Robyn Hitchcock/Soft Boys: Classic or Dud?

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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 (twenty-one years ago) link

"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 (twenty-one years ago) link

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 (twenty-one years ago) link

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 (twenty-one years ago) link

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 (twenty-one years ago) link

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 (twenty-one years ago) link

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 (twenty-one years ago) link

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 (twenty-one years ago) link

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 (twenty-one years ago) link

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 (twenty-one years ago) link

one 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 (nineteen years ago) link

He's sooooooooo weird.

DeRayMi, Tuesday, 24 September 2002 14:26 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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

TMFTML (TMFTML), Tuesday, 24 September 2002 14:53 (nineteen years ago) link

"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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

two years pass...
"...I don't KNOW WHY
She never gets anywhere

(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 (seventeen years ago) link

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 (seventeen years ago) link

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 (seventeen years ago) link

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 (seventeen years ago) link

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 (seventeen years ago) link

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 (seventeen years ago) link

Any thoughts on Nextdoorland by the Soft Boys?'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 (seventeen years ago) link

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 (seventeen years ago) link

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 (seventeen years ago) link

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 (seventeen years ago) link

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

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

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 (seventeen years ago) link

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

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

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 (seventeen years ago) link

five 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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

I still defend Perspex Island.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Thursday, 7 July 2005 00:21 (sixteen years ago) link

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'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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

No mention of Old Pervert or Insanely Jealous?

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

insanely jealous old pervert?

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

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 (sixteen years ago) link

one 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.

Cunga (Cunga), Tuesday, 30 August 2005 08:11 (sixteen years ago) link

Underwater Moonlight is one of the best records ever made.

zeus, Tuesday, 30 August 2005 08:21 (sixteen years ago) link

nine 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" ( 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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

three 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 (fifteen years ago) link

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 (fifteen years ago) link

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 (fifteen years ago) link

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 (fifteen years ago) link

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 (fifteen years ago) link

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 (fifteen years ago) link

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 (fifteen years ago) link

i haven't gotten to Element of Light yet!

getting very close though, will be later tonight i think

Bruce Stingbean (Karl Malone), Tuesday, 21 June 2022 22:11 (one week ago) link

I think “out of the picture” is the most soft boys thing on black snake. Either that or I watch the cars

For me his “bonus tracks” are forever cemented as the ones Rhino put on the 90s reissues (and though element of light may or may not be his best album, the rhino cd of it with bonus tracks is certainly his best cd, IMO)

covidsbundlertanze op. 6 (Jon not Jon), Tuesday, 21 June 2022 22:13 (one week ago) link

Karl you spun me out into creating my definitive fake rh box set and I spent all day on it (sorry employer)

Of course it’s mp3s in folders rather than a “playlist”

I’ve got all the tracks selected and I’m grouping them now. It’s too long though, I want to make another pass and see if I can get to an under four hour (“3cd”) version

covidsbundlertanze op. 6 (Jon not Jon), Tuesday, 21 June 2022 22:17 (one week ago) link

xp yeah the live version of "airscape" on the rhino reissue is beyond beautiful. don't think it's on anything else ... can't even find it on youtube.

tylerw, Tuesday, 21 June 2022 22:17 (one week ago) link

As a result I came across a previously unlistened to track from a VA compilation- “Crumble To Dust” - which fucking slays

covidsbundlertanze op. 6 (Jon not Jon), Tuesday, 21 June 2022 22:18 (one week ago) link

Waittaminit Tyler - are you sure that’s on rhino? Mine has the b-sides, a couple of demos, and THE CAN OPENER

covidsbundlertanze op. 6 (Jon not Jon), Tuesday, 21 June 2022 22:20 (one week ago) link

these are the ones on my rhino CD

Rhino CD reissue bonus tracks
"The Black Crow Knows"
"The Crawling"
"The Leopard"
"Tell Me About Your Drugs"
"The Can Opener"
"Raymond Chandler Evening" (Demo)
"The President" (Demo)
"If You Were a Priest" (Demo)
"Airscape" (Live)
"The Leopard" (Demo)

tylerw, Tuesday, 21 June 2022 22:28 (one week ago) link

the "raymond chandler evening" demo is insanely great too

tylerw, Tuesday, 21 June 2022 22:28 (one week ago) link

Jesus did I not rip that track back in the day when I imported EoL or something? I totally forgot it existed!

Yes, the Raymond chandler demo is my preferred version

covidsbundlertanze op. 6 (Jon not Jon), Tuesday, 21 June 2022 22:59 (one week ago) link

The horns <3

covidsbundlertanze op. 6 (Jon not Jon), Tuesday, 21 June 2022 22:59 (one week ago) link

I'm getting drunk inside my house again.

three of the doctor's valuable bats are now dead (broom air), Tuesday, 21 June 2022 23:28 (one week ago) link

yeah, Element of Light rules, a standout for me so far. i was listening without looking at the playlist, and about a minute into "Airscape" i knew what it was. That's going to be an instant fave of mine as well, i think, i love it. it's one of those songs that i swear i had heard before, but i hadn't. it reminds me of "Tonight" from Underwater Moonlight in that quality, in that it sounds like this massive pop hit that we all love and remember or something. it sounds like the soundtrack to the end of a movie where the people you're rooting for win and they actually deserve it without any sort of cruel twisted dagger of irony that makes it hard for you to enjoy their victory. no, they just win because they deserved and "Airscape" plays as it goes to credits. also, it has the title of the album in it, and you know what that means.

"Somewhere Apart" reminds me very much of "Remember" from Plastic Ono Band, with the same chords and kind of relentless stomp, and of course, RH (which, to be clear, stands for Radiohead) sounding quite a bit like Lennon himself. i love Lennon's voice and I love this song too. RH gives a very good performance. Lennon got very lazy and boring and drunk, very quickly, i think. this is like when he still gave a shit. reminds me a bit of nilsson as well for similar reasons.

i still haven't read through much of this thread, but i saw morbs early on and smiled. i also smiled as i listened to "The President". i bet morbs liked that one. :)

i like the guitar solo at 4:00 into Lady Waters, rock and roll!

"The Leopard" is really, really good - it shares a partial melody with the Stone Roses' "Waterfall", and the snare kicks in at just the right time. mmhmm. i also really like the harmonies/multitracked backup vox throughout. Soft Boys / Egyptians vocal harmonies are generally really great, going back to the beginning.

anyway, going to bed but i'll definitely be revisiting Element of Light.

has there ever been a soft boys / hitchcock giganto poll?

Bruce Stingbean (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 22 June 2022 05:21 (one week ago) link

oh, also "If you were a priest" is a cool opener, i love it. the single from the LP, i think?

Bruce Stingbean (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 22 June 2022 05:23 (one week ago) link

Yeah, backed with The Crawling

covidsbundlertanze op. 6 (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 22 June 2022 12:41 (one week ago) link

"If You Were a Priest" already shows signs of writing to character but what a riff, as ever.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 22 June 2022 12:42 (one week ago) link

There’s never been an RH/SB ballot poll. I’ve contemplated doing a song by song thread

covidsbundlertanze op. 6 (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 22 June 2022 12:43 (one week ago) link

That (song by song) was done quite well over on the Hoffman board. Definitely an insider or two participated.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Wednesday, 22 June 2022 14:37 (one week ago) link

oh i'll read that

covidsbundlertanze op. 6 (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 22 June 2022 15:38 (one week ago) link

fegmania! is really something else. i mean, it is, on many levels, just flatly ridiculous. they write "heaven", a song which, sitting here 35 years later listening to it for the first time, sounds like it belongs on mid-80s radio, a stratospheric hit. the chorus even kind of annoys me a little bit - it starts to sound a little too MOR for me. but regardless, the chorus bugs me in a way that should point toward sacrifices made for popular appeal.

and then, they put the shepard tone in. the audio illusion that sounds like the frequency is getting higher and higher (even as lower frequencies are always being reintroduced and faded in as the higher ones fade). not once. not twice. but THREE FUCKING TIMES, the SHEPARD TONE! that is a level of commitment that is just kind of mindboggling, and they did it on their chance at a big pop hit! i fucking love that

Bruce Stingbean (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 22 June 2022 22:19 (one week ago) link

then, following that, you have a straight up rip of the beatles "if i needed someone" which, just before you check to see if it's a straight up cover, quickly shifts into the land of byrds 12-strings and harmonies land, which is already what the Rubber Soul Beatles were referencing

Bruce Stingbean (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 22 June 2022 22:21 (one week ago) link

"my wife and my dead wife" is just something else, too. very odd song, and it reminds me very much of Magazine.

i went looking for Christgau's opinion of RH and the soft boys. all he has is a [scissors icon] rating for Jewels for Sophia, which he rated [scissors icon], and then the following entry from his 1980s "Subjects for Further Research", which seems to be referencing the above. doesn't look like he ever further researched:

Hitchcock is the kind of English eccentric who becomes impossible to bear when he's taken up by American Anglophiles. I admired the Soft Boys' 1980 Underwater Moonlight and Robyn's own 1981 Black Snake Diamond Role from a distance, but my enthusiasm dimmed as he and his Egyptians became college-radio idols, and once I noticed the one about the guy who keeps his wife's corpse around for company, his considerable talent meant nothing to me. I have no doubt that scattered among his albums are songs strong enough to withstand his professional-oddball attentions, and if I were more spiritually advanced I might even swallow my prejudices and learn to enjoy him for what he is. Which is what? A rock and roll cross between H.P. Lovecraft and Kingsley Amis? Way too kind, but that's as much thought as I intend to give the matter.

Bruce Stingbean (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 22 June 2022 22:25 (one week ago) link

"The Man with the Lightbulb Head" is just outstanding

Bruce Stingbean (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 22 June 2022 22:26 (one week ago) link

love this soft boys photo

brimstead, Wednesday, 22 June 2022 22:39 (one week ago) link

That’s the classic Morris pic. He looks like bad news!

covidsbundlertanze op. 6 (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 22 June 2022 23:33 (one week ago) link

Xgau goes too far but "My Wife and My Dead Wife" is kinda stupid tbh

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 22 June 2022 23:36 (one week ago) link

Fegmania was my first one. It was new, Greg of Rockhead’s in downtown St Paul, who resembled John Waite and had urged Huskers on me, said I needed to have it. Slash Records cassette.

It’s such a color riot of quivering party psych

I associate it closely with The Top in some way

I guess it was never too likely that the Egyptians would retain a full time keybs guy for the long haul but I REALLY enjoy Roger’s contributions to this record.

I actually don’t have a ton of time for “Heaven” - for me “Cream” “Lightbulb” “Bubble” “Mother” and “Only” are the heart of the album

covidsbundlertanze op. 6 (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 22 June 2022 23:57 (one week ago) link

I mostly agree with Alfred on “Wife”. On almost every RH album there’s a song that’s just too cute for me. “Wife” does not make my best of, not even the “triple disc” version.

covidsbundlertanze op. 6 (Jon not Jon), Thursday, 23 June 2022 00:02 (one week ago) link

"If You Were a Priest" already shows signs of writing to character but what a riff, as ever.

The verse is half-time “Interstellar Overdrive,” and the solo is double-time “Interstellar Overdrive.”

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Thursday, 23 June 2022 01:23 (one week ago) link

I did not know until today that the Soft Boys also gave us Katrina and the Waves.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Thursday, 23 June 2022 01:28 (one week ago) link

Well, yeah!

covidsbundlertanze op. 6 (Jon not Jon), Thursday, 23 June 2022 02:41 (one week ago) link

it's been said many a time, but Acid Bird is good. sounds good on Black Snake, but it also sounded great on this version with the egyptians on Whistle Test that i was watching, several years later

Fun in the sun, luck in the bloodstream
Shallow bodies writhing on the grass
Fun in the sun, hair in the slipstream
Tadpoles shooting through a hollow glass

i mean, what the fuck is going on here, but i love it. the melodies throughout are bonkers too

Bruce Stingbean (Karl Malone), Thursday, 23 June 2022 02:49 (one week ago) link

(Total aside, Jon not Jon, but I was discovering stuff at Rockheads around that time, when I was 14 or so. Bought Pere Abu's Song of the Bailing Man in the sale bin, and so much other stuff.)

deep luminous trombone (Eazy), Thursday, 23 June 2022 03:12 (one week ago) link

Ha! That delights me truly!

Our itinerary every Saturday was St Paul Comics/Shinders/Rockheads/Town Square for food/wander around the skyways for hours

covidsbundlertanze op. 6 (Jon not Jon), Thursday, 23 June 2022 03:34 (one week ago) link

A long time ago, I saw a documentary on cable: RH & Venus 3, travelling around, playing gigs in tiny places---"backstage," if you can even call it that, more like "betweem the Men's Room and the fire exit," Buck was looking cross and sleepy and saying what a good time he was having without "my other band," who made such a big deal of everything. At one point, in his plush Seattle apartment, Robyn was waiting for him, speaking shyly to Mrs. B, and then Buck comes out of the bedroom looking all cross and sleepy and fat as hell, and then they go play another dive---anybody know what that is??? Pretty good!

dow, Thursday, 23 June 2022 03:58 (one week ago) link


You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. (hugo), Thursday, 23 June 2022 04:15 (one week ago) link

Oh yes I forgot, classic. Gotta Let This Hen Out reissue spoiled a little by the extra tracks though, original verison all killer.

You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. (hugo), Thursday, 23 June 2022 04:20 (one week ago) link

I’ve still not seen the film actually

covidsbundlertanze op. 6 (Jon not Jon), Thursday, 23 June 2022 04:23 (one week ago) link

Oh did you just post the whole thing lol

covidsbundlertanze op. 6 (Jon not Jon), Thursday, 23 June 2022 04:23 (one week ago) link

Everything is on YouTube as Borges predicted. I am watchiing it again right now, forgot all about this one.

You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. (hugo), Thursday, 23 June 2022 04:28 (one week ago) link

Is that the one I was talking about?!

dow, Thursday, 23 June 2022 05:00 (one week ago) link

Oh yeah, looks right.

dow, Thursday, 23 June 2022 05:02 (one week ago) link

It's groovy. I never saw the Demme one tho, Storefront Hitchcock.

You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. (hugo), Thursday, 23 June 2022 05:05 (one week ago) link

this was just posted a few days ago. Santa Monica, April 25, 1993.

what's great about this thread is the outside chance that one of you may have been there!

Bruce Stingbean (Karl Malone), Thursday, 23 June 2022 22:05 (one week ago) link

and for the freaks out there, skip to 32 minutes in for extended stage banter riffing about donald fagen

Bruce Stingbean (Karl Malone), Thursday, 23 June 2022 22:12 (one week ago) link

that was just before I got into Robyn — I'd see him for the first time the next year ... in Santa Monica!

tylerw, Thursday, 23 June 2022 22:46 (one week ago) link

Dang, too bad! There are some fun shots of the crowd in the video, too. Seems like a blast to be there. Excellent “Waterloo sunset”, too.

Bruce Stingbean (Karl Malone), Thursday, 23 June 2022 22:57 (one week ago) link

this was just posted a few days ago. Santa Monica, April 25, 1993.

what's great about this thread is the outside chance that one of you may have been there!

I was there! I was a few minutes late (parking in Santa Monica is always terrible) so I was in the back - I think I saw the top of my head when the camera panned to the back during the Donald Fagen section.

Elvis Telecom, Friday, 24 June 2022 23:04 (one week ago) link

i KNEW donald fagen would provide the crucial connection in time and space, somehow!

that's awesome! what a cool show. was that in addition to a show at a more traditional venue or in place of one?

Bruce Stingbean (Karl Malone), Friday, 24 June 2022 23:16 (one week ago) link

Yah, this was a couple days before his show at The Palace in Hollywood that he refers to at the end (which was also a terrific show). I think he was living in Los Angeles at this time (1991-1993/4 or so) during his A&M Records era so I saw him a lot - this show, several times at McCabe's, The Whiskey, CSUF's coffee bar.

Elvis Telecom, Friday, 24 June 2022 23:55 (one week ago) link

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