|Robyn Hitchcock — Love From London (2013)|
Robyn Hitchcock — Love From London
¶ English singer-songwriter and guitarist. While primarily a vocalist and guitarist, he also plays harmonica, piano and bass guitar.
¶ Coming to prominence in the late 1970s with The Soft Boys, Hitchcock afterward launched a prolific solo career. His musical and lyrical styles have been influenced by the likes of Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Syd Barrett. Hitchcock's lyrics tend to include surrealism, comedic elements, characterisations of English eccentrics, and melancholy depictions of everyday life.
Birth name: Robyn Rowan Hitchcock
Born: March 03, 1953
Location: London, UK
Album release: March 5, 2013
Record Label: Yep Roc Records
01. Harry's Song (4:20)
02. Be Still (4:14)
03. Stupefied (3:02)
04. I Love You (3:31)
05. Devil On A String (4:47)
06. Strawberries Dress (3:28)
07. Death & Love (4:09)
08. Fix You (3:51)
09. My Rain (2:56)
10. End Of Time (6:26)
¶ UK singer marks his 60th birthday with 2013 album of trademark jangly pop & surreal psychedelic balladry.
¶ C'est le 22eme album de ce singer songwriter typiquement anglais, trop nettement sous-estimé. Une fois de plus, on y retrouve cette délicate pop psychédélique, surréaliste et légerement déjantée, avec une pointe de mélancolie qui caractérise le personnage.
¶ Un album a l'écoute agréable.
LOVE FROM LONDON is the latest release from Robyn Hitchcock, and it celebrates life in a culture imperiled by economic and environmental collapse. 'These are exciting times' Robyn says, 'we are surfing on the momentum of chaos. If a consensus on global warming comes from the people, then the media, the politicians, and the corporations will have to adapt to it. Rock and Roll is an old man's game now, so I'm staying in it'. The release of Love From London commemorates and celebrates Robyn's 60th Birthday.
The erstwhile Soft Boy’s latest solo outing is a brooding, politicised set.
David Sheppard 2013-03-01
¶ Turning 60 in March 2013, none-more-English singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock is surely about due for installation at national treasure-dom’s top table.
¶ Not that this, the erstwhile Soft Boy’s 19th solo outing, panders exclusively to Hitchcockian stereotype: specifically, Syd Barrett-via-Edward Lear neo-psych-rock whimsy, with a side order of Paisley Underground guitar swirl and chime.
¶ Indeed, while his customary playfulness in dissecting matters of the heart and cerebellum is a reassuring hallmark of Love From London, the album also proffers a brooding, politicised, sometimes incensed Hitchcock – even if its title does more readily connote a beatific 1967 hippie "happening".
¶ That ire is made most manifest on the motorik, fuzz-toned Fix You, in which Hitchcock vents his spleen at the architects of the current global financial crisis and the ensuing buck-passing: "They make you redundant and call you a slacker."
¶ Imagine an updated Plastic Ono Band giving it to the man, post Bear Stearns, etc, and you’re close. Its righteous vitriol is set askew by typically psychedelic references to “strawberry mousse” and the like.
¶ Elsewhere, Hitchcock and his adroit band (bassist Paul Noble, cellist Jenny Adejayan and vocalists Lizzie Anstey, Jenny Marco, Lucy Parnell and Anne Lise Frokedal) get to grips with an eclectic litany of the man’s less-quotidian essays, his soi-disant “paintings you can listen to”.
¶ Typically, Strawberries Dress marries the glinting psyche-pop of Hitchcock’s 80s combo The Egyptians with phantasmagoric lyrics about the Telecom Tower and “a fine young sprite, naked from the naval downwards”.
¶ Elsewhere, My Rain is a lilting, mysterioso late-night waltz, brimming with rollercoaster, Syd-like vocal mannerisms, rippling guitars and mournful cello.
¶ Proceedings conclude with the sprawling End of Time, a song that deals with the tricky business of the post-existential void (ergo death). Even here, Hitchcock can disarm with a simple, childlike simile (“Day breaks like an egg”) and everywhere the potentially portentous subject of mortality is deftly addressed.
¶ It culminates in a hymnal, valedictory chorus which slowly fades into the ether, leaving just the lapping waves of eternity, before a coda, replete with a chant of the album title, returns us to the living, breathing here and now.
¶ "The title refers to two long nights spent in Oslo in 1982 by Morris Windsor and myself with some friends," Robyn Hitchcock says of Goodnight Oslo, his new Yep Roc release with his ace combo the Venus 3. "The album, in part, celebrates the ghosts of the smoke age, and the various ways they were wrecked but still sailed on. That's the way it is with humans. You could call it the comfort of doom. Goodnight Oslo is a vortex that I am still leaving."
¶ The ten new Hitchcock compositions that comprise Goodnight Oslo mark another milestone in the Englishman's iconoclastic catalog. His remarkable body of recordings spans more than three decades, beginning with his seminal late-'70s work with post-punk psychedelicists the Soft Boys and continuing with a series of highly regarded albums under his own name and with his backup outfit the Egyptians and, more recently, the Venus 3. Those releases have won Hitchcock an international reputation as a visionary lyricist with an uncanny penchant for incisive whimsy and vivid surrealist metaphor, as well as a world-class tunesmith with a deep affinity for Beatlesque/Byrdsy songcraft.
¶ The qualities that distinguished Hitchcock's prior work are prominent on such Goodnight Oslo tunes as "What You Is", "I'm Falling," "Hurry For The Sky" and "Up To Our Nex," which carry a hopeful, healing and unmistakably playful vibe that reflects the ongoing evolution in Hitchcock's lyrical perspective.
¶ "These songs are largely about breaking out of a negative cycle, and believing that change can happen," the artist asserts, adding, "It's not a recovery album or a therapy album per se; it's just a sign to the exit. Of course, it's sad to say goodbye to what you know and what you've been, but nothing is solid."
¶ Goodnight Oslo is Hitchcock's second full-length effort with the Venus 3, an all-American ensemble of notable alt-rockers, namely R.E.M.'s Peter Buck (who's worked sporadically with Hitchcock for more than 20 years) on guitar, Minus 5/Young Fresh Fellows/R.E.M'er Scott McCaughey on bass and Ministry/R.E.M. vet Bill Rieflin on drums. The foursome's effortless rapport was previously showcased on Hitchcock's 2006 album Ole! Tarantula and the 2007 live EP Sex, Food, Death... and Tarantulas.
¶ "The boys are all happy to take risks, but they build a steady bridge over every ravine," Hitchcock says of the Venus 3. "Peter can go anywhere I go, and then explain to me how we get out again. Scott is super-warm and the heart of us. Bill is precise, works with a clear mind, dices the beat like a sushi chef and puts in amazing rolls too. Like Davy Jones and Graham Nash, I'm the Englishman of the group."
¶ In addition to the Venus 3, Goodnight Oslo - recorded at Tucson's Wavelab studio, at Chroma studio in Seattle and at Hitchcock's London home, with additional overdubs added in New York, the North West and Cardiff - features contributions from Decemberists singer Colin Meloy, Harvey Danger frontman Sean Nelson and Hitchcock's former Soft Boys bandmate Morris Windsor.
¶ As the new album confirms, Hitchcock is presently in the midst of a remarkable artistic and career resurgence. At a point at which many veteran artists are either throwing in the towel or coasting on past achievements, Hitchcock has been generating some of the most vibrant and resonant music he's ever made. He's also performing for ever larger and more diverse audiences, particularly in the U.S., where he's long maintained a rabidly devoted fan base.
¶ "You never know when the clock will stop," Hitchcock reflects. "I will probably never time-travel, heal the sick or levitate, which were the natural ambitions I had as a boy. ¶ But I have trained myself to write songs and perform them, and I'm still developing those abilities. I am past my peak as an animal, but not as an artist. Of course, your work doesn't necessarily improve with age; it just mutates. You have to give birth to those mutations, I guess. So my songs may be no better now than 30 years ago; they're merely alive in a different way, fed on different emotional nutrients, as I am."
¶ Recent months have also seen Hitchcock engaging in a broad array of multimedia excursions and creative collaborations. He's the subject of a pair of films directed by John Edginton for the Sundance Channel: the documentary profile Sex, Food, Death... and Insects, and a concert film documenting the New York stop on the November 2008 tour on which Hitchcock presented his classic 1984 album I Often Dream of Trains in its entirety. He also performs two songs in Jonathan Demme's current film hit Rachel Getting Married; longtime Hitchcock fan Demme had previously directed the artist in the unconventional concert film Storefront Hitchcock and the political thriller The Manchurian Candidate, in which Hitchcock played a villainous supporting role. Hitchcock has also been writing songs with XTC's Andy Partridge.
¶ Hitchcock - along with such artists as K.T. Tunstall, Jarvis Cocker, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Martha Wainwright, Vanessa Carlton and Feist - recently participated in the latest Cape Farewell expedition, an ambitious environmental-awareness project that sent a group of musicians, artists, writers and scientists on a sea voyage to the Arctic to experience the effects of global climate change firsthand, in an effort to focus attention on the gravest environmental issue of our time.
¶ "We sailed on a Russian icebreaker around the west coast of Greenland, watching the luminescent icebergs that the melting glaciers shed, floating away from the great ice fields," Hitchcock recounts. "By the time of the next U.S. election, there will be no ice or snow to stand on at the North Pole in summer, just a body of water with the Russians, Canadians and Norwegians all drilling for oil beneath it. What are we going to do about it? Cross-pollinate ideas amongst ourselves. Cape Farewellers are everywhere now. Creative propaganda, or an elegy for what we are destroying? Hopefully both. I had a couple of great jams up there with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Jarvis Cocker, and K.T. Tunstall and I recorded some new songs written on the boat. Spaciba, Alina!"
¶ Hitchcock's current career renaissance coincides with a series of retrospective releases that have restored the bulk of his catalog to the marketplace. Yep Roc has issued a pair of lovingly assembled box sets, I Wanna Go Backwards and Luminous Groove, which cover much of Hitchcock's '80s output, as well as expanded individual reissues of most of his albums of that era. Plans are also afoot for the release of the Soft Boys' collected works in box set form.
¶ "It's always a happy sight to see your work in print," Hitchcock notes. "Those records weren't really made for their time, so it's like the letter we posted 30 years ago is just being delivered now."
¶ But reliving his history takes a back seat to the fertile stream of new music that Hitchcock continues to generate, and Goodnight Oslo demonstrates that the artist's singular vision remains as compelling as ever, even as he continues to forge ahead into stimulating new territory.
¶ "I've lived past the age of malice, though I still dwell in the valley of rage," Hitchcock states. "That's why my compass still points to John Lennon. He was angry and emotionally uncomfortable, but he was funny and smart. I hope that my core can radiate through my own fear and doubt."
Original studio albums:
• Black Snake Diamond Röle, 1981
• Groovy Decay, 1982
• I Often Dream of Trains, 1984
• Fegmania!, 1985 (with the Egyptians)
• Element of Light, 1986 (with the Egyptians)
• Globe of Frogs, 1988 (with the Egyptians)
• Queen Elvis, 1989 (with the Egyptians)
• Eye, 1990
• Perspex Island, 1991 (with the Egyptians)
• Respect, 1993 (with the Egyptians)
• Moss Elixir, 1996
• Jewels for Sophia, 1999
• Luxor, 2003
• Spooked, 2004
• Olé! Tarantula, 2006 (with the Venus 3)
• Goodnight Oslo, 2009 (with the Venus 3)
• Propellor Time, 2010 (with the Venus 3)
• Tromsø, Kaptein, 2011
• Love from London, 2013
• Gotta Let This Hen Out!, 1985 (with the Egyptians)
• Give It To The Thoth Boys - Live Oddities, 1993 (Cassette only release sold on tour 1993) (with the Egyptians)
• The Kershaw Sessions, 1994 (with the Egyptians)
• Storefront Hitchcock, 1998
• Storefront Hitchcock L.P., 1998
• Live at the Cambridge Folk Festival, 1998 (with the Egyptians)
• Robyn Sings, 2002 (Double live album of Bob Dylan cover songs)
• This is the BBC, 2006
• Sex, Food, Death... and Tarantulas (Live EP), 2007
• I Often Dream of Trains in New York, (CD+DVD), 2009
|Robyn Hitchcock — Love From London (2013)|