Ole! Tarantula CD
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Robyn Hitchcock sought out some old friends to record his new album, Ole! Tarantula, and he found the Venus 3: Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey and Bill Rieflin. By enlisting "3/4s of the Minus 5 and half of R.E.M.," Hitchcock has created what he calls, "the rockingest record I've made in years." While the album roars with the garage-fueled energy of his Soft Boys days, Hitchcock's lyricism continues to drive his songs. The New York Times says, "[His songs] bridge the psychedelia of Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett and the archetypal English 'nonsense' of Edward Lear." In addition to the Venus 3 core group, Ole! Tarantula was engineered by Seattle mainstay Kurt Bloch and features a cast of recurrent and new characters in the Hitchcock story: Morris Windsor (Soft Boys/Egyptians), Sean Nelson (Harvey Danger), Chris Ballew (Presidents of The United States of America), Kimberly Rew (Soft Boys) and Ian McLagan (The Faces). Tracks: Adventure Rocket Ship / Underground Sun / Museum Of Sex / Belltown Ramble / Ole! Tarantula / (A Man's Gotta Know His Limitations) Briggs / Red Locust Frenzy / Cause It's Love (Saint Parallelogram) / The Authority Box / N.Y. Doll.
In 30 years of recording with the Soft Boys and solo, Robyn Hitchcock's enduring brand of madcap mayhem has raced between English punk, acoustic folk and sonically lush pop. But by teaming with Seattle pals Pete Buck (REM) and Scott McCaughey (The Minus 5), Hitchcock has made a return to garage rock not heard since 1989's Queen Elvis. More than capable musicians, Buck and McCaughey are long-time fans of the legendary British songwriter-whose droll lyrics and quirky melodies recall the late Syd Barrettand they grasp the assignment with aplomb. Buck's indelible guitar instills a chiming luster to songs like "Underground Sun" and "Red Locust Frenzy," while McCaughey provides a random, finger-snapping piano to the delightful "Belltown Ramble," which finds Hitchcock serving as the clever hobnobbing tour guide of his favorite Emerald City neighborhood. As usual, a sharp cockney twang is Hitchcock's best instrument, carving up the scatty title song as aptly as his ode to San Francisco "(A Man's Gotta Know His Limitations) Briggs" or his salute to "NY Doll," late bassist Arthur Kane.--Scott Holter
Top customer reviews
Whilst the acoustic albums are enjoyable the contributions from the band are tasteful and always add something to the mix.
Totally agree with the previous reviewer that "Belltown Rumble" takes a while to grow on you, but the rest are instant gems. Personal faves, at this moment, are "Underground Sun" and the gorgeous "NY Doll".
Buy this album!
Highlights include the storming opener "Adventure Rocket Ship" and the more laid back "Underground Sun". Both "Ole Tarantula" and "A Man's Gotta Know His Limitations Briggs" have grown from the solo versions heard over two years ago. The beautiful "NY Doll", dedicated to Arthur Kane, closes the album.
Only "Belltown Rumble", a long acoustic based track with tinkling piano seems a little out of place but it has grown on me with repeated listens.
A great album from one of our National Treasures.
If you are not familiar with the genius of Robyn & you like the sound of English eccentricity fused with a macabre but comic surrealism, humorous but often deep & touching lyrics & some of the best guitar & song writing you will find anywhere, then I suggest you invest in this masterpiece of an album.
If you like what you hear, you have an exciting back catalogue of twenty equally brilliant albums to discover.
"Belltown Ramble" is my personal favourite after the first few listens.
Aided and abetted by Peter Buck, Bill Rieflin, and Scott McGaughey, permanent and stage members of the now defunct REM, plus numerous other 'celeb' contributors, Hitchcock weaves his lyrical magic around his catchy songs.
Trying to make sense of the lyrics is challenging fun - they DO mean something to Hitchcock, but I think you had to be there on that trip, so to speak, in order to know where 'the pink rotating elephant' was (Washington State, apparently!).
In terms of the nonsense rhyme nature of much of the maerial, Edward Lear springs to mind. However, please don't let this comparison put you off. Apart from the really great tunes that the words are wrapped around, here and there are heart-warming (or should that be, heart-wrenching?) and more accessible numbers.
"N.Y. Doll" tells us of the late, great, Arthur 'Killer' Kane, bassist with the New York Dolls and his life after fame and fortune. "Underground Sun", is a song about a dead friend of Hitchcock.
A great place to start on your voyage of Robyn Hitchcock discovery. Enjoy!
A special mention goes to the rather nice packaging. In this day and age it's nice to see some effort being put in to this aspect of the album. Robyn Hitchcock himself has a lot of input on the sleeve-artwork and it's all quite lovely. Is that important? Well, I suppose it is if you`ve coughed up your hard-earned cash for this. So, in a nutshell, what do I think? Fans of literate, folky, poppy, rocky verbally-playful music will appreciate this album. Recommended!
Why so ? Could be the fact that quirky compositions, workmanlike musician ship and in this case, the backing of competent contemporaries such as REM's Peter Buck, are no substitute for real talent.
Ole Tarantula sounds so lightweight and bland. 60/70's sounding ditties clogging up the grooves like candyfloss.
This could be some forgotten album by an equally forgotten 60's pop group that released two albums before splitting and becoming teachers and second hand car salesmen.
Not good !