Respect: Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians
Reprise Records, 1993

Robyn Hitchcock's 13th post-Soft Boys album is one of his "typical" surrealistic meditations on sex and death. It starts off with the deceptively cheerful "The Yip Song" — about his father dying of cancer —through the lyrically strange (whoa — nothing unusual there) "When I Was Dead" and the oddly spiritual "Serpent at the Gates of Wisdom."

There are odd pop-culture and not-so pop culture references — from the "Harrison Ford poster rolled up in my desk" in "Radio Storm" to "The Wreck of the Arthur Lee" — Arthur Lee being the ill-fated brains behind the great 1960s band Love, and playing off the song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." And then there is the non-sequitor "Wafflehead" — a largely a capella piece of nonsense insinuating sexuality.

Most moving, however, is the song "Arms of Love." A simple song with simple chords —D-G-A— it is a beautful evocation of the pain of being in and out of love from the point of view of an observer, hoping for the best.

Maybe your world is fading
It wasn't strong enough
Through all the dirt you're wading
Into the arms of love
The same year (1993), R.E.M. recorded a nice cover of this song; hard to find now without using a download.

And that is what makes this album somewhat different from Hitchcock's others — overall, the lyrics are fairly straightforward and accessible compared to past efforts (Queen Elvis or Globe of Frogs, brilliant in their own right). Musically, it is what is to be expected of Hitchcock — psychedelic Brit-pop.

Track listing

  1. The Yip! Song
  2. Arms of Love
  3. The Moon Inside
  4. Railway Shoes
  5. When I Was Dead
  6. The Wreck of the Arthur Lee
  7. Driving Aloud (Radio Storm)
  8. Serpent at the Gates of Wisdom
  9. Then You're Dust
  10. Wafflehead