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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. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    This is Soft Boys in their full blown Beefheart mode, I guess; I think the beginning is OK; a bit abrasive, but in a way that seems tongue-in-cheek, like they are playing the part of badass rock and roll villains; but it quickly elevates itself into a really very good track with some funny harmonies and some gorgeous guitar work from Robyn and Kimberly. Quite a complex little song; they were on fire when they recorded this.

    4.1/5
     
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  2. Mr Snow

    Mr Snow Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brighton
    Hi. Just going back to the Radar sessions, if I may. Comparing my list of tracks to chrism1971's list, I have several which he says were not recorded for Radar...

    "The Lonesome Death of Ian Penman"; "(I Wanna) Appreciate You"; "Vegetable Girl". These (apparently) circulate on a bootleg purporting to be Radar material. I have copies of sections of them - although the one marked "The Lonesome Death of Ian Penman" is in fact "Wang Dang Pig" from the Underwater Moonlight sessions.

    "(I Wanna) Appreciate You" and "Vegetable Girl" are therefore real tracks, unless they are something else circulating with the wrong track names.

    There is also an existing song called "The Lonesome Death of Ian Penman", whether it was recorded for Radar I can't say for definite, but that's what the bootleg claims. The following Q&A with Robyn can be found online too - "there was this song you used to do called "The Lonesome Death Of Ian Penman". Whatever happened to that? ... "Well, it was recorded -- there's probably a quarter-inch version of it knocking around. We never used it -- I think, to avoid libel."

    "Where Are The Prawns" is listed as a Radar recording on 1976-81, while "(I Want To Be An) Anglepoise Lamp" and "Fatman's Son" were actually released by the label.

    Also on my list are "Human Music" and "Sandra" - I can't for the moment identify where I got those titles for inclusion, but since my list disagrees on so many counts with chrism1971's list, it may not matter (I could be totally wrong!).

    So, if I can ask chrism1971 - do you have sources for your info? I would like to find out more.

    Likewise, the Portland Arms gig - can you say how it's been identified as 1979? That would disagree with the official sources.

    Cheers.
     
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  3. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glos, UK
    My post (a couple above yours) is certainly what was recorded at Rockfield in July 1978.
     
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  4. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glos, UK
    [​IMG]

    Classic Soft Boys from that era. 7/8 to 4/4 and back, driving rhythm, close harmonies and precise dual guitars. Two further studio versions recorded in 1978 (Rockfield and Spaceward). 4.2/5
     
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  5. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glos, UK
    It's great that there's so much interest in the old SB stuff after all these years - especially as they weren't much appreciated outside their bubble at the time! Thanks for the post.

    All I can say is that I lived in Cambridge in the 1970s, knew some of the band and the wider group of musicians tangentially, saw them a number of times in 76-78 and was sent tapes (i.e. chrome cassette copies of the studio copies of the masters, or mixes) by various of them. These are pretty definitive as, for example, my copy of the Radar sessions came into my possession in the summer of 1978. They're still just about playable.

    "The Lonesome Death of Ian Penman"; "(I Wanna) Appreciate You"; "Vegetable Girl". I'd not heard of them before the titles appeared on that CD reissue.

    "Where Are The Prawns" is listed as a Radar recording on 1976-81, while "(I Want To Be An) Anglepoise Lamp" and "Fatman's Son" were actually released by the label. The version of Prawns on the 1976-81 comp is the third track recorded at the Anglepoise Lamp session by Andy Arthurs. Presumably up for discussion soon!

    Also on my list are "Human Music" and "Sandra" Recorded for Can of Bees in Sept/Oct but not before as far as I know.

    Likewise, the Portland Arms gig - can you say how it's been identified as 1979? I didn't go to those gigs but that's the date on the cassette. I'd be very surprised if it was incorrect. The two gigs were the one released (Jan 79) and a second one in March 79.

    Hope this helps.
     
  6. Mr Snow

    Mr Snow Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brighton
    Thanks, chris. Very interesting. I need to go over all this info and compare to what I put on the Songography webpage. Seems I maye have been quite wrong about some of it (not massively surprising, given the amount of contradictiry info floating about).

    I'm new to this forum (but looking forward to participating this thread :)) - is it allowed to provide links to audio downloads? If so I will be happy to provided copies of my incomplete "(I Wanna) Appreciate You" and "Vegetable Girl" for yourself and others to give an opinion.

    The old Robynware / Asking Tree site lists both as Radar demos.
     
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  7. Shriner

    Shriner Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA
    "Fatman" -- 2/5. Unlike the previous song, this one didn't work for me though it has a lot of the same elements (the guitar break is great, though.)
     
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  8. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glos, UK
    It should be OK to do that, there are many youtube links on this site.
    It could well be that those songs were demos not recorded by the band - never heard them, so thanks.
     
  9. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    You tube/streaming links are OK, but I would not include links on the main board for downloadable links. Its allowed to talk about bootlegs but not allowed to publicly share them, and i definitely think it's against the rules to provide downloadable links for copyrighted material. Please don't do it, as it might get the thread shut down.

    What two posters do outside of this board is their own affair, of course. :righton:

    For some reaosn @Mr Snow I don't see your posts until several hours after you've posted; I can't even see the post that chrism1971 quoted above. WEird. This happens to me with about 1 out of 100 posters on this board.
     
  10. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glos, UK
    Incidentally I just had a look at the 'Songography' website mentioned and some of it looks pretty unreliable. Chinese whispers.... (or bones)
     
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  11. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Ah well. At least it helped me to organize this mammoth and highly confusing discography into a list for this thread; corrections are welcome as they come up, of course. There is another online resource I found but it's much harder to navigate.
     
  12. notesofachord

    notesofachord We are Dancing on God’s Thumb

    Fatman’s Son

    3.3/5
     
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  13. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Our votes for "Fatman's Son"

    1-0
    2-1
    3-1
    4-2
    Average: 3.4
     
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  14. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Today's song is "Where Are the Prawns", written by Robyn Hitchcock and produced by Andy Arthur.

    Lyric's HERE.

    I'm afraid the only alternative videos I've found are for the 1980 version of this song. I hope the one above plays for you.

    I presume this was recorded at the same time as "Anglepoise Lamp/Fatman's Song" single in early 1978. It was the Soft Boys' choice for the A-side, but Radar preferred the more power-pop "(I Want To Be An) Anglepoise Lamp" and had their way.

    This version was finally released on the 1976-81 compilation in 1993.

    Line up:
    Robyn Hitchcock: vocals, guitar
    Kimberly Rew: guitar, vocals
    Andy Metcalfe: bass, vocals
    Morris Windsor: drums, vocals

    Another studio version was recorded by the band in 1980 and was released on the Two Halves for the Price of One album (on the half called Only the Stones Remain) in 1981 and later this version was released on some reissues of Underwater Moonlight. However, I will hold that version up separately when the time comes, as it is significantly different to the 1978 version.

    A live version of the song was also released on Where Are the Prawns in 1994 (recorded January 1994.)
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2020
  15. Guy E

    Guy E Senior Member

    Location:
    Antalya, Turkey
    Right. The discussion of bootlegs used to be banned here on SH too, but not any longer. I believe that DL links will be deleted and the offending member will be warned not to do it again, under threat of suspension, etc.
     
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  16. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glos, UK
    Prawns - Soft Boys stalwart in 77-78, great version here. Morris vocals prominent, Andy on Hammond organ & Leslie. Tapes of this and Salamander not in great condition by the time of the compilation, which is audible.

    Pretty sure the only other studio recording of the song is the 'Two Halves' version, which I don't much care for. Also played live during the 1994 reunion gigs.
    4.5/5

    Forgot to add about Anglepoise Lamp - the original lyrics on the recording were 'in your overalls / growing little balls' which I guess was deemed a bit risky.
     
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  17. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    He sings that in the live versions, too.

    I was just about to ask who was on the doing the organ work; really good stuff, some of it's pretty subtle and psychedelic. I had no idea that Andy was so instrumental to their sound as he apparently was. He was kind of the right-hand man as much as Kimberly was. Why did he leave? Was there just too much talent in the band?

    I just love this song, and i probably like it more than "AnglePoise Lamp" -- a very tuneful shuffle with a really singable melody and some lucioius guitar work. The organs add depth and color and the band feels really together and on.

    Good vocal with some a great lead vocal and some gorgeous harmony vocals. Yes, there is evidence of tape deterioration! But it doesn't matter, maybe adds to the charm, like we've discovered something illicit.

    A definite 5/5 for me.
     
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  18. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glos, UK
    Probably mutual and two things happening at the same time, Andy had had enough after the lack of popularity of the records, and by June 79 had been with the group nearly 3 years; and Matthew reappeared having completed his degree.
     
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  19. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    So Matthew had been in the band earlier? I never knew that. He is such a well-known session player after th Soft boys, I just figured he was a hired hand who happened to gel with the group.

    But I can certainly imagine that hte group was less than solvent. They really were jam-packed with talent, every single member.
     
  20. Shriner

    Shriner Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA
    Prawns -- always liked this one. 4/5
     
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  21. Mr Snow

    Mr Snow Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brighton
    I think Matthew (RIP) was only in the band very briefly. Robyn has said he "had played in the band in autumn 1976 for a few weeks".

    I truly wish Where Are The Prawns had been the single. I probably prefer Anglepoise (just) but having a single about prawns just resonates more with Robyn's whole view on life, I think it's more authentic somehow. 4/5.
     
  22. notesofachord

    notesofachord We are Dancing on God’s Thumb

    Prawns = 4.2/5
     
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  23. AlienRendel

    AlienRendel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, il
    I was very pleased to hear them play “Prawns” on the reunion tour.
     
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  24. Surferghost

    Surferghost Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dis United Kingdom
    These definitely exist (if somewhat shakily and noisily) as bootlegs as I have copies of them that I acquired sometime in the late 1980s. The Penman song was probably conceived under similar circumstances to the Verna Knowl version of 'Wading Through A Ventilator', as Ian Penman was a music journalist (I forget who he wrote for, one of the NME/MM/Sounds big three) who wrote a few scathing reviews of the band's recordings and live work in the usual bored nihilistic style of the time. Robyn took great exception to this critical savaging so early in the band's career and basically decided to retaliate with great venom in song form. However, the lyrics quickly falter into Barrettesque mumbling and become incomprehensible as the song proceeds, and so it was probably only a semi-serious therapeutic exercise that was never actually intended for release. Musically though, it's a reasonably interesting off-kilter piece that the band didn't recycle elsewhere to my knowledge. 'Appreciate You' is a (relatively) simple and direct fast-paced humorous punkish thrasher.

    Robyn has mentioned the Penman track dismissively in interviews over the years and variously claims it was too awful/too libelous to release. I'm reasonably sure however that this one can be heard on YT (it was certainly up there a few years ago anyway).

    As for the bootleg version of 'The D Song' being the same as 'Goodbye Maurice Or Steve' - while it is the same song, 'The D Song' sounds like an earlier semi-instrumental run-through of the track we hear on the Underwater Moonlight Matador reissue.

    Great thread by the way - I've only just discovered it now as the OP thought some of us would. :)

    Will join in more later.
     
  25. Surferghost

    Surferghost Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dis United Kingdom
    Meanwhile, although none of the material has been officially released and I wouldn't want to hijack the thread with it, is there any room for discussion of Robyn's pre-Soft Boys activities? There are a few Worst Fears (allegedly, but I'm a bit dubious) and Maureen And The Meatpackers tracks floating around (The Meatpackers' studio version of 'The Unpleasant Stain' is up on YouTube, for example).

    It's a fascinating period of Robyn's career that I'll admit I myself know little about.
     
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