Wednesday, December 16, 1998

Hitchmania

Posted By on Wed, Dec 16, 1998 at 12:00 AM

When there isn't much left to be said about having nothing more to say, you can always rely on an artist like Robyn Hitchcock to hold a fun-house mirror up to the face of pop and give it at least the appearance of having new dimensions. This twist in the Hitchcock labyrinth -- a witty cab ride through rock 'n' roll past -- is beyond amazing, if not for its humor and cutting insights, then at least for the fact that it can mention Syd Barrett and Led Zeppelin without fizzling immediately into some pathetic, mid-life-crisis, rock star flatulence. Storefront Hitchcock is the "soundtrack" for the live Hitchcock performance film of the same name by director Jonathan Demme. In it, Hitchcock mostly sits in a storefront and plays music. The CD also includes "Beautiful Queen," a tune from Moss Elixir -- revisited by guitarist Tim Keegan, who played on both that album and this new one -- that you won't see or hear in the movie.

There's more from Hitchcock albums Eye, Fegmania, Queen Elvis and even a cover of "The Wind Cries Mary." All this is pieced together by optional spoken introductions -- optional in that they are on separate tracks and can be skipped. But it would be a shame to break up the natural flow of Hitchcock's ever-spiraling stream of consciousness. Before "Glass House" he talks about the church of his dreams: A house of dead bodies in varying states of decay. Never one to mince words, only their meanings, Hitchcock is still a live wire -- challenging, entertaining and unrelenting in his tap dance on the head of popular music and its fans.

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