Many people have tried to turn Robyn Hitchcock into a star over the years, including Jonathan Demme, who placed him at the center of Storefront Hitchcock, a quirky 1998 performance film, and gave him a small but key role in the recent remake of The Manchurian Candidate. Unfortunately, Hitchcock's obsession with the macabre proved too strange for the masses, and because the albums he's made in recent years have largely eschewed the rock-pop boisterousness he honed during his early days fronting the Soft Boys, even some fans have moved on. Those who remain may find Spooked, a 2004 disc issued by the Yep Roc imprint, to be dark even by Hitchcock's standards. Yet amid a slew of acoustic laments that pair him with crooner Gillian Welch are several reminders of his impish sense of humor, including the sly "Creeped Out," the casually surrealistic "We're Gonna Live in the Trees," and "Welcome to Earth," a mock introduction to the planet that advises visitors to "press one for famine, two for pestilence, three for Condoleezza, and four for death." Like a member of Monty Python who also happens to be a brilliant songwriter, he's terrific in intimate settings such as the Lion's Lair, where he'll be joined by Mike Jourgensen. Had Hitchcock become ultra-famous, you wouldn't have the chance to find that out for yourself.
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