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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Underwater Moonlight
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£10.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 27 June 2017
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on 5 July 2011
Released in 1980, 'Underwater Moonlight' is a 'forgotten' classic. Reminscent of the work of Television and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, the band manage to straddle the early new-wave of the former and the psychedlic whimsy of the latter with the discordant fragmented blues of Beefheart to produce a distinctive, highly-influential and accomplished psychedelic gem.
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on 3 December 2014
all ok
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on 2 January 2011
30 years on since it's release, 'Underwater Moonlight' by The Soft Boys remains one of music's great 'lost' albums. A record which could easily draw similar plaudits to anything in the R.E.M catalouge or the incredible 'Third Sister Lovers' Big Star, but for one reason or another got left behind to sit alongside many others such as The Dream Syndicate's 'Medicine Show' or The Posies 'Frosting On The Beater' upon the shelf of unrewarded greats (to be honest, that shelf is currently heaving with numurous acts: Green On Red, Smudge, Minutemen & Mission To Burma are all still gathering dust, just waiting for their inevitable public recognation).

But surely within the pantheon of great 'lost' bands/albums, The Soft Boys must take their place atop of the rest. The band hailed from Camberidge and consisted of Robyn Hitchcock (guitar/vocals), Kimberley Rew (guitar/vocals), Morris Windsor (drums) & Matthew Seligman (bass) and in 1979 released their first LP, 'A Can Of Bees' (which has also had the re-release treatment). Whilst their debut is a fine record in its own right, it alway had the feeling of being a little too much 'of it's time', and for-going any attempts at forging it's own sound in favour of being one amongst many others. In fact it holds many similaritis with american greats Devo with its simple drum structures and jackhammer like guitar work. But it reamins a good investment for any exsisting fans of the band who may have overlooked it previously. But it was to be a year later, in the summer of 1980, that The Soft Boys were to release their definitive work and the album upon which their reputation would live forever.

'Underwater Moonlight' is a rush of post-punk style aggresion incorpated within swathes of neo-psychedelic strokes of genius. Tracks such as 'Positive Vibrations' have a sound not a million miles away from 60's greats The Small Faces but it is played with such rigour that comparisons to NYC legends Television are just as valid. Thats the true delight in hearing this music, it has the sound of a british band dragging the corpse of the London music scene circa 1966, into the new-age of minimilist punk ethos of late 70's/early 80's New York. So whereas a song like 'I Wanna Destroy You' (once covered by the superb Uncle Tupelo) has the kind of harsh structure of classic Kinks fare, it has a rousingly messy guitar style that surely had an influence on the sound of many 80's acts such as The Replacements or Husker Du.

I've spent this entire review comparing the band to many others and, in a broad sense, if you enjoy the music of any band I've mentioned you will love this record. But my deeper point is to shed some light on where The Soft Boys stand in the history of recorded music. Obviously influenced by the greats of the 1960's and owing some debt towards the punk scene exploding in America during the latter period of the 1970's, the band went on to influence the next generation of bands that included R.E.M, The Flaming Lips & The Replacements. And it is with all these great bands that The Soft Boys should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with. Truly, one on THE best records ever commited to tape, please don't let the oppurtunity to own this slip past you again.

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on 27 May 2011
While reviewers have criticised the CD version, the download remains very impressive value. Forty tracks might lead you to believe that the quality gets pretty thin, but actually some of the best tracks here are amongst the bonus tracks.

Clearly creativity and excellence was in the air when these tracks were laid down. There are a whole host of really poppy tracks that could easily be mined for hooks or covered and re-released today.

I find that Robyn Hitchcock's songs can get a bit claustrophobic, but that is not the case here. The instrumentation is simple but has real energy and verve. As others have commented this is just one of those inexplicably little known classics. Unlike many classics this is not worthy it is just a whole lot of fun.

If in doubt, click on Have a Heart Betty, at number 22, just how good is that.

Highly recommended.
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on 25 November 2012
Don't listen to the negative reviews here, I bought this album when I first got into Robyn Hitchcock and to be honest I didn't like it much either, especially as the recording on some tracks was so bad. Then one day I dug it out again and started playing it and then suddenly it really hit me, this was easily Robyn's best album.

The opening track probably has the worst recording but what an amazing song it is with all those fabulous backing vocals diving all over like bombs going up and coming down. After that is the amazing Kingdom of Love with its simply adorable mesmerising beat. The Queen of Eyes is probably Robyn's best ever track and Tonight comes pretty close. At the end of the album is the superb Under Water Moonlight all again with these amazing backing vocals. It's a very nostalgic retro type album that sounds like it came somewhere out of the past, but a past that never was. And some of the bonus tracks are excellent too, like Strange - I just love the words. Eventually, I even got into Old Pervert in the end as I had completely fallen in love with the album. Where are the Prawns is very special too and has a lovely ending that lasts for ages. The next best Robyn Hitchcock album after this is Fegmania (which really is just as good), that's how great this album is. It reminds me of happines, London, and also the seaside. Well, I just can't really explain why it works for me so well, but it does.
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on 14 February 2011
Just a word of caution:
1. This is NOT a 2CD set as the info above would have you believe - it's a single CD with a download capacity - I think this is not the same thing and the Amazon description is misleading and should be edited accordingly.

Another word of caution:
2. Whoever mastered this managed to mess up the track selection, which is unforgivable - the version of "Old Pervert Man" included here is NOT the original album track but the vastly inferior single B-side version. Somebody had to work hard to get this careless.

Oops, more caution:
3. packaging is poor - it's a "recreation" gatefold LP type sleeve (The original was a single sleeve) with a contemporary b/w live photo that looks like it's from the Great Northern or Portland Arms in Cambridge around the time of the original release. But there's no liner notes at all or in fact anything of interest or worth a damn. It's a fairly half hearted effort and I must confess to being disappointed.

The music, "Pervert" apart is fine as ever but I was expecting a comprehensive 2CD version of this minor classic and instead received a single disc with an erroneous track selection. Really not good enough.
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on 7 May 2011
I can't believe the original vinyl album sounded as bad as this pressing from Yeproc. Sound quality is poor and I doubt whether original masters were used to produce this. The Matador double CD is much better and if you are considering buying this expecting all the sonic benefits of vinyl be warned!
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on 19 March 2011
The original Soft Boys album is great and worth between four and five stars but I felt ripped off and dissatisfied after buying this cd. As one of the previous reviewers points out, this is not a two cd set but a single cd with the huge amount of rare and bonus material supposedly offered as free downloads. Unfortunately, despite following the instructions on the little slip of paper inside this cd, no free downloads! The bit of paper says the bonus material is available until 10/19/2013 - wrong! When I logged in I was told that the offer period had already passed and the bonus tracks were no longer available. There was a little sticker on the cover of this cd which also had the gall to boast about the 30 extra tracks of bonus material - ha! This cd does not do a great deal for the reputation of Amazon, Yeproc or indeed the Soft Boys (who I suspect are totally innocent). So great music, and I would have preferred spending this review praising the great Soft Boys' songs (read the positive review here by another reviewer for that)but I suggest you boycott this cd on principle and get it elsewhere because of the bonus track download debacle. Luckily I did not have the original album...if I had bought it just for the 30 bonus tracks I would have been seriously, seriously annoyed. Buyer beware, my friend, buyer beware.
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on 14 May 2014
A must for any fan of Robyn and lovely angular new waveyness in general. Great little album. Young, thrusting and vital.
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