I feel I’m making love to a photograph: the best of Robyn Hitchcock 1979-1993

As much as The Railway Chldren, Michael Penn, and Midnight Oil number ones define the Poppy Bush Interzone of college radio hits, Robyn Hitchcock’s consistent popularity proves a easy marker. A master of post-sixties anthropomorphism leavened with twelve-string hooks, Hitchcock provided an acid-drenched sensibility without the damage. My late high school years depended on “Madonna of the Wasps” and “So You Think I’m in Love” as much as they did on Amy Grant and Meat Beat Manifesto. Hitchcock’s material hasn’t “dated” — a loathsome term anyway. What I do have less tolerance for are easy hooks and jocular songs about dead wives. I can’t deny him, though, and once a year I’ll revisit him like Catholics do the Feast Day of the Assumption of the Virgin. The Soft Boys were tougher: at their best they rivaled Big Star in melodic smarts and heavy sound. Co-guitarist and songwriter Kimberly Rew brought the same skewed melodic but tamer lyrical sensibility to Katrina and the Waves.

So prolific is Hitchcock that for the first time I had to circumscribe one of these lists — and I haven’t even heard the reissue of The Soft Boys’ Underwater Moonlight with thirty-I’m-serious-thirty bonus cuts.

1. Airscape
2. I Wanna Destroy You
3. Arms of Love
4. You’ll Have to Go Sideways
5. Lysander
6. Chinese Bones
7. Leppo and the Jooves
8. I Got the Hots
9. Madonna of the Wasps
10. She Doesn’t Exist
11. Raymond Chandler Evening
12. Queen Elvis
13. So You Think You’re in Love
14. Vibrating
15. One Long Pair of Eyes
16. Serpent at the Gates of Wisdom
17. Kingdom of Love
18. Give it to the Soft Boys
19. Glass
20. Queen of Eyes

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