Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills #127

                  Chalkhills, Number 127

                 Friday, 1 February 1991
Today's Topics:
        Leckie/Posies and _Black Sea_ Liner Notes
                     Dream Producers
            Record Collector article (part IV)

Date: Thu, 31 Jan 91 10:29:08 CST
From: oconnor!siouxsie! (Joe Lynn)
Subject: Leckie/Posies and _Black Sea_ Liner Notes

In Chalkhills #126, Kevin Carhart said:

> If anyone is a fan of John Leckie, producer of Go 2 and the Dukes stuff,
> (anything else?)...

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine gave me a promo cassette
of The Posies' _Dear 23_, which was produced by John Leckie.  I've
been listening to it a lot, and it's even beginning to get some airplay
here in Chicago.  (The single from the album is "Golden Blunders.")

The Posies' sound is best described as acoustic/electric:  almost
60s-ish-- almost (dare I say it?)-- Dukes-ish.  Reviews of _Dear 23_
have compared the Posies to the Hollies, the Byrds, and yes-- even
XTC.  Some of the lyrics have been described as Andy Partridge-esque.

The band is from Seattle, but there is definitely a UK feel to this
record, and I'm sure a lot of that comes from John Leckie's production.
Dukes fans will probably like this album (DGC/Warner Bros. 24305).


I recently picked up the RSO/Virgin copy of the _Black Sea_ LP,
and on the liner notes, there's a request for people to write
the band at Virgin in the UK if they liked "this or any other
of our records."  (I'm assuming this liner was the same one issued
with the UK pressing of the album.)  There was also a "thank you
for buying this record" message on the liner.

Is this indicative of the band's insecurity, the label's
insecurity, or just a half-joke?

(This version of _Black Sea_ was pressed by Atlantic, who
had a distribution deal with Virgin at the time, but the
record was shipped and sold by RSO.  The catalog number
on the spine of the jacket reads "VA 13171" [a Virgin-Atlantic
number], and the matrix number in the run-out area of
the LP has an Atlantic number ["ST-A-80XXXX" {I've forgotten
the actual number}], but the label has the RSO catalog number
VR-1-1000.  This disc is referenced in the Chalkhills discography.)

Joe Lynn


From: Eric Wilson Muhlheim <>
Date: Thu, 31 Jan 91 15:48:20 EST
Subject: Drummers

If we're talking about restoring XTC's rough edges (a good idea if
I've ever heard one), let's all close our eyes real hard and get
John French (Drumbo) to sit in on the next album.  If anyone's
heard a copy of French Frith Kaiser Thompson's flawed but admirable
new album _Invisible Means_...well I guess even if anyone hasn't, he
goes nuts all over the kit for much of the album.  The Moulding/French
rhythm section would be incredible, and besides, Drumbo did the original
drum part for "Ella Guru" and deserves some time with these guys.


Date: 	Fri, 1 Feb 1991 10:47:00 PST
Subject: Dream Producers

The topic of producers came up a while ago.  I have a few fantasies about dream
producers for XTC.  Here's  a  medium-length list:

Don Dixon and Mitch Easter:
Clearly the best choice!  Together and separately, they've produced REM, Let's
Active, the Smithereens, Guadalcanal Diary, Game Theory, Dumptruck,  Marti
Jones, Marshal Crenshaw, and nearly every record from the early-to-mid 1980s
with jangly guitars.

Robyn Hitchcock
A full-fledged collaboration between Robyn Hitchcock and XTC has always been a
recurring dream (along with the one about going to school in my pajamas)...

Phil Spector
Legendary crazed genius famed for work with the Ronnettes, the Crystals, Ike &
Tina; created the "Wall of Sound"; worked with George Harrison and John Lennon
in the early 70s; pursued Lennon in infamous gun-toting high-speed car chase
through LA after Lennon asked for the master tapes for an oldies album they
were working on.

John Cale
Co-founder of the Velvet Underground; reborn as punk godfather in the late 70s;
produced Jonathon Richmond & the Modern Lovers, as well as the first [UK]
Squeeze album; recorded the strangest version of "Heartbreak Hotel" I've ever
heard; resurfaced last year with two great albums: "Songs for Drella" (with Lou
Reed) and the newer one with Brian Eno.

Jules Shear & Elliot Easton
These two are together because their work on Easton's solo album is one of my
favorite musical moments of 1985.  You can't get much higher on the Pure Pop
for Now People scale.  Which brings me to:

Nick Lowe
True, the self-proclaimed Jesus of Cool has faltered a lot over the past ten
years, but the man who produced all the early Elvis Costello albums can't be
discounted.  Not to mention Brinsley Schwartz, Rockpile, etc.

Graham Parker
Speaking of Brinsley Schwartz, Graham Parker behind the boards for XTC is
another strange fantasy of mine.  I think it has  something to do with a
similar witty sense of lyracism.

Peter Buck
This one goes back to the Robyn Hitchcock connection, I guess.  It just seems
that anyone with such a cool record collection would be a good match.

Tommy Erderly (spelling?)
>From the Ramones.  If you miss the early, rougher sound.

Ed Stasium
Produced some old Ramones albums as well as SMITHEREENS 11.  Might add an
interesting melodic/cacophonic touch.

And, finally, because the flip side of sweetness and light is dankness and
dark, I thought I'd share some of my worst nightmares for XTC producers.
Here's an extremely short list:

Jeff Lynne -- I'm tired of the whole WIlbury thing; doesn't this guy have
		any travelling to do?  And doesn't his album sound exactly
		like Tom Petty's solo album, which sounds exactly like the
		Roy Orbison album, which sounds frighteningly like the last
		George Harrison album, etc.
Jimmy Iovine  -- Ever notice how he makes everything he touches sound like
		Springsteen with the heavy organ/piano/guitar sound?
Phil Collins -- Maybe my hatred for this guy is totally irrational, but that
		doesn't make it any less real.
Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis -- wait a minute, this would be so weird that it
		might work out well ...
Don Was  --  Don't get me wrong, I loved the Bonnie Rait album, but ...

Alex Stein


Date: Fri, 1 Feb 1991 11:13:55 PST
From: John M. Relph <>
Subject: Record Collector article (part IV)

The fourth part of a recording history of XTC found in the November
1990 issue of the U.K. magazine _Record Collector_, by Gary Ramon:

      Drummerless, and with three songs which had been
    rejected by their record company as singles, things seemed
    to be going wrong for XTC.  Temporarily, through an
    acquaintance of Gregory's, ex-Glitter Band drummer Peter
    Phipps was recruited in time for work on the next LP.
    With new producer Steve Nye the band spent a month
    recording at the Manor Studios, but when they returned to
    listen to the results over the Xmas period, they were
    disappointed with the overall sound.  Dave explained: "We
    were so depressed.  There was no life in our songs.  The
    recordings lacked energy, and all the crash and clatter of
    our former sound had been replaced by cleanly recorded,
    gentle sounds.  It suited some songs but it certainly
    wasn't us!"

      After a year which had seen them score their biggest
    chart success yet, embark on a disastrous tour which
    resulted in their giving up live work, and losing their
    drummer, it is little wonder that Virgin expected the
    group to fold.  In anticipation, the label issued a
    singles collection (only "Respectable Street" was
    missing), "Waxworks", which was boosted by a free LP of
    B-sides, "Beeswax" (later sold separately).  It's worth
    noting that the former included a different mix of "Wait
    Till Your Boat Goes Down", while a different version of
    "Heaven is Paved With Broken Glass" turned up on

      In early 1983, the new material was remixed at Air
    Studios and presented to Virgin, who still felt the tapes
    lacked a killer single.  Andy Partridge obliged by writing
    a new song, "Great Fire", which became the band's first
    single in eleven months.  Coupled with "Gold", and issued
    on 22nd April, the initial run came in a picture cover
    inside a printed plastic sleeve.  The 12" featured two
    extra tracks, "Frost Circus" and "Procession Towards
    Learning Land", both part of the "Homo Safari"
    instrumental series.

      While the next album was going through the hands of
    various producers, another 45 plugged the gap.
    "Wonderland", backed with "Gold" [actually, the B-side is
    "Jump"], was initially issued as a limited edition picture
    disc. . .  Relations between the band and Virgin had
    reached an all-time low by this time, and when it became
    obvious that the company weren't going to get any further
    new product from the group until the LP was issued, the
    label relented and "Murmur" [sic] finally appeared on 31st
    August 1983.  While the group were happy with the Alex
    Sadkin mixes, the fact that four producers had been
    involved meant that the overall continuity of the record

      One album cut, "Love On a Farmboy's Wages", appeared on
    7" in September, with initial quantities appearing as a
    double-pack with two extra cuts, "Desert Island" and
    "Toys".  The 12" featured three different songs on the
    B-side: "Burning With Optimism's Flames", "English
    Roundabout", and "Cut It Out" (a variation of "Scissor
    Man"), all taped at London's Hammersmith Odeon in May

      To end the year, Partridge presented the group with a
    yuletide song.  According to Dave, Andy wanted to disguise
    the group's identity, credit the disc to the Virgin Marys
    and get people from the record company to sing on it.
    Eventually, the name Three Wise Men was adopted, and
    "Thanks for Christmas" appeared. . .  It was generally
    known that Andy Partridge was featured on the disc, though
    rumour had it that the likes of Phil Collins helped out
    too.  This was untrue, and anyway the record sunk without
    trace.  Very few copies reached the shops and its
    immediate deletion has ensured its current collectability.

      Together with drummer Peter Phipps, the group returned
    to Crescent Studios, Bath, in March 1984 -- where the Xmas
    single had been taped -- to begin work on the next album.
    The first fruit from these sessions was the "All You
    Pretty Girls" single, issued on 14th September with a
    limited edition die-cut sleeve.  An additional track, "Red
    Brick Dream", graced the 12" edition.  With its infectious
    chorus and big budget video promo, the single's failure
    was mildly surprising. . .

      Thanks to improved relations with Virgin, the album was
    issued on schedule in October, and initial quantities
    featured a circular sleeve design and an inner lyric bag.
    "The Big Express" was a marked improvement on "Murmur"
    [sic], with melodic production now giving was to a harder,
    bluesier pop sound.  Later that same month, a second
    single, "This World Over", appeared with initial
    quantities boasting post-holocaust `Greetings From'
    postcards.  An extended version of the A-side turned up on
    12" but the single failed to chart.

      In a desperate bid for singles chart success, Virgin
    issued "Wake Up". . .  The 12" offered value-for-money
    with three previous hits, "Making Plans for Nigel", "Sgt.
    Rock", and "Senses Working Overtime" joining the three 7"

      In late 1984, Partridge was asked to produce Canadian
    singer Mary Margaret O'Hara and her band at Crescent
    Studios.  Dave: "Andy wasn't happy with the band she had
    because he didn't think they were much good.  He was taken
    off the project after asking them to tune up, so he and
    John Leckie (who was also sacked) found themselves at a
    loose end for three weeks."  It proved fortuitous.

Be sure to stay tuned for the next installment of "XTC: From Punk to
Psychadelic Pastiche".


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