Album: Two Halves For The Price of One
. . .
For a band that only recorded two studio albums in their original incarnation, The Soft Boys discography is a bit of a mess. Besides those two albums, they recorded a bunch of singles, EPs, b-sides and songs that didn’t originally get released while they were still around. Also confusing: original bassist Andy Metcalfe was replaced by Matthew Seligman for Underwater Moonlight, but came back to work with Hitchcock (along with drummer Morris Windsor) as one of the Egyptians.
Anyways, after Underwater Moonlight blew me away, I went casting about for more Soft Boys music, and the next thing that I found was the strange Two Halves For The Price of One, a compilation that put together one side of Underwater Moonlight outtakes (called Only The Stones Remain) and one side of live recordings from that same period (called Lope at The Hive).
And while the live recordings were kind of disappointing — muddy sound was the main culprit — I really liked the studio songs, which included an ace cover of The Byrds take on Pete Seeger’s “The Bells of Rhymney,” which along with the live Bob Dylan and Syd Barrett songs on the other side, made their influences incredibly obvious.
But my favorite song on the whole thing was a song that would have been a splendid addition to Underwater Moonlight, “There’s Nobody Like You,” which opens with a galloping guitar hook and Hitchcock’s surreal imagery.
And if your name’s Queep
You’re quite unique
And it’s taken you over the top
Mr. Rogers and I
Don’t know the Messiah
But since you walked into the shop
Well if your name’s Kent
It’s known that you’re bent
It’s an actual, undeniable fact
Cause the law ’round here
It’s got cloth ears
So you never get caught in the act
Each verse is like that, and barrels right into a fantastic pre-chorus.
Well, I don’t mind dressin’ in blue
If I thought it would make a difference to you
And with the guitars and drummer Morris Windsor kicking up a storm with his rolls, they launch into the chorus, dominated by a crazy-great high harmony on “theeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrreees.”
There’s nobody like you
There’s nobody like you
And as they all hold out that long “youuuuuuuuuuuuu,” the song comes crashing to a halt for a second, revived by Windsor’s kick drum and Seligman’s bass over which Hitchcock and Rew have a good old-fashioned guitar duel, with Hitchcock continuing for a bit longer after the full beat crashes back in, and they head back to the final verses.
For the longest time, “There’s Nobody Like You,” was even more obscure than the rest of the Soft Boys output, though it did finally show up on the Rykodisc 2006 reissue of Underwater Moonlight and all of the subsequent reissues.
That’s because Two Halves For the Price of One was either the final thing The Soft Boys released in their initial incarnation, or the first thing they released posthumously. After this, of course Robyn Hitchcock went solo, and eventually brought Windsor and Metcafe aboard as the Egyptians; Matthew Seligman went on to be a very in-demand studio bassist — he played with Thomas Dolby, David Bowie, the Waterboys and Sinead O’Connor, among others — and Kimberly Rew went on to have more success than anybody while writing three stone cold classics: “Red Wine and Whiskey,” “Going Down to Liverpool” and “Walking on Sunshine.”
And then, in the early 2000s, The Soft Boys reunited. We’ll talk about that tomorrow.
“There’s Nobody Like You”
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