May 092012

I know we’ve discussed this guy before, how he’s an acquired taste for many of us, and for others one of the few examples of a musician who seems to improve with age.

It’s taken me years to develop a real of appreciation of Hitchcock. This is weird, given my love for many eccentric British songwriters. But I think I’m finally on my way, thanks to the most banal reason possible: A very basic, maybe even dumbed-down greatest hits album.

However, I have a request for those of you are already in the pro-Hitchcock camp. Recommend three (3) albums for me: one from the ’80s, one from the ’90s, and one from 2000 onward. I will listen to them on Spotify, and perhaps later purchase them.

Caveats: Don’t recommend any Soft Boys. I’m pretty sure those albums are already in our house somewhere. Also, I already have I Often Dream of Trains, so you can skip that one too. I used to have Jewels for Sophia. I thought it was pretty good.

I look forward to your responses.


  19 Responses to “Delayed Reaction: Robyn Hitchcock”

  1. ladymisskirroyale

    I don’t know much RH, but I did like “Queen Elvis” (songs such as Madonna of the Wasps) and had the poster of the album cover hanging up in my room for years.

  2. I listened to him A LOT in the 80s; “Fegmania!” (1985) was the one I thought was his best after the “Trains” album. Then, it didn’t seem like he did much truly “new” music in the 90s (or maybe I wasn’t paying attention closely enough by that time), so I guess “Eye” (1990) or the “Jewels” one you mentioned, at the end of the decade. The next one that really caught my ear was the Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3’s “Olé! Tarantula” album. To be honest, I haven’t really heard any full albums since that one, but I thought that one was very good.

  3. As you may recall, Element of Light is the one Hitchcock lp I fully endorse. It has no fish-sex songs.

  4. Happiness Stan

    For the eighties, “Gotta Let This Hen Out”, a live album with the Egyptians, and is an absolute belter. Element of Light would be the second one of that era to check out.

    For the nineties I’ve gone for “Respect”, (although “Perspex Island” is almost as good and worth the price of admission for “Oceanside” alone.

    Lastly, “Propellor Time”. (With “Ole Tarantula” a very close second).

    A lot of his output – particularly the solo albums – suffers rather badly with quality control issues. Even on the very best of his albums there is at least one song which is either a complete clunker or he gets a bit carried away with lyrics that could sometimes be construed as bordering on the misogynistic. “Groovy Decay” has the brilliant “52 Stations” plus some great songs which he’d later re-record that are lost in terrible production which renders the album as a whole a very disappointing mess.

    As a rule of thumb, anything credited to Hitchcock and… are generally worth checking out, all the solo albums have good songs on them, but I don’t think any are consistent enough to merit more than three stars.

  5. Jeez, it’s been awhile, apparently. I completely spaced on “Element of Light”. Looking over the track listing, I’d put it in a tie with “Fegmania!”. I was going to mention that live album, but I’d already made my 80s pick….and it’s, you know, a live album (though it’s a really great one).

  6. You say that like fish-sex is a bad thing!

  7. diskojoe

    Since you already have Trains (still one of my favorite albums even though I’ve cooled on Robyn for some time now), either Element of Fegmania could do for the 80s. I would suggest the soundtrack to Storefront Hitchcock for the 90s & A Star for Bram for the 2000s.

  8. misterioso

    Without looking at what others have suggested:
    80s: Element of Light
    90s: Moss Elixir
    00s: Spooked, maybe? But to be honest, I am not well versed in the post Jewels for Sophia period.

  9. misterioso

    I love Element of Light too, but really? How about “Bass”? With a short ‘a’.

  10. trigmogigmo

    I defer to the Hitchcock experts since my acquaintance with him is limited, but I do have Moss Elixir and really, really like it. Enough that I can’t explain why I haven’t managed to check out more of his stuff. This album is about half full-band rock and half almost-solo acoustic. So I back misterioso on that choice.

  11. misterioso

    I am a longtime fan, but (and?) Moss Elixir may well be my favorite record. It is really, really good.

  12. BigSteve

    I’d recommend Spooked as well. It’s a collaboration with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, which seems like a weird pairing, but it works really well. I also recommend Robyn Sings, his re-creation of Dylan’s 1966 Manchester Free Trade Hall concert. It’s quite good.

  13. Thank you all for your suggestions. This is very helpful. This is what I’m thinking, going forward for now.

    ’80s: Element of Light
    ’90s: Moss Elixer (Last night, I listened to the Mossy Liquor companion album, and I quite liked it.)
    ’00s: Spooked or maybe Ole Tarantula

  14. Also, this recent interview was what got me to give Hitchcock another try. An entertaining, worthwhile read.,64430/

  15. Happiness Stan

    Yes, I’d put the three roughly on a par, although I personally think that Fegmania hasn’t stood up quite as well. I suggested Hen because not only is it one of the best live albums ever recorded but I also have my opinion coloured by having been at the Marquee on one of the nights they recorded it. I think that it benefits from having someone else select the tracks which went onto it, and capturing the energy which the production on some of them doesn’t. And surely that version of “Listening to the Higsons” must stand as one of his very greatest moments.

  16. sammymaudlin

    Sorry if this is a bit delayed. I was having sex with a fish.

    I can strongly, strongly recommend these-

    Black Snake Diamond Role (1981)
    Element of Light (1986, I can’t get behind anything from the ’90s so this will have to do.)
    Goodnight Oslo (2009)

    Close behind-

    Ole! Tarantula (2006)
    Fegmania! (1985)

    …It’s a Raymond Chandler Evening
    And the pavements are all wet…

  17. Somehow I missed the thread from whence this one is delayed and I almost missed this one. Which would be ashame to twice miss the opportunity to go on about one of my favorite artists.

    First, my recommendations. Gotta Let This Hen Out for the ’80s, Perspex Island for the ’90s, and Spooked for the 00s.

    If you want to leap into the deep end, get the Luminous Groove compilation. 3 discs which include Fegmania!, Element Of Light, & Gotta Let This Hen Out all with lots of bonus tracks and a further 2 discs of odds & sods ($40 from amazon resellers). And also get I Wanna Go Backwards – again 3 discs of Black Snake Diamond Role, I Often Dream of Trains, and Eye with bonus tracks and 2 discs of odds & sods ($32 from amazon resellers). And that will cover the ’80s

    Hitchcock can do little wrong for me. I love his songwriting. Lots of melodies with very little repetition. His lyrics are fun. They often seem like nonsense but whenever he gives an explanation of “what they are about” they suddenly become clear. But much like Dylan or Beefheart, it doesn’t matter what they mean, the sounds of and the use of words is enough.

    He is also great live. He draws from his entire repertoire and always throws in an interesting cover or two. And I like that he clearly loves and respects music and his heroes and antecedents. He regularly does entire albums live. I can think of the aforementioned Dylan 1966 Judas concert, Beefheart’s Clear Spot, the Beatles White Album, Sgt. Pepper, Abbey Road, & Revolver, Bowie’s Hunky Dory, a Pink Floyd show and others I can’t remember.

  18. Happiness Stan

    Thanks for backing me up on Gotta Let This Hen Out! I’ll have to look out for that Luminous Groove set…

  19. 30 pounds new from an amazon uk reseller. And the other box is 34 pounds from an amazon uk reseller.

    On Sunday my daughter returns from her junior year abroad spent at St. Andrew’s in Scotland. I’d be very happy to see her under any circumstances but all the more so as she will arrive with the 46 CD Sinatra box set (everything pre-Reprise) that I bought from an amazon uk reseller for 33 pounds ($55). They wouldn’t ship it to the US so my daughter was handily located.

Lost Password?

twitter facebook youtube