There’s something special about this version of Different Trains. It’s the one commissioned by Wolfgang Sawallisch and David Robertson and their respective orchestras (Philadelphia and Lyon) in 2001 for string orchestra, and it impresses immediately by the richness of its vastly expanded sound palette. Though it may be heresy to say so, I never found the original string quartet version entirely convincing. This recording shows why: inside that frenetic chamber work was a much larger piece trying to get out, and here it is, fully realised, as it were, in glorious technicolor.
After the debacle that was the making of 1982's Groovy Decay, Robyn Hitchcock briefly retired from music, and when he returned it was with an album that offered a thoroughly uncompromised vision of Hitchcock's imagination. Released in 1984, I Often Dream of Trains was a primarily acoustic set with Hitchcock handling nearly all the instruments and vocals by himself; the tone is spare compared to the full-on rock & roll of his recordings with the Soft Boys or his solo debut, Black Snake Diamond Role, but the curious beauty of Hitchcock's melodies is every bit as striking in these stripped-down sessions, and the surreal imagery of "Flavour of Night," "Trams of Old London," and the title song comes to vivid and enchanting life. Hitchcock's off-kilter wit has rarely been as effective as it is on this album; the jaunty harmonies of "Uncorrected Personality Traits" are the ideal complement for the song's psychobabble, "Sounds Great When You're Dead" manages to be funny and a bit disturbing at once, and the drunken campfire singalong of "Ye Sleeping Knights of Jesus" was joyously sloppy enough to inspire a cover by the Replacements.
Annie Moscow catches the world in her eyes as she looks through the window of Passing Trains, her recent release. Using a Folk music backdrop of guitar and piano, Annie tells her tales on the album, snapping pictures of the humanity traveling by with snippet of phrases that flesh out her characters. An NYC artist is drawn by her words as Annie Moscow sets the stage of “He Paints Cats’ in Washington Square Park, giving the homeless painter a life that could be envied in its freedom by her description of his survival techniques. Passing Trains hears the rattle of rails amid rolling piano and haunting melodies in the title track as it watches its characters as moving targets while “Back Again” smiles at memories and gets in line with a worldwide community seeking “What Everybody Else Wants”.
The Shallows is an album by the band I Like Trains, released on 7 May 2012. It is a concept album based on the book The Shallows by Nicholas Carr. It was produced by Richard Formby.