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. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glos, UK
    True, but it wasn't recorded for the album. There were two distinct sessions with two different producers (Andy Arthurs and John Acock).
     
  2. pocketcalculator

    pocketcalculator Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    One of the interesting things about listening to these early Soft Boys tracks is knowing what is coming in the future. One point of comparison is the first two XTC records, which are also full of musical ideas, albeit in not near the kind of radical collision that is going on with the Soft Boys, but which also show a group excited about the possibilities of making new sounds and experimenting with structure, but not being so much concerned with what they are actually saying.
     
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  3. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Yes! I was actually thinking about Split Enz being much the same: another band who, in their early days, would cram an album's worth of ideas into a single song; but XTC is a good comparison too.
     
  4. AlienRendel

    AlienRendel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, il
    Interestingly, when Robyn later guest-hosted 120 minutes, he talks about Elvis Costello, saying something to the effect of, "He's brilliant but I like it when he doesn't try to cram too many ideas into one song." (that's heavily paraphrased and from ancient memory)
     
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  5. bzfgt

    bzfgt The Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler

    Location:
    New Jersey
    This one's brilliant, there's a lot going on but it feels pretty coherent....
     
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  6. lastdamdown

    lastdamdown Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hillsboro, OR
    The one dish that you can't get at a food truck in Portland...yet.
     
  7. bzfgt

    bzfgt The Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler

    Location:
    New Jersey
  8. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glos, UK
    I think it was 'crumpled heart' ;-). And to be fair, it was early days, Robyn was 24 and the rest of the group were a year or two younger, and in the mid-70s a sort of post-hippie irony was the order of the day (in Britain) - colliding here with the need, by mid-77, to rev up the music. I seem to remember Springsteen chucking everything in on his first two LPs....
    edit: Actually I really liked your post pocketcalculator!
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2020
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  9. Shriner

    Shriner Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA
    "Brane" -- the best of the lot so far. It grooves like a precursor to the stuff on Underwater Moonlight. Higher than a "3" so I'll go 3.5/5.
     
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  10. crozcat

    crozcat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sweden
    I think all three Give It To The Soft Boys EP tracks are excellent. As been said, this is where they found their style.
    I love the "twin" guitar-playing, which would be even better and more intense when Kimberly Rew joined. He is also a great lead guitarist, imo.
    It´s hard to rank individual tracks, but the EP is 4/5 to me.
     
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  11. pocketcalculator

    pocketcalculator Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    Thanks! The vocals on the first EP are low in the mix so it's hard to tell what Robyn is singing at times, but "crippled" is what it sounded like to me (maybe it depends on whatever your most recent romantic experience was). I did look at the lyrics posted which Lance had linked to, and it seemed like whoever did the transcription also did their best guesstimate, because there were literal blanks.

    I might clarify that I do like these early Soft Boy songs, but I don't like them like I like the later stuff, and I certainly don't listen to them much. I am also not a big Beefheart fan (some I like, some I like not at all), and the Beefheart influence seems to be strongest in this period.

    In one of the liner notes to Underwater Moonlight (I think), Robyn says that round about when Matthew Seligman joined, Robyn started streamlining his songs and presenting them as finished pieces, rather than something for the band to tinker with (though you can clearly hear the development of arrangements over time on the Matador session takes), and that this really spelled the end of the band. I can see that, but I also can't imagine where they would have gone artistically if they had continued in the same vein, whether they made A Can of Bees II or tried something completely different. It's also hard to remove the financial component from the equation - when you aren't making much money from gigs or records and your records aren't getting on the radio, it's difficult to keep making "out there" music for long (unless you are Sun Ra.)
     
  12. pocketcalculator

    pocketcalculator Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    It's also interesting to me that I was disappointed with the Soft Boys reunion album, Nextdoorland, because it sounded to me like a Robyn Hitchcock solo record backed by the guys who were in the Soft Boys. It was, in my opinion, a weak batch of songs, but I also wonder if it missed the process that went into making A Can of Bees and Underwater Moonlight. (I really enjoyed the reunion concerts, though, particularly the first tour for the Underwater Moonlight reissue).
     
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  13. mr. steak

    mr. steak Forum Resident

    Location:
    tempe az
    Robyn was the 80's Bob Pollard.
     
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  14. Summer of Malcontent

    Summer of Malcontent Forum Resident

    Wrong versions, too. 'Have a Heart Betty' and 'Rock 'n' Roll Toilet' are the Can of Bees versions, not the (superior) Invisible Hits ones that they claim to be.
     
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  15. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    OUr votes for "Hear My Brane":

    1-0
    2-0
    3-0
    4-3
    5-0
    Average: 3.7667

    Give it to the Soft Boys EP

    1-0
    2-0
    3-0
    4-2
    5-0
    Average: 3.85
     
  16. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Today's song is "The Yodelling Hoovers", credited to The Soft Boys. It was produced by Mike Kemp and the Soft Boys.



    Lyric HERE.

    Recorded at the same June 1977 sessions that produced the Give it to the Soft Boys EP, this was released on an expanded version of that EP called Wading Through Your Ventilator in 1984; and again in 1989 this expanded EP was released under the title Raw Cuts.
     
  17. Summer of Malcontent

    Summer of Malcontent Forum Resident

    It's fine, but it's the most lightweight of the songs from that session (excluding Ventilator Variant Vyrna). On the plus side, its breeziness provides a contrast with the other tracks, so the band is already demonstrating its stylistic breadth right from the outset.
     
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  18. panther_dream

    panther_dream Forum Resident

    Would love to see that episode! I'm guessing from the latter comment you haven't seen it floating around the internet, then?
     
  19. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    "The Yodelling Hoovers" is pure catchniness; a bit more conventionally arranged than the others, with the various parts all sort of packed into the song like conventional pop/rock hooks. There is still a lot going on, but I guess this song sort of presages their later Underwater Moonlight/Invisible Hits stuff -- I like the no-nonsense production of this song, probably coming in part from technical limitations of the studio...the whispered vocals add a sort of spooky undertone that I think emphasizes the humor inherent in the song.

    I suppose I do rate this a tad lower than the three songs on the Give it to the Soft Boys EP, but only a little: I think it's a pretty cool slice of whimsy and that drum/rhythm guitar is pretty insinstently cool.
    3.5/5
     
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  20. 3/5. Catchy, but inconsequential. Hear My Brane is also a 3/5.
     
  21. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glos, UK
    I always liked the Yodelling Hoover - I think it was the first of the tracks I heard. Never played much live. Also yet another from this period which was revamped for the Radar album - not with much heart - Robyn's guitar solo sounds like he's lost interest. On this one you can really hear Alan's chunky rhythm work which at this point worked really well with RH's more, er, experimental playing.

    Lyrically, for 'mercans, in the UK 'hoover' meant vacuum cleaner and associated verb - to hoover up etc. By extension a hoover was person who cleaned the plate ('everything goes down / the jewels and the crown...'). RH's cartoonish imagination here always reminded me of the Alan Aldridge hoover in Yellow Submarine, which ends up devouring itself. As for 'She's very French / but her heart's a target for the East'... no idea, but great line.

    3.5 /5
     
  22. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    I knew this...but I'm a bit confused -- does it not mean that any longer? Or is it old-fashioned nowadays?
     
  23. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glos, UK
    No, still does, maybe not so much now as other alternatives (Dyson), and the internet, take over. In the 50s and 60s the Hoover was a near monopoly in the UK.
     
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  24. Shriner

    Shriner Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA
    "Yodelling" -- not everything is a diamond in the rough. 1/5
     
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  25. AlienRendel

    AlienRendel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, il
    No, but also haven't searched. I believe the Elvis Costello track being queued up was "Veronica", so that probably puts it around 1989? Robyn also played a nice in-the-studio version of "Wax Doll".

    Not positive, but it might have been this same episode:
     
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