Wednesday, March 18, 2009

You & Oblivion

In early 1995, Rhino records reissued all of Robyn Hitchcock's non-A&M albums (Black Snake thru Element Of Light plus Eye) along with a collection of previously unreleased tracks called You & Oblivion.

This was a collection of spared down demos that Robyn had accumulated through the 80s and early 90s when A&M kept him on a short leash (ten songs per album, no exceptions!). Everything on You & Oblivion was recorded direct to DAT, most songs with just guitar and vocal, so it has a very clean sound -- almost like Robyn Hitchcock playing in your living room. I listened to Y&O quite a bit after it came out, but haven't pulled it out very often in the past decade. It sounds really good while it's playing, but the songs all kind of blend together, without enough variety to support repeat listening. Something of a recurring theme in Robyn Hitchcock's career.

One of the highlights on You & Oblivion are "Birdshead" (recorded with Chris Cox and Peter Buck in early 1985, and I can't believe it stayed unreleased for an entire decade!), "Mr. Rock & Roll" (often performed live), and a version of "Polly On The Shore" (traditional folk tune recorded by Martin Carthy, Fairport Convention, and others) recorded on KUSF radio in 1986. The rest is something you need to be in the mood to hear, but it always sounds great when you are!

Here's a version of another song that Robyn Hitchcock released in 1995, "I Something You". It came out on a K Records single, but I've still never heard the recorded version. This is a live performance from Storefront Hitchcock, complete with a long pre-song monologue.

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