Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Robyn Hitchcock 8: Globe Of Frogs

His buzz was growing, so when Robyn signed with A&M Records, he was able to capitalize on their college marketing approach. Globe Of Frogs is where a lot of fans came in, thanks to the radio exposure of “Balloon Man”—possibly his greatest hit, if he had one.
“Tropical Flesh Mandala” stumbles in, with a loopy riff, nearly spoken vocals and a decent chorus, going out on a chaotic piano solo. It’s immediately improved upon by “Vibrating”, proof that sometimes three chords are all you need. To this day “Balloon Man” is still lots of fun, a trippy walk around New York City encountering not just hummus but whole chickpeas as well. “Luminous Rose” inspires more Syd Barrett comparisons, built around what seems to be a harmonium and a story of dead sailors, flesh and fish. “Sleeping With Your Devil Mask” is another three-chord wonder, and a good stomping singalong.
“Unsettled” starts side two and gets pretty annoying after a while, but you can just hear a snippet of “Ghost Ship” at the end of it. The first of many appearances by Peter Buck, “Chinese Bones” is slathered in his 12-string guitar. Syd returns on “A Globe Of Frogs”, with the parlor piano and whispered double vocals. “The Shapes Between Us Turn Into Animals” is about as grating as the opening tracks on both sides, but all is redeemed by “Flesh Number One”. Subtitled “Beatle Dennis”, and for good reason, it’s such a happy tune about burning houses and crashing planes, framed by 12-strings and harmonies by Glenn Tilbrook. (Andy Metcalfe was moonlighting in Squeeze around this time, and as they were labelmates, the connection made sense.)
Globe Of Frogs is a very good effort, and gave him a sound he could settle into. (He’s also begun to talk about fish and flesh an awful lot, so if you’re going to keep going, get used to it.) Unfortunately, like the rest of the A&M catalog, it’s fallen out of print.

Robyn Hitchcock And The Egyptians Globe Of Frogs (1988)—4
Current CD availability: none

3 comments:

  1. This is the album that got me turned on to Robyn Hitchcock when I was a pimply high school kid. Not my favorite album of his, but it still has a special place in my collection. And "Chinese Bones" and "Flesh Number One" still do it for me every time...

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  2. Yup, it's about where I came in too.

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  3. There are some good songs on here, but it is not one of my favorites. "Tropical Flesh Mandala," "Luminous Rose" and "The Shapes Between Us Turn Into Animals" pull this one down a notch or two for me. I think Fegmania was the first Hitchcock album I bought.

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