Wey Wey Hep a Hole Ding Dong: Robyn Hitchcock the song by song, album by album thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Lance LaSalle, May 15, 2020.

  1. Great Face For Radio

    Great Face For Radio Sing Hosanna, the jazz snobs are all going home.

    London N13
    Tromso Kaptein is arguably the great hidden gem of his entire catalogue and it's puzzling as to why these songs were not afforded a wider audience. The ensemble playing is excellent throughout and it's beautifully produced but top honours go to Jenny Adejayan on cello whose stylings both underpin and elevate the entire thing. It's a similar effect to that which Deni Bonet brought to Moss Elixir.

    There are certainly one or two weaker tracks and a couple that go on a bit too long, but overall it's an excellent set which stands up well against his other solo offerings. I certainly prefer it to Luxor, Spooked, The Man Upstairs and Love From London (more of which anon).

    Tromso Kaptein 4/5.
  2. brownie61

    brownie61 Forum Resident

    Tromso Kaptein

    I like a lot of things about this album, but it doesn’t knock me out. Perhaps that’t because I haven’t spent enough time with it. The cello definitely elevates the songs. Although, the first time I listened to this album, it was the cello that had me thinking every song sounded the same and made me go “ugh.” That’s obviously not the case, but I do feel this is an album that one needs to grow into over time, and I have not spent enough time.

  3. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Glos, UK
    Excellent album, drawn together by the instrumentation which makes up for a couple of weaker songs. 4/5
  4. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    This is definitely a good album, the fourth in a row from Robyn after the dismal seven album streak of mediocrity in the early '00s. It's also unusual, it strikes me. Sound-wise, it has that dry, constructed feel of the Brion-produced songs from the late 90s, but the arrangements are a lot sweeter than those songs, most of which sounded like glorified demos (and Brion is normally no minimalist.) These sound gloriously full and finished, the backing vocalists and cello and occasional lead guitar adding a lot of flavor and texture.

    Ultimately, I feel this album kind of hearkens back to a kind of sixties-ish folk-rock thing with its shuffles and marches: it all seems like a relatively fresh direction for Robyn. I agree that the arrangements elevate almost every song considerably, but I think even if this was a stripped down album like the-album-which-shall-not-named, oh, hell I'll name it, LUXOR, it would be all right.

    Overall its very enjoyable, even if I have the slight nagging feeling that the sequence might be a bit off. But it almost wouldn't be a Robyn Hitchcock album otherwise.

    Last edited: Sep 21, 2021
  5. pocketcalculator

    pocketcalculator Forum Resident

    New York City
    Tromso, Kaptein: There's only three really standout songs on this for me ("Dismal City", "Raining Twilight Coast", and "Goodnight, Oslo"), and two of those were released in different versions earlier, but this is one album where the whole is greater than the parts, and I think that is down to the sustained mood and excellent arrangements that give it a unified feeling. This is the Hitchcock album from the post-Egyptians period that I listen to the most. I want to give it a 4.5 to push it into the "5" category when Lance is averaging things, but there are a couple of more forgettable songs here, so: 4.4/5.
    Melele, TexasBuck and brownie61 like this.
  6. Melele

    Melele Well-Known Member

    Well said, Lance. I raise my Pilsner Urquell (literally) to you. The album does have a 60’s feel to it but I think it will not sound dated 20 years from now.
    Lance LaSalle likes this.
  7. Laibach

    Laibach дневник старог момка

    "What we do, will outlive us; what we say, sticks around"

    I haven't had much time to post earlier in the thread but I'm also among the Hitchcock fans who listen to this album quite often (compared to other earlier albums). I would say that the first four songs are excellently sequenced and play like a unified continuum. For years this album was out of print and I couldn't find it until there was a reprint in both CD and vinyl which I now have.

    Mr. Hitchcock and The Venus 3 (but also Steve Wynn) do have profound musical links with Norway and have often collaborated with a local band called I was a King, there's even a joint album that they recently released.
  8. MattR

    MattR Forum Resident

    Sheffield, UK
    This really is a gem. A lot of Robyn albums feel just like collections of songs jumbled together, but this actually feels like a unified whole. Like I Often Dream of Trains or Moss Elixir, even the lesser songs fit the mood and have good areangements that elevate them. The band are particularly responsible for that, and Jenny Adejayan's cello is magnificent. In fact, it adds so much that she should really have her name on the album's cover too, IMO. They hypnotic groove of these songs is terrific, the lyrics a wonderful mixture of melancholy and mystery - in that sense a perfect match for the Norwegian scenery. Really glad this one got a reissue and I'm pleased to have it on vinyl.
    pocketcalculator and brownie61 like this.
  9. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Our votes for Tromso, Kaptein.

    Average: 4.1333
  10. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Studio Albums, color*-coded for your enjoyment:

    Note: I've now added Tromso, Kaptein.

    A Can of Bees 3
    Underwater Moonlight 4.7
    Invisible Hits 3.9 (song average)
    Only the Stones Remain 3.7457 (song average)

    Black Snake Diamond Role 4.275
    Groovy Decay/Groovy Decoy 2.1571
    I Often Dream of Trains 4.8574

    Fegmania! 4.3385
    Element Of Light 4.37

    Invisible Hitchcock 3.4573 (song average)
    Globe of Frogs 3.1278
    Queen Elvis 4.2167

    EYE 3.5643
    Perspex Island 2.9929
    Respect 4.3786

    You and Oblivion 3.7284 (Song average)
    Moss Elixir 3.925
    Jewels For Sophia 3.1556
    A Star For Bram 3.24
    Shadow Cat 3.0415 (Song average)

    Nextdoorland 3.3
    Side Three 3.425

    Luxor 1.55
    Spooked 3.0857
    Olé! Tarantula 4.4188
    Goodnight, Oslo 3.6722
    Propellor Time 3.6
    Trolley Bus 2 2.9
    Tromso, Kaptein 4.1333


    1. I Often Dream of Trains
    2. Underwater Moonlight
    3. Olé! Tarantula
    4. Respect
    5. Element of Light
    6. Fegmania!
    7. Black Snake Diamond Role
    8. Queen Elvis
    9. Tromso, Captein
    10. Moss Elixir
    11. Invisible Hits
    12. Only the Stones Remain
    13. You And Oblivion
    14. Goodnight Oslo
    15. Propellor Time
    16. EYE
    17. Invisible Hitchcock
    18. Side Three
    19. Nextdoorland
    20. A Star For Bram
    21. Jewels For Sophia
    22. A Globe of Frogs
    23. Spooked
    24. Shadow Cat
    25. A Can of Bees
    26. Perspex Island
    27. Trolley Bus 2
    28. Groovy Decay/Groovy Decoy
    29. Luxor
    6 albums and one EP to go!

  11. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Today I'm starting on Love From London, which was released on Yep Roc Records on March 15th, 2003. It was well-received by critic and peaked at #13 on the Billboard chart in the US, though which Billboard chart it peaked on I'm unsure of...There are ten million charts on Billboard.

    It was the second album in a row produced by Paul Noble.

    The tracklist was:
    1. Harry's Song
    2. Be Still
    3. Stupefied
    4. I Love You
    5. Devil on a String
    6. Strawberries Dress
    7. Death & Love
    8. Fix You
    9. My Rain
    10. End Of Time
    So on October 3rd, I plan to start the next album, a vinyl and digital only compilation of singles originally released only digitally through Robyn's website called There Goes The Ice.
  12. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

  13. brownie61

    brownie61 Forum Resident

    Harry’s Song

    I wish I knew who Harry is and why this song is named for him.

    Having said that, this song is gorgeous. It is similar in some ways to Cathedral in the vast, open sound of the piano. The cello adds an extra, lovely dimension. I like the lyrics very much, but maybe I would understand them more if I knew who Harry is. I like the mention of the pterodactyls!

  14. Great Face For Radio

    Great Face For Radio Sing Hosanna, the jazz snobs are all going home.

    London N13
    I don't think I'd ever listened to this album more than a couple of times until I put it on yesterday. Frankly, it's awful; a horrible mish-mash of styles, over-production and largely uninspiring lyrics. The opening track is the best thing on it by a million miles. I'm a sucker for his piano driven songs, so throw in a bit of plaintive cello and this one is good enough to have graced IODOT. I can't shed any light on who Harry is/was; I can only think of the Harry Callahan figure in Magnum Force, but nothing in the lyrics suggests it's another song inspired by that film.

    A fantastic opener but sadly a false dawn as far as this album is concerned.

    Harry's Song 4.5/5.
  15. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Glos, UK
    Certainly continues the vein of the Trains album with Robyn's intense piano plonking, now supported by the subtle cello and harmonies. Not sure the lyrics printed with the 'sea birds' line is quite right... and I don't know who Harry is/was either. 4/5

    I haven't listened to the album in ages but I remember liking Strawberries Dress... I bought the CD at the time and it was one of only two CDs in my stupidly large collection (dating from 1986) where the ink on the label side ate into the playing side (the other was Dark Side of the Moon!).
    bzfgt, brownie61, MattR and 2 others like this.
  16. Great Face For Radio

    Great Face For Radio Sing Hosanna, the jazz snobs are all going home.

    London N13
    The only other really decent track in my opinion.
    chrism1971, brownie61 and MattR like this.
  17. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    I like Love From London but the mastering is atrocious.

    but this song transcends that: 4.5/5.
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  18. pocketcalculator

    pocketcalculator Forum Resident

    New York City
    "Harry's Song" - No idea who Harry is, or what this song is about other than it's another vague one where the singer is now estranged from the person he is watching (in his mind or reality). It's all about the ominous mood created by the imagery of pterodactyls, Robyn's doom-driven piano playing, and the cello. 4/5.

    I honestly remember nothing about Love from London. I played it several times when it came out and put it away because nothing stuck to me from it. So I'm curious to see if I am more receptive to it now, eight and a half years later.
    Laibach, brownie61, bzfgt and 2 others like this.
  19. MattR

    MattR Forum Resident

    Sheffield, UK
    You took the words out of my mouth! This album was a major disappointment at the time and I've seldom revisited it. I remember it being extremely bland for the most part. Maybe there will be a gem or two that we've missed.

    Harry's Song is nice, great atmosphere. Obviously a good song, but somehow I've never really warmed to it though, and I'm still not really feeling it today. I think Robyn once said it was about a guy washed up on a desert island where there is a piano on a beach, and he starts to play it? But I could have been dreaming that. 3.8/5
  20. bzfgt

    bzfgt The Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler

    New Jersey
    I always liked this album, I think--we'll see. Anyway I love Harry's Song, 4.8/5

    I agree with @chrism1971 --Strawberries Dress is great
    Lance LaSalle and brownie61 like this.
  21. mshare

    mshare Forum Resident

    Give tomorrow’s track a good listen!
    bzfgt likes this.
  22. Summer of Malcontent

    Summer of Malcontent Forum Resident

    I relistened to Tromso, Kaptein last week, and it reaffirmed my initial impression that it was his best album in a long while. I love the sound of this album so much, that I think it pulls together as a whole far more strongly than most of his albums, which tend to be collections of more or less great songs with occasionally solid, but often inconsistent, production. There are a few all-time greats on here, and nothing bad. Having gone through this exercise so far, I reckon this is one of Hitchcock's very best albums in any guise (and I don't feel any urge to tinker with it!) so I'll give it a 5.
  23. Great Face For Radio

    Great Face For Radio Sing Hosanna, the jazz snobs are all going home.

    London N13
    I have. It's ok.
    Lance LaSalle and mshare like this.
  24. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Our votes for "Harry's Song"

    Average: 4.2167
  25. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

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