I Often Dream of Trains

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I Often Dream of Trains
Studio album by Robyn Hitchcock
Released 1984
Recorded 1981-1984
Genre Psychedelic folk, psychedelic rock
Length 54:33
Label Midnight Music
Producer Robyn Hitchcock
Robyn Hitchcock chronology
Groovy Decay
I Often Dream of Trains
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars link

I Often Dream of Trains is the third album by Robyn Hitchcock, released in 1984.

After the break-up of The Soft Boys, Hitchcock recorded two solo albums — Black Snake Diamond Role and the experimental Groovy Decay — before hitting an artistic slump mitigated only by some collaborations with Captain Sensible. He re-emerged in 1984 with this all-acoustic album, the cathartic process of which he later likened to John Lennon's first solo work Plastic Ono Band, as he shook off the depressing effects of the unsatisfying Groovy Decay sessions.

The album was recorded in the space of a few days under the working title Crystal Branches (taken from a line in the song "Winter Love", not originally included in the track listing). Hitchcock plays acoustic and electric guitar and piano and delivers direct with occasional multi-tracked vocals.

The vinyl album ran to fourteen tracks, bookended by the 'classical' "Nocturne". In between, Hitchcock's lyrics reference gravestones, the ghosts of derelict trams and falling leaves, the subtext of beautiful death surfacing in almost every song including the surreal-absurdist "Furry Green Atom Bowl", in which he depicts "roots in the earth and kidneys in the body", wryly commenting that "That's the way to stay".

Characteristically, Hitchcock punctuates his imagery with plenty of humour and stark, wintry arrangements which resist any descent into gloom. The album's title track accounts a train journey through Basingstoke in which he dreams of love between the buffet car and the corridor, as the winter sun falls outside the train windows. (More than 20 years later, Hitchcock would expand on this semi-hallucinatory situation in an evocative novelette accompanying the box set "I Wanna Go Backwards", which details the presumably invented dream-experience which underpins the lyric, and was almost certainly conceived subsequently.)

In 1986, the album was reissued on CD with tracks taken from Hitchcock's recent B sides. (One of these, "The Bones In The Ground", is an archetypal death-comedy lyric delivered in a mock serious manner.) A later CD edition saw yet more extras thrown in, all of which were demos of tracks originally included, bringing the listing to a sprawling twenty-four titles. A third CD edition saw the previous demo bonus tracks dropped, along with "Mellow Together", whilst adding yet more.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Robyn Hitchcock.

Side one[edit]

  1. "Nocturne (Prelude)"
  2. "Sometimes I Wish I Was a Pretty Girl"
  3. "Cathedral"
  4. "Uncorrected Personality Traits"
  5. "Sounds Great When You're Dead"
  6. "Flavour of Night"
  7. "Ye Sleeping Knights of Jesus"

Side two[edit]

  1. "This Could Be the Day"
  2. "Trams of Old London"
  3. "Furry Green Atom Bowl"
  4. "Heart Full of Leaves"
  5. "Autumn Is Your Last Chance"
  6. "I Often Dream of Trains"
  7. "Nocturne (Demise)"

1st CD issue bonus tracks (Midnight Records 1986)[edit]

  1. "Mellow Together"
  2. "Winter Love"
  3. "The Bones In The Ground"
  4. "My Favourite Buildings"
  5. "I Used To Say I Love You"

2nd CD issue bonus tracks (Rhino Records 1995)[edit]

  1. "Mellow Together"
  2. "Winter Love"
  3. "The Bones In The Ground"
  4. "My Favourite Buildings"
  5. "I Used To Say I Love You"
  6. "Ye Sleeping Knights of Jesus" (Demo)
  7. "Sometimes I Wish I Was a Pretty Girl" (Demo)
  8. "Cathedral" (Demo)
  9. "Mellow Together" (Demo)
  10. "The Bones In The Ground" (Demo)

3rd CD issue bonus tracks (Yep Roc Records 2007)[edit]

  1. "Winter Love"
  2. "The Bones In The Ground"
  3. "My Favourite Buildings"
  4. "I Used To Say I Love You"
  5. "Chant/Aether"
  6. "Heart Full of Leaves" (Alt version)
  7. "I Often Dream of Trains" (Demo)
  8. "Not Even A Nurse"
  9. "Slow Chant/That's Fantastic Mother Church"
  10. "Traveller's Fare"
Note: Both versions of "Mellow Together" dropped.