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. panther_dream

    panther_dream Forum Resident

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  2. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    No interruption. We're here to celebrate Robyn Hitchcock, after all!

    Our votes for "The Yodelling Hoovers"

    1-1
    2-0
    3-1
    4-2
    5-0
    Average: 2.75
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
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  3. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Today's song is "Give It To the Soft Boys", credited to The Soft Boys. It was produced by Mike Kemp and the Soft Boys and recorded with the other songs from the past few days in June 1977.


    Lyric HERE

    A version of this was recorded at the Living Room Sessions from March 1977, but has not been released.

    This version was originally released on the Wading Through Your Ventilator EP in 1984, and re-released on the identical Rough Cuts EP in 1989, and was included on the 1976-81 compilation.

    Another studio version was recorded in 1978 and was released as the first track on A Can of Bees -- and I will hold that version up for discussion when we discuss the songs from that album.

    Live versions of "Give It the Soft Boys" have been released on:

    • Live at the Portland Arms (recorded November 1978)
    • Where Are the Prawns (recorded January 1994)
    • Sex, Food, Death...and Tarantulas (recorded by RH & the Venus 3 in Seattle November 25, 2006)
     
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  4. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Another piece of whimsy, this comes closer to "novelty" than the other ones; still it's a cool blues groove with some nice guitar work: I prefer this early version to the later Can of Bees version. Probably went down well live. It's catchy enough, and has a good rock edge to it: I've always though it was meant to suggest erectile dysfunction (and I think Robyn's work at this time was pretty rife sexual metaphors and symbols -- including "the Yodelling Hoovers"), but in a jokey way here: a sort of revelling in self-depracotory humor and a send up both of Rock Attitude and bluesy self-reference.

    3.3/4
     
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  5. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glos, UK
    I never really cared for this song but it served as a warm-up/sound-check for the first couple of years. My favourite version is the one on the Portland Arms sessions, as it essentially takes the p* out of itself. (That live session was recorded in January 1979. :) )

    The song preceded the band - i.e. it was in the first batch of songs performed while they were Dennis and the Experts (Sept-Dec 1976, at which point Rob Lamb left to pursue a career in IT). Because they played it at the start of every set it became sort of synonymous.

    RH said several times that the song was about the (English) Civil Service - not a subject your typical punk band would bother with; maybe middle-class drop-Robyn saw it as hard-biting satire; 'soft boys' = 'the bloodless creatures who run our lives'. I just thought it was a bit puerile. 2/5
     
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  6. Shriner

    Shriner Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA
    "Give it to..." Meh. Always felt like a throwaway. 1/5
     
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  7. AlienRendel

    AlienRendel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, il
    Seeing Young Fresh Fellows cover this when opening for the reunion shows gave me a new appreciation for it.
     
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  8. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Our votes for "Give It to the Soft Boys" (Raw Sessions version)

    1-1
    2-1
    3-1
    4-0
    5-0
    Average: 2.1
     
  9. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Today's song is the final song from the released "Raw Sessions" songs from 1977: "Vera Knowles a Headbanger", credited to the Soft Boys and produced by Martin Kemp and the Soft Boys.


    The song is an alternate version of "Wading Through Your Ventilator." It was released on the Wading Through a Ventilator EP in 1984 and re-released on Raw Cuts in 1989.

    Lyric Here.
     
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  10. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Of course the backing track is basicaly the same as before; I think I prefer "Wading Through a Ventilator" though -- there a couple of patches where the lyric seems a little awkward here -- "at least I"m not a coathanger" looks better on paper than it sounds spat out angrily; although most of it still has the unique lyrical beauty that Robyn is so good at, the other lyric is better for me.

    I suppose I'll give it a 2.6/5. To be honest, because I like "Wading Through a Ventilator"so much, and this is in my opinion inferior, I guess I find it a bit superfluous.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2020
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  11. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glos, UK
    I agree. I hadn't listened to this version for ages, the backing track is less developed and the lyric is a bit feeble. I think they withdrew it for legal reasons. 1.5/5
     
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  12. Shriner

    Shriner Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA
    This is equal to the other backing track version to me (as I hadn't listened to either in an age). I think I gave that a 3, so a 3 here, too. It's still pretty good.
     
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  13. Summer of Malcontent

    Summer of Malcontent Forum Resident

    I agree that 'Vyrna Knowl' is a more awkward lyric that doesn't fit the flow of the track as well. So it strikes me either as an early draft of the song (which makes it a weird choice to record at the same session as the 'finished' version) or else an 'in-joke' set of lyrics that Hitchcock came up with and the band recorded as a lark, without any expectation of release.
     
  14. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Tomorrow I'm going to start on songs from 1978 that were released.

    1978 was a rather busy year, with the Soft Boys basically recording no fewer than three albums: An unreleased album for Radar Records that is largely unreleased, A Can of Bees, released in 1979 and a nameless "second album" most of which has never been officially released or even released on bootleg apparently. (Apparently lost.)

    First the Radar album.
    Some of the songs recorded at this time seem to have been:
    • Fatman's Son
    • Human Music
    • (I Wanna) Appreciate You
    • (I Want To Be An) Anglepoise Lamp
    • Lonesome Death of Ian Penman
    • Look Into Your Mirror
    • Pigworker
    • Psychedelic Love
    • Salamander
    • Sandra's Having Her Brain Out
    • Ugly Nora
    • Vegetable Girl
    • Wey Wey Hep a Hole
    • Where are the Prawns?
    Most of these songs have never been (officially) released though all of them circulate on bootlegs. The ones that have been released are as as follows:
    1. (I Want to Be an) Anglepoise Lamp
    2. Fatman's Son
    3. Where are the Prawns
    4. Salamander
    The Soft Boys wanted the latter two songs released as their first single for Radar; Radar preferred the former two and had their way. The single was released in May 1978.

    The other two were released on the 1976-1981. In the end the Soft Boys departed from Radar Records in debt and guitarist Alan Davies left the band to replaced by guitarist Kimberly Rew, which changed the band's sound. (My timeline is right, isn't it? I'm mostly going on memory. )

    In addition the Soft Boys released a live album recorded in November 1978 called Live at the Portland Arms. This album did not come out (on cassette) in 1983 and on vinyl in 1987.

    Some songs that are unique to that concert among official releases and which I plan to hold up for discussion are:
    • My Evaline
    • I Like Bananas (Because They Have No Bones)
    • Horns Large Horns
    • The Book Of Love
    • Wish I Had My Baby
    • White Shoes Blues
    • IN the Mood
    • That's Where Your Heartaches Begin
    • The Duke of Squeeze
    • All Shook Up
    Another song called "Deck of Cards" was recorded at this show and released as a B-side in 1987.

    There are some other songs released from a gig at Lady Mitchell Hall, (which according to my records was also recorded in 1978 -- correct me if that's not correct.) Some of those songs were released on the 1976-81 compilation and I plan to hold the following up:
    • Heartbreak Hotel
    • Caroline Says
    After that, I plan to move on to A Can of Bees and associated tracks. Have I missed anything from the pre-Can of Bees 1978 stuff? Let me know if I have.
     
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  15. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glos, UK
    Some corrections:... I hope you don't mind Lance!

    The tracks recorded for the never-completed Radar album were:
    Give It To The Soft Boys
    Yodelling Hoover
    Pigworker
    Hear My Brane
    Face of Death
    Ugly Nora
    Wey Wey Hep
    Walnut
    Which of Us is Me
    Look Into Your Mirror
    The Return of the Sacred Crab
    Salamander
    Psychedelic Love
    (RH lost voice, great song)
    (Where Are the Prawns - probably not)

    Others you mentioned were either not recorded for the album or never existed. I suspect 'Lonesome Death of Ian Penman' was a title dreamed up in response to a poor review he wrote in Melody Maker. Never heard of Appreciate or Vegetable Girl. Sandra and Anglepoise definitely not for the album.

    Anglepoise Lamp and Fat Man's Son were recorded for a 45rpm single in March 1978, 4 months before the album sessions. Prawns was also recorded then and is the version on the 1976-81 compilation.

    The Lady Mitchell Hall gig was definitely November 1978.

    There were actually two Portland Arms concerts, 13th January 1979 (the released album tracks) and 17th March 1979 (unreleased - apart from the aforementioned 'Deck of Cards'). I can provide you with the full concert song listings if you like but I don't want to bore you. The second one has a lot of unreleased songs, not all covers.

    I think I know what you mean by the second album but more of that later (when you get to 1979!)
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2020
  16. Summer of Malcontent

    Summer of Malcontent Forum Resident

    Since we're talking about unreleased albums, this might be a good time to note just how confused the Soft Boys' released album discography is. Between 1979 and 1983, they released five albums, only two of which have remained in the 'official' discography of subsequent reissue programmes. Those two were both changed on reissue, and their most celebrated album has never been reissued in its original form. In summary:

    A Can of Bees – New tracklisting for 1980 reissue. Newer tracklisting for 1984 reissue. 1990 reissue combines original and 1984 versions.
    Underwater Moonlight – ‘Old Pervert’ replaced with single version for 1986 and all subsequent reissues.
    Two Halves for the Price of One – Never reissued. Two tracks appear on later Underwater Moonlight CDs.
    Invisible Hits – Reissued on CD in 1990. Not included in subsequent reissue campaigns.
    Live at the Portland Arms – Reissued on vinyl in 1987. Not included in subsequent reissue campaigns.

    And then there are three unreleased albums: Radar, the mysterious "second album," and the Lady Mitchell Hall show (presumably intended as a live album, given the original gig advertising):

    [​IMG]
     
  17. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glos, UK
    I think the so-called 'second album' must refer to the 8 tracks recorded in April 1979 just after the release of Can of Bees.
     
  18. Mr. Odd

    Mr. Odd Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, MA, USA
    Yeah, the Radar sessions bootlegs are pretty confusing. There's _The Day They Ate Brick_:
    The Pigworker
    Sandra's Having Her Brain Out
    Human Music
    Look Into Your Mirror
    Ugly Nora
    Wey Wey Hep Uh Hole
    When I Was A Kid
    Rock 'N' Roll Toilet
    Look Into Your Mirror (rough mix)
    Have A Heart, Betty (I'm Not Fireproof)
    Love Poisoning
    The Asking Tree

    And then there's another _Radar Sessions_ bootleg that circulates that has *some* of the above in addition to these unique tracks:
    Which Of Us Is Me?
    Give Me A Spanner, Ralph
    The Return Of The Sacred Crab
    Where Are The Prawns?
    Psychedelic Love
    Let Me Put It Next To You
    Blues In The Dark
    Blues In The Dark 2
    The Rat's Prayer
    Where Are The Prawns? 2
    Salamander

    Anyone know what's really what with these?
     
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  19. Summer of Malcontent

    Summer of Malcontent Forum Resident

    I was using the phrase to refer to the (pre-Invisible Hits) album Hitchcock outlines in the liner notes to the 1990 Can of Bees. At the time I assumed it was 80% put on, but then songs like (the brilliant) "I Wanna Go Backwards" subsequently emerged. Whether it was real or a gag, or something in between, I don't know if there's any evidence that any of those songs were actually recorded at the time.
     
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  20. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    All right with the corrections given, then the songs in 1978 will be:
    1. (I Want to Be an) Anglepoise Lamp
    2. Fatman's Son
    3. Where are the Prawns
    4. Salamander
    5. Heartbreak Hotel
    6. Caroline Says
    I'll save the Portland Arms stuff until after A Can of Bees.

    According to a website, which I'll link to in a moment, The Day They Ate Brick has some songs from the Radar sessions, but other songs from the Invisible Hits sessions.

    The Radar Album.

    Regarding the "lost second album", like @Summer of Malcontent I've always wondered if those notes from A Can of Bees were a joke too.

    Here's a link to information about the "lost second album" from this site.

    The Missing Second Album.

    This site is not the end-all be-all in authority. Whoever wrote it states clearly that he's always happy for more information, but it's a pretty good site for this kind of thing. For the purposes of this thread, I'll use it but if someone corrects info (as @chrism1971 has done above) I'm happy to go with another sequence -- it's mainly just a way to organize this thread.
     
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  21. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Today's song is "(I Want to Be an) Anglepoise Lamp", written by Robyn Hitchcock with vocal arrangement by Andy Metcalfe; produced by Andy Arthurs.

    Lyrics (and more streaming) are HERE.

    "(I Want to Be an) Anglepoise Lamp" was a single released by Radar Records in May 1978 -- although Hitchcock and the band were more keen on releasing "Where Are the Prawns" as the single, the record company felt that this song was closer to the fashionable "power pop" sounds of the era.

    It was included on the 1976-81 anthology released in 1993; and a live version was included on some issues of A Can of Bees.
     
  22. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Our votes for "Vyrna Knowles Is a Headbanger"

    1-0
    2-1
    3-2
    4-0
    5-0
    Average: 2.3667
     
  23. bzfgt

    bzfgt The Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler

    Location:
    New Jersey
    Classic
     
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  24. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Collated ratings for Soft Boys 1977

    • It's Not Just the Size of a Walnut 3.7
    • Ugly Nora 2.3333
    • WEy Wey Hep a Hole *3.625
    Give it to the Soft Boys
    1. Wading Through Your Ventilator 3.9
    2. the Face of Death 3.56
    3. Hear My Brane 3.7667
    Give it to the Soft Boys EP 3.85
    Average by song: 3.7422
    • The Yodelling Hoovers 2.75
    • Give it to the Soft Boys 2.1
    • Vera Knowl Is a Headbanger 2.3667
     
  25. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    "(I Want to Be an) Anglepoise Lamp" is about the best song we've heard so far on this thread to my mind. It's just a giddy hyperactive bundle of instrumental and vocal hooks -- love the crazy vocal arrangements, the lyrics are classic early Robyn nonsense: some familiar motifs of meat, chopping, severed body parts -- I don't know if there's a story behind this, and I had to google to learn, after all these years, exactly what an anglepoise lamp even was. To me it's inspired nonsense, highly lyrical: the words just sound beautiful even without meaning, the lyric creates it own music in and of itself.

    So I'll give this one a full-fledged 5/5.
     

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