1. Chelsa
  2. Rivmic Melodies
  3. Slow Walkin' Talk
  4. Moon in June

Recorded: October-November 1968 at T.T.G. Studios, Hollywood and The Record Plant, New York. Second half of Moon in June: mid 1969, England
Released: 2013

Robert Wyatt: vocals, piano, electric piano, Hammond organ, bass, drums, percussion
Jimi Hendrix: bass (3)
Hugh Hopper: bass (4 - second half)
Mike Ratledge: Lowrey organ (4 - second half)

"The missing links in my life's work, no less!"

Robert Wyatt

In September, 1968, the Soft Machine had just finished their second, exhaustive tour of the USA supporting the Jimi Hendrix Experience. At the conclusion of the tour, vocalist/drummer/multi-instrumentalist Robert Wyatt stayed, working on recordings in Hollywood and New York City. Upon Robert's return to England, these documents lay forgotten...
Now, for the first time, all four of the recordings Robert made in '68 are collected together and released, all carefully worked on and presented in the best possible sound quality – and the recorded sound here is surprisingly excellent overall!
The bulk of the material - the two long suites - were later re-recorded by the Soft Machine; Rivmic Melodies later became the basis of side one on Volume II (1969) and Moon In June showed up as Robert's showcase on Third (1970).
These tracks serve as a template for the post-psychedelic Soft Machine's career as founders of European jazz/rock and the entire release is a precursor to Robert's post-band, solo career.

* text from Cuneiform website
In 1968 Soft Machine didn’t exist anymore. Tensions, mostly risen during a gruelling tour in the US, had ‘exploded’, and Kevin, Mike and Robert had enough of it. Mike went back to England, Kevin went to peaceful Ibiza and Robert stayed in the US. He had to find out what his goals were, personal and in the music industry. During has stay he wrote some songs and recorded them. One possibility was to release them on a solo-album. But that never happened, because he, and the others learned they had to make another album, due to contractual reasons. Robert teamed up with Mike again, but Kevin was not in the mood for another Soft Machine adventure. They asked their friend and former roadie Hugh Hopper. As the story goes, it happened just before Hugh sold has bass, so the request was just in time and the trio made Volume Two. Forty-five years later the tracks Robert recorded in 1968 appeared on cd. It gives us a view of his state of mind and the expectations he had. We knew he had recorded Moon in June; the track was released earlier on his solo-album Flotsam Jetsam. But that was just a small part of the track. I didn’t know he had recorded ‘Rivmic Melodies’ as well. Both tracks are on ’68, as are ‘Chelsa’ by Kevin Ayers and Slow Walkin’ Talk by Brian Hopper. Jimi Hendrix is playing bass guitar and the last one; Jimi and Robert were befriended after the US-tour. Chelsa was written by Kevin for a girl he knew. The two short tracks are very nice, but not that shocking. Moon in June, the long version – over twenty minutes – is superb. Robert sings and halfway Hugh and Mike join – recorded later on in 1969 – and create a small masterpiece. It could have been released on Third. I must admit, I think this version is better… Although great, it isn't a surprise. The track was released before on 'Backwards' ‘Rivmic Melodies’ as said before is the biggest surprise. You can image that after the band learned they had to make another album Robert took this new track with him. It isn’t even changed that much; only the Alphabet is shortened on Volume Two. Lucky for us, because it is a little bit boring after hearing it a few times. Mike and Hugh added their vision on Rivmic Melodies and the trio created a very strong, short and to the point composition; fast, varying and above all: very beautiful! There is one other thing which seized my mind: Robert’s ‘amnesia’. In the interview in the booklet he often has to admit: ”I don’t know anymore” or “I forgot”. Maybe it was not important to him, maybe it was the booze. But it is a little bit confronting. Anyway, as a huge fan of Volume Two, I’m very happy with this release; it is a little bit like finding a long forgotten treasure. You just have to cherish it.

Paul Lemmens © 2014