Robyn Hitchcock is an English singer-songwriter and guitarist who led “The Soft Boys” in the late 1970s and released the classic Neo-psychedelic album, “Underwater Moonlight”, which influenced bands such as R.E.M. Robynalso had a successful solo career, with songs like “I Often Dream of Trains”. On this episode, Robyn and Jack talk about Robyn's life and music - and The Beatles!
Led by primary songwriters Lennon and McCartney, the Beatles evolved from Lennon's previous group, the Quarrymen, and built their reputation playing clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg over three years from 1960, initially with Stuart Sutcliffe playing bass. The core trio of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, together since 1958, went through a succession of drummers, including Pete Best, before asking Starr to join them in 1962. Manager Brian Epstein moulded them into a professional act, and producer George Martin guided and developed their recordings, greatly expanding their domestic success after signing to EMI Records and achieving their first hit, "Love Me Do", in late 1962.
Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr all released solo albums in 1970. Their solo records sometimes involved one or more of the others; Starr's Ringo (1973) was the only album to include compositions and performances by all four ex-Beatles, albeit on separate songs. With Starr's participation, Harrison staged the Concert for Bangladesh in New York City in August 1971. Other than an unreleased jam session in 1974, later bootlegged as A Toot and a Snore in '74, Lennon and McCartney never recorded together again.
Two double-LP sets of the Beatles' greatest hits, compiled by Klein, 1962–1966 and 1967–1970, were released in 1973, at first under the Apple Records imprint. Commonly known as the "Red Album" and "Blue Album", respectively, each has earned a Multi-Platinum certification in the US and a Platinum certification in the UK. Between 1976 and 1982, EMI/Capitol released a wave of compilation albums without input from the ex-Beatles, starting with the double-disc compilation Rock 'n' Roll Music. The only one to feature previously unreleased material was The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977); the first officially issued concert recordings by the group, it contained selections from two shows they played during their 1964 and 1965 US tours.
Accompanying the wave of Beatles nostalgia and persistent reunion rumours in the US during the 1970s, several entrepreneurs made public offers to the Beatles for a reunion concert.Promoter Bill Sargent first offered the Beatles $10 million for a reunion concert in 1974. He raised his offer to $30 million in January 1976 and then to $50 million the following month. On 24 April 1976, during a broadcast of Saturday Night Live, producer Lorne Michaels jokingly offered the Beatles $3,000 to reunite on the show. Lennon and McCartney were watching the live broadcast at Lennon's apartment at the Dakota in New York, which was within driving distance of the NBC studio where the show was being broadcast. The former bandmates briefly entertained the idea of going to the studio and surprising Michaels by accepting his offer, but decided not to.
With a career now spanning six decades, Robyn Hitchcock remains a truly one-of-a-kind artist –surrealist rock ’n’ roller, iconic troubadour, guitarist, poet, painter, performer. An unparalleled, deeply individualistic songwriter and stylist, Hitchcock has traversed myriad genres with humor, intelligence, and originality over more than thirty albums and seemingly infinite live performances. From The Soft Boys’ proto-psych-punk and The Egyptians’ Dadaist pop to solo masterpieces like 1984’s milestone I Often Dream of Trains and 1990’s Eye, Hitchcock has crafted a strikingly original oeuvre rife with sagacious observation, astringent wit, recurring marine life, mechanized rail services, cheese, Clint Eastwood, and innumerable finely drawn characters real and imagined.
Born in London in 1953, Hitchcock attended Winchester College before moving to Cambridge in 1974. He began playing in a series of bands, including Dennis and the Experts which became The Soft Boys in 1976. Though light years away from first wave punk’s revolutionary clatter, the band still manifested the era’s spirit of DIY independence with their breakneck reimagining of British psychedelia. During their (first) lifetime, The Soft Boys released two albums, among them 1980’s landmark second LP, Underwater Moonlight. “The term ‘classic’ is almost as overused as ‘genius’ and ‘influential,’” declared Rolling Stone upon the album’s 2001 reissue. “But Underwater Moonlight remains all three of those descriptions.”
Hitchcock embarked on his solo career with 1981’s Black Snake Diamond Röle, affirming his knack for eccentric insight and surrealist lyrical hijinks. 1984’s I Often Dream Of Trains fused that approach with autumnal acoustic arrangements which served to deepen the emotional range of his songcraft. Robyn Hitchcock and The Egyptians were born that same year and immediately lit up college rock playlists with albums like 1986’s Element of Light. He signed to A&M Records in 1987 and earned early alternative hits with “Balloon Man” and “Madonna of the Wasps.” Hitchcock returned to his dark acoustic palette with 1990’s equally masterful Eye before joining the Warner Bros. label for a succession of acclaimed albums including 1996’s Moss Elixir and 1999’s Jewels For Sophia.
Having first reunited for a brief run of shows in 1994, The Soft Boys came together for a second go-around in 2001, this time releasing Nextdoorland to universal applause. Hitchcock joined the Yep Roc label in 2004, embracing collaboration with such friends and like-minded artists as Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings (2004’s Spooked) and legendary producer Joe Boyd (2014’s The Man Upstairs). Beginning in 2006, Hitchcock released a trio of albums backed by The Venus 3, featuring Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey and Bill Rieflin.
Hitchcock moved to Nashville in 2015 where he quickly found a place among the Music City community, recording 2017’s self-titled album Robyn Hitchcock with an array of local talent including co-producer Brendan Benson. In 2019, Hitchcock joined forces with XTC’s Andy Partridge for the four-song EP, Planet England. Indeed, Hitchcock has proven an irrepressible collaborator throughout his long career, teaming with a boundless series of fellow artists over the years, including R.E.M., Grant-Lee Phillips, Jon Brion, The Decemberists, Norwegian pop combo I Was A King, Yo La Tengo to name but a very few.
Along with his musical efforts, Hitchcock has appeared in a number of films, among them collaborations with the late Jonathan Demme on 1998’s concert documentary Storefront Hitchcock as well as roles in 2004’s The Manchurian Candidate and 2008’s Rachel Getting Married.
An inveterate traveler and live performer, Hitchcock has toured near constantly for much of the past four decades, playing countless shows around the world, from Africa to the Arctic. Locked down in Nashville and London by the global pandemic of 2020, Hitchcock and his partner Emma Swift began their Live From Sweet Home Quarantine livestream series, performing weekly sets joined by their two cats, Ringo and Tubby. 2021 saw the publication of Hitchcock’s first book, Somewhere Apart: Selected Lyrics 1977-1997, featuring 73 songs and 34 illustrations in a beautiful cloth-bound edition from his own Tiny Ghost Press.
His new album Shufflemania! is out on October 21, 2022 on Tiny Ghost Records.
To leave or reply to comments, please download free Podbean or
To leave or reply to comments, please download free Podbean App.