Album Details

August 19, 2008
Yep Roc
Pop/Rock, Jangle Pop, Neo-Psychedelia, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, College Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter

Album Review

The second installment in Yep Roc's mammoth Robyn Hitchcock reissue series introduces the Egyptians (bass player Andy Metcalfe and drummer Morris Windsor) into the mix, collecting Fegmania!, the live Gotta Let This Hen Out!, and Element of Light, along with a double disc of B-sides called A Bad Case of History. Luminous Groove, like its 2007 predecessor, I Wanna Go Backwards, makes available all of its components (with the exception of the "rarities" compilation) separately, which may be maddening to longtime fans who already replaced their original copies with the early-'90s Rhino reissues and just want the bonus stuff. Like the Rhino releases, each album is stocked with B-sides, most of which fall in the "demo" or "typically surreal" categories -- Hitchcock seemingly records every idea he has, making the prospect for bonus cuts on future reissues mind-boggling. The two remastered studio albums represent a creative peak for the notoriously eccentric Englishman, laying the foundation for his more commercial A&M years, but it's the Bad Case of History overview that makes Luminous Groove worth the price for "a cardboard box with five CDs stuffed in it." Unlike I Wanna Go Backwards' bonus disc, which grabbed tracks from previously released collections (specifically 1995's You & Oblivion), History revels in its obscurity, boasting 15 unreleased studio tracks (many of which, like a laconic dream pop rendition of the beloved Highland ballad "Wild Mountain Thyme" and a sneering punk rock face-peeler called "Zipper in My Spine," are absolute gems) and 17 mid-'90s live cuts that dip into A&M territory. Sure, it's a typically "Hitchcockian" mess of competing genres, melodic left turns, and obscure references to fish and fowl, but it only reinforces his "outsider" cultural significance, and dutifully whets the appetite for this tasty meal's third course.
James Christopher Monger, Rovi