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Album Review

Six years after his superb I Often Dream of Trains, Robyn Hitchcock returned to the acoustic format of that album with Eye, and while the surfaces of the two albums are similar and Eye was eagerly embraced by fans, the tone of the two discs is considerably different. I Often Dream of Trains was a collection of songs written as Hitchcock was slowly returning to a career in music after a two-year layoff, and there's a striking if subtle power in the occasional tentative moments and understated tone. Eye, on the other hand, is a far more confident album, and Hitchcock's performances boast a precision that befits a musician who had been recording and touring at a steady clip for the past six years, especially in his splendid guitar work. The surreal whimsy of I Often Dream of Trains also takes a backseat on Eye, replaced by the relative clarity of "Cynthia Mask," an idiosyncratic but unblinking condemnation of Britain's failings during World War II, "Raining Twilight Coast," a point-of-view profile of various emotional hurts, and "Queen Elvis," a meditation on the effects of fame; the most Eye can offer in the way of humor is "Clean Steve" and "Certainly Clickot." But if Eye isn't the understated masterpiece I Often Dream of Trains was, it's Hitchcock's most consistent and satisfying album of the '80s; the songs are intelligent, effective and don't rely on his eccentricities to work, while the melodies are winning and his vocals are beautifully modulated. While Eye lacks Hitchcock's exciting electric guitar work, it's still the best representation of his music from a period when he made plenty of good records but few great ones. [In 2007, Yep Roc records released a new edition of Eye. The album's original 18 songs are accompanied by three bonus tracks, through they're different than the three bonus tracks that appeared on Rhino's 1995 reissue of Eye; while Rhino' s disc featured demos of three of Eye's selections, Yep Roc offers a trio of unreleased songs, all of which are fine if not outstanding, though "The Beauty of Earl's Court" is a real find. The short story "The Glass Hotel" that accompanied Twin/Tone's original CD release of Eye also fails to make the cut, replaced by a collection of Hitchcock's poetry. Still, this new release of Eye looks and sounds very good indeed, and should please fans looking to replace older copies of the album or newer fans who haven't caught up with this set.]

Biography

Born: 03 March 1953 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Robyn Hitchcock is one of England's most enduring contemporary singer/songwriters and live performers. Despite having been persistently branded as eccentric or quirky for much of his career, Hitchcock has continued to develop his whimsical repertoire, deepen his surreal catalog, and expand his devoted audience beyond the boundaries of cult stature. He is among alternative...
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