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Robyn Hitchcock | Robyn Sings (Editions Paf!)
"I'm not interpreting these songs," states Robyn in the liner notes, "I'm just singing them - as only someone who's been saturated in them can." And he does, be it solo or accompanied by the likes of Jon Brion and Grant-Lee Phillips. Oh yeah, they're all Bob Dylan songs too. The two discs display the different sides of Robyn and Bob. The 'Stripes' disc is taken from various sources and starts and ends with Visions Of Johanna, one stripped down, the other a restrained community affair akin to a late night party jam session. Each track is not only sung like someone who's saturated, but reverential too, as if Robyn is trying to convey the power and soul the songs had when they first hit his ears, giving a refreshing, rather than sycophantic replaying. The 'Dots' side is a different affair. Recorded live at London's Borderline to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the infamous Albert Hall gig Robyn and the Homer 'Hawks' rip through the electric set with a rawness that his Bobness would be proud of. There's even slow hand claps and shouts of "Judas!" to complete the sound of the times and the slightly tinny sound adds to that feel, conveying the energy of a man and a band fully loving what they're playing and having fun recreating the experience. The force of Dylan also comes through, especially when Like A Rolling Stone rolls along, Hitchcock's voice higher than Dylan's nasal drone, but still full of emotion and anger, snarling the words over the brutal guitars. The crowd let the side down by actually shouting for more at the end, maybe they didn't know the story of the original, or they just got carried away, after all, it's a blistering performance and I'm not saying that because of the namecheck. The songs and performances should suit fans of either Bobby, but it shouldn't be limited to just them, it's a rewarding listen in its own right. You can acquire this gem from robynhitchcock.com and then try and spot me in the bus photo.

Laurence Arnold
CWAS #11 - Autumn 2002

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