Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Top 100 Songs From the 1990s (No. 29)

29. "So You Think You're in Love"
Artist: Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians
Year: 1991

This song dates back to the days of the Soft Boys. It sure would have been cool to have heard that first recording. We got a couple of tidbits about that earlier take in the reissue liner notes of 'A Can of Bees.' Hitchcock opined, "One of the best things I wrote. It was a bit personal at the time, so I over-dubbed it all myself and didn't play it to anybody. It was erased by a horde of bass drum tracks in early '79."

Roughly 10 studio albums later, Hitchcock gave it another go for 'Perspex Island.' This is not one of my favorite LPs, but "So You Think You're in Love" is a great single, full of jangle, pop and, most importantly, radio-friendly accessibility. Hitchcock finally found himself with a hit. The song reached No. 1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart here in America, something I never would have dreamed the very eccentric and very English singer-songwriter could pull off over here.

I'm including one of the two B-sides from the U.S.-issued three-song CD single because it's an interesting version of a song from the Byrds you will no doubt recognize. Hitchcock has a knack for inspired covers. His stripped-down take of the Psychedelic Furs' "The Ghost in You" from last year's 'The Man Upstairs' is a perfect example. The 62-year-old is the rare artist that seems to be getting better with age. This may sound like a bold statement, but I would take Hitchcock's output since 2009 over any five consecutive albums during his nearly four decades making records.

Bonus B-Side: "Eight Miles High"


Charity Chic said...

I love Robyn Hitchcock - a true eccentric

George said...

Great pop-song Brian.

The Swede said...

There are a handful of artists about whom I could happily blog exclusively. Bob Dylan, The Clash, Miles Davis, Lee Perry, Ed Kuepper, perhaps a couple of others. Robyn Hitchcock would certainly be among the illustrious list. As it is, I've restricted myself to a couple of posts here and there about Robyn, not least of which is the one about the time I was mistaken for him on the street in New York.
Your favourite 5 album streak got me haring over to his discography to double check my own. You do have a strong case, 'Be Still' from 'Love From London' is one of my all-time favourite Hitchcock songs, though at a pinch I'd take 'Fegmania', 'Gotta Let this Hen Out' (a live LP, is that cheating?), Element of Light', 'Globe of Frogs' and 'Queen Elvis'. I'm very fond of 'Perspex Island' too, I saw the Egyptians several times on that particular tour, though I had no idea that the LP had quite as much impact Stateside.
I could witter on for hours about this great artist, but I'll stop before I bore everyone! Perhaps it's about time that I found an excuse to put up another Robyn tune over at my place, it's been a while.
Great post, can't wait for the next 28!

McPop said...

Great selection! Very pleased Robyn Hitchcock made your countdown. I saw him live with the Egyptians opening for REM on the 'Green' tour. After that awesome performance I was a fan for life and started collecting his output. I do like a lot of his more recent stuff but would probably pick Fegmania!, Element of Light, Globe of Frogs and Queen Elvis as my favorites. Love his duet with Glen Tilbrook "Flesh Number One"

Brian said...

Hello, fellas. I was serious about that last sentence, but I will admit I was baiting a little bit so I could see where everyone stood on Hitchcock. I'm completely with you guys on the middle to late '80s records. Every album mentioned is wonderful. McPop, that was a great tour. Hitchcock fans were a little unsure about the whole thing at first, but the relationship he formed with Peter Buck certainly paid dividends. Nice to see some positive comments so far. One of my favorite, but Hitchcock is the kind of artist that can be divisive.

kevinpat said...

In 1981 on an inspired whim I bought The Soft Boys Only the Stones Remain/Lope at the Hive collection at a used record store. Like when I bought Talking Heads 77 that purchase proved to be prophetic for me. I fell in love with Robin Hitchcock. I spent countless hours searching for the "(I Wanna Be) An Anglepoised Lamp" single to complete the Soft Boys comp I had to have for the car. On cassette. Since then I was mad about all Robyn Hitchcock's output. And as we know it's immense - a vast and wonderful catalogue that never seems to end. B-sides, demos and unreleased…until it is. Then it's not. Some of my favorite songs are not necessarily on my favorite albums. And this of course can change three hours from now but I think my favorite Hitchcock albums would be: Queen Elvis (!), the beautiful I Often Dream of Trains (which I'm puzzled by the lack of love here…??), Moss Elixir, Globe of Frogs, Black Snake Diamond Role?? Or maybe Fegmania?? Or Element of Light?? I dunno. Too hard! I love the "So You Think You're In Love" choice. But I think my choice would have been "Madonna of the Wasps", which Neko Case does a very nice version of. And my "SYTYIL" single has two different b-side songs which are very fun "Dark Green Energy" & "Watch Your Intelligence". And might I recommend another great Hitchcock cover, The Doors "Crystal Ship" from the Man Upstairs. That's sweet! And I can see the connection Robin had with REM. REM gets unfortunately trashed because they got popular but they were a great and quirky band much like Hitchcock. As I write this Moss Elixir is playing in the background. God, I LOVE this $h!t. Man! Robin Hitchcock..I could go on and on…. Sorry. , but I gotta let this hen out.

Ian Balentine said...

Nothing to add, really, except to thank you for shining a light on one of the best, most under-appreciated artists of the last 50 years.

Brian said...

Your passion for Hitchcock comes shining through. I'm a huge fan of Madonna of the Wasps too, and Queen Elvis is pretty close to my favorite album. Since it was released in '89, however, I couldn't consider that great song this time. Your "SYTYIL" single is slightly different than mine. I have Watch Your Intelligence (and Eight Miles High) but Dark Green Energy was not included. Frankly, I would take your 12" over my CD single. I was one of those late to I Often Dream of Trains, but I agree with your sentiment about it being beautiful. There was quite a bit of love for it in the press and elsewhere when Yep Roc reissued it, but that was about a quarter of a century late. You had a lot to say, and I could go on and on here as well, but I'll just say I'm happy we share an affinity for this artist.

You don't have to add anything. You're one of the biggest fans I know, and it's tremendous that you have taken the time to direct your readers to lesser appreciated albums like Jewels for Sophia. That's all we are in the position to do. There are so many musicians that hang on too long, but Hitchcock is proving you can be relevant well into your 60s... and in his case, hopefully, much longer.

Scott said...

Always thought of Robin Hitchcock alongside Julian Cope and Kevin Rowland as Great British eccentrics. Always loved the clip below from The Old Grey Whistle Test


Brian said...

That's a helluva trifecta, Scott. Thanks for the clip, and welcome back to the grid.