ROBYN HITCHCOCK announces new album ‘1967: Vacations In The Past’

Robyn Hitchcock

Today, Robyn Hitchcock announced his new album, 1967: Vacations In The Past, which is due on 13 September on Tiny Ghost Records. Robyn Hitchcock is a rock’n’roll surrealist. Born in London on March 3rd, 1953, he describes his songs as “pictures you can listen to”. As much a child of Dali, De Chirico and JG Ballard as of his 1960s musical heroes, he is a master of the absurd, revelling in the beauty of the unexpected.

His first publicly visible band The Soft Boys (1976 – 81) has remained an influential art-rock touchstone for generations of musicians. “I just want to be an obscure cult fringe” he told the NME in 1978; the NME didn’t believe him, but he’s been true to his ambition. Without ever breaking the surface of pop culture Hitchcock has floated at a tangent to the mainstream for nearly 5 decades. His songs have been performed by REM, The Replacements, Neko Case, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Lou Barlow, Grant Lee Phillips, Sparklehorse, and Suzanne Vega with the Grateful Dead among others. A confirmed outsider, he nonetheless has devoted listeners around the world who attend his concerts, and also tune into the online streaming shows Robyn seasonally does with his wife, the singer Emma Swift. In 1996 he was the subject of Jonathan Demme’s in-concert film, Storefront Hitchcock.

Robyn Hitchcock came of age in the 1960s where he attended Winchester College, an eccentric hothouse boarding school in the south of England. This is the subject of “1967”, which is both a memoir and an album. The memoir, 1967: How I Got There And Why I Never Left (out now on Little Brown) is a book describing how the music of Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and others drastically transformed the direction of his life when he left home for this strange new world.

The companion album 1967: Vacations In The Past is a selection of the (mostly) hit songs of that year, re-recorded acoustically. “I want to present these songs as they would have been written”, says Hitchcock: “Shorn of the state-of-1967 production that encased them on record”.

The first sessions were done around Halloween 2023 with Kimberley Rew, another legendary old Soft Boy (he gave the world ‘Walking On Sunshine’) at his studio near Cambridge. Lee Cave-Berry, Kim’s wife (and long-time bass player) adds harmonies on ‘Waterloo Sunset’ (the Kinks) ‘I Can Hear The Grass Grow’ (the Move) and ‘Itchycoo Park’ (Small Faces). Kim also adds his acoustic firepower to versions of Pink Floyd’s ‘See Emily Play’ and Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Burning Of The Midnight Lamp’.

The first single, “Itchycoo Park”, is out today on all streaming platforms – Listen to “Itchycoo Park” BELOW:

Soon afterwards, Robyn recorded Traffic’s classic ‘No Face, No Name, No Number’ and the flower power anthem ‘San Francisco’ (written by John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas) in the attic in Cardiff where most of his recent records have been mixed. The latter was sent to Kelley Stolz in San Francisco itself, who overdubbed sitar on this and other tracks. Additionally there’s ’Way Back In The 1960s’ from the Incredible String Band’s definitive 1967 album The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion.

The final session took place in Sydney, Australia, not long before Christmas 2023. Davey Lane of Aussie rock titans, You Am I joins Robyn on ‘My White Bicycle’ by Tomorrow (“It wasn’t a hit then”, remarks Robyn, “But it is now”), ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’ (“I wanted this to sound darker”, he adds) and the album’s closer, ‘A Day In The Life’. Robyn adds one new song of his own to the mix, the specially-penned ‘Vacations In The Past’, which also features Lane on guitar and vocals, Stoltz on sitar, and recording engineer Charlie Francis adding piano from Cardiff.

“These songs are folk songs now”, is Robyn’s summary of the record: “And I hope they sound like them. They’re the soundtrack of when the world went into colour, and the child I was hatched into a teenager.”

Robyn Hitchcock 2024 UK Tour Dates:
16th Augst – Devon, Beautiful Days Festival (full band show)
30th August – West Malvern, Social Club
31st August – Hebden Bridge, Trades Club
1st September – York, The Crescent
3rd September – Newcastle, Common Room
5th September – Bath, Komedia (full band show)
6th September – Cambridge, Portland Arms
7th September – Cambridge, Portland Arms (full band show)
8th September – Oxted, United Reformed Church
10th September – Oxford, Jericho (full band show)
11th September – Brighton, Komedia
12th September – Ramsgate, Music Hall
13th September – Twyford, St Mary’s Church
14th September – London, Earth Theatre (full band show)

1967: Vacations In the Past tracklisting:
A Whiter Shade Of Pale
Itchycoo Park
Burning Of The Midnight Lamp
I Can Hear The Grass Grow
San Francisco (Flowers In Your Hair)
Waterloo Sunset
See Emily Play
My White Bicycle
No Face, No Name, No Number
Way Back In The 1960s
Vacations In The Past
A Day In The Life


Xsnoize Author
Mark Millar is the founder of XS Noize and looks after the daily running of the website as well as hosting interviews for the weekly XS Noize Podcast.Mark's favourite album is Achtung Baby by U2.

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