EP review by Eric Sandberg
A collaboration between two of England's preeminent weirdos has been mooted for years. An abortive attempt some years ago appeared to have fizzled, leaving the two not exactly on speaking terms.
That I found this four-song EP on my porch today can almost fully be put on Twitter. Andy Partridge's relatively brief time on the social media platform (initially disguised as a fan of his own former band, XTC) enabled some unprecedented access for Partridge devotees — and detractors (who are really just disappointed fans who want more music).
If asked a direct question on Twitter, Partridge would provide a direct, unvarnished answer. The inevitable question was posed: 'What happened with you and Robyn Hitchcock?'
Photo by Kevin Nixon/Louder Sound
The answer is as plausible as it is mundane: 'We started, but the guy is always on tour!' It wasn't long until Robyn Hitchcock was drawn into the Twitter thread and the two reconnected. Hitchcock, who lives in Nashville, remains perpetually on tour but, in the midst of a spate of UK dates, he found his way to Partridge's shed in Swindon to put the finishing touches on these four tracks.
With the alternative being nothing, we'll take it, won't we? Yes...yes we will.
What do the songs sound like? They sound like a collaboration between Robyn Hitchcock and Andy Partridge albeit with Hitchcock handling most of the lead vocals. "Turn Me On Deadman" is pure Hitchcock as arranged by Mr. Partridge. "Flight Attendants. Please Prepare for Love" sounds like a Vulcan mind-meld between the pair, while "Got My..." is pure Partridge with Hitchcock inserting himself.
The all too brief tram ride closes with "Planet England." Partridge writes and Hitchcock sings,
"Kind old lady in the tower
Pressing up a withered flower
What's she got to live for? Power!
Here on Planet England
There are far worse places
and I've seen a few"
It's all very English...and jangly...and beautiful. And I want more.
Planet England is available on 10" vinyl, CD and as a download.
Eric Sandberg: My true opinion on everything is that it's splunge.