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Underwater Moonlight...And How It Got There [Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered]

The Soft Boys Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: £18.95
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Swarming hymns of 2nd generation psychedelic pop mastery, The Soft Boys' two most influential and groundbreaking albums are finally back in print via Yep Roc Records. Main man Robyn Hitchcock, along with demon guitarist Kimberley Rew, bassist Matthew Seligman and drummer Morris Windsor manage to bottle '60s guitar pop, shake it up with caged teenage fury and cut it all with a healthy ... Read more in Amazon's The Soft Boys Store

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Product details

  • Audio CD (12 Mar 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Matador
  • ASIN: B000059N5Y
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,657 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. I Wanna Destroy You
2. Kingdom Of Love
3. Positive Vibrations
4. I Got The Hots
5. Insanely Jealous
6. Tonight
7. You Have Got To Go Sideways
8. Old Pervert
9. The Queen Of Eyes
10. Underwater Moonlight
See all 19 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Old Pervert - Section 1
2. Like A Reak Smoothie
3. Alien
4. Bloat (Extract)
5. Underwater Moonlight
6. She Wears My Hair
7. Wang Dang Pig
8. Old Pervert - Section 2
9. Insanely Jealous
10. Leave Me Alone
See all 16 tracks on this disc

Product Description


The Soft Boys' hugely influential 1980 neo-psychedelic album Underwater Moonlight receives full archaeological treatment on this double-CD set. Whether you consider it singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock's finest work or not, the cohesive, original whole it makes of roots ranging from the Byrds to Clear Spot remains dazzling. The drive and wit of earlier recordings strains at a tightened leash that the Cambridge quartet has a full grasp on. The 10 tracks leap from the anger of "I Wanna Destroy You" to the threatening crawl of "I Got the Hots", the angelically anthemic "Tonight" and Hitchcock's singular spin on the Beefheart-drenched blues of "Old Pervert" ("I won't do you no harm, I just wanna show you what's in my fridge / So come on, little girl, is your name Hester or maybe it's Midge?"). Nine exemplary bonus tracks, including an early Hitchcock seafood meditation "Where Are the Prawns?" and the raging metaphysical ancient history tribute "Only the Stones Remain" complete the first disc. The second consists of nearly an hour of vintage lo-fi rehearsal tapes that will ultimately prove essential only to hardcore fans. With Underwater Moonlight too long out of print, though, this is a reissue to prize. --Rickey Wright

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars about time 25 Jun 2001
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
This is prime Hitchcock and an album which has been disasterously unavailable for too long. The extra stuff, added for the reissue is grand, but simply the tracks from the album proper make this an essential purchase. Without Underwater Moonlight some of the finest and most valued music of the last twenty years would never have sounded quite as it did. If you're a fan of the Smiths, (pre-warners)REM, Orange Juice, Teenage Fanclub or any of the C86 groups, then you really need a copy of this.
The music is superb in its own right, but coupled with Hitchcock's surreal and genuinely funny lyrics this is guitar pop at its cleverest and most infectious.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underwater Moonlight 17 April 2009
Format:Audio CD
I first learnt about Robyn Hitchcock two years ago after watching the documentary "Robyn Hitchcock: Sex, Food, Death... and Insects" on BBC Four. I was instantly taken by his whimsical lyrics and delivery, so I researched him further and decided to begin my journey into the world of Hitchcock by buying this critically acclaimed and most influential album. I'm glad I did (thanks BBC).

If a quirky 60s psychedelia meets jangly post-punk pop folk rock album sounds appealing, then try this outstanding piece of brilliance.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hey little girl! why don't you feed the fish... 14 Mar 2001
By Andrew Stafford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is a brilliant album.
If you don't have it yet (and most of you won't - hardly anyone ever did), you should buy two copies; one for yourself and one for your best friend. See, this is not just any old album that you can invite people to simply take home for a weekend. Oh no!
So what does it sound like?
Underwater Moonlight sounds like nothing on earth so much as Monty Python, backed by the Byrds or (in the Soft Boys' tougher moments) the Kinks. If that isn't enough to suck you in, just listen to the first four tracks. Simply, my life was never the same again after hearing I Wanna Destroy You for the first time. This is punk, but not punk: it's noisy but arty, deadly serious in its content but utterly hilarious in its delivery, and it has vocal harmonies from outer space. It's fabulous.
Then there's Kingdom of Love. It starts off quiet and ends in a joyful rapture, with a brilliant snaking guitar lead that coils and uncoils itself as Robyn Hitchcock surrenders himself to the most confusing of human emotions: "You've been laying eggs under my skin/now they're hatching out under my chin/now there's tiny insects showing through/and all them tiny insects look like you." Python's Terry Gilliam would have made a great cartoon sequence out of it.
Positive Vibrations was written on the day Robyn's dog died. Thatcher and Reagan had just been elected and Robyn wanted to shoo all that awfulness away, so he sat down and wrote this little hippie anthem at a time when everyone hated hippies. It features possibly the only excusable sitar solo in rock history, is the fastest song on the album, and is catchier than typhoid.
I Got the Hots, by way of contrast, is a creeping sleazoid crawl. I won't bother to describe it further; just quote the following: "Said the dentures to the peach/said the tide of filth to the bleach/said the spike to the tomato/said the curry to the corpse/I got the hots for you." And that's just the first verse.
Insanely Jealous is more lyrical flights of fancy over a heartbeat bass and a quivering violin. It builds into a demented rage of guitars with Robyn babbling about being jealous of everything from the people that you love to the fingers in your glove. He sounds like he means it too, which is the scary bit.
Tonight is a romantic trip to a harmonic heaven about which no more needs to be said.
You'll Have To Go Sideways is an instrumental number, an oddity for a band for whom lyrics play such a big role. But it's another highlight on an album stuffed with gems, compelling and unsettling in that, for once, it leaves everything unsaid. It's mysterious and beautiful.
Have I mentioned Kimberley Rew yet? Kimberley plays lead guitar like, as Hitchcock once described, "Hendrix in sulphuric acid ... or Hendrix ON sulphuric acid". You can hear that style most clearly on Old Pervert, a Beefheartian nightmare of fiends and ghouls. Kimberley went on to Katrina and the Waves, for whom he wrote Walking on Sunshine.
Next to Tonight, Queen of Eyes is the prettiest number on the album, two minutes of gorgeous retro pop. It really does sound like the early Byrds, and like Kingdom of Love might have been a hit if not for Robyn describing the object of his affections "with her carapace shell and her black-lace thighs".
And then there's the title track: a psychedelic masterpiece of weirdness about two statues who go out for a night on the town together. Although better heard on the out of print 1976-1981 Ryko compilation (which features a hilarious Hitchcock monologue at its centre), this is the quintessential Soft Boys, the stuff those who've only heard the name, and wondered what they sound like, will be expecting.
Like I said, this is a brilliant album. Buy two.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars underwater and underground 19 May 2002
By "undeletablearchive" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The Soft Boys were one of the best live post-punk acts I ever saw - heavy, eclectic, playful, with a singer like Rasputin the mad monk who ranted some awesomely perverse and intricate lyrics. However, they never escaped the underground. They had two problems: first, they never translated onto record. This, their best, is a great document, but generally sounds too polite, and has a way too clean, over-trebly production. An all-time Top 100 record in my book, this is the one most needing a decent remaster. Second, their material was quite difficult to get a handle on. Unlike other bands of the time, who attempted complete rejection of existing musical forms, Soft Boys foreshadowed the modern rock-history-as-resource attitude, borrowing harmony vocals, garage-psychedelic stylings and Beefheart skronk to form a kind of complex, psychologically disturbed post-rock which was nothing like the de rigeur dubby, chickenscratch minimalism of a Banshees or PiL. Also, they were much less obviously finger-givers than people like the Gang of Four or The Pop Group, and the anti- attitude tended to be where it was at. All this made it difficult for angry young men of the time to get a handle on the group.
Despite these issues leading to the instant obscurity of the band, `Underwater Moonlight' is ageing very well and the content is so good it deserves top rating. Basically a pop record, it covers a lot of styles and much trad pop content (as well as some mad surrealist stuff never seen before), including the time-honoured boy-girl theme, which, it has to be said, gets a radical seeing-to: `Insanely Jealous' is by some distance the best-ever song about obsession after being dumped, with murderously manic lead which blows your head off despite the production. `I Wanna Destroy You' hates everyone, but is dressed in seductive harmonies. It's also very funny. `Kingdom of Love' is a standout, a song whose chosen metaphor for sexual obsession is chin-infesting lice with heads that look like that of the object of desire. Yes, that's right. `Old Pervert' is a great track about feeling unattractive, over-sexed, and past it, buying into the neuroses that afflicted intellectual long-maccers at the time (well, me anyway). My personal favourite, though, is `You'll Have To Go Sideways', an instrumental which gets the Soft Boys' intransigent onstage lock-down absolutely right, with the group climbing one of their signature interlocking staircase structures. Insane arpeggios are backed by psychedelic swathes of glare-delay; this is manic psychedelia for mathematicians. Everything else is good-to-great as well.
All in all 'Underwater Moonlight' is a beautiful reminder of the creativity, intelligence and honesty which music briefly went through in the post-punk years, just before everyone went entryist and eighties synth-pop was inflicted upon us. It deserves to be much better known.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great classic gets the Rolls Royce treatment 30 Jan 2004
By Robert Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I have to admit to having slightly mixed feelings about the practice of issuing classics with all kinds of extra cuts. I am enormously grateful to possess the extras, but except in the case of SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO by the Byrds (where they add on all the original recordings with Gram Parsons that were rerecorded when his former manager embroiled him in a lawsuit), the extras are almost never even remotely as good as the original. Invariably, you discover that the real gold was there from the beginning. And this exhaustive version of UNDERWATER MOONLIGHT is no exception. The extras are nice, but the original album is still what makes buying it worthwhile. But as extras go, I do have to say that I was quite surprised at just how very good the extras on this album were. The songs are consistently interesting, some are quite excellent, and the playing is always superb. For instance, "There's Nobody Like You" features some absolutely stellar guitar work.
The original UNDERWATER MOONLIGHT was simply one of the truly great albums of the 1980s, and is still perhaps Robyn Hitchcock's finest achievement. Every song on the original album was brilliant, and the playing was sharper than Hitchcock was to receive later with The Egyptians. The worst song was at least very good, while several were nothing short of masterpieces. The album stars brilliantly with the stunning "I Wanna Destroy You," and continues on through one great song after another, from "Kingdom of Love and "Positive Vibrations" to "I Got the Hots" and "Insanely Jealous," before ending with "Queen of Eyes" and the epic title track.
It is hard now to remember who shockingly original the Soft Boys were when they first hit the scene. Taking their name from William S. Burroughs, they managed to be musically original, punkishly aggressive, artistically edgy, and amazingly quirky all at the same time. I have remained a Robyn Hitchcock fan ever since this album, but I'm not sure he has ever been this on the edge since. Kimberley Rew gave the band a spectacular harshness that Hitchcock has not always possessed. The quirkiness has come to play more and more a role in Hitchcock's music since. Anyone who has seen him live knows that in between songs he can engage in some verbal digressions that are simultaneously hysterically funny and clinically odd at the same time (I don't think there is any question that he could be either a stand up comedian or a comic performance artist if he so chose). I think the other members of the Soft Boys helped give his music a richness he did not always find later, even though one could argue that his songwriting would continue to improve.
I notice that Amazon has labeled this one of the Essentials, and so it is. Whenever I peruse someone's record or CD collection and see that they have this album, I always know that they know their music. Anyone who loves music and doesn't already own this, needs to.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invisible hits 17 Mar 2001
By Wayne Klein - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
1980. The buzz was on about U2. Chris Blackwell commented that "it's the most important signing since King Crimson". With little fanfare and even less sales The Soft Boys' Underwater Moonlight appears. In the midst of new wave and 80's rock it causes little more than a ripple in a puddle. My how that ripple has grown in twenty years. Underwater Moonlight now resonates with the depth and great songwriting that would become a hallmark of Robyn Hitchcock's career.
Amazingly, that ripple has grown into a wave and influenced a number of other bands (in much the same fashion as the Velvet Underground's first album. Brian Eno's commenta about the VU could also apply to the Underwater Moonlight. It didn't sell a lot but everyone that bought it started a band). Yes, Robyn Hitchcock's offcenter songwriting is the center piece of the album but hardly the only thing that makes this great album notable; Kimberly Rew's sharp and incisive guitar playing creates a distinctive sound that may recall the past ( the Byrds, Beatles, Barrett era Pink Floyd and Captain Beefheart) but clearly echoes that past like a fine work of literature.
This deluxe reissue has the original album plus 2 bonus tracks on the first disc. The second disc consists of rehearsal recordings and outtakes of songs some of which would show up on Hitchcock's solo albums. After the split the band found success and critical acclaim. Hitchcock had a minor hit with Balloon Man that broke him to a much larger audience. Kimberly Rew returned to his first band The Waves (renamed Katrina and the Waves)and began penning a number of pop classics including Walking on Sunshine. Matt Seligman went on to a great career as a studio musician (he was an acclaimed studio pro prior to the band)and continued to back both Hitchcock and others.
They've managed to pull of the best trick of all; the Soft Boys will be touring again. They can finally bask in the acclaim that was so elusive the first time around.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a CD version of a masterpiece that does it justice 27 July 2001
By Veronica Rusnak - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
My original vinyl copy of this was always on my 'desert island' lists -- not a bad tune on it. Warning: I am a diehard Robyn Hitchcock fan, so I'm not sure I can be objective, but this was the album that introduced me to Robyn, and this band broke up shortly after I bought this. After 20 years, it still holds up. Many people have said this was not of its time in 1980, but I disagree: 1980 was when punk was less raw and more thoughtful, when the reverb of the garage was creeping back in. It was a groundbreaking album, but certainly not alone, just driven a bit more underground than what else was happening in 1980. Another reviewer called this a cross between the Byrds and Monty Python, (not inaccurate) but I'll venture to say there's a healthy dose of psychedelic garage covering the whole thing. Basic line-up of a classic great garage band: handsome and eerily charming lead singer (on guitar as well), interestingly inventive lead guitar player, melodic bassist, and solid drummer. So, here's the CD version. This had been released before on Cd, but not with the packaging and outtakes, and as an import with a huge $$$. So I was overjoyed to see this exist -- Matador did a good job with mastering it for CD, and the outtakes from the session are good and interesting. It helped my husband to really know what to expect on the accompanying reunion tour that I dragged him to.("these guys slipped under my radar back then") -- even before the Syd Barrett cover he mumbled to himself "well these guys obviously listened to a lot of Early Floyd". Other reviewers are right: the 'boathouse sessions' included are of interest only to die-hard fans (like me), but given the price, that second CD is like you're getting it free anyway. But the album itself is wonderful, and it's nice to finally have a well-mastered, affordable CD version so I can take my robyn-autographed vinyl copy and put it in cold storage! Lyrically: incredible lyrics, Robyn's trademark, and at this point, precise garage fare: bottled up relationship and sexual frustration, but too intelligenly done to just be a teenage "Damn I'm not getting any!" And like everybody who's reviewed so far said, everybody who bought this started a band. I did, because these are all songs I wish I'd written and still hope I could someday cover with some semblance of authenticity. It's that good.
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