The Soft Boys were a charging, twisted rock ‘n’ roll reptile. Some freakish test tube baby that could’ve been the result of a back seat roll taken by Syd’s Floyd and the Voidoids. They’re sound was pinkoid. When it comes to evaluating major careers I tend to favor seemingly democratic group projects. Predictably, Mr. Hitchcock’s subsequent solo loco output failed to ignite m’ britches unt filet m’ soul. It was easy for me to write off what I heard as wimpy, un-adventurous sounds playing a second prickly pear to his sycophant suckling songs of wanton whimsy, intellectual irony and drunken droll detachment poking tortoise-like through his ascot noose of ego. Eh wot?

However, Moss Elixir is quite the cure-all tonic. It’s a calm, not cool, collection of tunes more carnivorous than I thought him capable. A smart move was dispatching any pretense of being a band member or leader. Sure, quasi-acoustic/sans drums is a weak commercially spawned trend, but it works on this record. Allowing the vocals overwhelming dominion in the mix is a success with the songs so strong and strongly offhand. The cobwebs and strangeness are in the overall vibe, not in Hitchcock’s old stove pipe hat King Floyd klever klepermania. In fact I have never before experienced such an emotionally plain-spoken listening trip from this source. Shit’s dope and real. And the sonic and musical clarity of the accompanying arrangements are state of the art. Great sounding electrix axes, sweet and tart strings and plenty of rhythm that almost makes the few drum mixes obsolete. Tasteful mod jazz sax charts butt in on “De Chirico Street” and Robyn commits some inspired Yardbirds era Pagey wank closing out “You and Oblivion.” Funny, this record could be a Jimmie Dale Gilmore work if the esteemed Texan was from suburban London. Moss Elixir is a collection of action paintings depicting still life. Hang it in your kitchen. [Warner Bros.]

-Dave Rick


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