That Long Lunar Note
It doesn’t come across quite so heavily in his solo years, but one listen to the Soft Boys’ Can of Bees highlights how deeply Robyn Hitchcock was impacted by the work of Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band. More than three decades after Can of Bees was unleashed upon the world, Hitchcock paid tribute to Don Van Vliet’s 1972 masterpiece Clear Spot by covering the entire album from start to finish — and that’s the recording I’m sharing with y’all today. Robyn has been doing the “whole album cover” thing a bit for a while now, tackling albums by the Beatles, Dylan and Pink Floyd, but I imagine Clear Spot's thumping, irregular rhythms, tricky guitar parts and Beefheart-ian vocal phrasing were his toughest challenges yet. Fortunately, with help from a skilled backing band, the set comes off wonderfully. Robyn is capable of a pretty dead-on Beefheart impersonation (see Underwater Moonlight's “Black Snake Diamond Rock” for previous proof), and it's on plentiful display here. But he doesn't let it turn into a parody, and sometimes dispenses with it entirely, letting his own style merge nicely with the Captain's. The band sounds super tight and intimately familiar with Clear Spot's groovy grooves. After Hitchcock and co. reach the end of side B, they take on two Safe As Milk numbers — both of which are so good, I’m convinced that album should be the next one he and his cohorts take on! Thanks (again) to Billy J for sending this one to me!