Great B-Sides: Tell Me About Your Drugs by Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians

English singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock has created cult records all the way back to his days in The Soft Boys in the late 1970s. The Soft Boys began their recording career in Cambridge, and Hitchcock’s closest frame of reference has always been Cambridge’s Syd Barrett, best known as the first front-man of Pink Floyd.

1986’s Element of Light follows two of my favourite Hitchcock discs – the solo, acoustic I Often Dream Of Trains brings out his Syd Barrett influence, while 1985’s excellent Fegmania! is his first disc with backing band The Egyptians. Element of Light is a worthy follow-up, although one of its most immediate, energetic tunes is buried among the bonus tracks as a b-side.

When interviewed by Robyn Ware about his b-side ‘Tell Me About Your Drugs’, Robyn Hitchcock stated that:

I was walking over a flat area, and it was the middle of winter, and there were lots of dead things on the ground. And I was going over an area of flat paving stones, and I was vibrating internally — as is my wont — because I’d just had a cup of coffee (believe it or not). And I thought, ‘Oh yes, Tell Me About Your Drugs, that would be a good song to write.’ So I whipped back inside, and I wrote down the song ‘Tell Me About Your Drugs’ in about three minutes.

Robyn Hitchcock

Hitchcock also noted that people liked ‘Tell Me About Your Drugs’ because it’s one of his simplest songs. It’s simple enough that the band members were able to swap instruments – drummer Morris Windsor presumably plays the guitar break (“tell me Morris!”).

Do you believe in the Holy Grail?
Tell me about your drugs
Do you know anyone in jail?
Tell me about your drugs

Do you wake up on somebody’s floor?
Tell me about your drugs
And you just can’t take it anymore?
Tell me about your drugs

Ah, we all get hit by forces that we just don’t understand

Do you believe in the Holy Ghost?
Tell me about your drugs
Do you like the things that hurt you most?
Tell me about your drugs
Do you wish you were somebody else?
Tell me about your drugs
But you wake up and you’re still yourself
Talkin’ about your drugs

Ah, we get messed up by forces that we just don’t understand

Well, now tell me about your drugs, come on (Bop bop shoo bop, a-wop bop shoo bop)
Why don’t you tell me about your drugs?
I’d love to know more about your drugs
Why don’t you get intimate about your drugs
Why don’t you call me up and go on for hours ‘n hours ‘n hours ‘n hours ‘n hours ‘n hours ‘n hours about your drugs
Tell me Morris

Do you believe in the endless sleep?
Tell me about your drugs
Do you believe in human sheep?
Tell me about your drugs
WIth their curly little whirly tails?
Tell me about your drugs
So they hang themselves when all else fails
And they’re thinkin’ about their drugs


Graham Fyfe is probably the only music blogger to appreciate Neil Diamond and Ariana Grande. Aphoristic Album Reviews features reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.


  1. If you had told me the song was sung by Mark E Smith I wouldn’t have blinked. Both the vocal and lyrical repetition remind me of his band The Fall. Not that I’m in any way an expert on either! Just my two cents.

    • ‘Tell Me About Your Drugs’ is more abrasive than most of Hitchcock’s stuff, and he kind of does the disdainful -uh at the end of “drugs” in this song. But normally he’s a more musical singer than Smith.

  2. Strangely enough, I’ve just been getting into his most recent album over the last week or so. Still so much of his stuff that I haven’t heard (most of it, actually). This is a great tune, though… I love the driving rhythm… reminds me of Lanegan’s Driving Death Valley Blues… I wonder if Lanegan’s tune was a nod to it.

Leave a Reply

More from Aphoristic Album Reviews

Aphoristic Album Reviews is almost entirely written by one person.

Graham Fyfe is probably the only music blogger to appreciate both Neil Diamond and Ariana Grande. Based in Fleet Street (New Zealand), he's been writing this blog since around 2000. Aphoristic Album Reviews features reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.

Review Pages

Read about the discographies of musical acts from the 1960s to the present day. Browse this site's review archives or enjoy these random selections:

Vashti Bunyan Album Reviews

English folk-singer Vashti Bunyan has enjoyed a unique career trajectory, starting when she recorded a Jagger-Richards composition in the mid-1960s. Her early singles failed to gain much attention, and Bunyan instead travelled by horse and cart to join a commune in the Hebrides. On the journey, she wrote the songs […]
The Raincoats Album Reviews

Introduction The punk and new wave movements lowered the barriers to entry to a musical career, promising a more egalitarian future. Yet with the occasional exception, like Debbie Harry, The Go-Gos, and Tina Weymouth, guitar-based music remained a largely male domain in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Raincoats […]
The Cars Album Reviews

Boston quintet The Cars were arguably the quintessential New Wave band. They combined the back-to-basics approach of new wave, forward-thinking synthesiser textures, and bright power pop melodies. It’s not difficult to see influences from art-rockers David Bowie and Roxy Music in the detached presence of front-man Ric Ocazek and in […]
Arlo Guthrie Alice's Restaurant
1960s Miscellany

Album reviews of 1960s artists who don’t qualify for their own page. Johnny Cash | Arlo Guthrie | Dusty Springfield Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison 1968, 6/10Johnny Cash always had a bullet proof reputation, both a respected elder statesman of country music and an anti-authoritarian hero. His baritone is authoritative, […]
ABBA Album Reviews

As a young aphorism, ABBA were one of the first pop bands I was aware of. My first impressions weren’t positive – the Swedish quartet’s reputation was at a low ebb in the 1980s, their 1970s disco-dabbling hits seen as dated and schlocky. It wasn’t until I saw an ABBA […]
The Decemberists The King is Dead
The Decemberists

The band most likely to win a Scrabble tournament, The Decemberists hail from Portland, Oregon, and are notable for flaunting their extensive vocabulary in song. Despite their American heritage, they’re staunch Anglophiles; many of their early songs are set in Victorian England, while leader Colin Meloy is a fan of English […]

Blog Posts

I add new blog posts to this website every week. Browse the archives or enjoy these random selections:

Tintin Comics: Ranked From Worst To Best

Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, better known as Hergé, published the first Tintin adventure in the Catholic magazine Le Vingtième Siècle in 1929. The final, unfinished Tintin book, Tintin and Alph-Art, appeared in 1986, three years after Hergé’s death. During that time, Tintin evolved; the first volume, Tintin in the Land […]
Crowded House The Very Best Of Recurring Dream
Neil Finn's Five Best Albums

Until the emergence of Lorde, song-smith Neil Finn was New Zealand’s most recognisable pop export. Born in Te Awamutu, Finn was enamoured by the tuneful pop of The Beatles and Elton John. Still a teenager, he joined his brother Tim Finn in Split Enz in 1977, originally as a guitarist. […]
10 Best Albums of 2022

Even in 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic still looms large over popular music. Many of these albums were affected by events – forcing delays or changes in personnel. As always, there was a wealth of excellent music recorded in 2022 – here are my ten favourites that I covered through this […]
New Zealand’s 2023 election in five songs

General elections are held every three years in New Zealand and they’re due soon. Our electoral system is known as Mixed Member Proportional (MMP for short). Everyone gets two votes – one for a party and one for an electorate MP (Member of Parliament) – and a party wins seat […]
Genesis Albums: Ranked from Worst to Best

Originating at Charterhouse School, one of England’s most prestigious public schools, Genesis recorded their first album as teenagers in 1968. They spent their early years losing money and making long-winded progressive rock albums. Their use of gentle 12-string guitars and bass pedals, coupled with Peter Gabriel’s wordplay, gave them a distinctive […]
SomethingAnything Todd Rundgren review
Blogging Community Question: Review Requests

Hi everyone! Occasionally my blog receives requests asking me to review albums from emerging artists. The rhythm of my blog isn’t really set up for this at the moment, so I’m wondering if any fellow bloggers would like to be listed on my contact page as potential reviewers. If you […]
%d bloggers like this: