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This weekend I’ll mostly be listening to… Robyn Hitchcock, Globe of Frogs February 7, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Recently I mentioned Robyn Hitchcock, originally of the late-lamented Soft Boys, who came to the fore with a mix of psychedelia, new wave and folk (leavened by a dash of something quite like punk).

Globe of Frogs is the album that reconnected me with Robyn Hitchcock in the late 1980s after seeing him sort of slide off my radar earlier in the decade. A friend of mine had had Groovy Decay and I made it my business to get a copy of it soon after. I still think it is his masterpiece, perhaps because of the time I heard it and how evocative it remains of then. But I also think it was informed by an edgy post-punk energy which later dissipated, or altered into something quite different. Not worse, but different.

Subsequently I purchased Black Snake Diamond Role and that was pretty much it for years. I’m not sure why there was a hiatus. I think in part the fact that Groovy Decay and BSDR were so good that a fear that anything else wouldn’t measure up stopped me – difficult third, fourth, fifth and other albums syndrome… (although I understand Hitchcock really disliked GD and a later edition was released under the name Groovy Decoy which used early versions of various tracks). In retrospect such a fear is alsmost understandable given how many Hitchcock albums I’ve wound up with in following years.

Anyhow, after that nothing for a good six years. I still listened to and loved those two earlier albums but didn’t make any effort to follow what he was doing during the mid-1980s. And curiously, I still haven’t. So I’m not sure what impelled me to purchase Globe of Frogs. It certainly wasn’t down to any airplay for the singles off it…

I might have caught wind that Pete Buck was involved, and as a side point surely no man was more generous with his time than Buck given his involvement in a vast number of other musical concerns. Or that some members of Squeeze were sharing song-writing duties on a number of tracks. But I doubt it.

I suspect the truth was a bit more mundane. In Freebird, by this stage down on the quays, I probably saw this going second hand and thought – ah-hah!

Anyhow, it’s a cracking album, long deleted unfortunately, with a raft of excellent songs which just barely push Hitchcock towards a slightly more commercial profile. But this being Hitchcock the relevant words in that sentence are barely and slightly. So while Flesh Number One (Beatle Dennis) is indeed uber melodic there’s some grit still in there, perhaps a little like that which the Go-Betweens always brought to the party.

Chinese Bones perhaps betrays the greatest REM influence. And for the others there’s still something of that spiky post punk filtered through a slightly smoother sensibility, as with The Shapes between us, and Tropical Flesh Mandala.

I’ve seen Hitchcock a number of times live since and never been disappointed, although only on the Soft Boys reunion did I see him with a full band.

A Globe of Frogs

Tropical Flesh Mandala

Flesh Number One (Beatle Dennis)

The shapes between us turn into animals

Chinese Bones

Comments»

1. Phil - February 7, 2010

That’s a very fine album – maybe my third favourite of his, after Respect and Eye. RH seems to be an easy artist to drift away from & rediscover, possibly because he just keeps on going – I was a big Soft Boys fan, way back, but I didn’t get into the solo stuff until fegmania!

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WorldbyStorm - February 7, 2010

Respect is a remarkable album. Perhaps my favourite of his. I think that’s true about how one can drift. But, to me songs like 52 Stations, etc, have never dimmed… or perhaps particularly America… Fegmania! is pretty amazing too.

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2. ejh - February 7, 2010

Ah yes, Hitchcock

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3. WorldbyStorm - February 7, 2010

That’s a rather fine post ejh, not just the Hitchcock character, which I think you’ve got spot on, but the rest of it. And I know precisely what you mean by thoughts breaking in…

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