This was an early glory of my burgeoning (or so I thought) record collection and indie cred. They’d been in Peel’s Festive Fifty the year before (I looked that up this morning – back then I had no idea that Peel’s Festive Fifty existed let alone who Sonic Youth or The Fall were) with “Only a prawn in Whitby” and they weren’t the straight-forward indie jangle that most of us were listening to. “Robinson Crusoe” was one of the first fruits of a passing introduction to booze and fags on a French exchange earlier in the summer of 1990 – I had little idea what was going on then, or in this song, but it was strange enough to satisfy me at the time.
Listening again, I can remember clearly playing this exceptionally loud, in my bedroom of course, and mis-hearing most of the lyrics. I’m still not sure what they are – there’s a couple of places that you can look at on the web but since they seem as confused as my own constructions, I’m not giving them much credence. “Robinson Crusoe” is apparently based on a 70s film called “Vendredi ou la Vie sauvage”, itself based on a 60s novel by Michel Tournier called “Vendredi ou les Limbes du Pacifique” – sort of counter-cultural musings on the original castaway novel. Although I say that without having seen or read either – I’m going to trust Wikipedia because I really can’t face the thought of having to endure either endeavour.
I can’t say that these three rediscovered tracks have made their way back into my music collection with any great joy on my part. The (b-side) Nightmares on Wax remix of the title track is boring. At least it doesn’t go on too long. The title track is probably at its best in the instrumental introduction – the guitars there are at least a bit exciting – but listening to this song, against the backdrop of previous appreciation, pretty much matches the bummed-out sounding chord that ends the track on a whimper. Which leaves us with the other song on the a-side, L.O.P.H.E. Does this stand for anything ? I have no idea. I used to enjoy it for its evocations of a different life – particularly the connection between that imagined escape and the trip that I had just been on. But it’s no more attention-grabbing than anything else on display and other people have written much much better songs (that make some sense – can anyone tell me that the French section is grammatically accurate ?) about the same sorts of emotions.
This version is the 12″ that was released in September 1990, catalogue number MIRAGE 021T. The runout groove features the initials MPO. For your ears and eyes:
- Backseat Mafia meets Cult of Luna (backseatmafia.com)
- Interview: Matt Reid – Documentary Director (backseatmafia.wordpress.com)
- From an old record box: the Cure – The Head on the Door (backseatmafia.wordpress.com)
- From an old record box: Grant Lee Buffalo – Buffalondon Live (backseatmafia.com)