Robyn Hitchcock - Element of Light

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by 1970, Jan 22, 2014.

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  1. dave-gtr

    dave-gtr Forum Resident

    Fantastic album, with "Airscape" being my favorite of the bunch. He toured (w/ the Egyptians) between GOTTA LET THIS HEN OUT and ELEMENT OF LIGHT and played four "new" songs (three from the album proper and "Tell me about your Drugs") at a gig in DC many moons ago. We knew immediately that the album was going to be great. He and the band were firing on all cylinders.

    Hitchcock is coming around in a little over a week for a couple of gigs at a nearby tiny club (Cat's Cradle Back Room, Carrboro, NC) so once again I get to see one of my fave's. Wonder if he'll play anything from ELEMENT?
    1970 likes this.
  2. thoutah

    thoutah Forum Resident

    SF Bay Area
    Favorite Element songs:

    Ted, Woody, and Junior
    If You Were A Priest
    Raymond Chandler Evening
  3. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Can someone confirm there truly is a version of this CD on the Midnight Music label? Today I received another copy on Glass Fish, even though it was listed as a Midnight pressing (Amazon).

    I'm nearly certain now the Midnight version doesn't exist, or if it does — it is rarer than hen's teeth! Anyway, it is not listed at The Asking Tree.

  4. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Enjoy those shows! He'll be practically in my back yard tomorrow night and two other nights this week. But I can't make it. Circumstances beyond my control. Needless to say, I am not very happy about it.

    Post the setlist(s) afterward, would you? (In the Hitchcock Appreciation Thread)

  5. lschwart

    lschwart Senior Member

    Richmond, VA
    I agree with those who've singled out "Airscape" as Hitchcock's most beautiful song. And the live version on the Rhino reissue of the album is the performance that most perfectly realizes the song's beauty. It stuns me every time I hear it.

    3rd Uncle Bob and AlienRendel like this.
  6. RTW

    RTW Forum Resident

    There is not enough Robyn on this forum. Bumping this thread.

    Re: Element of Light. There is no Midnight Music edition of this album. Glass Fish was the label in the UK/Europe and Relativity licensed it for the States. Midnight Music was his label between 82 (after Groovy Decay but including the "Eaten by Her Own Dinner" 7" single) and 85 (including Fegmania!, Gotta Let This Hen Out, and the Groovy Decoy rerelease/replacement).

    Glass Fish may have been his own label (anyone confirm?). By 86 he was releasing everything that way, including the all-new Element of Light, the compilation Invisible Hitchcock, and the reissue of Black Snake Diamond Role, which was never on Midnight Music. I'm not aware of any album that was released via both Midnight Music and Glass Fish in the same territory. I Often Dream of Trains and Groovy Decoy got Relativity releases in the US—where the albums had never been released before—but there are no straight Glass Fish equivalents in the UK as the Midnight versions were already out there.

    Re: sound quality. I had the original run of late-80s CDs and they all sound fine. Truly. I have a lot of nostalgia for them. But I thought the 1995 reissue program was brilliant. (These were Rhino in the US and Sequel in the UK/Europe.) The remasters give the recordings some extra oomph and a somewhat consistent sound over the course of a wildly varying output to that point. The bonus tracks were well chosen, the package design nice, and there were no glaring omissions that I recall.

    Fast forward another 12 years or so... I think Yep Roc has handled his catalog very badly. First of all, the remasters are extraordinarily loud, and I can't say that does these albums any kind of justice. Various tracks have been left out of the reissue campaign for no real reason at all except that, I suppose, Robyn didn't select them. All of the compilation, demo, and bonus tracks that were otherwise commercially available via separate releases like Invisible Hitchcock and You and Oblivion have been more or less made exclusive to box sets that are pricey and/or unnecessary while the standalone compilations have been deleted. Bonus tracks on the individual albums have been loosely assembled via the time they were recorded but they don't always improve upon what came before. (I Often Dream of Trains was mostly perfect in its prior two incarnations on CD but seems both gutted and marred with ephemera on the new version.) And don't get me started on Groovy Decay/Decoy, which is now only available as a digital download.

    But more than anything else, the worst travesty re: Robyn is that his A&M period from 1988-1993 is languishing out of print. I think Yep Roc got a hold of outtakes from these years for their Egyptians box, and licensed about three tracks for the single disc Chronology compilation, but if any period of Robyn's career deserves a lavish reissue scheme, it's that one, the period that made most of us fans in the first place.
  7. RTW

    RTW Forum Resident

    Re: favorite tracks from Element of Light.

    I think "Winchester" and "Never Stop Bleeding" are as beautiful as anything else he ever did. ("Airscape" doesn't necessarily top those.) I have a fondness for "Bass," which somehow stood out to me when seeing him open for REM in 1989. And I think "If You Were a Priest" just edges out "Somewhere Apart" for the urgent pop rocker on the record. My favorite bonus track is "The Black Crow Knows," but I like when he does thick psychedelia.

    Re: "Ted, Woody and Junior"
    He explained somewhere his amusement over the previous generation's homoerotic material, where the eroticism was so blatantly obvious and yet so cloaked in other pretexts, such as three men bathing each other in a shower with an explanation that they were trying to conserve water during wartime, or something like that... Robyn's not gay, but it's totally irrelevant that he isn't. The song is satire.
  8. lightbulb

    lightbulb Not the Brightest of the Bunch

    Smogville CA USA
    Yes, Airscape is my favorite track on this LP.
    It's also amazing to hear him play it live...especially during his acoustic shows.
    3rd Uncle Bob likes this.
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