Monday, January 21, 2008

Robyn Hitchcock - Shadow Cat

Shadow Cat, a collection of 90s era demos and obscurities by Robyn Hitchcock is currently available from Robyn's homepape, The Museum of Robyn Hitchcock.

I already received my copy, and can recommend it to Hitchcock fans--for others this is obviously not the best place to start exploring Hitchcock's music. This is Robyn in stripped-down, mostly acoustic mode. A couple of the tracks--for no reason I can discern--feature vocoder treated vocals (perhaps Robyn was briefly in the thrall of Neil Young's Trans). Despite the fact that not every track is essential, there are nevertheless a number of very good tracks on the album--I remember hearing some of them live years ago.

"Never Have To See You Again" sounds like the bitter-but-liberated flip-side of "Beautiful Girl" or "So You Think You're In Love." "High On Yourself" features the great line "let's go shopping on painkillers" (as concise a statement on life in the late 20th/early 21st Century as you are likely to find). There's also an eerie cover of Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary" (obviously a Hitchcock favorite), and the creepy "Shadow Cat." This is dark of night, "I haven't slept in two days and my mind is starting to play tricks on me" music. Many of the tracks could have been polished up a bit and been highlights on any of Hitchcock's "proper" albums. But to those who have followed Hitchcock's career closely over the years, the "improper" albums like this one--or Invisible Hitchcock before it--are just as essential as anything else in his catalog. Before I'm buried, I wouldn't be surprised if I'll have listened to this album more times than say Globe of Frogs or Ole! Tarantula.

I suspect this album will mostly slip through the cracks because of limited distribution and the wealth of reissued Hitchcock available at the moment. Somewhere I have a cassette of 90s era Hitchcock demos and live obscurities, and only one or two of the tracks from that cassette surfaces here--obviously, there is a lot more where this came from. I'm still waiting for a legitimate issue of "Surfer Ghost."

4 comments:

Terry Edwards said...

Thanks for the review. Hopefully this won't slip thru the cracks for distribution reasons - Red Eye are distributing it in the USA & Cargo looks after the UK & Europe. If you have trouble finding it, please email me - sartorial@terryedwards.co.uk

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I second the vote for a legitimate release of "Surfer Ghost." Also for my all-time favorite Hitchcock song, "The Feelers Was Everywhere." I would have thought this would be the place for these.

That said, this is a great record! Worth the price for the title track, "Nothing but Time," and "Baby-Doll" alone.

Pete Bilderback said...

For anyone interested in going the digital download route, this album is now available on emusic. Well worth acquiring!

Wallop (aka Sloto) said...

Legit surfer ghost is on Luminous Groove!