ARTIST: The Soft Boys
TITLE: A Can of Bees
YEAR RELEASED: 1979
CHART ACTION: I Wish
SINGLES: No – they released singles separately – though Wading Through a Ventilator and (I Want to Be an) Anglepoise Lamp were appended as live cuts to the various versions of the album.
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Leppo and the Jooves, Sandra’s Having Her Brain Out (I wish…)
LINEUP: Robyn Hitchcock, Kimberly Rew, Andy Metcalfe, Morris Windsor
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A full length album from this interestingly wacky group that takes 60’s influences and 70’s new wave and melds them with, well, um, read the titles above.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The album title, the song about chisels, Sandra and her brain, whatever Jooves are, sacred crabs, etc. means that you’re not in for a normal rock-and-roll ride. Not a normal punk rock ride. Maybe an XTC ride with more oddball allusions.
Now, Robyn Hitchcock has a cult following, and cranks out songs similar to the above in subject matter, even as his style has evolved over the years. But the Soft Boys, with Kimberly Rew (future Katrina and the Waves co-conspirator), backed Hitchcock’s whimsy with pretty straight forward new-wave / neo-psychedelic backing.
Not everything hits the target, and a couple songs seem monotonous or non-essential. But when they’re at their best, you gotta give it to them.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: When they re-issued this in 1984, three of the last four cuts were changed out, and “Cold Turkey” moved to the end.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. The 1992 release has all of the tracks from the original release and the re-release, and then another release adds even more outtakes. The Soft Boys didn’t shirk on recording songs for records.
GRADE: B+: Just do the chisel, and listen to it while having your brain out, Leppo.