Robyn Hitchcock. I Often Dream of Trains in New York. Yep Roc YEP 2216, 2009. (on CD)
The original I Often Dream of Trains (of which this is a live performance) is regarded as Robyn Hitchcock’s masterpiece – at least, by those few people who would regard Robyn Hitchcock as having a masterpiece. While I can see where they’re coming from (certainly it was a great album), I’ve always preferred the more mature Hitchcock of the last 15 years. Frankly, back in the early 80s when Trains was recorded, the guy was just a goofy punk rocker that could hardly play or sing. Today, he’s a great guitarist – or at least a much, much better one (after all, he held his own alongside Gillian Welch and David Rawlings on Spooked). He still can’t sing, but he seems to have a better sense of his limitations, and works within them. The original Trains was interesting and raw, but difficult to listen to, often taking detours into Complete Shit. This album gets rid of the raw; instead we’ve got a capable performer, playing a set of songs that, it turns out, are actually quite pretty in the right hands.