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Black Snake Diamond Role [Yep Rock]
     

Black Snake Diamond Role [Yep Rock]

by Robyn Hitchcock
 

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The Soft Boys' fusion of the energy of punk and the baroque textures and melodic twists of psychedelia was ahead of its time, but for the group's leader, Robyn Hitchcock, that had become a problem. Brilliant as their music was, hardly anyone was listening when the Soft Boys released their masterpiece, Underwater Moonlight, in 1980

Overview

The Soft Boys' fusion of the energy of punk and the baroque textures and melodic twists of psychedelia was ahead of its time, but for the group's leader, Robyn Hitchcock, that had become a problem. Brilliant as their music was, hardly anyone was listening when the Soft Boys released their masterpiece, Underwater Moonlight, in 1980 -- so a year later the band was history and Hitchcock released his first solo album, Black Snake Diamond Role. While the other three members of the Soft Boys appeared on the album (guitarist Kimberley Rew, bassist Matthew Seligman, and drummer Morris Windsor) along with Vince Ely of the Psychedelic Furs, Knox from the Vibrators, and a then-unknown Thomas Dolby, Black Snake Diamond Role represented a subtle but clear shift away from the more aggressive tone of the Soft Boys toward a more pop-oriented sound. "The Man Who Invented Himself" is user-friendly in a way the Soft Boys had never been, and the production, while mostly straightforward, is more polished and professional. Even though the surfaces of this album are more welcoming than the Soft Boys, the surrealism of the lyrics and the trippy undertow of the melodies are in the same league as Hitchcock's earlier work, and while "Acid Bird," "Out of the Picture," and "Brenda's Iron Sledge" are newly catchy and engaging, the guitar work on "I Watch the Cars" shows Hitchcock's vision had changed very little, and the menace of "Do Policemen Sing?" is only slightly undercut by its wit. Black Snake Diamond Role staked out a distinct sonic territory for Hitchcock's solo career that still made room for the abundant talent he'd displayed in his years with the Soft Boys, and remains one of his most enjoyable efforts. [Yep Roc's 2007 reissue of Black Snake Diamond Role features eight bonus tracks, four of which appeared on Rhino's 1995 edition, though "Dancing on God's Thumb" from the Rhino release has vanished. Most of the bonus selections follow in the same vein as the album, albeit with a greater degree of eccentricity, as displayed on "Happy the Golden Prince" and "Give Me a Spanner Ralph." A glaring omission, however, is the mix of "The Man Who Invented Himself," with horns that appeared on the 7" single of the song. The Yep Roc edition also includes new liner notes from Hitchcock that discuss the album's history and the events surrounding it in typically witty but offbeat fashion.]

Product Details

Release Date:
11/13/2007
Label:
Yep Roc Records
UPC:
0634457261129
catalogNumber:
2611
Rank:
45103

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