Reviews of Homespun

(The Apple Venus Volume One Home Demos)

More info...


As a postscript to the review of Apple Venus Vol. 1, I highly recommend XTC Homespun (TVT Records 3320-2), the (AV Vol. 1) demos recorded at home by Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding. The demos have a very intimate feel to them, they're a wonderous glimpse into the songwriting process of one of my favorite contemporary composers.
-- Amy DeFalco, ElectricCat, February 2000

What a way to celebrate the best album of 1999. XTC fans have scrambled for years to collect b-sides, and accumulate the booty of extra tracks & home demos that lay within. Well, dear old Andy & Colin have treated us to a release (albeit a limited one) that lets us hear these 11 masterpieces from their beginning. Some tracks vary greatly from their recorded counterparts, while other simply show how perfect these guys can be from the start. A highly detailed book with the stories behind the songs, handwritten lyrics and drawings makes for a swell Christmas gift to their fans. This record allows you to experience 'Apple Venus Volume 1' all over again. Exquisite. Ethereal. Essential.
-- theLEEpage, 2000

What happens when a duo of talented artists is prevented by their record company from letting out their creativity? Rather than stagnating, Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding used the time to mull over the role of music and the result is staggering. Homespun: The Apple Venus Volume One Home Demos sketches out what would become one of the finest comeback discs of the century. From these initial ideas presented on this recording fans can see how the final songs came to be; the liner notes help guide you through the process.
--, 1999

Friday, January 21, 2000 (Volume 22, Number 23)

XTC: Homespun

TVT Records
Josh van Wijk
special to Imprint

XTC have been around, in one form or another, for quite a few years. They have had a number of hits, including "Making Plans for Nigel" and "Dear God." Artists like Primus, Sarah McLachlan and The Crash Test Dummies have all covered XTC songs, which says something about the wide range of influence the band has. A nasty break-up a few years back left just two members, Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding, to continue to produce very intelligent, very British pop.

Last winter, after a long hiatus, XTC released Apple Venus Vol. 1 to much critical acclaim. This is not a review of that album, as it has been reviewed already by every major music publication around. Instead, this is a review of Homespun, which is a collection of home demos of all the songs on Apple Venus Vol. 1.

Some of the demos are presented in their most embryonic state. There are two versions of "I'd Like That," the first being about 20 seconds long and consisting of "la la las" instead of words. The second version is very close to the final version, with the exception of a few awkward harmonies.

The first demo for "Harvest Festival" is just a rickety guitar version of the lush final version. As an extra bonus, you can hear the music that was originally on the tape used for the demo bleeding through, so it sounds like Andy Partridge jamming along with Handel.

Extensive liner notes are included with the CD. Each song gets its own little essay, explaining the motivations and process of creating each piece. These notes are surprisingly candid, with Andy Partridge sharing the details of his particularly ugly divorce and Colin Moulding talking about his tool shed and strawberry garden (hmm, I just noticed what a weird contrast that is).

What this album shows more than anything else is the clear vision shared by these two. Even in the roughest demos on the CD, it is obvious that these guys know exactly what they are doing. There are few fumbles or major screw-ups here, though of course who knows what got edited out. Homespun will probably have a limited audience. This is an album for collectors as well as the very curious. As interesting as all the demos are, the actual Apple Venus album is better. However, if you are a serious XTC fan, you may want to check Homespun out.

gennaio 2000
Pop music

Homespun (The Apple Venus volume 1 home demos)
Cooking Vinyl

Non tradisca il titolo: non é una sorta di bootleg ufficiale.
Niente a che vedere con una raccolta d'acerbe prove casalinghe dei pezzi poi pubblicati sull'album di studio. Nessun inedito.
Una prova di pregio e meritoria che ci permette solo (e giá questo non é poco) di leggere Partridge e Moulding al di fuori degli eccessi dell'evidente overproduzione e dai bizantinismi della prova prima sul mercato.
Da ascoltare e da assaporare a poco a poco.
Non deluderá.

Arturo Bortoluzzi

copyright © NonSoloLibri Tutti i diritti riservati

December 1999

Homespun: Apple Venus Vol1 Home Demos: Ltd

Reviewed: December 1999
Genre: Rock
MOJO price: £27.49

Make no mistake, Apple Venus was a triumphant return and the flotsam of Messrs Partridge and Moulding is always of interest, but in being so remarkably similar to the finished product, this particular collection - demos for the entire album - seems rather redundant. Andy admits that, unlike other albums, the sound world of Apple Venus was conceived at demo stage, so what we get here are sampler arrangements virtually identical to those eventually played by an orchestra. Only Partridge's divorce song Your Dictionary (marginally rawer) and Moulding's pair Frivolous Tonight and Fruit Nut (charmingly slapdash) make any fresh impact on the ears. Where are all the songs that didn't make it? And the detail in Partridge's knowing self-archiving (scribbled lyrics and sketched album covers all reproduced) along with the sense of mild exploitation of the faithful leaves an uncomfortable feeling. There was talk of releasing all of XTC's demos to claw back some of the legendarily lost dosh - fair enough, I'll be first in line for the Skylarking drafts - but I'm not sure about this.

Reviewed by Chris Ingham

© Copyright EMAP Digital Limited 2001.

Cartaz: Música Discos

Homespun (Apple Venus Volume One Home Demos)

Por esta altura do ano, já irá dando para começar a perceber quais são as publicações, rádios e «eleitorados» em geral com os ouvidos suficientemente abertos para incluir nas suas listas de discos de 99 o sobre-excelente Apple Venus Volume One, dos XTC. A democracia, o direito à diferença e a multiplicidade de gostos serão muito respeitáveis, mas também vale a pena dizer que há muito tempo que do perímetro pop britânico (digamos, desde o último álbum dos Prefab Sprout) não surgia uma tão imaculada e rica colecção de canções do mais clássico recorte. E não lhe ter prestado a devida atenção não anda muito longe da desatenção um bocadinho pecaminosa... Andy Partridge, no entanto (homem inteligente e astuto que é), decidiu matar dois coelhos de uma cajadada: à beira do final do ano, cortou, ao mesmo tempo, as vazas às tentações dos potenciais «bootleggers» e ofereceu uma segunda oportunidade ao disco e a todos aqueles a quem ele, à primeira, passou despercebido. Da maneira mais simples e prática: publicando as «demo tapes» domésticas de Apple Venus, acrescentadas dos seus esclarecedores e bem humorados comentários e de vários esboços dos textos e uma ou outra ilustração alusiva. Para uns (essencialmente, quem já possui o álbum) será apenas curiosidade de quem aprecia espreitar para os bastidores e ver as roldanas em movimento antes da subida do pano, mas para todos os outros é igualmente o pretexto para travar conhecimento com um conjunto de canções que, se gostarem, poderão, depois, saborear na sua versão definitiva e «mais bem acabada». Já agora, adiante-se que, apenas para quem não conhece Apple Venus, se poderá falar de «demos»: o que este CD contém seria a obra-prima da maioria das bandas que aspira a beijar o chão que os XTC pisam. Além de que sabe sempre bem verificar como Partridge não daria um mau crítico (pelo menos da sua música) e lê-lo a classificar «River of Orchids» como «one part Philip Glass, one part Gil Evans, two parts nursery rhyme with a slice of carol on the side» ou a espantar-se com o inexplicável milagre de ter sido através dele que surgiu «Easter Theatre»: «Where does this stuff come from? Surely it's not me thinking these songs up? I live in Swindon!»

(Cooking Vynil)


Copyright 1999 Sojornal. Todos os direitos reservados.

Cleveland Free Times
Published December 15 - 21, 1999

Homespun: The Apple Venus Volume One Home Demos

Although Homespun: The Apple Venus Volume One Home Demos is intended by XTC as a companion volume to their earlier release Apple Venus Volume One, it easily stands on its own. After a seven-year hiatus (and a fracas with former label Virgin), this "great lost pop band" released Apple Venus Volume One in February of this year. Naturally, XTC fans were delighted, critics were charmed, and by and large the world barely noticed. Serious enthusiasts of the band, often given to poring over the crafty lyrics and references that recur in XTC's work, have created a bond that warranted the release of Homespun: The Apple Venus Volume One Home Demos. Liner notes by remaining band members Colin Moulding and primary songwriter Andy Partridge lend insight into their songwriting processes: Inspirations, flukes and rough drafts are presented with a distinctive rural English charm.

It is to the band's credit that their signature melodic twists and turns ring clear in Homespun's pastoral landscape. Having set aside their new wave clang many years ago, XTC explores the folksy psychedelia best expressed by British oddballs in cozy cottages. These eccentrics have a definite adoration for McCartney's melodies ("I'd Like That") and stirring string arrangements (the Celtic "Greenman"). Moulding gives insight to being "out of my tree" in the jaunty "Fruit Nut" while providing sweet melancholy with "Frivolous Tonight." The album falters with Partridge's convoluted "River of Orchids" and the bitter "Your Dictionary," which was touted as the big single from Volume One. In the liner notes, Partridge expresses some embarrassment over the release of this song, a scathing look at his own divorce. At odds with the lilting tone of Homespun, "Your Dictionary" does seem out of place.

According to Partridge, the "rock" sequel to Apple Venus Volume One will be out in the indefinite near future. With any luck, a worthy demo companion to Volume Two is in the works. Grade: B+ - Ed Sotelo

Calgary Herald
December 2, 1999
Hit List: CD Reviews

Rating * *

One question begs to be asked here -- why? England's XTC broke a seven-year recording silence earlier this year by releasing Apple Venus Volume One, but its follow-up, originally slated for a fall 1999 release, has been inexplicably delayed until next year. Instead, the band has put out Homespun, a recording of original eight-track demo versions of the songs on Volume One -- a little like releasing the same album twice in one year. At its best, Homespun contains slappy happy tunes like I'd Like That. But the album, like Volume One, quickly becomes bogged down in pretentious and meandering tracks like Knights in Shining Karma and I Can't Own Her -- unlikely to win new converts to the official XTC fan club.

-- Shelley Boettcher

Copyright 1999 Southam Inc.
[Thanks to Wes Hanks]

House of Blues
November 29, 1999
CD Reviews

Homespun: The Apple Venus Volume One Home Demos

"Homespun: The Apple Venus Volume One Home Demos"

Rating: 3 hearts

TVT Records
Review By: Joshua Mills

"Something like this" is how Andy Partridge of XTC describes his home demo of "Harvest Festival" on the recently released Homespun. What makes this track so unique is that after about a minute into the mono recording, it quickly becomes a brand new recording with strings minus the pops and cracks on the mono version. They released Apple Venus, their first in a decade, earlier this year and now a second CD in the very same year. Only a few years out of their legally binding contract dispute with their previous label and now XTC is releasing demos?

Homespun is a recreation of Apple Venus, but in reverse. Done track for track, these eleven recordings arrive as a climax, before the orgasm, so to speak. While there are no 'new' songs, Homespun is a nice glimpse into the mind of a band that has had so little to say of late due to litigation. Fear not though, both Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding (the only remaining original members) have a lot to say. Rarely has there been a band with such off kilter, wide eyed and mysterious songwriters. The greatest insight into this happy weirdness is looking at the liner notes. Full of odd artwork and original lyrics, Homespun gives fans a glimpse into the craft of song writing. It's very English, it's very educated, it's very witty and very fun. What's most interesting is that while Homespun are only home demos, they still sound damn good. They just happen to be a little quieter and more mellow than their official incarnation on Apple Venus.

The lead track, "River of Orchids" and track six, "Greenman", sound like tracks that needed precious little to be cleaned up via mastering, re-recording, etc. Still, if you are not a huge XTC fan nor know too much about this band Homespun is the wrong place to find out about this. Start off with Apple Venus or a classic like Oranges and Lemons if you need a jumping off point. But if you are a fan of the band, this is like hearing the Pete Townshend demos on Scoop sung by a band that has not played live in probably 15 years. It's irresistible not to see what goes on behind the scenes.

Copyright © 1995-2000 House of Blues Digital, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Real Groove, New Zealand
November 1999

(Idea Records)

When is a new XTC album not a new XTC album? When it's Homespun, a collection of the initial demos for XTC's most recent album - the majestic Apple Venus Volume 1. Whether or not Homespun is a cynical attempt to swell the XTC coffers by giving us something we already have in a handsome new package (and after 7 years in the recording wilderness and near insolvency prior to the release of AV1, who could blame them?), music fans should still rejoice. For XTC's Andy Partridge is a true song-writing genius (in a world where the word "genius" is bandied about far too liberally) and eager listeners should jump at the chance to hear Partridge's rough sketches in all their glory. If AV1 is a mature, full-bodied, Raphaelite vision, then Homespun is the same creature in its formative, occasionally gawky, teenage years. And like a lot of teenagers, what it might lack in sophistication it makes up for in spontaneity and verve. The snap and crackle of the early 'I'd Like That' and 'Your Dictionary' actually shade the definitive studio versions, although there are other occasions ('I Can't Own Her', 'Harvest Festival') where the demos are significantly inferior to the sumptuous final versions that adorn AV1.

Overall, Homespun makes an interesting counterpoint, and a fascinating companion piece, to AV1. XTC may be as unsexy as a tweed cap, but by God, even their demos are better than 99% of the pap that passes as "popular music" in today's marketplace.


[Thanks to Martin Bell]

Shake It Up!
November 1999


Homespun- (TVT/Cooking Vinyl)

Well, this is one of those releases that is really meant for the die-hards. I've got to be careful here - I'm bound to offend...

First of all, there isn't a single track here that can be argued as superior to the final studio version. Okay, that may often be the case with these demo collections, but is Apple Venus Volume 1 so noteworthy that it warrants the release of this song-by-song demo version? As a fan of Apple Venus Volume 1, I find little reward in being able to say "I have a CD of all the Apple Venus demos". This won't find regular rotation on my CD player at all, as I'll always opt for the final intended version.

I can't really say that there's anything bad on Homespun - it's just better elsewhere. The early rumour was that Apple Venus Volume 2 was to see the light of day around this time, so this may be intended to serve as something to merely tide us over until it does.

And I thought their padding EPs with "the making of" tracks was presumptuous.

* * out of 5 (cuz really, what's the point?)

Claudio Sossi

The Silhouette
November 11th, 1999
Music Review



Man, was I gypped! (No offense to gypsies.) I thought I was going to get another album of def jams along the lines of "No Scrubbs" and "Unpretty", and instead I got a bunch of English sods going on about bullshit!

OK, joking. I don't want to date myself (although I do every night, when I get under the covers and it's very warm, and I'm very lonely - sorry) but I loved XTC when they were "Making Plans for Nigel", and I never stopped since. Their last album was a beauty; it was called Apple Venus Vol. One, and it was a brilliant disc, oh yes. Well, here it is again.

No, really. Here it is again. Just in case you wanted a disc of demo takes from that album that, for the most part, don't sound very different from the album versions, well, here ya go. Same track order and everything. No, really. Wha'?

I loved Apple Venus Vol. One, that's why I bought it and listened to it. Why on earth would I ever want to buy it again? On a few tracks (like the lovely and lilting "I'd Like That") the song starts off crummy and acoustic and beautiful, and you think you're getting something different, and then the production kicks in and it sounds as perfect as it did on the album, only maybe somebody's clapping instead of playing drums. No, really. Wha'?

Any day I get to hear "River of Orchids", which is truly one of the greatest pop songs ever recorded, is a great day. But why pay for it again, when I already did? Really, this disc if for XTC purists only. If you don't know Apple Venus Vol. One, this isn't where you want to start; go get the real disc. If you do know XTC, then you will be buying the same album all over again, if you buy this album, which, I hate to say it, you shouldn't. Why not? It's the same damn album.

No, really. Truly. Wha'? [TVT]

* Anne Radley
October 1999
Spins Record Review


Rating: 7

Homespun (TVT/Idea)

For a band considered defunct -- or at least dormant -- XTC has now gone to the opposite extreme, releasing the same album twice in a year. Homespun contains the same 11 songs in the same order as on the critically acclaimed Apple Venus Volume 1, but here they're home-studio demo versions, supplemented by extensive background notes by the singer/songwriter XTC duo Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding. Many sound remarkably similar to the final versions, but XTC's fanatical throng will find much to delight here, not the least of which will be the subtle quirks and oddities that give these demos their own life. The funnest stuff is in the notes, where we learn the seed for "Easter Theatre" was planted in 1986, "Knights in Shining Karma" was lifted from the Beatles' "Blackbird," and the muffled demo of "Harvest Festival" was recorded on a poorly erased tape of Handel. Only obsessive-compulsives like Partridge and Moulding could make demos that sound this good and not be satisfied.

-- Buzz Morison

© 1999, Inc. All rights reserved.

puls: cd

* * *
pop (Cooking Vinyl)

Samma skiva en gång till, fast den här gången med de hemmagjorda demoversionerna. På gränsen till dårskap och säkert kommersiellt självmord, men i XTC:s fall köper jag allt.
  Swindon-bandets senaste "Apple venus" är en av diamanterna bland alla popskivor som släppts 1999 och hör självklart hemma i varje sann musikälskares samling.
  "Homespun" är mest en överkurs för de inbitna fansen - och alldeles ljuvlig lyssning. Dessutom är det en ren fröjd att läsa Andy Partridges personliga kommentarer till de "Sgt Pepper"-färgade låtarna.
  Köp och upptäck en av engelsk pops bäst bevarade hemligheter.

Anders Hvidfeldt

Sydney Sun-Herald
17 October 1999

Certainly one for buffs, yet anyone with an interest in the creation of stellar pop might like a peep at Andy Partridge at work in his shed: Homespun is the demo versions of the songs on XTC's last album, Apple Venus Volume 1. While XTC wears its love for The Beatles, music hall and The Beach Boys like a badge of honour, the elegant, uneasy noise they make is like no other. Trainspotters will be gladdened by "I'd Like That (Say A Sunflower)", recorded by Partridge on a cheap cassette player minutes after writing it.

8/10. Cross reference: Phillip Glass, The Beatles, Squeeze.

[Thanks to Paul Culnane]

Audio Advisor
October 11, 1999
This Week's Music Reviews

Alternative Rock Release of the Week
XTC - Homespun: The Apple Venus Vol. 1 Demos (TVT)


When XTC stages a comeback, it doesn't happen by degrees. After an absence of nearly eight years, marked primarily by a staring contest with Virgin Records, Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding finally negotiated themselves out of their contract and planned an XTC assault of monumental proportions. First out of the box was Transistor Blast, the four-disc live retrospective late last year that was culled from BBC sessions and various stage recordings, including the band's magnificent Hammersmith Odeon show in 1980.

1999 was to be the year of the studio for XTC. January saw the release of Apple Venus Vol. 1, an album of orchestral pop that was gentle in sonics but brutal in subject matter, with much of the material written on the heels of Partridge's disintegrating marriage. The original plan was to have the second Apple Venus disc, this one a more musically aggressive and familiar off-kilter pop album, ready for a fall release. That proved to be optimistic, as the band is currently holed up in a London studio recording studio working on the project in question, which is now being slated for an early 2000 release.

To placate the faithful, Partridge and Moulding have assembled Homespun, a track by track recreation of Apple Venus in its demo form. XTC fans are notorious demo hounds, and this official version of the Apple Venus working tapes is going to be avidly sought out, especially for the exhaustive notation that Partridge and Moulding have included to explain the process that accompanied each song. As for the casual XTC watcher, there's little here to attract them - as Partridge himself points out, he and Moulding have gotten so good at capturing the sounds they're after in their home studio that there is little deviance from the Apple Venus finished product. Still, it is raw enough and innocent enough to be unique enough to release it as a stopgap measure until the next one comes along. And as any self-respecting XTC fixated fan will tell you, regardless of where the band winds up, the demos is where the magic happens.

Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, TN)
October 8, 1999, Friday
Weekend; Pg. 13
by Wayne Bledsoe


The effort to battle the bootleg is growing. For years, diehard music fans have shelled out dollars to obtain unreleased music, demos and non-approved live recordings by their famous artists.

Through the years this has resulted in forcing several albums on the market made up of music not originally recorded for release to the public. "The Basement Tapes" by Bob Dylan and The Band and The Beatles' "Anthology" series were both attempts to beat bootleggers.

XTC's "Homespun" is yet one more example of the trend. "Homespun" is an exact duplication of the group's wonderful "Apple Venus Volume One," but is comprised of demos of the completed "Apple Venus" tracks. The result is a nice coup for XTC fanatics. These demo versions are more casual, include some false starts and plenty of shaky notes. It's a nice way to see how lead singer-songwriter Andy Partridge finesses his work, and, bassist Colin Moulding's two songs actually have more charm in this rougher form. Overall, though, "Homespun" is only for XTC devotees who want another view of one of the year's best discs. Grade: C+

Copyright 1999 Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.
[Thanks to Wes Hanks]

Wed Sep 29 1999 11:51 BST

Reviews · XTC : Homespun

(Cooking Vinyl cook cd188)

A demo collection that sounds exactly like the finished article. Almost.

Not, in case you wondered, the new XTC album. Hungry admirers of Swindon's most erudite and Anglomaniacal pop institution will need to wait until March 2000 for another main course of fresh produce (the anticipated amp-fest that should be 'Apple Venus Volume 2'). Meanwhile, let's nibble on 'Homespun', a side-salad of demos from this years 'Apple Venus Volume 1' which, with it's eco-odes to Spring, rebirth and the old ritual calender, proved to be the band's most enduring album in aeons.

Be forewarned though. 'Homespun' demands a trainspotterish dedication to duty if you intend to ferret out the distinctions between the demos and the fully realised tracks on the parent album. If you are a pathological XTC supporter with an awful lot of spare time and a serious aversion to fresh air (and are willing to stick your head between two sets of synchronised hi-fis for hours) then this may be for you. The odd included smidgeon of mono home tape deck mumbling does not disguise this.

If anything, it's Partridge and Moulding's bountiful sleeve notes that prove more illuminating. When it comes to 'Greenman', Partridge's lush pastoral fantasia with happily parping fake crumhorn, he clearly feels miffed at the media's depiction of it's faux-Arabic musical qualities when it was Vaughan-Williams and pagan spiritualism he had in mind (though surely as a folklorist, Partridge is overlooking the long-lost misty connection between the Moors and Morris Dancing).

Elsewhere, the songs seem only a little undressed. 'Fruit Nut', Moulding's happy advocation of the joys of garden shed sanctuary, comes sans clarinets and maybe lacks the 'When I'm Sixty Four' in wellies vibe of the finished article. Furthermore, news that it was a Proteus sampler which provided the strings on the demos rather than the 'catgut and rosin' of the real thing seems merely academic. You could have fooled me. Isn't technology marvellous?

Ultimately then, for that essential countryside wallow at a secluded picnic spot, take 'Apple Venus Volume 1'. 'Homespun', whilst far from being a bag of woodshavings from the carpenter's workshop, seems a nice but pointlessly reproduction.

* * *

Kevin Maidment
Wed Sep 29 1999 11:51 BST

Copyright 1999 Kevin Maidment. All moral rights asserted. Reproduced by permission.
[Thanks to Kevin Maidment]


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