Olé! Tarantula

Olé! Tarantula

by Robyn Hitchcock
     
 

For a while, Robyn Hitchcock seemed to have lost his way. After his auspicious beginnings in the Soft Boys and then in his solo heyday throughout the '80s and early '90s, Hitchcock's fertile imagination, which often gravitated toward images of insects, vegetables, and, uh, fertility, seemed to strain. But 2004's Spooked, an acousticSee more details below

Overview

For a while, Robyn Hitchcock seemed to have lost his way. After his auspicious beginnings in the Soft Boys and then in his solo heyday throughout the '80s and early '90s, Hitchcock's fertile imagination, which often gravitated toward images of insects, vegetables, and, uh, fertility, seemed to strain. But 2004's Spooked, an acoustic album recorded with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, was his most consistent set in ages, and the mostly electric and completely eclectic Olé! Tarantula follows suit. Backed by the Venus 3 (R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey of the Young Fresh Fellows, and Bill Rieflin from R.E.M. and the Minus 5), Hitchcock rocks out more than he has in years. Olé! is both joyful and wistful, with two lively elegies, "Underground Sun" and "N.Y. Doll" (the latter for the New York Dolls' Arthur Kane), and several jangly love songs, including "'Cause It's Love (Saint Parallelogram)," which wouldn't sound out of place on the classic Fegmania. "A man's gotta know his limitations, Briggs, or he will just explode," Hitchcock sings atop one of his characteristic chiming, Byrdsy guitar lines. Longtime Hitchcock fans won't be surprised by the wit, anthropomorphism, and harmonies on Olé! Tarantula. But they may be surprised by how fresh and alive they all sound.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Christopher Monger
In 2004, Robyn Hitchcock's loose and folky Spooked saw the insect- and crustacean-loving eccentric enlisting the unlikely help of NPR darlings David Rawlings and Gillian Welch. This time around he's backed by "3/4s of the Minus 5 and half of R.E.M." (Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, and Bill Rieflin) as well as ex-Soft Boys Kimberley Rew and Morris Windsor, Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan, Harvey Danger's Sean Nelson, and ex-President of the United States of America Chris Ballew. A small army indeed, but a tasteful one. Olé! Tarantula sounds like a trip back to the iconic singer/songwriter's early A&M days. Long, Byrds-inspired harmonies, jangly electric guitars, and random bursts of piano, harmonica, and saxophone pepper the collection in fits, seasoning Hitchcock's already delicious wordplay with exactly the right amount of spice. Opener "Adventure Rocket Ship" sounds like a lost track from Underwater Moonlight, the kind of confident psychedelic rocker that used to spill from the anti-bard's leafy pen like battery acid in the early to mid-'80s. That confidence coupled with the tight, road-ready band vibe permeates Tarantula's swollen belly, allowing only one or two forays into the esoteric balladry that has become the norm for the artist's post-Egyptians catalog. With the jaunty "'Cause It's Love (Saint Parallelogram)," co-written by XTC's Andy Partridge, the creepy and dissonant "Red Locust Frenzy," and the impossibly ridiculous title cut, the former "Man with the Light Bulb Head" has distilled the best of each of his eras into one big shambling creature. Lyrically, he's still obsessed with crabs, eggs, tomatoes, and things that are fleshy, furry, and spindly, but his greatest strength has always been his ability to toss a clear nugget of profundity into his most surrealist rants. In the warm, weird, and nostalgic "Belltown Ramble," he manages to rope an Uzbek warlord, email and R.E.M. into a motor-mouthed stroll through town and time that's bolstered by the wisdom that "It's an independent life/And you want to see your eyes/Reflected in the world" and the notion that "The burning train is back in your hometown." It's that perfect balance of sadness, vitriol, and absurdity that makes Hitchcock (when he's on) such a legendary social commentator. He's the jester, the king, the convict, and the executioner all wrapped up into one.

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Product Details

Release Date:
10/03/2006
Label:
Yep Roc Records
UPC:
0634457212923
catalogNumber:
2129
Rank:
105894

Tracks

  1. Adventure Rocket Ship  -  Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3
  2. Underground Sun  -  Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3
  3. Museum of Sex  -  Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3
  4. Belltown Ramble  -  Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3
  5. Ole! Tarantula  -  Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3
  6. (A Man's Gotta Know His Limitations) Briggs  -  Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3
  7. Red Locust Frenzy  -  Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3
  8. 'Cause It's Love (Saint Parallelogram)  -  Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3
  9. The Authority Box  -  Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3
  10. N.Y. Doll  -  Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Robyn Hitchcock   Primary Artist,Guitar,Harmonica,Vocals,Group Member
Scott McCaughey   Bass,Piano,Bass Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
Ian McLagan   Keyboards
Kurt Bloch   Choir, Chorus
Peter Buck   Bass,Guitar,Bass Guitar,Group Member
Kimberley Rew   Guitar
Bill Rieflin   Percussion,Drums,Choir, Chorus,Group Member
Morris Windsor   Percussion,Background Vocals,Harmony
Chris Ballew   Synthesizer,Keyboards,Background Vocals,Slide Guitar,Harmony
Jessica Corcoran   Overdubs
Sean Nelson   Choir, Chorus,Harmony
Charlie Francis   Overdubs
Michele Noach   Choir, Chorus
Colin Izod   Saxophone

Technical Credits

Robyn Hitchcock   Composer,Coloring,Drawing
Andy Partridge   Composer
Kurt Bloch   Engineer
Ian Johnson   Coloring

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