CD Review: Robyn Hitchcock

I Often Dream of Trains in New York (Yep Roc DVD)

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Robyn Hitchcock is established in the pantheon of British Rock Eccentrics, which includes Kevin Ayers and late wizards Syd Barrett and Kevin Coyne. All four share a cheerily skewed and irreverent — and often harrowing — worldview and a knack for surreal, catchy melodies. I Often Dream of Trains in New York consists of a 2008 NYC live performance of his 1984 (not-quite-entire) classic album I Often Dream of Trains and a semi-documentary of Hitchcock's career as it relates to that album. The original Trains album presented Hitchcock playing all instruments and a muted, vaguely eerie ambiance.

This live Dream features him on acoustic and electric guitars with minimal accompaniment (guitar, sax, piano, an occasional female singer), the tone somewhat warmer and even faintly nostalgic. Interspersed throughout (between tunes, fortunately) are interview snippets where Hitchcock reveals (in typically oblique fashion) the inspiration and mindset behind the original set. In the onstage portions, Hitchcock is personable, wry, likeably loopy and in fine voice. As a bonus, there's a 12-minute short, "Beyond Basingstoke," presenting Hitchcock in his dark electric/psychedelic mode. For RH fans, this DVD is a momentous Dream made real. — Mark Keresman

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