Soft Boys Underwater Moonlight

Being '60s pop revivalists in the UK in the late '70s was no way to go about winning over legions of newly spiked young punks. Beyond the occasional critical revel, Robyn Hitchcock and his band the Soft Boys' cross of Beatles harmonies with the surrealist skew of Syd Barrett was uniformly ignored upon its original release. It's only 21 years later and the band's sophomore album from 1980, Underwater Moonlight, is already being reissued for the second time. Not what you might expect from a band that disintegrated shortly after its original release. Although Rykodisc already reissued this pop classic, with nine extra tracks from the same studio session, back in 1992, Matador's added a second disc to the package, culled from a no-fi 1979 rehearsal tape. Although the sound quality doesn't even aspire to demo standards on the extra disc, it is a must for Hitchcock fans, as many of these tracks never made their way onto subsequent releases. March 2001 sees the reunited Soft Boys touring North America and unlike most reunion tours, the band is hoping to avoid the reception they received the first time around. Like the reissue itself, the Soft Boys reunion isn't all that new - Hitchcock has been touring successfully with most of the Soft Boys on and off over the years as part of his solo projects. As time has already proven, Hitchcock's knack for oddball storytelling and intuition for classic pop melody has resulted in many brilliant recordings and years of enchanting live performances. Underwater Moonlight just happens to be his first recorded triumph - an album worthy of celebrating again, and again, and again. (Matador)