Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Robyn Hitchcock 7: Invisible Hitchcock

Not too far into his short solo career Robyn had already amassed a cache of rarities, and perhaps to capitalize on what for him constituted success, decided to issue them. Invisible Hitchcock is a mop-up collection, most of which was previously unreleased. Some of it is fun, some is tedious, and unfortunately—or perhaps fortunately—none of it comes from the “lost” years. At least it’s mostly chronological, and it’s sequenced pretty well.
We begin with five tracks from the Black Snake sessions. “All I Wanna Do Is Fall In Love” has potential, but “Give Me A Spanner, Ralph” and “A Skull, A Suitcase, And A Long Red Bottle Of Wine” don’t live up to promise of their titles. “It’s A Mystic Trip” attempts to do just that with a lot of backwards guitar, and a demo of “My Favourite Buildings” rounds things out. “Falling Leaves” is an absolute gem, a sax-heavy track that shows what Groovy Decay could have been had he only cared. The chaotic “Eaten By Her Own Dinner” was the title track of two different EPs released four years apart, and is pretty much where he stopped for a while.
A set of very keyboard/synth-heavy tunes make things more interesting, although certainly derivative of Bowie’s Berlin period. “The Pit Of Souls” is half the length of the version on the Fegmania! reissues. “Trash” gets points just for mentioning Charlie Watts. “Mr. Deadly” and “Messages Of Dark” are all claustrophobic in that good ol’ Eno vein. “Star Of Hairs” is pretty catchy, as are the post-Trains demos “Vegetable Friend”, “I Got A Message For You” and “Point It At Gran”.
Completists will love Invisible Hitchcock, but its appearance in the chronology derails the momentum of the Egyptians. Mathematically it should probably rate about two stars, but the truly good songs—and really, we can’t say enough about “Falling Leaves”—make the album worth a listen. Rhino dutifully included it in their reissue campaign, complete with two additional rarities. Today it’s out of print, all but six of the tracks having been parsed out on various Yep Roc reissues.

Robyn Hitchcock Invisible Hitchcock (1986)—3
1987 CD: same as 1986, plus 4 extra tracks
1995 Rhino reissue: same as 1986 CD, plus 2 extra tracks
Current CD equivalent: none

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