Robyn Hitchcock/Soft Boys: Classic or Dud?

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
Just picked up the Matador Records re-release of the Soft Boys' celebrated UNDERWATER MOONLIGHT album, appended with outtakes and deleted tracks. I started backwards with this band, becoming a fan of Robyn Hitchcock's solo career of skewed psychedelic pop back in college, only later discovering his earlier, "punkier" band, The Soft Boys. To my ears, the hybrid of Hitchcock's decidedly off-kilter lyrical fixation with all things surreal and his knack for soaring pop harmonies and melody is absolutely the stuff of legend, but I have friends who consider him a unbearable Syd Barrett clone and/or too clever-clever for anyone's aural benefit. What say you?

Alex in NYC, Monday, 7 May 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

"Underwater moonlight" is a classic indeed. It's an album that doesent fit in anywhere, its a bit punk, bit power-pop and a bit psychedelic. I havent heard any of his solo stuff so I cant pass any comment on it.

Michael, Monday, 7 May 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

I love both the Soft Boys and Hitchcock, for slightly different reasons, and have favourites amongst the discographies of both. With the Soft Boys, it's easier to just like it all because there was precious little material, though Underwater Moonlight certainly towers head and shoulder over everything else. With Hitchcock, I find that it's a bit hit and miss. I'm unabashedly a fan of Globe of Frogs, because that was my entry point and has some truly killer songs in "Balloon Man", "Vibrating", Tropical Flesh Mandala" and "Beatle Dennis". That said, I think I almost prefer some of the earlier albums, including I Often Dream of Trains, Fegmania, Element of Light and esp. Gotta Let This Hen Out. The first two I find a bit patchy and anything after Queen Elvis is also patchy. Certainly, Hitchcock's wonko lyrics are an acquired taste, but I'll take the clever surrealism of his lyrics over the stupid cliches that comprise a good chunk of popular music any day.

Short answer: both classic.

Sean Carruthers, Monday, 7 May 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Like Alex, I was a fan of Robyn' solo work and then went backwards to the Soft Boys. The Soft Boys are complete CLASSIC. I first picked up A CAN OF BEES and UNDERWATER MOONLIGHT in the early 90s and they totally blew my mind. I couldn't believe that they were so unappreciated in music "history". Even today, people still give you cross looks when you mention the Soft Boys. Not many people know them at all. Hopefully the Matador attention will change that a bit. Their show a few weeks back in Baltimore was attended by about 200 or so folks, which was pretty respectable. Great show. They played "I Wanna Destroy You" so I was satisfied.

As for Robyn's solo stuff, I'd have to say its a mixed bad. In fact, I can't even point to one album that's all classic. But there's so much great stuff scrambled in there that its hard to dismiss any of them totally. Probablly my favorites would be GLOBE OF FROGS, EYE, ELEMENT OF LIGHT, and QUEEN ELVIS. That looks like mostly mid-period Hitchcock to me.

But for a career, I'd give Robyn in his various guises a CLASSIC.

Tim Baier, Monday, 7 May 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Ooops, I meant Robyn's solo career is a mixed "bag". Its not "bad", its a "bag" dammit!

Tim Baier, Monday, 7 May 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Underwater Moonlight is absolutely wonderful. There seems to be a perfect balance between Robin's unsettling wierdness and killer psych- pop tunes, which all to often tips towards 'being a loony'later on. A Can of Bees is worth having too. The best of Hitchcock's solo career is probably "Gotta Let this Hen Out", but unfortunately IMHO the whimsy overwhelms all else after "Fegmania". The later albums are all but unbearable, although I haven't heard them all. I'd say his best before date was around 1985.

Dr. C, Monday, 7 May 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Classic: the title "The Lonesome Death of Ian Penman" (in response to IP's sarky review of _A Can of Bees_)

Dud: Never heard a single solitary note, so I wdn't know. Naturally I hate him.

mark s, Monday, 7 May 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

I saw the re-united soft boys out here in san francisco a few weeks back, and they were quite good...played my favourites, Queen of Eyes and I Wanna Destroy You. Plus they were backed up by the mighty Young Fresh Fellows, so that added lots. I've always liked Underwater Moonlight, especially the Rykodisc Cd reissue of 5 or so years back, which had 5 or so extra tracks, including a good one called Nobody Like You. My favourite Soft Boys, though, would be the very silly Live at the Portland Arms. Mostly sort of acoustic, filled with ad- libs, wit and oddball cover songs. Hitchcock solo I haven't enjoyed as much, as I guess I like the rockier / poppier side of the Soft Boys, albeit partly because of the somewhat odd lyrics...I like some of his LP I Often Dream of Trains. I certainly know some people who can't stand his lyrics, though.

paulsheridan, Tuesday, 8 May 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Has made a career flogging a particular brand of stereotypical English weirdness (cf Glen Baxter) - some good tunes on Underwater Moonlight but he leaves a bad taste in the mouth. No connection at all. Dud.

Tom, Tuesday, 8 May 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

I'm of much the same opinion as Tom...But oddly today I kept finding myself singing to myself a typically anoying solo-career-era song of his. Now I've started fuckin' doing it again. Thanks guys.

duane zarakov, Wednesday, 9 May 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

1 year passes...
classic - twisted dark humour, a touch of verbosity, snarling and prowling guitars and a dark dark heart. i had very low expectations of "nextdoorland" the new album but it's entirely fantastic. have not heard anything as thrilling as "strings" all year...

commonswings, Tuesday, 24 September 2002 14:18 (12 years ago) Permalink

He's sooooooooo weird.

DeRayMi, Tuesday, 24 September 2002 14:26 (12 years ago) Permalink

The Soft Boys are on point rather like a steeple but I just can't get on with Hitchcock's solo stuff. I have a friend who has a catalogue of it but it just doesn't seem to have... the edginess of the Soft Boys. When he's on his own, it's like Rob tries too hard to be a Barrett but he's too sane to make it work. I can't listen to it.

But Underwater Moonlight is somethig else. I Wanna Destroy You is an alltime winner. I also really like He's A Reptile.

Roger Fascist (Roger Fascist), Tuesday, 24 September 2002 14:31 (12 years ago) Permalink

hehe...once i saw the title of the thread i knew Sean would be all over this as when we met he had a soft boys t-shirt.

haven't heard soft boys myself but will pick it up if i see it.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Tuesday, 24 September 2002 14:49 (12 years ago) Permalink

Soft Boys are definitely classic to me, Hitch more of a mixed bag. I am a bit wary that the Soft Boys new record (out now, as they say in the papers) will do damage to the band's rep; I haven't heard the record yet, but I did hear some of the songs on the reunion tour and they definitely skewed toward the diminishing returns side of Hitch's more recent works.

The Minor Fall, The Major Lift
http://intonation.blogspot.com/

TMFTML (TMFTML), Tuesday, 24 September 2002 14:53 (12 years ago) Permalink

"Underwater Moonlight" is a great record.

The rest of The Soft Boys and Hitchcock's output is very hit and miss.

The only Hitchcock album that I have heard that is consistent front to back is "Globe of Frogs". I used to have a few others from that time period, but there would generally only be a song or two worth hearing and the rest pretty dull. It has been a long time since I have heard any of this music.

Hitchcock seemed to put out a record every six months for a few years back in the day, which is probably a primary reason why they are kind of spotty.

earlnash, Tuesday, 24 September 2002 17:07 (12 years ago) Permalink

I gotta pay closer attention to what's going on in the world. I had no clue that Nextdoorland was even on the way. I just picked it up now. It's weird, because I was actually wearing my Soft Boys shirt again the other day, Julio, and I don't think I've put it on since that last time when you saw it. Huh.

Sean Carruthers (SeanC), Friday, 27 September 2002 22:52 (12 years ago) Permalink

2 years pass...
"...I don't KNOW WHY
She never gets anywhere
With YOUUUUUUUUUU..."

(Wonder why I never posted on this thread before? Been listening to the Rykodisc reissues and the 2-disc overview of Soft Boys stuffage all week.)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 21 January 2005 18:23 (9 years ago) Permalink

As I get older, Robyn is becoming my favorite musician. I bought Can of Bees a long time ago and thought it was good... then I finally heard Underwater Moonlight a few years before the Matador reissue came out... and since then, I've become a bit obsessed. He's one of those artists who never seems to put out anything that I don't like, including individual songs. His songwriting is remarkably consistent, but not samey because his lyrics are usually very good if not terrific.

polyphonic (polyphonic), Friday, 21 January 2005 18:29 (9 years ago) Permalink

I love A Can of Bees. I couldn't stop listening to it last fall.

Trip Maker (Sean Witzman), Friday, 21 January 2005 18:42 (9 years ago) Permalink

Totally classic (with longueurs, of course). How Demme managed to film a dull RH gig...?

Anyone knocked out by the new Gillian Welch collab?

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Friday, 21 January 2005 18:49 (9 years ago) Permalink

He's the best. I've loved pretty much all of his records at one time or another. A couple of interesting ones that don't get mentioned too much are that Rykodisc set, Invisible Hitchcock, and the last few, especially Jewls for Sophia and Moss Elixer. Also You and Oblivion which has some of my favorites.

danh (danh), Friday, 21 January 2005 18:54 (9 years ago) Permalink

As I think is almost required among fans, I have a bootleg of one of his solo acoustic performances, in this case one I taped myself back in 1995 at McCabe's in LA. He previewed a fair amount of Moss Elixir material along with digging up various old faves and random numbers, and of course was his usual dry self on stage. I'm trying to remember if I ever got it converted to digital or not...

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 21 January 2005 18:57 (9 years ago) Permalink

Any thoughts on Nextdoorland by the Soft Boys?....it's a bit spotty but I def. think "Mr. Kennedy" is one of my fav SB songs ever....It's totally like onOFFon my Mission of Burma, not disappointing but not a classic, held up by a few genuinely great songs....

M@tt He1geson (Matt Helgeson), Friday, 21 January 2005 19:05 (9 years ago) Permalink

Nextdoorland was my third favorite record of 2002, if memory serves. By contrast, onOFFon did nothing for me.

polyphonic (polyphonic), Friday, 21 January 2005 19:07 (9 years ago) Permalink

Those Nextdoorland songs didn't hold up live when they did that Underwater Moonlight show. I actually never bought it because of that show. They were totally lifeless next to the classics. Pretty, but lifeless.

danh (danh), Friday, 21 January 2005 19:10 (9 years ago) Permalink

I think "Underwater Moonlight" is about half-classic. The title track is great, "Kingdom of Love" is the all-time best rip of the Hollies' "Long Cool Woman." I give Kimberley Rew credit for it, though--great guitar work, really distinctive. I also like the earlier Soft Boys stuff OK, but I don't think it's all that great.

I guess I like "Element of Light" all right, and there are times I put on "Mossy Liquor" or "Moss Elixor" or whatever that's called depending on whether you have the LP or CD. RH is good, kind of a one-trick drugged pony ride though. I probably still prefer Syd Barrett or John Lennon, though.

eddie hurt (ddduncan), Friday, 21 January 2005 19:12 (9 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, I found Nextdoorland to be kind've a let down.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Friday, 21 January 2005 19:13 (9 years ago) Permalink

Anyone knocked out by the new Gillian Welch collab?

It's kinda strange. I do like it - not necessarily knocked out though. It had this implicit "this is Robyn's grown-up serious record" feeling to it. Almost if it's in reaction to the relatively freewheeling Luxor album.

Gator Magoon (Chris Barrus), Friday, 21 January 2005 23:43 (9 years ago) Permalink

To clarify, I don't want him to make another crustacean album either.

Gator Magoon (Chris Barrus), Friday, 21 January 2005 23:44 (9 years ago) Permalink

The new one's excellent; the first and last tracks steal it, but so much else is great; "English Girl", who else would reference Merle Haggard and Ronald Searle? Even better was seeing him live a few months ago, in a nicely small (if difficult to find) venue in Newcastle, the Cluny...

Tom May (Tom May), Friday, 21 January 2005 23:52 (9 years ago) Permalink

5 months pass...
Classic. Underwater Moonlight will be all over my Top 100 80's lists whenever we do it.

Cunga (Cunga), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 23:51 (9 years ago) Permalink

I'm very fond of I Often Dream of Trains.

Ian Riese-Moraine has been xeroxed into a conduit! (Eastern Mantra), Thursday, 7 July 2005 00:09 (9 years ago) Permalink

I still defend Perspex Island.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Thursday, 7 July 2005 00:21 (9 years ago) Permalink

soft boys--classic
robyn hitchcock--classic

i'd say that the best way to experience robyn these days is to see him live--he's got such a wealth of great songs at this stage in his career. And usually, the more recent songs sound better in person than they do on record. there are a few live shows on archive.org's live music database if you're curious.

also worth seeking out is the soft boys' live at portland arms LP (some of which is on the ryko overview). hilarious and unplugged.

and ned, it sounds as though we were probably at the same mccabes show in 1995--i think my friend and i were the only teenagers in the house. if you ever digitize your tape, i'd love to relive it.

tylerw, Thursday, 7 July 2005 01:17 (9 years ago) Permalink

also, in the middle of one of those 1995 mccabes shows, i realized that i was sitting next to none other than adam duritz. true story.

tylerw, Thursday, 7 July 2005 01:19 (9 years ago) Permalink

No mention of Old Pervert or Insanely Jealous?

Jamey Lewis (Jameys Burning), Thursday, 7 July 2005 02:21 (9 years ago) Permalink

insanely jealous old pervert?

chief of chaff (Jody Beth Rosen), Thursday, 7 July 2005 02:24 (9 years ago) Permalink

Robyn was a streak of genuine weirdness on the alt pop charts in the eighties, his records definitely helped get through high school back then. The live shows were incredible, the improvised stories he'd spin between songs always made sense.

He's one of two people I ever asked for an autograph. Philip Glass was not in a good mood when I walked up, 15 years old & nervous, having spotted him in the lobby during the intermission to the Knee Plays... can't blame him for scowling at me. Robyn on the other hand was impossibly cool about the awkward situation, saying while signing my copy of Trains "well y'know it's no good having heroes, especially once you get to know them and realize they have all the same problems..." I assured him that was the point.

milton parker (Jon L), Thursday, 7 July 2005 06:23 (9 years ago) Permalink

1 month passes...
I noticed the similarities between the Left Banke's I Haven't Got the Nerve tune and I Wanna Destroy You a few weeks ago. Who knows? It's a good tune either way but thought someone might appreciate it.

http://s25.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=1VM7K048PQ0GF268VGEO0NXEHR

Cunga (Cunga), Tuesday, 30 August 2005 08:11 (9 years ago) Permalink

Underwater Moonlight is one of the best records ever made.

zeus, Tuesday, 30 August 2005 08:21 (9 years ago) Permalink

9 months pass...
The Soft Boys (esp. Can of Bees, Underwater Moonlight and Invisible Hits, the cream of the crop) are absolute classic. No doubt about it. Nextdoorland is really good as well, esp. Mrs. Kennedy.

As for Robyn Hitchcock, his first album, Black Snake Diamond Role continued the Soft Boys course honorably - "Acid Bird" especially is classic. Also, his third, I Often Dreamt of Trains is excellent too. Hilarious (and very British) songs like "Uncorrected Personality Traits" and "Sometimes I Wish I Were a Pretty Girl" (..so I could ---- myself in the shower..) sit next to absolutely gorgeous quiet and sad songs. His 80s and 90s stuff gets a bit too slick for my tastes, losing its classic edge - some good moments though. Haven't heard his most recent stuff...mixed bag, as other said.

Nick Wilson, Friday, 2 June 2006 05:54 (8 years ago) Permalink

I absolutely like his later stuff too. He does pop after all, and pop may well benefit from a slick production (that being said, the rawer sound of "Underwater Moonlight" doesn't make that album any less excellent, partly because the songs he wrote for that album are better than any songs he has been able to write since)

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Friday, 2 June 2006 09:20 (8 years ago) Permalink

3 months pass...
i was overcome with the need to listen to robyn hitchcock's "i often dream of trains" this evening, but alas, i am unable to find my copy of it anywhere. i'm feeling rather distraught about all this. i haven't ripped and ipodified that one yet and now i'm terrifically disappointed that i didn't.

anyway: classic. i heard solo hitchcock first, and have always had a preference for the early stuff, though i did snag a copy of "spooked" and found it quite entertaining. the 90's stuff often bores me, though certainly "moss elixir" has it moments. but "trains" and "fegmania!" are my favorites.

soft boys, also classic. picked up the matador rerelease of "underwater moonlight" when it came out and loved it. played that this evening in lieu of "i often dream of trains".

Emily B (Emily B), Friday, 15 September 2006 05:00 (8 years ago) Permalink

Listened to "Fegmania" the other day and it is absolutely ace. Particularly "The Man With The Lightbulb Head" and "My Wife And My Dead Wife".

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Friday, 15 September 2006 18:39 (8 years ago) Permalink

New Robyn Hitchcock w/band album coming out soon on Yep Rock. The track I've heard (something about a Rocketship) sounded promising.

dlp9001 (dlp9001), Friday, 15 September 2006 20:35 (8 years ago) Permalink

i've always had mixed feelings, I loved it all but kinda grew out of some of the wackier stuff. Now I look at something like Trains and the stuff that's a bit "silly" I have to skip over, but the other stuff is some of the most beautiful music ever.

He played at Oberlin when I was there to a small crowd and encored with Autumn is Your Last Chance.

I also have a severe soft-spot for Queen Elvis.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Friday, 15 September 2006 20:58 (8 years ago) Permalink

A Can of Bees and the comp "76-81" is all you need in my opinion. Underwater Moonlight just doesn't do it for me really and Robyn's solo stuff has never been my cup of tea.

Randall Weeber (yoyoweb), Saturday, 16 September 2006 01:22 (8 years ago) Permalink

I've heard that Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3 on Yep Yoc -- it's the guys from the Minus 5 backing him up. Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey and the other guy (forget his name). It's pretty good, very power pop.

mcd (mcd), Saturday, 16 September 2006 03:00 (8 years ago) Permalink

A Can of Bees is a much more uneven affair than Underater Moonlight. 'Anglepoise Lamp' is one of Hitchcocks's best song though, strange, that nobody mentioned that in the thread.

zeus (zeus), Saturday, 16 September 2006 10:39 (8 years ago) Permalink

just recently heard "Salamander" for the first time, what a fantastic, sick song.

JoeStork, Tuesday, 23 July 2013 06:02 (1 year ago) Permalink

Yes! That track got orphaned in the most recent reissues from Yep Roc-- tragically, IMO.

Thelema & Louise (Jon Lewis), Tuesday, 23 July 2013 12:08 (1 year ago) Permalink

kind of want to pretend those yep roc reissues never happened. do-over!

tylerw, Tuesday, 23 July 2013 14:19 (1 year ago) Permalink

I was just mulling over "Two Halves For The Price Of One", an odds and ends comp at the end of the Soft Boys career. Only some of it has been released on CD:
Only The Stones Remain - Underwater Moonlight
Where Are The Prawns - Underwater Moonlight
The Bells Of Rhymney
There's Nobody Like You - Underwater Moonlight
Innocent Boy - Invisible History
Black Snake Diamond Rock (live)
Underwater Moonlight (live)
Astronomy Domine (live) - Invisible History
Outlaw Blues (live) - Invisible History
Mystery Train (live)

The version of Rhymney isn't the same one Robyn released as a b-side and Mystery Train is live vs the studio take on the 1976-81 comp. I think I've got that right...

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Wednesday, 24 July 2013 00:28 (1 year ago) Permalink

'Innocent Boy' is so great, man I haven't heard/had that song in forever.

Thelema & Louise (Jon Lewis), Wednesday, 24 July 2013 04:21 (1 year ago) Permalink

I think the Mystery Train on that is the same as on The Rout Of The Clones. Maybe not? I don't have them handy to compare.

EZ Snappin, Wednesday, 24 July 2013 04:31 (1 year ago) Permalink

Rout is 1978 gig, Lope At The Hive is 1980.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Wednesday, 24 July 2013 11:19 (1 year ago) Permalink

i'd like it if he put out the full gig from whence those live "two halves" tracks came. that's not floating around in the bootleg world, is it?

tylerw, Wednesday, 24 July 2013 14:08 (1 year ago) Permalink

I've never seen it.

And thanks for the Rout/Lope clarification, GmcBB.

EZ Snappin, Wednesday, 24 July 2013 14:16 (1 year ago) Permalink

It's too bad The Asking Tree isn't updated anymore, or that there's not another level of detail regarding versions of each track. I've been digging into this stuff for years and even I have to refresh my memory from time to time.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Wednesday, 24 July 2013 15:50 (1 year ago) Permalink

Is there a specific date for the Lope recording? I had heard March 1980 but it doesn't match up with the one Asking Tree setlist for that time period.

EZ Snappin, Wednesday, 24 July 2013 16:31 (1 year ago) Permalink

It's got to be this one: http://www.jh3.com/robyn/base/gig.asp?chubb=70 but clearly the tracklisting is incomplete.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Wednesday, 24 July 2013 20:34 (1 year ago) Permalink

2 months pass...

slightly confusing facebook update suggests that Joe Boyd is producing the next Hitchcock LP. which i think is good news.
gave love from london another try last week -- man, i would like to hear robyn's demos for it, because i really have trouble getting past the dullllll production (especially the programmed beats). hard to tell if the songs are good/bad/mediocre/whatever.

tylerw, Wednesday, 9 October 2013 16:58 (1 year ago) Permalink

Joe Boyd is great news. I hope it's correct! Propellor Time felt a little Boyd-y and is my favorite of the last several RH LPs.

play on, El Chugadero, play on (Jon Lewis), Wednesday, 9 October 2013 17:14 (1 year ago) Permalink

3 weeks pass...

i wanna destroy you always segues into surrender by cheap trick for me...

a pox upon the media... got my kiss records out...

i have very mixed feelings about this dude but i wanna destroy you is all time, not that this is news to anybody

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Monday, 4 November 2013 10:53 (11 months ago) Permalink

gave love from london another try last week -- man, i would like to hear robyn's demos for it, because i really have trouble getting past the dullllll production (especially the programmed beats). hard to tell if the songs are good/bad/mediocre/whatever.

Tyler, my feelings echo yours. I'm not sure the demos would be much better, the songs themselves are just not strong:

Harry's Song - Nice piano but his singing is a bit out of tune at times. Meh.

Be Still - This is a good one with good lyrics as most of his death-focused songs are. I dig the cello.

Stupefied - Um, no, jeez I don't like this one at all from the programmed beat to the weak keyboards. "You wanna get high but you don't know why", blech.

I Love You - This is alright, with an aggressive vibe, but he's done this sort of song better many times. Mentioning tendrils and dissolving just makes me want to queue up "Clean Steve" and "Chinese Bones", respectively.

Devil On A String - This might be better in demo form but the playing just seems so uninspired and the lyrics aren't memorable.

Strawberries Dress - Feels like a cut-and-paste job where all the pieces don't fit. Meh.

Death & Love - Crikey, who pressed the wrong button on the drum machine? Is he trying to sound like an "Avalon" outtake? His lyrics on this album feel forced - neither straight-forward nor weird enough. The "I got screwed, uh-huh" bit is very poor.

Fix You - I like this one, he takes some chances with aggressive vocals and it works.

My Rain - Again, his singing sounds slightly out of tune in places. Dull song anyway.

End Of Time - Not bad, not great. The teaser snippet of the unincluded title track is possibly the best thing on the album!

Didn't he say he was going for a modern/pop sound on this album? I guess that explains the production choices. Both this and "Tromso" have an unfinished feeling. Even taking the best tracks from both results in a bottom-tier release in his vast catalog. Ah well, they can't all be gems.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 4 November 2013 16:11 (11 months ago) Permalink

4 weeks pass...

Wonderful show last night:

https://twitter.com/2fortheroaduk/status/407258157942312961/photo/1

also playing tonight, with a cellist (I forget who) - there were a few tickets on the door last night, so maybe there will be tonight, and he seems to be on very good form right now.

toby, Monday, 2 December 2013 06:18 (10 months ago) Permalink

2 months pass...

i can't stop playing "he's a reptile" because it has that special combination of absurd/funny/true lyrics and super standard rock song structure. so fun.

we slowly invented brains (La Lechera), Friday, 21 February 2014 21:12 (8 months ago) Permalink

I'm sitting here in the abandoned brain... The hypothalamus is open to the rain and the leaves blow into the hall...

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 21 February 2014 22:54 (8 months ago) Permalink

5 months pass...

New album streaming at New York Times. SO MUCH better than Love From London. On first listen I'd say it's easily his best non-Venus 3 album in nearly 20 years. Might be able to remove the Venus 3 codicil given time.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/arts/music/pressplay.html?_r=2&

EZ Snappin, Wednesday, 20 August 2014 15:51 (2 months ago) Permalink

finally getting to this and yeah! sounds pretty wonderful. "san francisco patrol" might be one of the best things I've heard from the dude in 15 years. worthy of EYE.

tylerw, Friday, 22 August 2014 16:07 (2 months ago) Permalink

I liked most of it, incl spare instrumentation and allusively, intimately direct address over weirdness (though was ready for weirdness/humor too). Goosebumps for the timing of "Don't Look Down." Good on "The Ghost In You," which fits/sets context & vibe; Psy Furs don't get enough coverage anyway. Are the others (except disappointing "Crystal Ship") all originals?

dow, Friday, 22 August 2014 18:27 (2 months ago) Permalink

Also, who else is on it?

dow, Friday, 22 August 2014 18:28 (2 months ago) Permalink

"don't look down" is a grant lee philips tune and to turn you on is roxy music... don't know who's playing on it, though.

tylerw, Friday, 22 August 2014 19:43 (2 months ago) Permalink

Apparently he's on Marc Maron's WTF podcast tomorrow.

EZ Snappin, Wednesday, 27 August 2014 23:15 (2 months ago) Permalink

Haha wow!

before you die you see the rink (Jon Lewis), Thursday, 28 August 2014 01:05 (2 months ago) Permalink

I guess we'll finally find out who his guys are

Guayaquil (eephus!), Thursday, 28 August 2014 03:35 (2 months ago) Permalink

jesus, this album is gorgeous

track 2 quite near mad me cry just now

wow.

anyone listen to wtf podcast yet?

before you die you see the rink (Jon Lewis), Friday, 29 August 2014 21:18 (2 months ago) Permalink

It's okay but nothing revelatory. They kind of cover the same shit over and over because Marc's a bit of a putz.

EZ Snappin, Friday, 29 August 2014 21:21 (2 months ago) Permalink

Nice microview here, though why waste rationed words mentioning Syd, since reviewer then admits he's less relevant than Nick Drake---but Joe Boyd *also* produced "Arnold Layne," so just gotta namedrop one more tyme--it's RS, after all. Anyway, tells who owns the occasional female voice:
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/robyn-hitchcock-the-man-upstairs-20140826

dow, Saturday, 30 August 2014 01:13 (2 months ago) Permalink

I didn't realize his dad wrote "Percy"! I love that Kinks album.

goodoldneon, Saturday, 30 August 2014 21:38 (2 months ago) Permalink

3 weeks pass...

"The Man Upstairs" is definitely growing on me. I still sort of like the older version of "Ghost In You" but it's such an outstanding song in the first place and Robyn's take reveals the underlying emotional depth. His other covers are great except I'm not thrilled with "Crystal Ship". "San Francisco Patrol" is utterly gorgeous, in both sound and sentiment. The other originals are solid. Overall I think it's far better than "Love From London" and "Tromso Kaptain". He certainly set the bar high with the Venus 3 stuff!

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 26 September 2014 23:16 (1 month ago) Permalink

His best non-Venus 3 album since Moss Elixir.

EZ Snappin, Friday, 26 September 2014 23:32 (1 month ago) Permalink

A Star for Bram still holds that title for me. But this is damn good.

von Daniken Donuts (Jon Lewis), Friday, 26 September 2014 23:59 (1 month ago) Permalink

Twenty years ago "So You Think You're In Love" topped the U.S. modern rock chart.

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 27 September 2014 03:13 (1 month ago) Permalink

In 1994?

EZ Snappin, Saturday, 27 September 2014 03:20 (1 month ago) Permalink

Aye. "So You Think You're In Love" was 1991

Elvis Telecom, Saturday, 27 September 2014 03:26 (1 month ago) Permalink

Twenty-three. Autocorrect.

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 27 September 2014 03:27 (1 month ago) Permalink

ok

curmudgeon, Saturday, 27 September 2014 13:28 (1 month ago) Permalink

that's the first place i learned the phrase "silent majority"!

cross over the mushroom circle (La Lechera), Saturday, 27 September 2014 13:54 (1 month ago) Permalink

same!

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 27 September 2014 13:59 (1 month ago) Permalink

"Lysander" off that album is a lost gem. It hurts me that I can't put those A&M deep cuts on Spotify mixes for people.

My feelings about Perspex Island overall will never settle. I've loved and hated that record so many different ways over the years. And I can't separate it from what a hard confused dark place I was in when it came out and when I played the shit out of it. I get the sense RH was in a dark place when he made it, too.

OU281 (Jon Lewis), Saturday, 27 September 2014 14:19 (1 month ago) Permalink

"Perspex" is underrated, and a bit of a victim of the time it came out and the production choices (even more so with "Respect"). Those tracks are better heard outside the studio:
"The Kershaw Sessions" has great versions of "Oceanside", "So You Think You're In Love" and "Birds In Perspex".
"Bad Case Of History" has live versions of "Vegetation And Dimes" and "Child Of The Universe".
"Ride" was released in demo form on a promo. It was also performed for the BBC but uncollected officially.
I have a nifty version of "She Doesn't Exist" from a 1995 Rhino reissue tour bootleg. I'm sure live versions of the rest are out in the aether as well.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Saturday, 27 September 2014 15:53 (1 month ago) Permalink

I loved it at the time. I said elsewhere yesterday that the mix is a mess: as he’d prove on XTC’s Nonesuch released the following year, Paul Fox had no clue how to record trad rock. "Lysander," "If You Go Away," "Ultra Unbelievable Love," and "Ride" work though. I'd go so far as to say it's his best A&M album.

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 27 September 2014 15:59 (1 month ago) Permalink

I think Respect is the best A&M record but they're all good to great.

EZ Snappin, Saturday, 27 September 2014 16:23 (1 month ago) Permalink

Queen Elvis for me. It's the only one of the a&m that totally coheres. The great songs on Globe of Frogs are greater than anything on QE but after all these years balloon man still annoys me so deeply that I can't give GoF the laurel. Plus the sound world of GoF lacks something where QE is mouthwatering. Would loooove for GoF to get a remastering some day.

OU281 (Jon Lewis), Saturday, 27 September 2014 16:53 (1 month ago) Permalink

Almost every tune from GoF has been amazing in live Venus 3 arrangements (esp when Morris available as a Beatle Dennis harmonies walk-on)

OU281 (Jon Lewis), Saturday, 27 September 2014 16:55 (1 month ago) Permalink

Hitchcock was living/hanging out in LA for a bit during the lead up to Perspex Island so I got a chance to see him with/without the Egyptians several times before the album came out. Was hugely disappointed when the album came out - thought that his strongest songs were completely undermined by Paul Fox's production choices. Not the first or last time Fox has done that.

Elvis Telecom, Tuesday, 30 September 2014 02:48 (1 month ago) Permalink

Ok then, any recommended boots from the A&M era?

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Tuesday, 30 September 2014 02:55 (1 month ago) Permalink

4 weeks pass...

Robyn does Neil with Emma Swift:

EZ Snappin, Wednesday, 29 October 2014 00:11 (3 days ago) Permalink


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.