Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians


A&M, 1992

A real about-face from his last album, "Perspex Island", which showed a Hitchcock headed straight for the top of the "alternative" charts, complete with production thicker than Tammy Faye Bakker's makeup. This is a much lower-tech effort; oh, there are keyboards and digital drums, to be sure, but also frying pans, wine glasses and water jugs. The albums roars out of the gate with the extended drumroll and vocal yips of "The Yip Song", and lurches to a halt (a mere 37 minutes later, it must be noted) with the gratuitously weird "Wafflehead". In between, we have a set of mostly slow songs, except for the upbeat yet unpredictable single "Driving Aloud (Radio Static)". "Railway Shoes" is a slice of vintage Hitchcock folk-rock; "Then You're Dust" a very simple yet beautiful reflection on death.

Robyn and the Egyptians played a number of these songs on their last tour, and this album does an excellent job of capturing the spontaneous spirit of live performance. After this many years (eight years as the Egyptians, and several years before that in the Soft Boys), Robyn and bassist Andy Metcalfe and drummer Morris Windsor have a well developed trio sound; that interplay really comes forward on this album. And, really, Robyn's pretty much a folkie; his voice is understated and sounds much better over an acoustic guitar than a flanged, reverbed, chopped and channelled strat. In short, this is a fine back-to-basics album for Hitchcock, perhaps the best since "Element of Light".

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