40 years after they emerged from Cambridge, The Soft Boys remain a totally singular band: both ahead and behind their times, Robyn Hitchcock and co. blended an array of influences (Barrett, Beatles, Beefheart, Barbershop, Britfolk, Byrds and many other things that don’t start with “B”) into something pretty magical and unique. Compiled by Evan Kindley, the following is an excellent collection of early Soft Boys rarities (drawing from a sprawling Chronological Hitchcock project making the rounds). Demos, rehearsals, outtakes, alternate mixes, live cuts, etc. And as an added bonus here is a glimpse of Hitchcock’s pre-Soft Boys group, Maureen and the Meatpackers. Look into your mirror and enjoy.
Hitchcock, of course, is still treading the boards as a solo artist. His latest LP, the Joe Boyd-produced The Man Upstairs, showed that his songwriting powers (and interpretive skills) are undimmed by age. And he continues to be a truly captivating performer, capable of shifting from hilariously surreal monologues to dazzling psych-folk at the drop of a hat. He’s hitting the road for a fairly lengthy US tour starting this week — go see a legend in action. words / t wilcox