The Cars She Used To Drive

Those ghastly saxophones! Sadly, the first thing I think of with this song are the hideous pop sax licks that “vamp” in the verses, and then solo in the middle. Probably why I don’t listen to the Groovy Decay/Groovy Decoy [both sets compiled in 1995 as Gravy Deco, which is how I will label it] material as much as it deserves. Hitchcock was admittedly in a songwriting slump, but he still managed to put some strong songs on tape only to have them buried under piles of steaming eighties crap in the studio.

This particular track is transitory, in both a topical and sonic sense; the evolutionary step between the agitated punk sounds of “I Watch The Cars” and the shimmering pop of “My Wife And My Dead Wife”. Unlike some of the other songs from this ill-fated project, the two versions are not too dissimilar. The Decoy demo version melds Robyn’s guitar sound on “Underwater Moonlight” with a minimalist backing not unlike something from Suicide’s self-titled first album. But then ghastly sax shows up and smears it’s fecal vibe on everything. Decay has a cleaner guitar tone, and Ms. Sara Lee getting downright funky on bass. I swear a stripped down (i.e., no sax) version of the finished Decay track would be a near classic.

To make my point, Robyn and his then recently convened Egyptians absolutely rip through this on the live Gotta Let This Hen Out! album. Without cutting anything but the short saxophone solo, they manage to trim nearly 30 seconds off the studio takes. Morris Windsor and Andy Metcalfe are in full tear/ Andy not as fluid as Sara Lee on bass, but much more aggressive; Morris skittering and bouncing like a waterbug, lots of rim hits and double-time passages (reminiscent of Stuart Copland, a comparison I don’t use lightly or often). Even with some cheesy keyboard peaking occasionally through the mix, it is easily the definitive recorded version.

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