I remember finding it bizarre when the first Robyn Hitchcock album on Warner Bros. Records arrived in 1996. He had been on a major label before, having released four albums on A&M through the late eighties and early nineties. Still, there was something about seeing that iconic WB logo–about as major as a label could get at the time–affixed to a record by college radio’s resident warped genius. It was hard to conceive of their promotions department having any idea whatsoever as to how to market this thing, and Hitchcock’s relatively brief stay with the label seemed to confirm that. He made some fine music on their dime, though, especially that label debut, Moss Elixir.
It had been around three years since the last Hitchcock studio album, and he had been in heavy archival mode, working with Rhino Records on a big batch of reissues and a suitably bizarre odds and ends compilation. It almost seemed like he was winding down. Instead, there were more artistic peaks to come, even if significant commercial success–which almost felt like a real possibility a few years earlier–was unquestionably out of reach. Now it was only the coolest of the cool kids who’d know about him, including the proprietors of B-Side Records in Madison, Wisconsin, who had Moss Elixir hanging proudly in their front window for weeks, a hand-written sticker on the front, jubilantly proclaiming simply, “ROBYN!”
That sticker expressed my feelings perfectly, and I actually still think about it every time I get my hands on something new from Hitchcock. As it was when I played Moss Elixir‘s opening track, “Sinister But She Was Happy,” it’s always a joy when the new album starts.
Listen or download –> Robyn Hitchcock, “Sinister But She Was Happy”
(Disclaimer: As far as I can tell, Moss Elixir is out of print as a physical object. It is available for digital purchase, but I’m sure the crack accountants at Warner Bros. have figured out all sorts of ways to prevent anything but the most meager of compensation making it to Hitchcock for any of that commerce. Regardless, there’s no way to go into your favorite local, independently-owned record store and buy this release in such a way that both the record store proprietor and the artist are duly compensated. The song is shared here with that understanding, but I will absolutely remove it if I get a request to do so from any person or entity with due authority to make such a request.)