reached this particular point. Other things have happened - I'm more taken up by politics, to be honest, than music at the moment. Music tags along behind it. There is a pride in [stopping], I don't want it to go off. Performers say leave the stage five minutes before they want you to leave, rather than five minutes after!"

TOM PINNOCK