Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Robyn Hitchcock 6: Element Of Light

Element Of Light was Robyn’s most accessible album yet. The Egyptians still numbered four, but Andy Metcalfe was taking on a growing role by providing both production and the type of keyboards that Robyn liked.
“If You Were A Priest” starts off with a bang; this one got a bit of play on the alternative college stations. “Winchester” shows off a lot of the fluid bass sound on the album—some by Robyn, some by Andy. “Somewhere Apart” brings back the driving piano—this time bummed from John Lennon’s “Remember”, and vocally, it’s fairly Beatly too. “Ted, Woody And Junior” is one the most sympathetic portraits of the love that dare not speak its name. “The President” is an angry indictment of Reagan, and politicians in general.
“Raymond Chandler Evening” harkens back to the acoustic experiments on Trains and stays short before it gets tedious. “Bass” celebrates, not for the last time, fish (as opposed to the instrument). It fits nicely with “Airscape”, which uses a chord sequence that’s right at home on his Rickenbacker. “Never Stop Bleeding” has some clumsy lines, particularly the one about the sailor lashed before the mast. But he follows that with a modern interpretation of an Olde English folk song, the epic “Lady Waters And The Hooded One”.
The original Element Of Light CD included extra tracks, as was the style at the time. Of the four, “Tell Me About Your Drugs” is the best, with its shifting of band members on instruments. The Rhino reissue included all these, plus some demos and the hilarious four-part spoken-word piece “The Can Opener”; Yep Roc kept the four bonus tracks but substituted a new set of demos for the Rhino additions. It’s still a pretty solid album, but his best was still in him.

Robyn Hitchcock and The Egyptians Element Of Light (1986)—
1986 CD: same as above, plus 4 extra tracks
1995 Rhino reissue: same as 1986 CD, plus 5 extra tracks
2008 Yep Roc: same as 1986 CD, plus 6 extra tracks

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