Thursday, March 12, 2015


Robyn Hitchcock had the nerve to execute the personal signals of this visionary acoustic catharsis in the sweetest death of an agony of pleasure.  After five albums ('Fegmania!', 'Gotta Let This Hen Out!', 'Element of Light''Globe of Frogs', and 'Queen Elvis') with the Egyptians in as many years, Hitchcock was overwhelmed with the circus of major label demands and decided to take a break from the band and from A&M, going into the studio on his own to record 'Eye' all on his own in the same stripped down vein as 'I Often Dream of Trains'.

Robyn reveals:   "Every so often you wonder what it would be like if you weren't making decisions by committee. I just wanted to be on my own, without anything else, as naked and simple as possible ...  It was a conscious attempt to make a record without involving other people. Because The Egyptians, with A&M and everything, there were managers, there was a band, and even before we got a producer, the songs were sort of… They were still mine, but I had less control over how they turned out and what happened to them. And the awful words “radio single” and things had become a fact of life. We were just having to deal with what other bands had to deal with. But I was going to San Francisco a lot and, just with my own money, I started recording this record in Hyde Street. I was breaking up with two people at the same time, and it was a pretty epic point in my life. And I was spending most of my life on planes ...  I was looking at my set list, and I realised that when I play solo acoustic I actually play more songs off of Eye than any other record. And so in terms of a collection of songs, it seems to be my own personal favourite. It’s quite an unfinished record, the vocals aren’t great… I don’t know if it’s the way I was wearing the headphones or something, but I sing quite strangely on that one. Trains is more worked out, and Eye was much rougher, it was recorded almost as soon as some of the songs had been written, but it is quite instant. It’s a more intense show than the Trains show. The Trains show is more whimsical and English and all of the things that I’m probably erroneously seen to represent. The sort of Robyn Hitchcock shtick, rooted in Trains — fine. But Eye is probably more powerful, in some ways...I think it did [seem to sum up the end of an era]. Because jangle rock and the return of the Anglo-American folky sound, or whatever it was — which may be back again, for all I know — the curtain came down on that in ’91, with Nirvana. And certainly that was the end of that period for us. But it was just a way of re-legitimising hard rock. Those bands were loud and heavy, and the Americans love to rock. The British always feel they should have an excuse, and it needs to be a bit ironic, but the Americans are very happy to just plunge straight into it. And so grunge came out of there. And the word alternative was no longer affixed to people like REM and the Violent Femmes and 10,000 Maniacs and The Replacements, and indeed me and my band. It was affixed to much louder people, like Nirvana and Pearl Jam and beyond. And yeah, it changed. But when I made Eye I had no idea that was about to happen, and it wasn’t done with that in mind ...  I think it's perhaps my strongest collection of songs. Not the best arrangements or performances -- it's a very unadorned record and not as worked out as I Often Dream of Trains, the solo record that people tend to like the most. Eye is in some ways a skeletal predecessor of Britpop, of people writing songs like David Bowie, the Kinks, or my great musical hero, Syd Barrett...I'm very pleased with Eye. It's got the basic thing but not much else. A lot of records have got everything, they're beautifully done, but you don't know if there's anything at the heart of them. All Eye really has is its center -- there's nothing else on it...My songs are basically bottled moments of time, moments of my life that I reserve. Some have an insight into my life that I didn't have at the time. The songs tend to be a little bit wiser, like I'm trying to tell myself something but not listening. There's a lot of post-it notes to myself on Eye. It's my voice in my own ear, a sort of Greek chorus about what was happening to me. When I sing it, I sort of feel like I was younger and a fool in lots of ways, but in my folly the voice in my ear had some wisdom, still...Now I can re-inhabit August, 1989, by singing "Glass Hotel," or December, 1988, by singing "Queen Elvis" or April, 1989, by singing "Cynthia Mask." San Francisco was much in my thoughts, and that's why I recorded it there, at Hyde Street Studios."

Hitchcock did all of the vocals and played all of the instruments on 'Eye' himself, producing the sessions with engineers Wendy Bardsley and Simon Kunath.  His soon-to-be-fiancee Cynthia Hunt did the photography and accompanied him on the tour.    The album refers back to his last two albums, as "Flesh Cartoons"was the working title for 'Globe of Frogs' while "Queen Elvis" is the title song that was not included on 'Queen Elvis'.  The liner notes also include a short story:  "Legends Of The South Wight: 2: The Glass Hotel".

"Queen Elvis"

"Beautiful Girl"

"Raining Twilight Coast"

"Glass Hotel"

full album:

All songs written by Robyn Hitchcock.

Side One
"Cynthia Mask" — 4:35
"Certainly Clickot" — 2:14
"Queen Elvis" — 4:22
"Flesh Cartoons" — 4:22
"Chinese Water Python" — 2:12
"Executioner" — 3:43
"Linctus House" — 5:12

Side Two
"Beautiful Girl" — 2:12
"Raining Twilight Coast" — 4:38
"Clean Steve" — 3:51
"Agony of Pleasure" — 2:23
"Glass Hotel" — 3:26
"Satellite" — 1:43
"Aquarium" — 4:19

bonus tracks
"Sweet Ghost of Light" — 3:07
"College of Ice" — 3:41
"Transparent Lover" — 3:35
"Queen Elvis II" — 4:22

"Century" — 3:41
"Shimmering Distant Love" — 3:21
"Lovers Turn To Skulls" — 1:40
"The Beauty Of Earls Court" — 3:59

live at SUNY, Binghamton, NY 10/2/1990

01 - Intro Story (cuts in)
02 - Oceanside
03 - Intro to Madonna
04 - Madonna of the Wasps
05 - Clean Steve
06 - Intro to Raymond
07 - Raymond Chandler Evening
08 - The Devil's Coachman
09 - Wax Doll
10 - Wey Wey Hep Uh Hole
11 - Story - Intro to Queen
12 - Queen Elvis
13 - Story-Intro to Autumn (tape flip)
14 - Autumn Is Your Last Chance
15 - Intro To Bass
16 - Bass
17 - Intro to My Wife
18 - My Wife and My Dead Wife
19 - Beautful Girl
20 - Pre-Encore Applause
21 - Intro To I Got A Message
22 - I Got A Message For You
23 - I Thought I Saw Somebody Else (aka Chain Mary to the Bed)
24 - Cynthia Mask
25 - Pre-Encore Applause 2
26 - Sometimes I Wish I Was A Pretty Girl
27 - I Often Dream Of Trains

"Kung Fu Fighting"

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