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).
Coming to prominence in the late 1970s with The Soft Boys, Hitchcock afterward launched a prolific solo career and occasionally fronting full bands - first with the Egyptians and in recent years with superstar backing trio The Venus 3 featuring Peter Buck of R.E.M., Young Fresh Fellows' frontman Scott McCaughey, as well as Ministry's Bill Rieflin.
Hitchcock's current career renaissance coincides with a series of retrospective releases that have restored the bulk of his catalog to the marketplace. Yep Roc Records has issued a pair of lovingly assembled box sets, I Wanna Go Backwards and Luminous Groove, which cover much of Hitchcock's '80s output, as well as expanded individual reissues of most of his albums of that era. Plans are also afoot for the release of the Soft Boys' collected works in box set form.
"It's always a happy sight to see your work in print," Hitchcock notes. "Those records weren't really made for their time, so it's like the letter we posted 30 years ago is just being delivered now."
But reliving his history takes a back seat to the fertile stream of new music that Hitchcock continues to generate, and Goodnight Oslo, his latest release, demonstrates that the artist's singular vision remains as compelling as ever, even as he continues to forge ahead into stimulating new territory.
"I've lived past the age of malice, though I still dwell in the valley of rage," Hitchcock states. "That's why my compass still points to John Lennon. He was angry and emotionally uncomfortable, but he was funny and smart. I hope that my core can radiate through my own fear and doubt."
Official website: robynhitchcock.com
Photo by George Wright