Monday, February 16, 2009

Robyn Hitchcock - Goodnight Oslo

Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3 release a new album, Goodnight Oslo, in the U.S. tomorrow (it was released in the UK last week). I pre-ordered the vinyl directly from Yep Roc so that I could get a bonus CD with a few non-album tracks (somehow, I feel it is important that I add to my seemingly bottomless well of Hitchcock obscurities). I just noticed that the release date for the LP is not until March 3, so hopefully Yep Roc will give me access to the digital tracks tomorrow.

From the bits that I've heard of the album, it sounds very good. It's clearly the most carefully produced and pop-friendly album we've heard from our hero since his stay at A&M ended in the mid-nineties. The production sounds crisp, but not overdone. Certainly it's not fussed over to the point that the music will sound dated in a couple years.

In the meantime, I finally picked up the Luminous Groove boxset (on CD). Despite my uncharacteristic foot dragging, it's an essential purchase for any Hitchcock fan. The three albums presented in the box, fegMANIA!, Gotta Let This Hen Out!, and Element of Light, were among my first Hitchcock purchases and remain favorites. Between cassettes, LPs, and various CD editions, I've probably bought each of these albums several times over at this point. No doubt I'll buy them again when they're offered as implantable nano-crystals, or whatever format lies on the horizon beyond digital downloads.

Yep Roc currently has all three of these CDs on sale for $5, but the boxset (despite being pricey) is easy to recommend because of the excellence of the bonus material found on the double CD Bad Case of History album. The first CD focuses on (mostly) previously unreleased studio material. Much of it dates from 1987, the period between Element of Light and the Egyptians A&M debut, Globe of Frogs. Another excellent batch of previously unreleased songs dates from 1994. The material sounds too well produced to be demos, but not as polished as what appeared on the official releases from the period. It's hard to figure out why these songs wouldn't have seen release sooner. The liner notes are of no help in this regard, because there are none to speak of. Highlights include, "Bad Case of History," "Poisonous Angel," "Evil Guy," "Ivy Alone," and one of my all-time favorites "Surfer Ghost." The second CD collects live tracks recorded at various gigs from 1991 to 1993, think of it as Gotta Let This Hen Out! Mach II!

Here's another Egyptians obscurity from Hitchcock's A&M years that is not represented on the boxset. "Watch Your Intelligence" was released on the b-side of the "So You Think Your In Love" promo 12" in 1991. Perhaps this song will see official release on some future CD boxset chronicling Hitchcock's A&M recordings, but of course we might have moved on to nano-crystals by the time that happens. Stay tuned.

Watch Your Intelligence [right click to download]


Peter Hennig said...

Hard to beat a $5 Robyn Hitchcock CD with 20+ tracks.

My '86 copy of "I Often Dream of Trains" badly needed a sound upgrade. It's one of my earliest CDs that I still have.

Pete Bilderback said...

It's kind of funny to see the 192kps downloads costing $10, while the CD costs $5.

Doug said...

Glad to hear G.O. is something to look forward to. Well, not that all Robyn Hitchcock isn't worth looking forward to, but that it's particularly worth looking forward to.

And of course, the obscurity to choose to include is one of the few obscurities I already have. (I have the CD single for "So You Think You're In Love" with that.)

Do not adjust my mind (with these nano crystals).

Pete Bilderback said...

Goodnight Oslo is definitely worth looking forward to. I've listened to it a couple times so far, and my initial impressions are extremely positive. Looking forward to getting the vinyl, which I see has shipped.

Pete Bilderback said...

Ack. Got my copy of Goodnight Oslo, and side two is pressed off center, so it's gonna have to go back. Side one sounded great though.

fantom said...

This rarity is a nice treat, thanks.

wardo said...

I've been very pleased with Oslo. It seems he does best in an electric format with a consistent band throughout, rather than the grab bag approach of Sophia/Bram etc.

Doug said...

Argh! I completely forgot that Robyn was doing an in-store performance at Amoeba Music in Hollywood tonight. (And there's no L.A. stops noted on his U.S. tour in April.) Not that standing in the aisles of a CD store is the ideal situation (as others try to shop), but it would have been worthwhile, given it was free. Stupid, stupid me.

Anyway, something that can be enjoyed now: Robyn performed on Morning Becomes Eclectic this morning, which can be streamed here. It's a half-hour set that starts off with "I Got the Hots".

Mark said...

Are you on vacation?...Is everything okay? Your absence is putting a serious crimp in my web surfing! :)

Pete Bilderback said...

Hi Mark,

Thanks, I'm okay. Just been busy and sick on and off. Things ought to be back to normal around here soon.