Frequently Asked Questions
Last update: 7 September 2014

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Chalkhills and XTC

This page contains the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) often seen in Chalkhills, The XTC Fans Mail List and on Facebook. It is posted to provide hard-to-find information of general interest.

This document copyright © 1992-2014 by John Relph.

While some information included herein is not copyright and may be used without permission, the compilation of this information in this document in this format is copyright and may not be published in any form whatsoever without the permission of the author. Just ask.

This document may be distributed electronically and otherwise if and only if the entire copyright notice and attributions are included.

Send corrections, additions and the like to John Relph <John dot Relph at alumni dot usc dot edu>.

Thanks are due to these additional contributors: Ben Abbate, Steve Banister, Klaus Bergmaier, Stephen Bruun, John M. Chamberlain, Kevin Chanel, John Dioso, Peter Fitzpatrick, Mitch Friedman, Wes Hanks, John Hedges III, David Holtz, Toby Howard, Brad Johnson, Jeroen de Jong, Tim Kendrick, Dominic Lawson, Paul Myers, JP Nicholls, Sam Nitzberg, Dave O'Connell, Richard Pedretti-Allen, Jon Rosenberger, Bill Sherman, Harrison Sherwood, Phil Smith, Tunnel, Alan Welby. My apologies and thanks to anyone I've overlooked.

Questions:

  1. What are XTC up to these days, anyway?
  2. How can I contact XTC directly?
  3. What is Chalkhills and how do I join?
  4. Is Chalkhills archived? Is the FAQ list available for FTP anywhere? Are XTC lyrics available? Are charts, chords and/or tablature for XTC songs available?
  5. What are the addresses of the fan clubs?
  6. Is that Woody Allen at the end of “My Love Explodes?” What is said at the end of “Mole From The Ministry”?
  7. Who is XTC's drummer?
  8. What's the story with “Dear God” and “Mermaid Smiled” on Skylarking?
  9. Why is the XTC mail list called “Chalkhills”? What does the cover of English Settlement mean?
  10. Are the albums Waxworks and Beeswax available on CD? Are Waxworks and The Compact XTC the same album?
  11. To what does the song “Pink Thing” refer?
  12. Who were all XTC's producers?
  13. What recordings should a new XTC-er buy?
  14. Why does everyone hate Todd Rundgren, I liked Skylarking?
  15. Why don't they tour?
  16. Has anybody ever covered any XTC songs?
  17. What's with the Virgin UK CD of Drums and Wires?
  18. Who is ‘Brian’ in “Battery Brides (Andy Paints Brian)”?
  19. Who are the children in “Dear God” and on Psonic Psunspot?
  20. Who is that other guy in the photographs from Psonic Psunspot?
  21. Did XTC do any other covers beside the Hendrix one on White Music?
  22. What released songs have yet to be compiled on albums?
  23. To what does the title of Mummer refer?
  24. How does one pronounce the name “XTC”? What is the origin of the band name “XTC”? Is it related to the drug “Ecstasy” (XTC, E, MDMA)?
  25. What are the sources of the tracks on Explode Together?
  26. Have any books been written about XTC?
  27. What is “Oxo”? Who are the “never never navvies”? What do all these English phrases mean?
  28. Is there a XTC video compilation on DVD? Does anyone know how I can get my hands on any XTC merchandise? Where can I find XTC bootlegs?
  29. Johnny Nexdor & His Neighbors are really XTC, right?
  30. Are the “Curt” and “Roland” mentioned in the sleeve of The Big Express from Tears for Fears?
  31. What is that word that Andy sings in the song “Great Fire”?
  32. How rare is the Wrapped in Grey single?
  33. What is the “Homo Safari” series? Where can I find it?
  34. Was “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” written about JFK?
  35. What are all the messages scratched in the run-out grooves of XTC records?
  36. Has anyone heard They Might Be Giants' song “XTC vs. Adam Ant”?
  37. What is Dave Gregory up to these days?
  38. Did you notice that the title of the latest XTC album comes from the lyrics of the previous album?
  39. Is there sheet music for XTC songs available?
  40. What happened to the proposed “bubblegum” album?
  41. Are The Spys actually XTC in disguise? Who are The Three Wize Men on Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father?
  42. XTC don't play live anymore, so are there any XTC tribute bands out there?

Answers:


1. What are XTC up to these days, anyway?

We're not really sure.

Ian E and Paul Culnane pointed out this unsettling comment from Andy Partridge in the December issue of MOJO magazine: “I speak of XTC in the past tense. It's in the freezer and I dunno if it'll ever come out again. Colin [Moulding] phoned me recently and said he wasn't interested in music any more, and it wouldn't be XTC without him. . .”

Virgin Records and XTC were scheduled to release a DVD of promotional videos, one or more collections of XTC songs providing an overview of their oeuvre, and the entire Virgin back catalog on CD. However, contract negotiations have broken down and the entire effort is on hold indefinitely. This appears to be mostly a result of policies at Virgin Records. (Robert Fripp and Discipline Global Mobile appear to have the same troubles negotiating with EMI, the parent company of Virgin.) Thus it may be increasingly difficult to purchase new copies of albums from the “Virgin years”.


2. How can I contact XTC directly?

Please visit Andy Partridge's official web site at “www.ape.uk.net”, and good luck.

Andy Partridge tweets as XTC. Sometimes he will respond.

We here at Chalkhills have no official (or unofficial) relationship with the band and we cannot relay your messages. We're just fans who try to stay out of their way.


3. What is Chalkhills and how do I join?

Chalkhills was the XTC Fans mail list for the discussion of the music and recordings of XTC (the band). Chalkhills was distributed through e-mail only. Chalkhills was distributed in a digest format and was moderated and administered by John Relph. The Chalkhills digests were sent out irregularly, as posting volume warranted. The Chalkhills list was created in April 1989 as an offshoot of the venerable Love-Hounds list and killed off (in a bizarre kitchen accident, of course) in August 2014.

Chalkhills is also a Facebook group, and the discussion continues there.


4. Is Chalkhills archived? Is the FAQ list available for FTP anywhere? Are XTC lyrics available? Are charts, chords and/or tablature for XTC songs available?

You may want to visit Ape House Records at “http://www.ape.uk.net/”. (“Ape” stands for “Andy Partridge Experiments” or “Andy Partridge Editions” or somesuch.)

The Chalkhills Archives are available through the World Wide Web at “http://chalkhills.org/”. The archives contain back issues of the Chalkhills digests, XTC lyrics, chord charts, pictures, a discography, and many other resources.

No FTP access is available at present (FTP is so 20th Century).

The latest version of this FAQ file can be found at “http://chalkhills.org/FAQ.html”. A plain text version of this file is available upon request.


5. What are the addresses of the fan clubs?

With the increase in availability and popularity of the World Wide Web, the need for local fan clubs has diminished somewhat. The Little Express, Limelight and Lumière are no more. . .

I cannot say whether or not the Japanese club is still open for business, but you might drop a line enclosing SAE and International Postal Reply Coupon or equivalent to

Ecstasy: 1-38-18 Higashi-Tamagawa, Setagaya-Ku, Tokyo, Japan 158
(in Japanese)

Let us know if your mail is returned.

Peter & June Dix of The Little Express write:

Not long ago, The Little Express was one of the few sources of information for dedicated XTC fans. From 1981 until the present [2000], it became a centre from which the ebb and flow of letters, photos, artwork and news were assimilated, eventually producing and distributing a small, readable entity that captured a part of XTC's world.

XTC's ever-growing circle of acquaintances and the arrival of the internet now provides all the current news that the fans are eager to acquire. Events as such have now guided this newsletter to realistically appraise its relevance.

Although the printed word still exists and even thrives in many quarters, we feel this particular newsletter, a.k.a. "The Little Express" has reached its final destination.

. . . We would like to take this opportunity to say many thanks to every one of you who made [The Little Express] possible.

Mark Fisher wrote in to tell us this:

I'm now on-line and deeply apologetic for not producing an edition of Limelight for several decades. And not answering anyone's mail for even longer. Fatherhood and a busy job have meant I just don't have the time to be producing fanzines for fun. Sorry.

Also, a very detailed (the most) XTC discography is available from Shigemasa Fujimoto. The Wonderland discography (in three volumes) is lavishly detailed and nicely produced, and includes photographs of important and interesting cover art. An indispensable resource for the serious XTC collector. A few copies of the first three volumes of Wonderland are still available. For details, please contact Shigemasa Fujimoto at <xtcwonderland at ca dot inter dot net>. A new edition is in the works.

For still deeper historical details including early demos, gigs and concert bootlegs, get the Chain Of Command booklet from Martin Fuchs, Stuevestraße 9, D-30173 Hannover, Germany. Martin has also made his information available on the web at “http://www.highdive.de/musik/xtc/”.


6. Is that Woody Allen at the end of “My Love Explodes?” What is said at the end of “Mole From The Ministry”?

ANDY: The little voice at the end after all the fireworks go off, courtesy of the same BBC sound effects record, is a tape that John Leckie had. He was in New York a little while ago, and had his radio cassette player going and he was tuned into this ludicrous New York radio station where this chap was singing this rather... How would you describe this song he was singing?

DAVE & COLIN: Rude!

DAVE: It was actually a protest song.

ANDY: Called "Hey, go f... yourself with your atom bomb" [performed by Tuli Kupferberg. Ed.], this chap was singing this song over the air, and John Leckie couldn't believe the banality of this song so he turned on his cassette to capture it for posterity, and he left the cassette running. At the end of the thing there's a phone-in where they invite people to phone in and comment on the song, and there's this marvellous guy who phones in, with this Woody Allen voice, and he is really outraged... "That's the most obscene abomination of a song!" So we thought this was marvellous and we nailed him on the end of "My Love Explodes". So the strange "Woody Allen" voice is a very irate New Yorker who's commenting on the song "Hey, go f... yourself with your atom bomb".

DAVE: In fact, if you want to hear more of the original version, at the end of side 2 [at the end of "Mole From The Ministry"] on the run-out grooves, if you've got a record player capable of playing it, you'll hear spinning backwards at twice the speed, a snatch of this gentleman's song in its original form.

John A Lane adds:

How many out there realized that the quote on the 25 o'clock record, which goes "go f--k yourself with your atom bomb", comes directly from Allen Ginsberg's book of poems, HOWL?

Richard Pedretti-Allen adds:

To be a bit more specific it is from Allen Ginsberg's poem "America" published by City Lights Books 1956.

Ralph Simpson DeMarco adds:

The "ludicrous New York radio station" is WBAI FM a Pacifica Foundation left-wing listener-sponsored station. This is the ONLY station in NY that would ever play that sort of song!

That guy is named "Frank"! I'd bet my life on it. I used to tape him on the radio all the time. He called every other show on that station in the 80s. He was always upset about something.


7. Who is XTC's drummer?

XTC was co-founded by drummer Terry Chambers, who “just hits 'em” on White Music, Go 2, Drums and Wires, Black Sea, English Settlement, and on the songs “Beating of Hearts” and “Wonderland” on Mummer, after which he left the band. Since that time, XTC have hired drummers for recording sessions.

Peter Phipps drums on the majority of Mummer and on The Big Express.

Ian Gregory (E.I.E.I. Owen), Dave Gregory's brother, drums on 25 O'Clock, Psonic Psunspot and on “Mantis on Parole (Homo Safari Series No. 4)”.

Prairie Prince, originally from The Tubes, plays the part of the time bomb on Skylarking. On Apple Venus Volume 1 he contributes drums, handclaps, thigh slaps, and percussion. Prairie also drums on a few tracks on Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2).

Pat Mastelotto, from Mister Mister, plays acoustic and electronic drums and percussion on Oranges & Lemons.

Dave Mattacks, from Fairport Convention, drums on Nonsvch.

Brian Doherty drums on “Cherry In Your Tree”, from the Carmen Sandiego Out Of This World compilation album.

Chris Sharrock drums on “The Good Things”, found on A Testimonial Dinner — The Songs of XTC.

Chuck Sabo drums on the majority of Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2).


8. What's the story with “Dear God” and “Mermaid Smiled” on Skylarking?

Originally Skylarking was released with the song “Mermaid Smiled” appearing in between “Another Satellite” and “The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul”. “Dear God” was originally released as the B-side to the UK Grass single. “Dear God” started getting some airplay in the US, so Geffen withdrew initial copies of the Skylarking LP and re-released the LP, removing “Mermaid Smiled” and adding “Dear God” in between “The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul” and “Dying”.

The original UK Skylarking CD preserves the original running order with “Mermaid Smiled” and sans “Dear God”; the US CD has “Dear God” but no “Mermaid Smiled”. The 2000 remastered edition of the Skylarking CD (and a previous Canada-only CD) has the same running order as the original UK CD (including “Mermaid Smiled”), but also adds “Dear God” as a bonus track to the end of the album (and features improved sound quality over the previous CD releases).


9. Why is the XTC mail list called “Chalkhills”? What does the cover of English Settlement mean?

The XTC mail list and web site are called “Chalkhills” because the name captures the essence of middle and late XTC albums. The “Chalkhills and Children” reference is obvious, from the Oranges & Lemons album, but the name also refers to the ‘chalk horse’, the White Horse of Uffington, in the Vale of the White Horse in Oxfordshire near the borders of Wiltshire and Berkshire. About nine miles east of Swindon, the ‘chalk horse’ was pictured on the cover of English Settlement; Andy Partridge says it's a “prehistoric hill carving of a horse, literally a kind of Iron Age advertisement for an English settlement that was on top of the hill.”


10. Are the albums Waxworks and Beeswax available on CD? Are Waxworks and The Compact XTC the same album?

Waxworks has been re-released on CD by Geffen Records USA. In other countries you can get The Compact XTC: The Singles 1978-85, which contains every track from Waxworks, with the addition of three singles from Mummer (“Great Fire”, “Wonderland” and “Love on a Farmboy's Wages”) and three from The Big Express (“All You Pretty Girls”, “This World Over” and “Wake Up”). And now you can get Fossil Fuel - The XTC Singles 1977-92, which contains all of Waxworks and The Compact XTC and also includes the singles from Skylarking (“Grass”, “The Meeting Place” and “Dear God”), Oranges & Lemons (“The Mayor Of Simpleton”, “King For A Day” and “The Loving”), and Nonsuch (“The Disappointed”, “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” and “Wrapped In Grey”). The sound quality on Fossil Fuel is much improved over the other two CDs. Also, Fossil Fuel features the original single mix of “Wait Till Your Boat Goes Down” which was not previously available on CD.

Beeswax has been re-issued on CD by Virgin Records Japan. However, almost all of the tracks from Beeswax are available on other XTC CDs. The only track that does not appear anywhere but on Beeswax is the extended version of “Hang On To The Night” which is only 6 seconds longer than the version on the White Music album.

Here's a breakdown of where to find the tracks from these albums (if you are unable to find the CD re-issues):

    Waxworks: Some Singles 1977-1982    Where to find it:
      Science Friction                    White Music
      Are You Receiving Me?               Go 2
    * Life Begins at the Hop              Drums and Wires (US, Japan)
      Senses Working Overtime (edit)      Fossil Fuel
      Ball and Chain                      English Settlement
    Beeswax: Some B-Sides 1977-1982
      She's So Square                     White Music
      Dance Band                          White Music
      Heatwave                            White Music
      Instant Tunes                       White Music
      Pulsing Pulsing                     Rag & Bone Buffet
      Don't Lose Your Temper              Black Sea
      Smokeless Zone                      Black Sea
      The Somnambulist                    Black Sea
    * Blame the Weather                   Rag & Bone Buffet
    * Tissue Tigers (The Arguers)         Rag & Bone Buffet
      Punch and Judy                      Rag & Bone Buffet
    * Heaven is Paved With Broken
        Glass (remix)                     Rag & Bone Buffet

* Notes:

“Life Begins At The Hop” appears on most, but not all, Drums and Wires CDs; early CDs from Virgin UK do not feature this track. It also appears on the USA-only compilation Upsy Daisy Assortment.

“Blame the Weather” is also available on the Virgin UK CD-3 of Senses Working Overtime and on the Virgin France compilation CD The Tiny Circus of Life.

“Tissue Tigers (The Arguers)” is also available on the Virgin UK CD-3 of Senses Working Overtime.

The original version of “Heaven Is Paved With Broken Glass” does not appear on CD at all. It is only available on the original Ball and Chain singles.


11. To what does the song “Pink Thing” refer?

It's about the singer's “John Thomas”. It's also about a baby. Apparently Andy and Mrs Partridge referred to their baby as “The Pink Thing” and the song grew out of that nickname. As it were.


12. Who were all XTC's producers?

John Leckie produced White Music, Go 2, 25 O'Clock and Psonic Psunspot.

Steve Lillywhite produced Drums and Wires and Black Sea.

Hugh Padgham produced English Settlement.

Steve Nye and Bob Sargeant produced Mummer.

David Lord produced The Big Express and co-produced The Three Wise Men: Thanks for Christmas (with XTC, as “The Good Lord”).

Todd Rundgren produced Skylarking.

Paul Fox produced Oranges & Lemons.

Gus Dudgeon produced Nonsuch.

Haydn Bendall and Nick Davis produced Apple Venus Volume 1.

Nick Davis co-produced Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2) with XTC.

XTC has had various producers and co-producers for their singles and other non-album tracks, including R.J “Mutt” Lange, David Yazbek, Martin Rushent, Alan Winstanley, and Phil Wainman. They have also self- or co-produced many of their B-sides.


13. What recordings should a new XTC-er buy?

All of them.

If you don't want to dive right in, perhaps you might start with Skylarking, then give Apple Venus Volume One a try, followed by English Settlement and Black Sea. After that, you're one of us.


14. Why does everyone hate Todd Rundgren, I liked Skylarking?

Andy Partridge says:

“Musician and producer Todd Rundgren squeezed the XTC clay into its most complete / connected / cyclical record ever. Not an easy album to make for various ego reasons but time has humbled me into admitting that Todd conjured up some of the most magical production and arranging conceivable. A summer's day cooked into one cake.”


15. Why don't they tour?

Andy has debilitating stage fright. And he doesn't think their live gigs sounded any good. Aren't their albums good enough for you?


16. Has anybody ever covered any XTC songs?

The short answer is “42”. For a longer answer, see the Chalkhills Cover Versions page.

Aside from the over 300 known released cover versions, there are also the following:

The The Loser's Lounge Tribute to XTC, recorded live at The Fez, NYC, on 14 June 2003, includes 20 XTC songs performed that night (CD 2004.06.01 Loser's Lounge USA ?).

“King For a Day”, “The Mayor of Simpleton” and “Thanks for Christmas” have been heard on Muzak. Ouch.

Robert Wegmann, pop musician from Tampa, Florida, has covered songs by XTC (including “Towers of London”) in his live act. (He also contributed a cover of “Dame Fortune” to the King For A Day tribute compilation.)

The Austrian band Der eiserne Vorhang (The Iron Curtain), with Ronald Fleischmann on vocals, performed a song called “Franzi” (Frankie), credited to “Moulding/Fleischmann”, released on their own Panza Records circa 1980 or 1981. The story told in the song is almost the same as in “Making Plans for Nigel”; Franzi's parents want him to be good at school and steal away his childhood. The whole thing ends with the suicide of Franzi. The song is now available on CD, on the sampler Flieger - Flug 2 (CD 1994 Reverso Austria 660805).

The Japanese group Shonen Knife apparently were inspired by “Making Plans for Nigel” when they wrote their song “Bear Up Bison” (also known as “Making Plans for Bison”), originally released on their album Pretty Little Baka Guy (CD 1986.10 JP Subversive/Zero Subv 775). Listen for yourself. (In Japan, the song “Making Plans for Nigel” was also known as Ganbare Naijuru”, or “Bear Up, Nigel”.) Atsuko Yamano says, “I like stuffed animals. Eat bananas. and listen to XTC.” (Big Dipper cover the Shonen song on the tribute album Every Band Has a Shonen Knife Who Loves Them.)

George Krueger writes:

. . . Phish used to occasionally cover "Melt the Guns" live in some of their very early shows. No official recording exist of them playing this (as far as I know), but since the band let people tape and trade their shows, recordings of it can be found (I have a version of them playing it from April 29, 1987).


17. What's with the Virgin UK CD of Drums and Wires?

There are three different CDs and four different sleeves (with slight variations) for this CD. The first CD was the original Virgin UK release, which listed only the songs from the original LP on the sleeve, but in fact also contained the songs from the original bonus single, “Limelight” and “Chain of Command”, and does not contain “Life Begins at the Hop”. The second CD contains the same songs, but lists “Life Begins At The Hop” as well as the bonus songs, on the sleeve. It is also a Virgin UK release. The third CD also includes “Life Begins At The Hop” and has been issued in Japan, the USA, and in the Collectors Edition 3 Limited Edition Picture Discs box from Virgin UK. The third CD is the 2000 remastered edition, which comes with redone artwork. In Japan the remastered CD was issued in a limited edition miniature LP-style sleeve, to mimic the original LP release. In the UK and other parts of the world the CD was issued in a standard jewel box, but including much the same redone artwork. (The sound is much improved on the remastered CD.)


18. Who is ‘Brian’ in “Battery Brides (Andy Paints Brian)”?

It's Brian Eno, who briefly considered joining the band in 1980, and was also asked to produce XTC's second album Go 2. Brian Eno declared that XTC was the only band in a long while he had considered joining; this comment made it to print somehow, and magazines started reporting that XTC's next album (Go 2) would be produced by Eno. His response was (basically) you don't need me as a producer, you have plenty of ideas as it is. Which casts new light on his work with U2, doesn't it?

Andy Partridge, in an interview with the French magazine Les Inrockuptibles, had this to say:

“Brian Eno had been contacted to produce our second album, GO 2. We met him, he came to a few concerts, but he explained to us that we did not need anybody. I think he emphasized what we had in mind but that our modesty prevented us from saying. In the beginning, we had thought it would have been a great honour to work with someone like Brian Eno, very innovative, with good taste, who ploughs his furrow, as farmers say. . .”


19. Who are the children in “Dear God” and on Psonic Psunspot?

According to The Little Express, the child who mimes the first and last sections of the promotional video for “Dear God” is named Todd, and is definitely not Lee Moulding, Colin Moulding's son. However, Lee Moulding did perform as part of a lip-sync session for the Casby Awards in 1987.

Stewart Evans writes:

The spoken bits on Psonic Psunspot are by Lily Fraser, a girl whose family lived above the studio. Andy wrote a bunch of Lewis Carroll-ish nonsense and had her read it.

Andy Partridge says:

There's a bit of whispering after “The Affiliated” — that's the two little girls Lily and Lila Fraser in the control room, and they think we're not listening to them, like the Mothers of Invention thing, but we left the mike running, I don't know what they're saying to each other but you can hear them whispering and it's only in one channels of the speaker.

According to the official Lily Fraser web site (http://www.lilyfraser.com/), “Lily Fraser was born and raised at the Sawmills studio, Cornwall.” Ms. Fraser is now a recording artist based in London.

Derek Miner adds:

Well, I can't quote Andy, but I can quote Chalkhills and Children, page 151, from a section on why “Dear God” was dropped from the LP:

“...Lascelles was put off by its controversial lyrics and didn't like the sound of ‘the whiny American kid singing the first verse’ (a ten-year-old girl called Jasmine Veillette, who'd been drafted in by Rundgren).”

If you look at the liner notes of Skylarking, you'll notice that Ms. Veillette is the last name under the “Thanks” section...


20. Who is that other guy in the photographs from Psonic Psunspot?

The fourth Duke of Stratosphear is E.I.E.I. Owen, A.K.A. Ian Gregory, Dave Gregory's brother, drummer on 25 O'Clock and Psonic Psunspot. E.I.E.I. Owen also appears in the videos for “Mole From The Ministry” and XTC's “King for a Day”.


21. Did XTC do any other covers beside the Hendrix one on White Music?

XTC cover Bob Dylan's “All Along the Watchtower” on their White Music album. They also recorded a cover of the theme song from the UK TV show Fireball XL-5 during those sessions, but it was not officially released until 2002 on Coat of Many Cupboards (and even then, only in an edited/remixed form).

XTC also cover Captain Beefheart's “Ella Guru” on the Fast & Bulbous: A Tribute to Captain Beefheart compilation album, originally released in the UK in June 1988. “Ella Guru” was later released on some versions of the Mayor of Simpleton single.

Colin's Hermits cover The Beatles' “I Am The Walrus” on the Without The Beatles compilation tribute album, released by Joachim Reinbold's Jarmusic Records (Germany, 1996). The ‘band’ consists of Colin Midnight (vocals, tambourine), David Dreams (vocals, keyboards), Jet Pastorius (vocals, bass), Rex Rapier (vocals, guitar, radio operator), Bongo (drums), and The Proteus Orchestra — all Dave Gregory. Colin's Hermits cover The Beatles' “Strawberry Fields” on the 1967: Through the Looking Glass compilation album, originally released in 1990. The ‘band’ on this recording consists of Dave Gregory on all instruments with Andy Partridge on vocals. David Dreams covers “Third Stone from the Sun” on the “If 6 Was 9”: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix compilation album, originally released in April 1990. David Dreams is Dave Gregory on all instruments.

Dave Gregory has also recorded cover versions of many of his favorite songs (for himself), including:

Cream: Those Were The Days; The Shadows: 36-24-36; The Shadows: Scarlet O'Hara; The Dakotas: The Cruel Sea; Manfred Mann's Earth Band: Pretty Flamingo; Cream: I Feel Free; The Small Faces: Tin Soldier; Jimi Hendrix: Wait Until Tomorrow; Spirit: Fresh Garbage; Richard Harris: Macarthur Park; The Nice: Diamond Hard Blue Apples of the Moon; Arsnova: And How Am I To Know?; Mason Williams: Classical Gas; Jimi Hendrix: All Along the Watchtower; Fleetwood Mac: Jigsaw Puzzle Blues; The Nice: Happy Freuds; Dave Edmunds/Love Sculpture: Sabre Dance; The Beach Boys: Our Prayer; The Beatles: Because; Free: Little Bit of Love; The Edgar Winter Group: Frankenstein; George Harrison: Love Comes to Everyone; The Beatles: I Am The Walrus; The Who: Pictures of Lily; Cream: SWLABR; Todd Rundgren: Blue Orpheus; The Nazz: Forget All About It; Jimi Hendrix: Gyspy Eyes; The Who: Our Love Was; The Kinks: I'm Not Like Everybody Else; Tomorrow: My White Bicycle; The Syndicate of Sound: Little Girl; Denny Laine: Say You Don't Mind; Jethro Tull: Love Story; The Byrds: I See You.

XTC were known to play some covers in concert, including The Beatles' “Rain”.

Tapes exist of XTC/Helium Kids doing a cover of The Kinks' “Tired of Waiting For You”.


22. What released songs have yet to be compiled on albums?

The following released songs are not available on any album or XTC compilation album:

“Heaven Is Paved With Broken Glass”
The original version is on the Ball and Chain 7" and 12" singles. A remixed version can be found on Beeswax and Rag & Bone Buffet.
“Goodnight, Sucker”
From the 3D-EP.
“Are You Receiving Me?”; “This is Pop?”
Live versions from the Australian and Japanese Making Plans For Nigel singles; these tracks were released on the Japanese-only limited edition compilation CD The Greatest.
“Set Myself on Fire”
Live version from the Towers of London single.
“Battery Brides”
Live version from the Towers of London doublepack single.
“Living Through Another Cuba”; “Generals and Majors”
Live versions from the Sgt. Rock (is Going to Help Me) single; these tracks were released on the Japanese-only limited edition compilation CD The Greatest.
“Beatown”; “Roads Girdle the Globe”
Live versions from the Canadian Love At First Sight single.
“Burning With Optimism's Flames”; “English Roundabout”; “Cut It Out”
Live versions from the Love On A Farmboy's Wages 12" single.
“Ella Guru”
From the Fast & Bulbous compilation, also available on some Mayor of Simpleton singles.
“Living in a Haunted Heart”; “The Good Things”
Demo versions from the Mayor of Simpleton single.
“Happy Families”
Remixed version from the She's Having a Baby soundtrack album, but this soundtrack album is widely available.
“My Paint Heroes”; “Skeletons”
Demo versions from the King for a Day single.
“King for a Day” remixes
Remix, “Czar Mix”, “Versailles Mix”, “I Dub Thee Sir Mix” (four mixes in all), from various King for a Day singles.
“I'm Bugged”; “Science Friction”
Live versions from the Hope and Anchor Front Row Festival compilation album.
“Respectable Street”
Live version from the URGH! A Music War soundtrack album, but this soundtrack album is widely available.
The “Homo Safari” series: “Homo Safari”; “Bushman President”; “Egyptian Solution”; “Mantis on Parole”; “Frost Circus”; “Procession Towards Learning Land”
Not released on any album, but the entire series was included on the Dear God CD EP. “Frost Circus (No. 5 in the Homo Safari series)” and “Procession Towards Learning Land (No. 6 in the Homo Safari series)” are included on Mummer CD.
David Dreams: “Third Stone from the Sun”
Dave Gregory's version from the “If 6 Was 9”: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix compilation album, released both in the UK and USA.
“Merry Christmas Song”; “Psychedelic Christmas”
Andy Partridge sings these jingles on the Holiday Greetings From Geffen Records promotional CD EP.
“Medley: Senses Working Overtime/Grass/Love on a Farmboy's Wages”
Acoustic radio tour version from the ONXRT: Live from the Archives Vol. 1 compilation album, otherwise only available on bootleg albums and tapes.
“Blue Beret”
Acoustic radio tour version from The Adventure Club Sessions compilation album, otherwise only available on bootleg tapes.
“Cherry In Your Tree”
From the Carmen Sandiego Out Of This World compilation album, but this album was widely available.
“The Good Things”
From the A Testimonial Dinner: The Songs of XTC tribute album, but this album is widely available.
Colin's Hermits: “I Am The Walrus”
Dave Gregory's version from the Without the Beatles compilation album, released only in Germany.
“Easter Theatre”; “How Easter Theatre Came To Be”
Demo and interview from the Easter Theatre single.
“I'd Like That”; “How I'd Like That Came To Be”
Demo and interview from the I'd Like That single.
“I'm The Man Who Murdered Love”; “Didn't Hurt a Bit”
Demo versions from the I'm The Man Who Murdered Love singles.
“Spiral”; “Say It”
Available widely as downloads, but otherwise only available on the Apple Bite promotional CD and the limited edition Apple Vinyls box set.
“Where Did The Ordinary People Go?”
Only available as a download single from iTunes U.S.A. Also released on the limited edition Apple Vinyls box set.

And of course the songs on the Jules Verne's Sketchbook and The Bull with the Golden Guts fan-club only cassettes may not be considered widely available, although many of the songs have been released as part of the Fuzzy Warbles series (though sometimes in remixed and/or partially rerecorded versions) and on the recent Blu-Ray reissue of Nonsuch.


23. To what does the title of Mummer refer?

Here's an excerpt from an interview published in the June 1984 issue of Musician magazine:

  "In comes I," explains Andy Partridge, principal songwriter / singer and outspoken wit of XTC, is a line frequently used in the mummer plays that take place around Christmas time in rural England. The ancient tradition has the players -- the townsfolk -- dress in suits of rags and tatters [and newspapers] and follow a basic script having to do with cycles of death and rebirth. Just an ordinary folks' entertainment in the days before telly, which is why traditions like mummers are now rapidly dying out.

  Disguise is important to the mummers, says Partridge, and recognition would "spoil the magic. If somebody said, ‘Ere!’" (Partridge's Wiltshire accent, full of "errs" and an unpronounceable way of saying "ou," broadens, flattens and widens to become a perfect Monty Pythonesque yokel.) "‘You’re Fred the Baker!' he's have to go home in tears 'cause he'd been recognized. It's an ordinary people's show business. They don't go on stages to do it; they do it in the street or they knock on your door and come in your house and do it."

  Disguise is also important to Mummer, the album. This is a band in a business devoted to pushing yourself in front of other people and demanding attention, but XTC has no enthusiasm whatever for the task. They try to keep their sense of normalcy and reality by planting themselves in their surroundings to keep the sentiments true, but disguising the facts with metaphors to keep people from getting too close. "None of us are really into hey-notice-me," says Partridge. "We'd all like to be rich and obscure."


24. How does one pronounce the name “XTC”? What is the origin of the band name “XTC”? Is it related to the drug “Ecstasy” (XTC, E, MDMA)?

Curtiss Hammock writes:

Like the three letters that make up the name. Eks--tee--see. It's supposed to sound like the word ecstasy, I think, but in the end, it will always just be three letters from the alphabet.

Note that the name “XTC” pre-dates the term “ecstasy”, a street name for the drug MDMA. Although the drug was invented circa 1910, the name “ecstasy” started to be used in the mid-'80's. The name of the band was coined circa 1976.

Robert Stacy sent in this excerpt of a phone interview conducted with Andy Partridge by Brett Milano, as published in the November 7, 1984 issue of the Fairfield County Advocate:

Advocate: How did you choose the name XTC?

Partridge: We started calling ourselves that around 1975. We've been in existence -- myself, Colin and Terry plus revolving fourth members -- from 1973 onwards. The original form we took was kind of punky, because we were crazy on the New York Dolls. We were called the Helium Kids, and we used to do our darndest to look like the Dolls, and act like the Stooges. We chose XTC because we thought it would be a marvelously easy thing to see in print. Which it is -- people always do put it in capitals -- they're forced to give us respect! It was kind of like the music, short and sharp and hopefully with no unnecessary crap in it.

A: Aside from being a pun.

P: And think about all the other puns there've been! Think of how the Beatles must have felt, being called that! That's a terrible pun! We've since discovered all these other things that have been called XTC. We've found it's a contraceptive in the States, we've found them in garages -- we'd go into the gents, and there'd be a tin on the wall saying, 'XTC.' I brought a pack home as a souvenir -- don't think I'll ever use them though . . . they're probably too old by now.


25. What are the sources of the tracks on Explode Together?

The following, taken from “X-plaining XTC” (part 1) and “X-plaining XTC Part 2”, based on an interview by Steve Kolanjian and David Dasch, published in Aware, A Rock Music Research Journal, No. 8, Winter 1981-82, and No. 9, 1983, respectively, is a list of the tracks from GO+ and Take Away / The Lure of Salvage and their origins; all original tracks are from Drums and Wires except where noted:

GO+: These tracks are dub version of songs on Go 2, respectively "Meccanik Dancing (Oh We Go!)", "Jumping in Gomorrah", "Battery Brides (Andy Paints Brian)", "I Am the Audience", and "The Rhythm". In dub technique, the original tape is reprocessed through the mixing board, with some elements altered, some removed, and some new ones added. "We Kill the Beast" features the sound (inadvertently recorded) of a tape of another piece rewinding. GO+ was initially issued with Go 2 in Britain (and perhaps elsewhere), the LP and EP wrapped in a poster and all three items in a plastic bag. Later, there were sold individually by record dealers in the US.

Signal Ad (Commerciality) - "Refrigeration Blues" (a White Music outtake)

The Day They Pulled the North Pole Down - "Heatwave" (B-side of "This is Pop?") slowed down

The Forgotten Language of Light - the percussion track from "Millions", the Japanese couldn't figure out what Andy's scat singing was all about, so assumed it was an ancient Indian language (explained in Japanese on the lyric sheet that was included in their edition)

Steam Fist Futurist - "Real by Reel", used as a prelude to this track in some live shows in 1980

Shore Leave Ornithology (Another 1950) - "Pulsing Pulsing" (UK B-side of "Making Plans for Nigel")

Cairo - "Homo Safari" (B-side of "Life Begins at the Hop") sped up, with Andy's wife Marianne handclapping

The Rotary - "Helicopter"

Madhattan - "That is the Way"

I Sit in the Snow - bridge from "Roads Girdle the Globe"

Work Away Tokyo Day - "Day In Day Out" sped up, plus Barry Andrews' saxophone track from all nine takes of "Red" (from Go 2) played simultaneously

New Broom - "Making Plans for Nigel" slowed down

The following has been excerpted from “Andy Partridge Comments Take Away”, published in Limelight Issue 2, Autumn 1982.

Commerciality (Signal Ad.) was based on an unfinished and unreleased track from White Music called Refrigeration Blues. The lyrics are a poem called Signal Ad. (Saleable futurity).

The first part of Work Away Tokyo Day is original and that's joined to all of the sax parts of Red played at once and then Day In Day Out sped up very fast and with a new bass line.

Mr. Ditko is an American cartoonist who produced some extremely moral comic books called ‘Mr. A.’ According to Steve Ditko there is only right and wrong, no grey areas. Mr. A. was the uncorruptable central figure of these books.

My favourite track from the album is possibly Rotary which is improvised singing / yelling over stripped-down Helicopter.


26. Have any books been written about XTC?

Six books have been written about XTC as far as we know. These are as follows:

    XTC: Art sonique et vieilles querelles
    by Philippe Bihan
    published by Alternatives & Parallèles France, March 23 1999
    (in French)

    XTC: Song Stories - The Exclusive Authorized Story behind the Music
    by XTC and Neville Farmer
    published by Hyperion USA and Helter Skelter UK, October 1998
    ISBN 1-900924-03-X

    XTC, Chalkhills and Children, The Definitive Biography
    by Chris Twomey
    published by Omnibus Press UK, March 1996
    ISBN 0.7119.2758.8

    XTC
    by Vittorio Azzoni
    published by Gammalibri, Italy, 1986
    (in Italian)

    XTC, Testi con traduzione a fronte
    by Paolo Bertrando
    ISBN 88-85859-87-9
    Published by Arcana Editrice, Milano, Italy, 1982
    Distributed by Materiali Sonori Exports, Valdarno, San Giovanni, Italy
    (in Italian)

    XTC Chronology 1966-1999
    Edited by Shigemasa Fujimoto
    with contributions from Dave Gregory
    Published by EphemeraFile, York, Ontario, Canada, August 2011

27. What is “Oxo”? Who are the “never never navvies”? What do all these English phrases mean?

These songs and albums all have phrases which may not mean much to anybody living outside the UK. We offer a paltry few explanations:

“Omnibus”
The word “clippie” is an old slang word for bus conductor (or conductress in this case). There used to be an old early-seventies UK TV comedy show called On the buses (starring the wonderful Reg Varney) where all the girls were referred to as clippies.
“Aunt Sally”
A pub game played, in Oxfordshire and bits of Wiltshire and Berkshire, by throwing a stick at a white “head” or “dolly”.
“Mills and Boon”
Mills and Boon publish English romance novels (“trashies”).
“Milk Tray”
Milk Tray is a box of chocolates. UK TV commercials feature death defying ways a guy can bring the candy to his love, including dropping down from the sky in a parachute (a spoof of James Bond kind of thing).
“Test matches we might win”
England apparently never wins their test matches (cricket).
“Rael Brook shirts”
Rael Brook are a well-known brand of conservative dress shirt.
“Punch and Judy”
Punch and Judy live in a “brand new council plot”. Housing is provided in Britain by local government for people who could not otherwise afford to live anywhere else. The occupiers pay rent, and the council is responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the property. After the war, council housing was built on a large scale, and an area of such housing is known as a council estate.
When Andy says he was brought up on the council estate where his parents still live, he is (a) giving himself a bit of working-class credibility (and class is still very important in Britain), and (b) implying that his parents are ordinary, low-income people whose modest dream would be to live in a bungalow by the sea.
English Settlement
The horse on the cover is the Uffington White Horse, in the Vale of the White Horse, not far from Swindon (see (9) above).
“Red Brick Dream”
“Castles and Kings” and the “North Star” were classes of steam locomotive (built in Swindon; see below).
“Train Running Low on Soul Coal”
A “Sprinter” is also a train engine, but a modern one this time. They'd have been brand new when the album came out. They're short (usually two coach) diesel units and are, incidentally, incredibly bad. Some of them are not much more than rail-mounted busses.
The Big Express
Swindon was the main junction of the Great Western Railway, hence the cover of The Big Express (with the insert of the lads in their GWR uniforms).
Phil Hetherington adds:
The GWR was Swindon, basically. Swindon Works was where the GWR built pretty near all of its locomotives for many years (and probably the coaches and goods wagons, too), as well as doing all of the major overhauls and so on. For several decades, the Works was Swindon's main employer, so its importance cannot be emphasised strongly enough. (See also "place of former employment" on Colin's map of Swindon in Go 2.) This importance continued long after the formation of British Railways in 1948, as the GWR had always been a fiercely independent company and this continued long after nationalisation. Swindon Works continued to build locomotives, in fact the last steam locomotive to be built by BR was built there in 1960. I'm not sure exactly when the Works closed, I think it was during the '80s but I may be wrong. It may still have been open when the album was made, but the writing would have been on the wall even then.
Brian Carter of Swindon, Wiltshire, United Kingdom, rebuts:
. . . the eventual closure of the railway works (in 1986) had almost no effect on unemployment in the end. During the 1980s, Swindon was the fastest growing town in Europe, and is now the HQ of several national and international companies. (Did anyone notice that Fossil Fuel is marked “EMI Swindon”?) I know Andy always says he hates Swindon, but he does still live here (as do Colin and Dave), and they must be applauded for recording the town's heritage (and there are lots more Swindon clues in there than most people realise).
“The Everyday Story of Smalltown”
“Oxo” is a brand of beef stock, sold in small boxes of cubes, each one individually wrapped in foil. “The sally army” is The Salvation Army.
“Happy Families”
The name of a British card game.
“Senses Working Overtime”
“England's Glory” is a brand of wooden matches. Their slogan was, at one time, “A striking beauty”.
“Dying”
A tea cozy is a fitted sometimes knitted covering for a teapot (not the kettle), to keep it warm.
“She's So Square”
Cath McGowan was the (at the time) ultra-hip host of a pop music program in the UK called Ready, Steady, Go! It was apparently trendier than Top of the Pops was during its run from 1963 to 1967. Lord Sutch, a.k.a. Screaming Lord Sutch, is a long-time singer and persistent candiate in bye-elections (mid-term one-off elections to parliament) for the Monster Raving Looney Party.
“Towers of London”
“Londinium” is the Latin name for London. “Never, never” is typically an expression for buying things on credit. “Navvies” refers to the diggers of the Navigation Canals, and many of the original navvies were immigrants from Ireland at the time of the great Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s. Later, these “navvies” became railway workers. “Navvies” has come to be a demeaning term for Irish laborers, especially those that work on road or rail. Andy is almost certainly referring to the railway navvies in “Towers of London” — the GWR of course running through Swindon to London.
“Wait Till Your Boat Goes Down”
The cover of the single is modelled after “Ship” brand box matches.
“Leisure”
Andy sings two lines from “Lazybones”, a Tin Pan Alley classic written by Hoagy Carmichael, but changes them to fit the song: “Lazybones, looking through The Sun / how d'you ever expect to get your day's work...”. The Sun is a tabloid newspaper in the UK, and not one in which one might be expected to find job adverts. (“What a perfect way to sum-up the song! Too bloody clever by half that Partridge bloke...” says Mick Casey.)
“Respectable Street”
A “caravan” is a small travel trailer or recreational vehicle, in this case one which never moves from the front yard (“garden”) of the neighbour's house.
“Chalkhills and Children”
“Ermine Street” is one of Britain's traditional “Royal Roads” dating from Roman times and probably earlier. The best known one is Watling Street, which runs from London (and is now the A5) to Shrewsbury. The others are Icknield Street and the Fosse Way. Ermine Street runs north from London towards Lincoln, and was a major Roman road. The most obvious straight stretch is now used by the A10 and A14, between Cheshunt (London) and Huntingdon. However, there is a Roman road called “Ermin Street” which touches the outskirts of Swindon and goes to the Roman town of Cirencester. This passes about a mile from Andy's childhood home. It has always annoyed me how they misspelt “Ermin” on the album sleeve! Another Roman road is the Ridgeway, which passes close to the Uffington Horse. Andy Partridge wrote a song entitled “Ridgeway Path”.
“1000 Umbrellas”
“Sunny Jim” was a cartoon character used to advertise a breakfast cereal, called “Force”, many years ago. (Something like “Over the roofs jumps Sunny Jim, FORCE is the food that nourishes him” — hence Andy Partridge's line “Sunny Jim couldn't jump it”.)
Nowadays Sunny Jim is used as a slightly patronizing term for a young man (e.g., “Don't get lippy with me Sunny Jim”), and is usually followed by a punch in the face.
“Rag and Bone”
The rags were used for paper and the bones for fertiliser - hence, a rag and bone shop is a place where discarded things are made useful, as in Yeats's metaphor for creativity, “the rag and bone shop of the heart.” By extension, a Rag and Bone Buffet is a place where discarded songs are made into a nifty record.
“Smokeless Zone”
A smokeless zone is a region of an inner city in England where the smog and pollution is so bad that by-laws have been introduced to ban open fires and large chimneys. So living in a smokeless zone is living in a polluted inner city. In this case, an area so polluted that respiratory problems have set in, so penicillin is needed. (However, Brian Carter claims there hasn't been smog in the UK for at least 50 years.)

Also see the annotated lyrics at Chalkhills for additional elucidation and anglophilicism.


28. Is there a XTC video compilation on DVD? Does anyone know how I can get my hands on any XTC merchandise? Where can I find XTC bootlegs?

Ape House Records offers some XTC merchandise through Burning Shed (at “http://www.burningshed.com/store/ape/”) including CDs, downloads, LPs, clothing, and other trinkets.

Virgin had also announced the release of a DVD compilation of promotional videos but as Virgin and XTC have not been able to work out contract details, the project remains in planning stages with no release date in sight.

Thus, at the moment it is well-nigh impossible to find any other XTC merchandise. Much XTC product is available on Internet auction sites such as eBay and other marketplace sites such as GEMM. You can sometimes find rare and exciting XTC merchandise advertised in magazines such as Record Collector and Goldmine.

Chalkhills does not distribute bootleg or other unofficial recordings nor does Chalkhills know of sources for these recordings. Individual members of the XTC Collector's Society and Chalkhills may have further information on bootleg or other unofficial recordings. Quality of such recordings can vary wildly. Caveat emptor.

Happy Hunting!


29. Johnny Nexdor & His Neighbors are really XTC, right?

Nancy McGrath writes:

Actually, "Johnny Nexdor & His Neighbors" is not XTC. It is Sean Altman in multiple roles, with a few friends thrown in for good measure. For those of you not familiar with him, Sean is one of the lead singers of the amazing rock/pop/R&B a capella group, Rockapella. Sean co-wrote "Change My World" with his friend and collaborator Billy Straus; the song is their tribute to XTC's style.

David Yazbek writes:

Johnny Nexdor is not XTC. But it's pretty obvious that Sean Altman was doing his best A.P. impersonation. It's the only cut off that album (Carmen Sandiego) that I wasn't around for, but I probably would have told him to tone down the XTC-ness a bit.


30. Are the “Curt” and “Roland” mentioned in the sleeve of The Big Express from Tears for Fears?

Quoth Jon Drukman, in Chalkhills Digest #69:

They do the train noises with their breath at the beginning of "Train Running Low On Soul Coal" and I think general synth support at various places. BTW, does anybody happen to think that that train impersonation is the best simulation of a railway train ever created? I do, and it sounds a damn sight better than if they had just dubbed a train effect onto the tape, too. (The guitar as whistle really blows me away.)

However, Mitch Friedman puts Jon to the lie:

Kurt and Roland of Tears for Fears did nothing but lend their synths to XTC since they lived in Bath at the time so they weren't responsible for making those breath sounds, that was Andy.

But here's the BIG bit of news: the raspy sound that you hear as part of the train impersonation is nothing other than a wire toilet brush being dragged quickly across the metal rim of a closely miked snare drum.


31. What is that word that Andy sings in the song “Great Fire”?

The word you hear is “smoke”. Not some four-letter word. Here are the correct lyrics to that section of “Great Fire”:

I've been in love before
But it's never been as hot as this
Smoke curling round the door
Memories of old loves crack and blister
Mister fireman bet you couldn't put me out if you tried


32. How rare is the Wrapped in Grey single?

In a recent interview with Record Collector magazine, Andy Partridge said that only 2,000 copies of the Wrapped in Grey single were pressed, and then Virgin withdrew the release. The single was originally to have been released on 7 September 1992. In his Wonderland XTC discography, Shigemasa Fujimoto claims that 500 copies of the CD-single were pressed, and that 450 of those copies were destroyed. Some number of copies of the 7-inch single were also pressed, and it is believed that most of those were destroyed by Virgin Records as well. Unfortunately, the exact number of 7-inch vinyl and CD singles pressed (and subsequently destroyed) will probably never be known. Suffice it to say that the Wrapped in Grey single, both in 7-inch vinyl and CD-single format, is very rare.


33. What is the “Homo Safari” series? Where can I find it?

Andy Partridge explains the “Homo Safari” series, in a telephone interview with Stewart Evans for a KFJC radio special, in the fall of 1987:

What happened was, we actually did the instrumental "Homo Safari" [the B-side to the Life Begins At The Hop UK single], and it came out, and everyone said 'what a strange little track, the instrumental on the other side', and we were quite chuffed that people actually noticed it. For some reason, there's a film in existence of us doing a playback to this on Irish television. I don't know if there are any Irish fans out there who happen to have a video recording of this, but it's probably one of the most bizarre instances -- all of us are set on a row of stools playing this inside-out instrumental, "Homo Safari", to one half of the stereo because the TV station botched up the taping thing and there's just one half of the stereo! So we're miming to one half of the stereo of a very strange B-side.

But what happened it, we put that out, and then we actually wrote other instrumentals. . . maybe they were intended to have lyrics on them later, maybe they were just sketches of ideas that were going to be worked into something different. So the "Homo Safari" series was put together as this cupboard to contain tracks that we didn't know what to do with. They were tracks that didn't seem to fit the feel of XTC, or they were tracks that only myself was on, or me and Colin, or just Colin and Dave or whatever. They were really like lost kids. So the Homo Safari series, the word series was added and then we just grabbed a number -- six -- you know, it felt like a good number -- and it was like this box to put these tracks into that -- we didn't want them go astray and remain homeless and never come out. Kind of like an artistic pebble-bin.

We actually made a mistake, and put out parts five and six, and someone wrote a letter in and said ‘what happened to part four, you've forgotten it?’ And we all sat 'round and slapped our foreheads and said ‘My goodness, we've forgotten part four!’ And it's true, we'd actually jumped and numbered them five and six and we'd forgotten four. Actually four is the weakest one, 'cause that was knocked up very quickly, and that's one of my least favorite things that we've ever done. There's very few things that I would disown of ours, but funny enough part four of the "Homo Safari" series must be one of the only things.

The “Homo Safari” series includes the songs “Homo Safari”, “Bushman President”, “Egyptian Solution (Thebes in a Box)”, “Mantis on Parole”, “Frost Circus”, and “Procession Towards Learning Land”, numbered from one to six, respectively.

Jon Rosenberger adds:

The Homo Safari Series can only be heard its entirety on the UK 5" CD Single for Dear God.

Different parts of the series appear as B-sides on various old XTC singles of course, as such they can be found on these UK singles.

1. Homo Safari - Life Begins at The Hop 7"
2. Bushman President - Making Plans For Nigel 7"
3. Egyptian Solution (Thebes in a Box) - Senses Working Overtime 12"
4. Mantis on Parole - Wake Up 7" and 12"
5. Frost Circus - Great Fire 12"
6. Procession Towards Learning Land - Great Fire 12"

and #'s 5 and 6 can be found as extra tracks on the CD Reissue of Mummer as well.


34. Was “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” written about JFK?

Andy Partridge has said repeatedly that the inspiration for Peter Pumpkinhead came from a Jack-O-Lantern impaled upon his garden fence.

Here's an excerpt from a 1992 interview with Dave Kendall, MTV veejay:

DK: . . . and Andy, did you originally decide "OK, I'm gonna write a song about a mythical Jesus-JFK-type figure", or were you staring at this Jack-O-Lantern. . . ?

AP: Jesus Jones figure. You can tell what HE does for a living!

DK: Freudian slip!

AP: Your Freudian slip's showing! No, I didn't. I felt sorry for this Jack-O-Lantern I carved for the kids, and I couldn't bear to put him in the bin, so I stuck him on a post in the garden so I could see him every day. He looked really, really great, you know. Nicer than most people I know. Then, the poor thing started decomposing, you know, getting all this grey ooze out of his mouth, and his eyes were getting all green and furry, and I thought, "I'll immortalise him." So I started to write a song about a perfect thing with a pumpkin head, and if you're perfect, you tell the truth, and if you tell the truth, you have power, and he got so much power the government had him bumped off. So, that's a lesson not to tell the truth.


35. What are all the messages scratched in the run-out grooves of XTC records?

Oddly enough, there are very few secret messages scratched in the wax, but some of them include:

English Settlement UK LP: Waddies 6X Rules  Hic!
Great Fire UK 7-inch: REGIMENTAL
Great Fire UK 12-inch: NO TIME FOR SARGEANT'S
Grass UK 7-inch: HAYSIDE / DEAR TODD
Grass UK 12-inch: CUT WITH A MOWER AT THE TOWNHOUSE / NO COMMENT
The Meeting Place UK 7-inch Side A: UP FROM THE DUMPS
The Big Express UK LP: BASTARD SON OF HARD BLUE RAYHEAD
Johnny Japes and His Jesticles: Bags of Fun With Buster: COMPLETELY BOLLOCKULAR / FLUMP!
King for a Day UK 12-inch: ONE FOR HIS NOB / TWO FER DOIN' IT
The Dukes of Stratosphear: 25 O'Clock UK EP: TO BE TAKEN TWICE DALI / I CAN SEE FOUR MOLES
The Dukes of Stratosphear: Psonic Psunspot UK LP: LOOSELY FROM THE STIFF BEACH... / WITH PINK WARMTH

The flip side of the Grass 12-inch single included both “Extrovert” and “Dear God”. “Hard Blue Rayhead” was a working title for The Big Express. Both “Pink Warmth” and “Stiff Beach” were pre-XTC bands; Dave Gregory formed “Pink Warmth” circa 1967, Andy Partridge formed “Stiff Beach” circa 1970. “Great Fire” was produced by Bob Sargeant. “Waddies 6X” is a strong English beer.

One oddity: the limited edition The Meeting Place 7-inch single in clear vinyl has etched labels, featuring the entirety of the content of the regular paper label from the black vinyl 7-inch single.


36. Has anyone heard They Might Be Giants' song “XTC vs. Adam Ant”?

On They Might Be Giants' 1996 album Factory Showroom they perform a song called “XTC vs. Adam Ant”. It would appear that They Might Be Giants are XTC fans, as they also perform the track “25 O'Clock” on the XTC tribute album A Testimonial Dinner: The Songs of XTC.

Gineen says of “XTC vs. Adam Ant”:

Great song...........and the violin bits lend to XTC melodies.....

Who wins? Listen for yourself.

Jeff Eby writes:

On June 24, 2002, Washingtonpost.com hosted a moderated chat with the esteemed John, in which fans sent in questions and he chose which to answer. I got in the very last question:

"Milwaukee, Wis.: In the same vein as Coke or Pepsi [an earlier question], XTC or Adam Ant?

"John Flansburgh: The point of the song is they are both good for different reasons- who is rock more? Buddy Holly or Little Richard? We Need them both!"


37. What is Dave Gregory up to these days?

Guitargonauts, the Dave Gregory web site at “http://www.guitargonauts.info/”, is the place to find the latest news. The site is produced by Debie Edmonds, Daniel Prendiville and Jefferson Ogata, and includes a discography, photos, guitars, music and more! Visit today.


38. Did you notice that the title of the latest XTC album comes from the lyrics of the previous album?

Originally this was a coincidence. The words “Orange and lemon / Raincoats roll and tumble” feature in the Andy Partridge song “Ballet for a Rainy Day” on Skylarking. The album after Skylarking is called Oranges & Lemons. The words “some nonesuch net holds me aloft” feature in the Andy Partridge song “Chalkhills and Children” on Oranges & Lemons. The album after Oranges & Lemons is called Nonsuch. Again, these were mere coincidences.

Oranges & Lemons was named for the bright colours of the music, a psychedelic and brash collection of songs. Nonsuch was named for the castle by that name built by Henry VIII, a spectacular edifice which was supposed to be a lasting monument, but which has since been destroyed.

However, fans noticed these coincidences and pointed them out to Andy Partridge, so during the preparations for the writing of XTC: Song Stories he perused the lyrics of Nonsuch and decided that the phrase “apple venus” had a nice ring to it. And thus we have Apple Venus Volume 1.

That has all stopped with the release of Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2).


39. Is there sheet music for XTC songs available?

The short answer is no. There is little if any commercially available sheet music for XTC songs.

The longer answer is that a small number of XTC songs have been published in sheet music form. In 1981 XTC released Eleven Different Animals - Words and Music to the Singles in the UK, a book with sheet music and guitar charts for eleven XTC songs, but that book has been out of print and unavailable since. In 1982 sheet music for “Senses Working Overtime” was printed in the UK. The Big Christmas Guitar Chord Songbook, published in the U.K. by Wise Publications (3 September 2003) includes music for “Thanks For Christmas”.

Larry Stevens adds:

I have in my possession published sheet music for Mayor of Simpleton. I found it in the sheet music section of a local music shop back when Oranges and Lemons was released. It's quite a bright and beautiful product.

John Dioso notes:

The songbook for the movie "Times Square" includes the sheet music for XTC's song "Take This Town, " as well as Gary Numan's "Down in the Park" and the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated."

In addition, a few transcriptions of XTC songs were included in various issues of The Little Express. For more charts and tablature also see The XTC Vade-Mecum, devoted to sheet music for XTC, by Ian Dahlberg. Numerous other Chalkhills readers have contributed chord charts, transcriptions and tablature for XTC songs, see XTC Reel by Real.


40. What happened to the proposed “bubblegum” album?

Karen O'Brien did an interview with Andy Partridge for The Independent on Sunday, published on September 6, 1998:

[In 1993] Partridge had presented a new project, songs he had written as homage to the bubblegum-pop bands of the late Sixties to early Seventies. He felt the idea was blissfully simple: "I wanted Virgin to say that they'd bought this entire back-catalogue from this imaginary label called Zither. They said, 'So you go on Top of the Pops and play one of these songs?' I said, 'No, this is a fake historical document!' So they said, 'Okay, we get a young band and dress them up in early Seventies clothes?' I said 'No, no!' They just didn't get it." Cue much shaking of pony-tailed heads.

The Zither project was to have been “nicely banal, pitched around 1970, a dozen tracks about sex. . .” Three of the songs have been released in one form or another. “Cherry In Your Tree” (originally intended to be performed by “The Captain Cooks”) was released on the children's album Carmen Sandiego Out Of This World in April 1994. “Candy Mine” was released on a single Andy Partridge did for John Flansburgh's Hello CD of the Month Club in November 1994. “Standing In For Joe”, released on Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2), was originally intended for the bubblegum album. And one of the fictional band names intended for the project, Knights In Shining Karma, was used as the title of a song released on Apple Venus Volume 1.

Some of the other fictional bands to have been recorded for the project include the following:

    The Lemon Dukes
    Knights in Shining Karma
    The Captain Cooks
    Sopwith Caramel
    The Ten Commandos
    The Twelve Flavours of Hercules
    Solid Gondolas
    The Barbers of Penzance
    Anonymous Bosch
    The Brighton Peers
    The Tweedledeens
    The Herbert Fountains
    Irving Merlin
    The Lollipopes
    The Four Posters
    The Periwig Pack
    Cake's Progress
    Jellyache
    Funnel Of Love
    The Rubber Ducks
    Ancient Grease
    The Piccadilly Circus Tent Rip Repair Company
    Kitchener's Sink
    Isambard Kingdom Necessary On A Bicycle?

Some of the songs to have been included on the project include the following:

    Lolly Let's Suck It And See
    My Red Aeroplane
    Cherry in Your Tree
    Candy Mine
    Jelly Baby
    Standing In For Joe
    I'm The Kaiser
    Visit to the Doctor
    Cave Girl
    All Aboard for Bubble Land

41. Are The Spys actually XTC in disguise? Who are The Three Wize Men on Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father?

Steve writes:

The Spys The Young Ones single (Virgin, 1979) is not the work of XTC in disguise.

The record was made by another Virgin act, The Young Ones, who released their own very good 7", Rock 'n' Roll Radio. This has been confirmed by a member of The Young Ones.

In February 1988, Childline Records UK released Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father, a tribute to The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. One of the artists on the LP was The Three Wize Men. The Three Wize Men were an English hip-hop/rap act active in the '80s. Not the same as The Three Wise Men, who were in fact XTC in disguise for the 1983 Thanks For Christmas single. According to Peter Low at BritishHipHop.co.uk:

The next Long Player that I remember was G.B. Boyz by the Three Wize Men on Rhythm King in 1988. The Three Wize Men - Jemski, AJ and Wild Danny D alongside DJ Fil Chill - were better known for their earlier 12" Refresh Yourself.


42. XTC don't play live anymore, so are there any XTC tribute bands out there?

Nigels With Attitude are an XTC tribute band based in the American South. The band features Tim Smith and Peter Stroud (from Sheryl Crow's touring band), Nick Niespodzani, Kevin Spencer, Geoff Melkonian, Mark Cobb and Mark Bencuya.

Zak Schaffer has a Los Angeles-based XTC tribute band called Terry And The Lovemen.

“The Dukes Of Simpleton are a tribute band dedicated to bringing you the music of XTC, performed live.” So says their web site. They are based in Austin, Texas. Visit “www.dukesofsimpleton.com” for more information.

Thee Bowlermen is a Dukes of Stratosphear and Rutles tribute band based in Baltimore, Maryland. They are the alter-egos of The Jennifers. Visit “www.thejennifers.com” for more information.

X-sTatiC was the premier XTC tribute band in England. Then there was the Fuzzy Warblers. Then there was Fossil Fools. Unfortunately, they are now defunct.

Drummed & Wired was an XTC tribute band in Los Angeles, previously called Cheshire Cousin. They are apparently defunct.

There was a band called The Vanishing Girls in the city of Groningen, Netherlands, that only played XTC songs. It started as a one-gig project, but they'd done three or four gigs and were planning to continue. One assumes that they no longer exist.


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