He ain't heavy... he just wants to be loved - Record & Popswop Mirror - October 19, 1974
By WENDY HODGSON
A SHATTERING accident or an unfortunate misadventure usually makes peoples more philosophical about life.
Robert Wyatt is the exception. Last year he fell from a window breaking his back and paralysing his body from the waist down, but he hasn't changed. He says:
"I'm still the same silly git that I ever was!"
Just before this catastrophe, Robert had packed up drumming with Soft Machine and stopped gigging with Matching Mole. He was pondering what steps to take next, when fate took over with a seven-month bout in
hospital. "It's almost as though it had been
planned for me now, as I sit back looking over my
past," he says.
Within less than a year Wyatt has courageously
blasted his way back with a single that has greatly
surprised many people - particularly the heavy
followers whom he appeals to. In case you haven't heard, it's the old Monkees hit I'm A Believer.
This is Wyatt's first attempt at the commercial
market. His dramatic change in style was to get away from his usual five - minute, long material to a shorter, boppler type of record.
"I'd like, to try and make some more commercial records" he begins. "But there are so many people who do it expertly anyway that it's a bit cheeky for me and my recording company to think we can hold our own. For me it's an excuse to try out
And with this comes the assurance that Wyatt will
not be burning his boats behind him. "I know what I do best", he exclaims. "It's nice to have the opportunity to reach the other side of the pop scene, but I'm also
very concerned with the loyalty of my fans who've
been with me for years. I don't want to lose these
people or their loyalty. Of course If I had to chose
then I'd rather keep entertaining those who
I've been appealing to for so many years. If I can
reach more people then of course that's fine".
He admits, that in the beginning he was worried about
his fans disapproving of the record and particularly worried how more Influential people like DJ's would
take it "I thought that if Tony Blackburn was
going to play the single then John Peel would stop playing it, but in fact he hasn't stopped playing it.
As far as I can gather everyone's been nice and
encouraging about the single."
Of course there are some people totally baffled by Wyatt's unusual move, and think he should be doing something more challenging instead of time wasting.
"The first time I saw myself on Top Of The Pops I thought the kids must be wondering "What's that great bear and bunch of hippies doing on our nice clean
programme". But In fact these are just friends of
mine whom I'm borrowing from my favourite groups. They help me out when they're not too busy."
Everyone puts him into a class of his own, looks up to him, admires him, calls him intelligent and rates him as a superior musician. Robert Wyatt radiates his vivaciousness and easy - going nature to his guests until eventually you feel you've known him for years. He is oblivious of the class in which his fans have put him. He says "I'm grateful for the people who take me serious but I get worried when they start saying I belong to some superior gang.
"I think a lot of people in this business pretend
they're communicating some serious message in their lyrics. But really they're saying "Look what a nice intelligent and interesting person I am I want you all to love me very much. I'm probably like that a bit, but at least I know it. I say read the lyrics carefully but don't get taken into them.
"Although I'm not a pop musician. I'm also not a serious heavy musician. Some musicians may try
to do something more complicated, serious or
involved than straight pop music. I must say that I don't. I'm more interested In Spike Milligan or Monty Python's Flying Circus and people who play silly buggers. In a way I take myself seriously but I try not to be solemn about it".
They may refer to him as 'the master-mind' or the 'intelligent musician'
- but he's certainly a man full of surprises. The heavies may think they know all about him, but in
actual fact there's far more to this super guy
than meets the eye.
He reads about today's charts and confesses:
"All I read is complaints all the time, but really I
don't think people realise how lucky they are. Eno
pointed this out to me by saying listen to Alvin Stardust's records and see how good the guitar
breaks are. They're very, very good. This is where
many people would he surprised - although perhaps not so now that I've released an old Monkee record! I tend not necessarily to like bands but particular musicians.
For instance I think the Sweet have a first-rate drummer. I like Lindsey De Paul and Christ. If I could sing like Noddy Holder I'd be happy.
"All I've ever done is to try and keep with my
audience and play what I thought to be nice stuff to play".