Listen to this track by formerly monikered Soft Boys and ’80s neo-psychedeliaists Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians. It’s “Madonna Of The Wasps”, the lead track on their 1989 record Queen Elvis. In addition to former Soft Boys members Hitchcock, plus bassist Andy Metcalfe, and drummer Morris Windsor, this song features the distinctive lines of another key player worth mentioning; R.E.M’s Peter Buck.
Buck, and his band, were formed by following the example of what Hitchcock had laid down with the Soft Boys, particularly their Underwater Moonlightalbum. And here, Hitchcock reinforces that influence on one of his most enduring pop songs. A recurring theme in his work seems to revolve around insects, from cans of bees as forming the title of the first Soft Boys record, to references to Antwomen later on, and even with a documentary about him called Sex, Food, Death … And Insects, with all of those other things referenced being recurring themes in his work as well.
Hitchcock’s particular parallel is to draw a comparison between our six-legged friends and a form of idealized womanhood. And no song does this better than this one. And it shows something else too beyond Hitchcock’s affinity for writing songs about our winged, stingie-tailed pals.
Here’s a clip featuring Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3 performing the lead track off of their 2006 album Olé Tarantula.
Olé Tarantula was one of my favourite releases that year, a real ray of sunshine with a lot of lyrical loopiness which I expect and celebrate in Hitchcock’s work, plus all of the Byrds/’67 Beatles/’66-’76 Dylan references that I’ve come to love.
Recently, news of a second installment in the repackaging program from Yep Roc has come down the pipe.The first of course was I Wanna Go Backwards, which was a re-release of three of his albums plus extras in one 5 CD box.Those albums are Black Snake Diamond Role, I Often Dream of Trains, and Eye, all of which received individual re-packaging releases too if you want to cherry-pick. Read more about the details of the I Wanna Go Backwards box from Yep Roc on their site.
The second box is the upcoming Luminous Groove (including 1985’s Fegmania, ‘86’s Element of Light, and the long-awaited re-issue of the live Got to Get This Hen Out.The release for that box and the individual album re-issues at press time is August 19, 2008.Read more about it here.
Boy, it’s beginning to sound like I’m on Yep Roc’s payroll – Nick Lowe, Billy Bragg, Hitchcock, Sloan, Ron Sexsmith, Yep Roc artists all – have been heavily featured here on the ‘Bin.But, it’s pure enthusiasm, Good People.They happen to be favourite artists of mine, so I’m just spreading the word. I actually like a lot of artists on their current roster.But, I’m not making a dime writing about them here, folks.
Still, Yep Roc – to quote the old song – can you spare a dime (or a couple of free records at least)?