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Robyn Hitchcock – Spooked

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Oy. I have lost the ability to write. Well, that’s actually no surprise. What I mean to say is that I can’t get this frickin’ Robyn Hitchcock review written. It’s really starting to bug me. I’ve gone through I don’t know how many false starts, each one worse than the last. Even liberal application of bourbon had virtually no effect on the craptacular nature of my verbal ability.

I don’t get it. If it were a bad disc, I could sorta see it. I mean, I’ve been a big fan of Hitchcock’s for something like twenty-one years now, so it would be pretty difficult for me to have to slam him. But it’s actually pretty good. Kinda reminds me of I Often Dream Of Trains, which was definitely one of his better outings. It’s got a similar feel to it, if maybe even a little more melancholy this time. Every time I start describing it, though, I start flailing around like this:

Spooked is a beautiful if somewhat melancholy piece of work. Intimations of mortality are never far from the Hitchcock’s body of work (think back to “My Wife And My Dead Wife”, say, or “Lady Waters and the Hooded One”), but this time out they don’t seem quite as jocular as previously. Or maybe I’m just older and therefore closer to death myself. There do seem to be an awful lot of references to time (“If You Know Time”, “Flanagan’s Song”) and what might even be regret (“English Girl”, certainly the magnificent cover of Dylan’s “Trying’ To Get To Heaven Before They Close The Door” which knock’s The Master’s version into the dust) in among the usual surreal characters (the protagonist of “Television”, for example, with his physical lust for the idiot box, or the well-intentioned father attempting to convince his offspring they’d be happier as birds in “We’re Gonna Live In The Trees”, or… whatever all that spooky imagery in “Sometimes A Blonde” is about).”


I should be all over this thing like a tornado on a trailer park. Aside from Hitchcock himself, you’ve got Gillian Welch and David Rawlings playing and singing (with Rawlings producing)… I live for stuff like this. I mean yeah, I was a little confused at first when I saw that they were involved in the project. Welch is Americana-deluxe, y’know, and Hitchcock is just about as British as they come. But when you think about it, they’re both folk singers, really. Welch’s vibe is Appalachian folk, which is in turn deeply rooted in British folk, so it’s not like it’s that big of a jump. The arrangements are generally pretty spare, and the playing is just gorgeous – what you might expect from Rawlings at the control board. And it’s great to hear Hitchcock’s voice set off by Welch’s; the way she sorta sighs “love” on “Everybody Needs Love” is what makes the song, for me. (Well, that and the overdubbed electric sitar.) Or the harmonies (all three participants, unless I’m mistaken) at the end of “Television”…the whole disc is chock full of lovely little moments like that. I just wish I could do them justice.

Aw, fuck it. Just go buy the CD. And pick me up a new brain while you’re at it, will ya?

(Previously reviewd here.)

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