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.

    Location:
    London N13
    Another great song which this version detracts from rather than enhancing. Once again his voice can't come close to Nick Drake's and the arrangement doesn't have the lovely swing of the original either.

    River Man 0/5.
     
  2. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glos, UK
    There are a number of excellent covers of River Man, my favourite being the Unthanks version. The intensity of this song just doesn't suit Robyn (or maybe because it's someone else's intensity, not his). I'm not rating these by the way, just interrupting the conversation.

    Anyone interested in Drake will probably have watched the beautifully made documentary from the late 90s, wittily titled A Skin Too Few. One of the nicest things about it is its calmness - it only has a few sequences with his music in it; River Man occurs about 12 mins 30 in and captures the Cambridge vibe.

     
  3. Shriner

    Shriner Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA
    River -- I don't know the original, but I liked this one. 3/5
     
    Lance LaSalle likes this.
  4. pocketcalculator

    pocketcalculator Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    "River Man" - Robyn's version is fine, but he doesn't add anything to the original. As others have mentioned, if he dropped this into one of his live sets, I would be delighted, but here it's more ho-hum. 3/5.
     
    Lance LaSalle likes this.
  5. pocketcalculator

    pocketcalculator Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    Robyn just sent out a nice message to his email list, which, for those who aren't on the list, I've taken the liberty of pasting here:
    There is a poor recording of the interview posted at a site that rhymes with schminternet schmarchive.
     
  6. pocketcalculator

    pocketcalculator Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    So I listened to the interview tonight while I was making dinner, and it's very good - if you are interested in how Robyn approaches songwriting, and where certain songs came from, I highly recommend it. One thing that stood out, a propos of the discussion re The Upstairs Downstairs Men, is that he said that, when doing covers, he doesn't try to interpret them, or make them his own, but rather to "be a method actor" and channel the artist who wrote them. I think this is a big reason why these covers don't resonate for most of us, because Robyn will never out-Lennon John Lennon, or whomever he is trying to be. He's at his best when he's Robyn Hitchcock.

    Also, he's been writing a lot since Covid hit and I think we should expect a new album next year.
     
  7. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Our votes for "River Man"

    1-1
    2-0
    3-3
    4-0
    5-0
    Average: 2.5
     
  8. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    dlemaudit likes this.
  9. pocketcalculator

    pocketcalculator Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    “Arnold Layne” - I actually like some of Syd Barrett’s stuff with Pink Floyd (“Lucifer Sam” has a very cool bass line), but this song is not among them. Robyn does not improve it. 1/5.
     
  10. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glos, UK
    Thanks for posting that, very illuminating.
    I liked the description of David Fricke. True that Americans have tended to provide much more balanced music critics than the UK has.... though the UK has had a couple of notable exceptions which fit those adjectives (Richard Williams for one).
     
    Lance LaSalle likes this.
  11. Great Face For Radio

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

    Location:
    London N13
    The Pink Floyd compilation Relics was one of the first albums I ever bought (everyone did it was 99p) and this was the opening track. It blew me away aged 13 and still does. I think Robyn can get away with "channelling" Syd Barrett more so than Ferry/Lennon/Dylan/Drake etc, given the similarity in their voices and delivery. I really love The Soft Boys' take on Vegetable Man, but this is pretty lame strum-along-a-Syd stuff. That said, I prefer it to The Ghost In You and Crystal Ship.

    Arnold Layne (don't do it again Robyn) 1.5/5.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2021
  12. bzfgt

    bzfgt The Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler

    Location:
    New Jersey
    Arnold Layne is one of the best songs of the 60s.
     
  13. Shriner

    Shriner Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA
    Arnold Layne -- it's by the numbers, but it's a great song so I'm giving it a generous 3/5
     
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  14. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    The ultra-stripped back production, just guitar and double-tracked vocal really work on this. I really enjoy it. 3.5/5
     
    pocketcalculator likes this.
  15. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    OUr votes for "Arnold Layne"

    1-1
    2-1
    3-1
    4-1
    5-0
    Average: 2.25
     
  16. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

  17. Great Face For Radio

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

    Location:
    London N13
    Not a bad little song, it reminds me a bit of I Got A Message For You. I like "you had halcyon hair". Cavendish Square, in case you don't know, is a small oasis of green just off Oxford Street in London's West End. It's where workers from the nearby BBC Television Centre eat their packed lunches in the summer.

    Cavendish Square 3/5.
     
  18. bzfgt

    bzfgt The Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler

    Location:
    New Jersey
    Damn it I can't play this one because it says "The time has come to open thy heart/wallet"
     
  19. Shriner

    Shriner Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA
    Square -- doesn't do anything for me. 2/5 Maybe a band version would have been better than this solo version, I dunno.
     
    pocketcalculator likes this.
  20. pocketcalculator

    pocketcalculator Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    "Cavendish Square" - One of Robyn's cod music hall pieces. Fine for an "Invisible Hitchcock" b-side compilation. Not interesting lyrically or musically, but not offensive. 2/5.
     
    Lance LaSalle likes this.
  21. Summer of Malcontent

    Summer of Malcontent Forum Resident

    In this respect he's kind of like an old "the song's the thing" folkie. It would be delightful to see him do his eccentric jukebox act in the right live setting, but on record it's often redundant.
     
    AlienRendel likes this.
  22. pocketcalculator

    pocketcalculator Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    For me, if the song’s the thing, it should stand up to some bending and stretching by the singer to find something individual, or unexplored in the original, which is what Robyn is mostly not interested in.
     
  23. Summer of Malcontent

    Summer of Malcontent Forum Resident

    Well of course, but the old folk club tradition was all about delivering the song straight, as well as you could, so the audience could marvel at it, or discover it for the first time. It wasn't about showboating and making a song your own. Unless you had a voice like Karen Dalton, say, which could put a personal stamp on any old nursery rhyme.
     
  24. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    "Cavendish Square" is very nice. Having actually listened to it a few times now, I think I like The Man Downstairs better than The Man Upstairs.

    4/5
     
  25. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Our votes for "Cavendish Square"

    1-0
    2-2
    3-1
    4-1
    Average: 2.75
     

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