Robyn Hitchcock: Fegmania! (1985)

Fegmania (or, more accurately, Fegmania!) served as my introduction to Robyn Hitchcock when it first arrived at the radio station during my college radio DJ'ing days.  And to this day it remains pretty much my favorite Hitchcock release, though his entire career, from his early days leading The Soft Boys to his current status as an indie rock elder statesman reliably releasing great albums every year, is littered with fantastic music.

It's hard for me to evaluate this objectively, since it will always have particular emotional resonance as my introduction to an artist for whom I have such admiration and who has long been part of my musical life, but I do think it stands up particularly well on the merits.  Recorded with the Egyptians (essentially the Soft Boys minus guitarist Kimberley Rew, who had moved on to form Katrina & The Waves), the album is a near-perfect amalgam of jangly college radio guitar rock in an R.E.M. vein, Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles-infused psych-pop (with Hitchcock's vocals skirting between John Lennon and Syd Barrett), and Hitchcock's somewhat absurdist and Monty Python-esque lyrical gifts.

The album is freakishly rich in catchy off-kilter pop with nary a dud to be found.  Particular favorites include "Heaven," the sort of perfect pop song that would be #1 for months in an alternate universe where the Top 40 was made up of actually great music; lead-off track "Egyptian Cream," highlighting Hitchcock's often absurd and creepy/sexy lyrical stylings coupled with a fantastic jangly guitar and punchy drum & bass combo; the Byrdsy jangle-pop of "Another Bubble"; the disturbing yet compelling "My Wife & My Dead Wife"; and the buoyant bubblegum-psychedelia of "Strawberry Mind."  And while it's been released in various iterations, the CDs typically append some key bonus tracks, including a terrific turn on "The Bells of Rhymney," one of many visits by Hitchcock to the Byrds catalog.

(While you can still find the original album, I'd go with the amazing box set Luminous Groove, which pairs this with its equally excellent studio follow-up Element of Light, the live album that came out between the two, and a metric fuckton of rarities and the like.)

Here's a video for a contemporaneous live take on "Heaven":
And, hey, some kid put together a home movie for "My Wife & My Dead Wife"; weird, but this sort of thing should definitely be encouraged.
Here's the official video for "The Man With The Lightbulb Head," probably my least favorite song on the album (definitely more on the Captain Beefheart side of the equation) but Robyn's first official video so let's go with it:

Comments

  1. It felt like this record was glued to the turntable at the record store where I worked . I have fond memories of this and it is the Hitchcock album I go back to most often, but there is something about hearing an album played by others SO many times that takes a little bit of the shine away.

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    1. Yeah, I put this on the back-burner for awhile given how much I'd been exposed to it at the time (fortunately there's been a steady flow of new Hitchcock music over the following 35 years). I'll still give it the occasional spin, but I'm just as likely to reach for Underwater Moonlight, Black Snake Diamond Role, Element of Light, or Queen Elvis (mainly for "One Long Pair of Eyes," perhaps my favorite Hitchcock track).

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