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give it to the thoth boys

By Barb Lein

Aidan, sensing I have way too much time on my hands, asked me to review this thingie. According to him, it's aimed at those who've sent Sincere Management a Robyn Hitchcock fan letter since Respect (sadly, an ironic LP title). So, if my facts are right, this cassette is meant to be a kind of overview of what Robyn & the Egyptians can do live. Beyond that, I don't have much information about the thing. The cover graphics are pretty uninspiring, but I don't particularly care, as I'm not one to judge a book by its cover.

The good stuff the band is pretty tight and they actually sound like they're into it. That's fortunate, because, we're getting to the bad stuff.

Being an overview means we've heard almost all the material before. The focus is mostly on recent LPs ('85 through present), which sometimes works, as the song's arrangements have been thoughtfully retooled (e.g. a nicely turned 'Egyptian Cream'). But, sometimes it sounds a bit samey (e.g. 'Glass Hotel' sounds too much like 'One Long Pair Of Eyes', all tinkling piano, for my personal comfort).

Since I believe it's not targeted at us long-time die hard fans, I suppose the lack of rare material shouldn't be my concern. (How come nothing is ever targeted at us, I wonder? Do we not count because we'd probably buy a record of Robyn shaving in the morning, just to be completists?) I do warn you, though, there are only three fairly rare tracks. These are 'A Day In The Life', a newer track called 'The Live-in Years' (which, in spite of some remarkable harmony work, sort of goes in one ear and out the other), and a solo electric version of 'City Of Shame'. And, to my mind, only the latter is a welcome addition.

What does kinda piss a person off though is the fact that the track selection on this and the promo Live Death are so similar (they share similar versions of five tracks). It's kind of a rip-off because, no matter who this is aimed at, it's the die hard fan that will probably get it while waiting for new material to be recorded and it's not nice to tee us off with so much sameness. I mean, for being the backbone of all this fandom stuff, we deserve a little respect ourselves.

And I can lead a very happy life without hearing a stupid night clubby intro to 'My Wife And My Dead Wife' again.

PS. The title does not please me one bit it reeks of trying to capitalise on all this Soft Boys activity and that puts ice in my heart. Maybe I just long for a time when Robyn did his work for his own satisfaction, fans weren't target audiences, I wasn't just a demographic, and there weren't all these desperate attempts to stand so close to REM that fame might be caught off them as if it were a communicable disease. I know, I'm being unrealistic, the music business is a business, but I can't help the way I feel.


Give It To The Thoth Boys might still be available from Antwoman along with a range of other goodies. It's certainly worth getting if you don't have Live Death.

This article originally appeared in issue 3 of Positive Vibrations, the Soft Boys/Robyn Hitchcock/Kimberley Rew magazine. It may be distributed freely but may not be sold except with permission of the author or publisher.

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