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The Man Upstairs

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Editors’ Notes

The Man Upstairs marks the first time Robyn Hitchcock and legendary folk producer Joe Boyd (Nick Drake) joined forces in the recording studio. For one week in October 2013, they made what Boyd calls “a Judy Collins album, such as Elektra would have released in 1967: part well-known favorites, part personal discoveries, and part originals.” The approach took pressure off Hitchcock the songwriter and put it on Hitchcock the interpreter, who excels with The Psychedelic Furs’ “The Ghost In You,” The Doors’ “The Crystal Ship,” and “Ferries” by the Norwegian indie pop duo I Was a King, whose Anne Lise Frokedal adds harmonies throughout the album.

Customer Reviews

Who is the Man Upstairs?

What a bittersweet moment. This album arrives on the heels of the sparkling LOVE FROM LONDON (which this fan feels should have been a much bigger hit!) To put it in perspective, for me LONDON is the spring/summer side of RH, more muscular than its follow up. MAN UPSTAIRS is fall/winter, the mellow daydreamer of the two. You can almost see the leaves change color in your mind. By the end of the album you are watching the snow covered ground with that blinding streak of yellow sunlight peeking through the evergreens.

Don't get me wrong, this is a GOOD thing! These are not sad songs, but they are very introspective. The mix of originals and covers blend perfectly. The only change I would have made is that the lullaby-like Don't Look Down should have closed the album. It was strange how the songs sometimes morphed for me, as Ferries wasn't a favorite until multiple listens. Comme Toujours is fun for the mix of French and English lyrics, but the strangest thing was the glints of memory jarring fragments of music from another time. Recalling The Truth closes the album and to me seems a personal moment for the Gentleman, so I do the mental equivalent of diverting my eyes and hiding under the blanket of thick, warm guitar as the fireplace burns down to embers.

I approached my review as a fan and not a critic. There is an excellent review by Harold Lepidus online that examines each song in detail. However for me, I prefer to listen over time, finding new details and nuances along the way. To delve too deep all at once would be like squeezing an orange dry. You have the wonderful juice to drink, but the shell is spent. I'd rather enjoy the thin slices for as long as I can.


Born: March 3, 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 rock's father figures and is the closest thing the genre has to a Bob Dylan (not coincidentally his biggest inspiration). Starting...
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