Robyn Hitchcock and Graham Coxon cover Syd Barrett’s ‘Octopus’ for new Philip K. Dick TV series

Right now Channel 4 in the U.K. is running Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams—U.S. viewers will be able to see it once it gets on Amazon Prime next year. To my eye the series appears to be an almost slavish attempt to recapitulate the magic of Charlie Brooker’s dazzling Black Mirror, but really, any excuse to adapt ten early-period Philip K. Dick short stories with movie stars and high production values is A-OK with me.

The series was developed by Michael Dinner (Chicago Hope) and Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica) and features, in the various episodes, such familiar faces as Steve Buscemi, Bryan Cranston, Anna Paquin, Vera Farmiga, Terence Howard, and Greg Kinnear.

Episode list:
“The Hood Maker” (originally published in 1955)
“The Impossible Planet” (1953)
“The Commuter”  (1953)
“Crazy Diamond” (“Sales Pitch,” 1954)
“Real Life” (“The Exhibit Piece,” 1954)
“Human Is”  (1955)
“Kill All Others” (Published as “The Hanging Stranger,” 1953)
“Autofac” (1955)
“Safe And Sound” (Published as “Foster, You’re Dead!” in 1955)
“Father Thing” (Published as “The Father-Thing,” 1954)

In connection with the visionary themes of solipsism, madness, and unhinged reality, the series’ makers recruited Robyn Hitchcock and Graham Coxon of Blur, Kevin Armstrong, Johnny Daukes, and Jon Estes to collaborate on a cover of “Octopus,” by rock and roll’s most famous mental ward occupant, Syd Barrett. “Octopus” is the first song on the second side of Barrett’s first solo album, 1970’s The Madcap Laughs. One thing that sets “Octopus” apart is that this is the song in which the lyric “the madcap laughs” appears.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider
02:08 pm
Robyn Hitchcock’s recipe for Food Pie
08:03 am

Robyn on the horn, via KEXP
Food isn’t just important for growing healthy teeth, bones, skin, and hair. Where would the Robyn Hitchcock songbook be without food? I’ll tell you where: in the slender-volume, shallow-shelved monograph store, filed under “S” for “short,” that’s where. Every Hitchcock record feeds on food. Whether Robyn’s singing about the demonic scrambled egg in “The Devils Coachman,” the cat hoist with her own petard in “Eaten by Her Own Dinner,” or the meat in “Meat,” you can be sure he’s fattened his farm-to-table verses and choruses on a steady diet of chow.

That is to say: Because Hitchcock knows from eats, readers who observe a strict food diet will want to try this, his all-purpose meal. Ten years ago, Hitchcock gave his recipe for Food Pie to Cooking with Rock Stars, most of whose other guests were too “indie”—in the newfangled genre sense, of course, not the old-fashioned means of production sense—for my taste. From my point of view, these were Emerils of the recording studio, who salted their soggy dishes with tears and larded them with feelings. By contrast, Robyn’s notes leapt off the platter, clean, fresh and flavorful as salade niçoise.

In the words of the Poet, “If food be the food of music, play on.” Do yourself a flavor and have a heaping helping of Food Pie.

The Food Pie recipe, after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall
08:03 am
Robyn Hitchcock remembers Brian Eno’s 1967 art school ‘happenings’
10:10 am

Robyn Hitchcock is one of my tutelary divinities, so when his name turned up unexpectedly in the Brian Eno biography On Some Faraway Beach, I sat up straight in my subway seat and muttered a few devotional phrases about tomatoes and shellfish, both sacred to Bhagavan Robyn; the other passengers kindly ignored me. I never would have dreamed that these avant-rock colossi had crossed paths. However, in June 1967, when Eno was a nineteen-year-old student at the Winchester School of Art and Hitchcock a fourteen-year-old schoolboy at nearby Winchester College, Hitchcock attended two of Eno’s “happenings.” Hitchcock’s reminiscences of Eno’s Summer of Love events—quoted in full in the biography, transcribed below for your pleasure—are funny and fascinating, and the second story is surprisingly touching.

Eno staged a music event in a 14th-century flint-walled cellar – essentially a dungeon with electricity. He had unscrewed the college’s 60-watt light bulb and inserted his own blue bulb. A reel-to-reel tape recorder stood on a bare table beneath the light, playing Dylan’s “Ballad of Hollis Brown” backwards, while somebody I didn’t recognize was bowing a one-string violin. A microphone ran from the tape machine into the audience, where it was draped enticingly over the chair in front of me. About fifteen boys, chaperoned by one of the younger hipper teachers, came in and sat in the chairs. Eno lit a stick of incense, started the tape machine and nodded to the violinist. After a while I tapped the mike in front of me. It didn’t seem to be switched on. I sang along with backwards Bob Dylan, but that didn’t come out either. Eventually the music finished. I can’t remember if we clapped or not.

“Any questions?” said Eno.

“Er, would you call this kind of thing music, as such?” asked the teacher. Eno explained why it was naive to even ask that question. He had the serene, knowing aura that hipsters of that period had. Everything was a facet of everything else, glittering in his blue lenses.

“What was that microphone for, Mr. Eno?” I asked, in my barely broken voice.

“So you could participate, man,” replied Eno, glittering my way.

“Er, it wasn’t switched on,” I croaked.

“Next question?” called BE to the audience. I was still buzzing from having actually asked the blue-lensed man a question in public.

The following week, Hitchcock attended a second Eno happening. This one, which took place in the Winchester water-meadows, involved inflating balloons with helium, attaching notes to them and releasing them into the sky. Hitchcock (with a comment in brackets from Eno biographer David Sheppard):

The sun shone and the clouds were few – Sgt. Pepper was released the same week. BE’s glasses marked him out among the cylinders and balloons. Like fairground barkers, BE and his roadies (who included the legendary anti-philosopher Galen Strawson [today professor of Philosophy at Reading University], who was then fifteen going on 1,000) were handing out cardboard labels as they filled the eager balloons.

“What’s that for, man?” I asked.

“So you can write a message on it, man.” BE was patient – one day I would get it. My grandmother had died two weeks earlier and school regulations had kept me from going to pay my last respects to her. She was an open-minded woman – earlier that year, when she was still well enough to travel, I had bombarded her with Bob Dylan. She tapped her knee and murmured “I gave her my heart but she wanted my soul” after Dylan sang that line. So I wrote:

“Dear Granny, sorry I couldn’t come to your funeral – love, Robyn.”

“That’s beautiful, man,” said one of Eno’s assistants. He tied the label to a balloon and I wandered off into the meadows to release it. I’ve always been grateful to BE for giving me this opportunity.


“Water meadows curling ‘round the hill…”

Posted by Oliver Hall
10:10 am
The Madcap’s Last Laugh: Syd Barrett tribute concert w/ Pink Floyd, Roger Waters, Chrissie Hynde

Here’s a real treat: On the 10th of May, 2007 at London’s Barbican Centre, a diverse group of great musicians got together to honor the memory of the late Roger “Syd” Barrett, the founding member of Pink Floyd. The co-musical director for the show was one of my best friends, Adam Peters (you’ve heard his cello in Echo & The Bunnymen’s “Killing Moon,” “Life in a Northern Town” by The Dream Academy and on many albums. Adam also did the soundtrack to my Disinformation TV series and now he works on Hollywood films).

Also appearing with Roger Waters, was my former next door neighbor in NYC, Jon Carin. Jon actually has played with both Pink Floyd AND Roger Waters. I think he’s the only person to have had a foot in both camps, which was interesting position to be in, I think you’ll agree. Surely there’s a book in that!

When Adam got back from the concert, full of great stories about the experience, I was eager to hear a CD of the show, but he told me that it had deliberately not been recorded because the idea was that this was a very special event and if you were there, you saw and heard something amazing, but that it would… evaporate. Of course Pink Floyd fans being what they are, at least one enterprising fellow made a pretty good audience recording. Here ‘tis as generously shared by the quite wonderful Brain Damage podcast. The show starts about 7 minutes in. It’s pretty amazing.

This incredible event was a tribute to the late Roger “Syd” Barrett, produced by Nick Laird-Clowes (of Dream Academy) with associate producer Joe Boyd (early Pink Floyd’s producer and founder of legendary UFO club in London). Surprise performances from Roger Waters himself with Jon Carin then the entire current Pink Floyd line-up (David Gilmour, Richard Wright, Nick Mason) were absolutely unbelievable!

The numerous other artists performing Syd Barrett’s music included Damon Albarn (Blur/Gorillaz), Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders), The Bees, Vashti Bunyan, Captain Sensible, Robyn Hitchcock. The house band included Andy Bell (bass, Oasis), Simon Finley (drums, Echo & The Bunnymen) and Ted Barnes (guitar, Beth Orton).  A remarkably fitting tribute to Roger “Syd” Barrett.  Doctored for supersound!


Set 1
1. Show intro
2. Bike - Sense of Sound Choir
3. Flaming - Captain Sensible & Monty Oxymoron
4. Here I Go - Kevin Ayers
5. Oh, What A Dream - Kevin Ayers
6. Baby Lemonade - Nick Laird-Clowes & Damon Albarn
7. Octopus - The Bees
8. The Gnome - Nick Laird-Clowes & Neulander (Adam Peters/Korinna Knoll)
9. Matilda Mother - Mike Heron
10. Golden Hair - Martha Wainwright, Kate McGarrigle & Lily Lanken
11. See Emily Play - Martha Wainwright, Kate McGarrigle & Lily Lanken
12. Flickering Flame - Roger Waters & Jon Carin

Set 2
13. Video presentation
14. Chapter 24 - Gordon Anderson & Sense of Sound Choir
15. The Scarecrow - Vashti Bunyan, Gareth Dickson & Nick Laird-Clowes
16. Love Song - Vashti Bunyan, Gareth Dickson & Nick Laird-Clowes
17. Ian Barrett - Talking about his uncle Roger “Syd” Barrett
18. The Word Song - Damon Albarn, Kate St. John & David Coulter
19. Astronomy Domine - Captain Sensible & Jon Carin
20. Terrapin - Robyn Hitchcock
21. Gigolo Aunt - Robyn Hitchcock, John Paul Jones & Ruby Wright
22. Dark Globe - Chrissie Hynde & Adam Seymour
23. Late Night - Chrissie Hynde & Adam Seymour
24. Joe Boyd - Talking about Roger “Syd” Barrett and organising the show
25. Arnold Layne - David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Richard Wright
26. Jugband Blues from video presentation
27. Bike - Jam Session with all musicians (except for Roger Waters)

Below, what would be the final performance by Pink Floyd. David Gilmour, Rick Wright and Nick Mason play “Arnold Layne” with Jon Carin (keyboards, vocals) and Andy Bell from Oasis (bass guitar).

Roger Waters and Captain Sensible videos after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger
12:29 pm