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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

244. "Birdshead" by Robyn Hitchcock

A break from the Lightning Round to commemorate the 2/3 mark of the 39-40 project, I am here violating one of the primary tenets of the project by presenting a previously recorded track by myself. However, another primary tentpole of the enterprise is that I can do anything, however sketchy, to stay on track... so long as I only employ each cheeseball tactic once. So today's tactic is: post a previously recorded cover.

I have a couple of other reasons for doing so... one being to break up the monotony of the bare-bones acoustic torpor of the Lightning Round (which itself is a dicey strategy allowing me to focus on other big projects). Another is the disappointment that I've come this far into 39-40 without being able to present a single genuine new Skates & Rays track as my daily cover, when I'd honestly thought at the outset that I'd be doing so at least twice a month or so, but real life concerns for myself and especially our drummer Derek have made getting together very, very difficult this year. I'm sure we'll knock out a few covers before it's over, but I've felt a little diminished in my ability to present good stuff for you all because I haven't been able to utilize one of the key things I have to recommend myself as a musician: better musicians who are willing to collaborate with me.

This recording was created in 2008 for Bayard Catron's ongoing Glass Flesh series of tributes to Robyn Hitchcock. I had long since had the idea to do an expansive dream-rock version of the song (I still kind of hate the term "shoegaze") but hadn't developed the recording know-how to create anything vaguely listenable as a fake rhythm track, so I brought it in to a rehearsal and we knocked it out in a few hours, pretty much getting lucky that our hit-and-miss recording setup had a relatively hitty day. Then I took it home and did massive amounts of overdubs, basically doing everything in exactly the way that, two years and 243 39-40 recording later, I totally never would. Somewhat as an artifact of my intentions for the arrangement, it doesn't sound very much at all like Skates & Rays, who, as a relatively honest 3-piece rock band generally have a sonic approach closer to that of, say, The Jam or the earliest Go-Betweens records than My Bloody Valentine, but it seemed to have worked out decently at the time. So here it is.

As a bonus, you get Robyn's rarer live version of the song from the multi-artist Pave the Earth promo compilation, the first version of the song I ever heard and a more direct source of inspiration for my performance than the version that's surfaced on his own compilations.

Personnel: SKATES & RAYS
Rex Broome: Guitars & vocals
Derek Hanna: Drums (and usually vocals but not on this one, so don't blame him)
Clifford Ulrich: Bass (and also usually better backing vocals than these)

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