Friday, April 29, 2011

Robyn Hitchcock 15: Greatest Hits

For some reason, which couldn’t have possibly included trying to capitalize on another label’s success, A&M decided it was time to put out a Greatest Hits album in the wake of the Rhino reissue program and Moss Elixir. Some of the more obvious choices from Globe Of Frogs, Queen Elvis, Perspex Island and Respect are nicely intermingled with various B-sides from the same period that may have eluded the casual fan.
The so-called “electric” version of “A Globe Of Frogs” is a coin-toss with the album version, while “Legalized Murder” is a pretty piano meditation on the death penalty and vegetarianism. The humorous “Intro To Eyes” is a live monologue also known as “Clint And The Enchantress”, before melding nicely into the standard album version of “One Long Pair Of Eyes”. “More Than This” is a lovely version of the Roxy Music song, and one of a growing pile of exquisite covers he’s amassed over the years, but “Dark Green Energy” was mostly notable for the inclusion of Michael Stipe on vocals. “Alright Yeah” is an earlier B-side version recorded with the Egyptians, while “Bright Fresh Flower” sports a similar melody to “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” and ends the collection with something of a thud.
The five or so years he was on A&M were somewhat fruitful for Robyn, so while this album did something of a service when the albums were deleted, Greatest Hits is only available via download, hovering this material just above limbo. Considering that the rest of his ‘80s catalog has been reissued twice with bonus tracks, it would be nice if someone, anyone, could authorize new versions of the four A&M albums, if only so new fans can more easily obtain such lost classics as “Balloon Man”, “Madonna Of The Wasps”, “So You Think You’re In Love” and “The Wreck Of The Arthur Lee”, to name just a few. And if they could also collect some of the other rare tracks from the period… (No dopes when it came to marketing, soon afterwards Rhino put together their own “hits” collection, made up of album tracks from the material they then owned. Some odd choices sat alongside some clever ones, likely compiled from somebody’s personal mix tape, and including no rarities.)

Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians Greatest Hits (1996)—4
Current CD availability: none;download only
Robyn Hitchcock Uncorrected Personality Traits (1997)—4
Current CD availability: none

3 comments:

  1. There is a really stupid quote from me in Uncorrected Personality Traits. Rhino solicited quotes from fans, and I bit. I only wish I had something interesting to say.

    The A&M comp is great for the b-sides, but it is not very cohesive, and should be docked a star for having one of the worst album covers ever.

    I agree some review/reissue of his A&M material is overdue. It would be great to see this material reissued in some coherent way, and there are many more rare gems from this period that remain unreleased.

    Robyn's just released new album, Tromso Kaptein, is shockingly good.

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  2. Heh, I have a quote in _Uncorrected Personality Traits_ as well, but I still like it!

    Wardo, I dig your blog and your love of Robyn, though we don't always agree. I mean, "Bright Fresh Flower" is gorgeous!

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  3. Thank you! Please keep checking back!

    ReplyDelete