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Jewels for Sophia


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Audio CD, July 20, 1999
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"The title refers to two long nights spent in Oslo in 1982 by Morris Windsor and myself with some friends," Robyn Hitchcock says of Goodnight Oslo, his new Yep Roc release with his ace combo the Venus 3. "The album, in part, celebrates the ghosts of the smoke age, and the various ways they were wrecked but still sailed on. That's the way it is with humans. You could call it ... Read more in Amazon's Robyn Hitchcock Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 20, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • ASIN: B00000JLMC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,186 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Mexican God
2. The Cheese Alarm
3. Viva! Sea-Tac
4. I Feel Beautiful
5. You've Got A Sweet Mouth On You, Baby
6. NASA Clapping
7. Sally Was A Legend
8. Antwoman
9. Elizabeth Jade
10. No, I Don't Remember Guildford
11. Dark Princess
12. Jewels For Sophia

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

In making his first "rock" record since 1993's Respect, Robyn Hitchcock recorded Jewels for Sophia using several different combinations of producers, locations, and collaborators, including members of the Young Fresh Fellows, Grant Lee Buffalo, R.E.M., and the Soft Boys. Not surprisingly, the record is an intentionally eclectic spectacle, spanning the breadth of Hitchcock's ever-expanding, strange universe. He has covered a lot of territory in the 23 years since founding the Soft Boys and much of it is recalled here, from the scalding rock & roll of the Kimberly Rew collaboration "NASA Clapping" to the blistering guitar gymnastics of "The Cheese Alarm" and the beautiful psychedelic folk of "No, I Don't Remember Guilford," all of which are colored by Hitchcock's long-running themes of the absurdity of the human condition and our (often futile and surreal) attempts to make sense of it all. In spite this tumult, however, Jewels is primarily a collection of love songs. In "I Feel Beautiful," recorded with Grant Lee Phillips, it is the wonder of love that fills life's emptiness: "People never celebrate the things they've got / Honey, without you I wouldn't have a lot." Similarly, "Dark Princess" asserts love's salvation in an otherwise hollow existence, while the protagonist of "Antwoman" offers himself up to bloody sacrifice chanting his mantra of love's validation: "Being just contaminates the void." As always, Hitchcock's world view is as weird as it is wondrous, spanning the gap between all that is beautiful and horrible about life. --Paul Ducey

Customer Reviews

Robyn's not usually this boring, but much of this album just doesn't go anywhere interesting, lyrically or musically.
Grunt Hog
Don't kid yourself, this is, conceptually, beyond music to carry you from one place to another, it's music to carry you from one stage in your life to the next.
JG
Overall this is great songwriting, and Robyn Hitchcock not only has a charismatic and expressive voice, he has an excellent sense of humor.
Ann Lewis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ewomack TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 5, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Hitchcock's lyrics alone can make a trip through one of his albums a worthy endeavor. 1999's "Jewels for Sophia" contains some absolutely brilliant lines: "Time will destroy you like a Mexican god"; "Being just contaminates the void"; "Half the world starving and half the world bloats half the world sits on the other and gloats"; "At least when I die, your memory will too". Sometimes Hitchcock's more rock-oriented albums leave the lyrics drowning and screaming for help in the mix. Consequently, many fans seem to be cleaved by his two "personas" - the acoustic and the electric. "Jewels for Sophia" strikes a nice balance for the most part. The arrangements allow the listener to articulate the lines without missing the instrumentation, and the electric and acoustic seem to make great bedmates here. Lush strumming mixes amazingly well with distorted thunder clashes of electric guitar in many places. Grinding rock songs segue into delicate acoustic ballads and vice versa. Both the rough and sensitive Hitchcock get air time on "Jewels for Sophia".

"Mexican God" starts off the album with an impromptu feeling (much like the Soft Boys "Can of Bees"). Robyn counts down after mumbling something into the microphone. This one has a sparse but driving arrangement - only acoustic guitar, bass, and drums. The song grants eternal destruction to four different people and situations. A pean to mortality.

"Cheese Alarm" is both brilliant and stupid. It showcases Hitchcock's ability to elevate the ridiculous to the profound. The lyrics read like Monty Python's "Cheeseshop sketch" then morph into a statement on gluttony and dominance. It features driving tablas and an introduction reminiscent of Bollywood.

"Viva! Sea-Tac" brings the album to full throttle.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 4, 1999
Format: Audio CD
After the slightly awkward and patchy sounds of his last record, "Moss Elixir," Hitchcock has returned with something a little more speedy and playable. It's an infectious record, with many of Hitchcock's trademark motifs of strange types of love, odd images and hummable, life-affirming tunes. In the face of the void, Mr Hitchcock is chipper and that's the way we like him. "Viva, Sea-Tac," "NASA Clapping" and "I feel loved" are standouts, but the others are not far behind. There's a cute bonus track at the end which is about Mr Gene Hackman. It sounds like some manner of live recording and is the better for it. The only thing to regret is Hitchcock's occasional use of what I can only describe as a whispery growl to render some of the lyrics. He's not the world's best singer, and normally that doesn't matter, but this stylistic trick is not really nice enough to repeat as much as he does. Above all, this is a consistent record with much to commend it. If you liked the albums "Queen Elvis", "Eye" and "Perspex Island", then you'll like this. If you like "Fegmania" then I'm not sure. I didn't but I like this. Alot.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Self-kerbed on December 16, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This is yet another quirky masterpiece from a guy who can write a good, insightful song about anything and anyone. It is one of the "sanity discs" that accompanies me on long drives between California and Oregon and conceptually even longer drives between Sunnyvale and Menlo Park. Viva Sea Tac is a right-on, deadly accurate knee-slapper of a tune. But wait, there's more! Where else can you hear words like "I dream of ant woman, with her Audrey Hepburn feelers and her black & white ...stripes" and be taken straight to B-movie heaven? Listen to it *all* from front to back, observe a moment of silence, keep listening... score the great pleasure of useful advice and the final reward of "Don't Talk to Me About Gene Hackman" (Note to Robyn: thanks for providing me with a(n) hilarious alternative to argument. Write a song about the yutzes who whine in the hallways about the hippies who voted for Nader and won it for Bush and I'll let you move into my house as a permanent guest). While you're at it, fellow consumer(s): for unmitigated RH in all his intense and ironic splendour, buy the "Storefront Hitchcock" DVD.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ed Stokes on October 28, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Prior Hitchcock albums with bands ("post Soft Boys" I mean) usually have boring, dunty production that makes the songs run too long, truncheons anything graceful in the tune, and obscures the words. Meanwhile, his acoustic solo albums (which most fans prefer) get a bit monotonous at length no matter how good his guitar playing is.

This album sounds great, and has good, sympathetic supporting musicians, including a couple famous people. Even the ones with just Robyn & (occasional producer) Jon Brion sound great. I think I've listened to this album more in the past 3 months than to any of his others ever. Jon Brion should produce more in the future.

Good songs too, funny, bitter, trippy, all three mostly. Some I didn't like at first have grown on me, and only "Elizabeth Jade" (in need of two more clever images) has faded. I'm counting four of my fave Robyn songs here. 2 short, audience-recorded live songs are tacked pseudo-hidden on the end.

I bought two more copies for Christmas gifts. I'd get you one if I knew you better.
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