The Purple Bottle

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

This Is The BBC

Well, I was more then a little bit pleasantly surprised when this dropped through the letter box this morning, nearly three weeks ahead of the announced release date of April 10th. I ordered it a couple of days ago directly from the Hux Records website - - and, whilst it was slightly dearer than I've seen advertised elsewhere, you can't fault them for speed of delivery (plus I figured that maybe Robyn might get a bit more money than from a third party dealer). The tracks all come from four BBC sessions for Andy Kershaw and Mark Radcliffe and break down as follows;

7 tracks from September 1999 with Kimberley, Tim Keegan, Jake Kyle (bass) & Rob Allum (drums) 5 tracks from August 1996 with Tim and Jake (although 2 are Robyn on his own) 2 tracks solo, one from Feb 1996 and one from an earlier August 1996 session.

There aren't really any surprises in the song selection, the only ones that haven't previously appeared on a Hitchcock album being the cover of Dylan's It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry and the Andy Kershaw Jingle (although I'm sure you'll recognise the tune!). Although this was initially a disappointment, I'm happy to say that the disc works really well as a whole, the small combo arrangements and mostly acoustic instrumentation giving an intimate, downhome feel to the material. Highlights for me after a couple of listens are Polly On The Shore, taken slightly slower and more seriously than on You And Oblivion, the eastern/modal intro to Cheese Alarm, the rolling, rhythmic interplay of guitar and bass on Where Do You Go When You Die? (Jake's double bass is a joy throughout the album), a storming Elizabeth Jade with Tim on lead and the lovely acoustic intro to Madonna Of The Wasps, which replaces the acappella "Is this love" of the original.

The booklet is very interesting, the front cover being a Raymond Hitchcock painting and the inside cover is Robyn's painting of his father. The back cover is a wartime photo of Jack and Ruby Hitchcock, who I assume are Robyn's grandparents, and there is a Robyn poem ("After john Hegley") in praise of the BBC which references Peter Cook and Spike Milligan. My feeling is that Robyn is paying homage to the importance of the BBC to his family and the generation that were so reliant on the corporation for entertainment, news and morale boosting during the War years. All in all, it's a lovely package for the faithful but would also make a great primer for anyone not familiar with Robyn's post-Egyptians work. It's also sonically far superior to the previous Kershaw Sessions CD - Auntie enters the digital age (smiling cryptically and holding a bunch of radishes).

PS In an odd coincidence, the other CD that the postie brought today was On The Shore by Trees, which also has a version of Polly On The Shore!


  • At 2:34 AM, Blogger jams o donnell said…

    Brilliant review! I love Robyn too and am a vegetable friend! I have blogged a couple of Robyn vids from youtube - Madonna of the Wasps and De Chirico Street from Duets with Deni.


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