Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills #136

                  Chalkhills, Number 136

                   Monday, 4 March 1991
Today's Topics:
                       Re: theremin
                     Feeding the Fire
                   Re: Chalkhills #135
                   Re: Chalkhills #135
                   Re: Chalkhills #135
             All the News that Fits in Print

Date:         Fri, 01 Mar 91 01:23:56 EST
From: Ben Zimmer <>
Subject:      Re: theremin

Toby asks:
>Do the Dukes use a theremin on Pale and Precious?

Yes, I believe so.  I vaguely remember Andy talking about that in an old
_Little Express_, and he said the only other time a theremin was used in pop
music history was in the solo for the Troggs' "Wild Thing."

                                                           Ben Zimmer

"Play them spoons!"


From: Eric Wilson Muhlheim <>
Date: Fri, 1 Mar 91 14:26:56 EST
Subject: Feeding the Fire

In response to Rendell Bird:
1)  I just did this on the new Rundgren alias, so I'm ready for a little more
  flame-feeding myself.
2)  I _know_ that not everyone's going to agree with me on this, but...
3)  Get yourself a really powerful stereo, with really good, loud speakers
  and a CD player.  Take the Black Sea CD and put on "Travels in Nihilon."
  Really loudly.  Stand, or sit, or lie in the middle of the room and just
  _listen_ to it.  Hear it build from that amazingly propulsive drum riff,
  the bass that won't stand still, into a sheer wall of _noise_.  Then hear
  it all spiral down the drain.  Do it again after you've read the words
  that Andy's singing.  It's hypnotic.  It's nihilistic.  It's cathartic.
  We're not talking songwriting here, we're talking pure performance aural
  theatrics, and I think it's the most convincingly that XTC has ever played.
  (Okay, that last sentence may be hyperbole, but it's pretty close to the

I'm sorry, but I can see no other route that to utterly dig "Travels in

		burning burning burning...

	--Eric Wilson Muhlheim(


Date: 	Fri, 1 Mar 1991 11:47:50 PST
Subject: Re: Chalkhills #135

John M. Relph, quoting David Dasch's Aware article from Winter 1981-82, writes:

>  Sometime in 1976 the band distributed handouts describing their
> music as "ant music", a term coined by Andy.  This tag was later
> picked up by Stuart Goddard, who eventually became Adam of Adam
> And The Ants.   Andy was also responsible for naming the Talking
> Heads' LP  _More Songs About Building And Food_.

I can understand how a chance XTC phrase on a handout could forge the entire
persona for a major-league no-talent unoriginal like Adam Ant.

I don't quite understand how Andy came to name MSAB&F for the Talking Heads.
Sounds like there's a great story there.  Anyone know it?

Alex Stein


Date: Sun, 3 Mar 1991 19:42:23 PST
From: John M. Relph <>
Subject: Re: Chalkhills #135

toby <> asks:

>Do the Dukes use a theremin on Pale and Precious?

According to Andy, in an interview with _The Little Express_:

    Andy: Yes, the different movements and the old ghosty
    soud... woooo, oooooo, ooooo.....

    L.E.: Were you using the mellotron there?

    Andy: Well we did do it originally with a tone generator,
    like spooky noises from the Outer Limits but it was really
    hard to control so we chickened out and did it on a

So the answer is no.

                          . . .

Bird Rendell H <> fans the flames:

> Two of my favorite lists have recently
>spawned some interesting discussions by picking *least* liked
>songs off albums.

>*Black Sea*
>Travels in Nihilon -- easily the worst XTC song I have ever heard.
>                      One of the few XTC songs I actively dislike.

It seems that nobody understands this song.  I remember reading a
review at the time of the album's release claiming that XTC wrote
clever pop songs, too clever, and that they should stick to this
formula and stay away from such `experimental' songs such as "Travels
in Nihilon".

In my mind, one of the measures of the `success' of a pop song is just
how well the music matches the lyrics.  And in this case, the two are
perfectly fitted.  "Nihilon", the objectified homeland of nihilism,
where nothing matters.  Where every article of clothing you wear, the
haircut on your head, the manners you effect, are just as masks, given
to you by a capitalist machine that tells you what you should like,
which clothes are in fashion, what music you should listen to.

Obviously, the writer of the aforementioned review didn't get it.  If
I was to listen to him, then I would be in deed one of the inhabitants
of Nihilon, listening to the music which I am supposed to listen to.
By the same token, if XTC were to refrain from putting out such trash
such as "Travels in Nihilon", then they too would be the mask-wearing
inhabitants of this grey land, content to play only the acceptable
musick.  Fashion is not just the clothes you wear, but the music you
listen to.

    Fashion, their vampire
    drapes itself across your back
    as you fall from style
    it waits rebirth on its rack

Besides, I love its droning relentlessness, and the sound of the water
flowing out the drain -- the inhabitants of Nihilon are as the myriad
drops of water, going to the sewer with no complaint.

>Gold -- ?Horn charts?  on such an idyllic album?

Basically, your premise of choosing the `worst' track on a given CD
without taking into account the original track order of the album
results in flawed choices.  "Gold" is not on _Mummer_.  So your
question answers itself thusly:

    Horn charts?  on such an idyllic album?

    No.  There are no horns on _Mummer_.

"Gold" is the B-side to the "Great Fire" single.

But, to fan the flames: "Ladybird" is -- today -- in my opinion, the
worst track on "Mummer".  A lonely misty-eyed snubbed suitor pours out
his pitiful heart.  :-)

>Big Day -- disturbs the ordering of the album, somehow. It just doesn't
>           seem to fit.

I disagree.  This song fits in perfectly.  After "Earn Enough for Us",
"Big Day" is the perfect followup.  It doesn't pretend that the future
is all a bed of roses, and even raises the grinning spectrehead of
divorce.  Followed immediately by "Another Satellite" -- will the
husband have an affair?  If anything is out of place on this album,
it's "Dear God", sewed on to the newborn in an act of post-partum

>*Oranges and Lemons*
>The Loving -- too idealistic, too upbeat. The remainder of the album is
>              wonderfully twisted. This is my favorite XTC CD.

Wrong again, bucko.  This album wallows in its psychadelic
self-awareness, and "The Loving" is that wonderful naive Sixties
love-in all over again.  `Strange trip', indeed.  If anything,
"Cynical Days" or "Chalkhills and Children" are the pro-abortion
poster children of this album.  The former self-pitying, the latter
a rationalisation, but no real substance.

>*Rag and Bone Buffet*
>Over Rusty Water - 1.5 minutes of one chord?  XTC is usually more original
>                   than that!   If 'one chord' was all I wanted I would
>                   listen to more Philip Glass.    :-)

I love this song.  Play it again.  So why didn't you pick "Frost
Circus" off of _Mummer_ as its worst?  And Philip Glass has to be
admired for his sense of mathematic precision and awareness of phase
changes.  He's got a good piece or three.  Just skip his concerts.

>*Dear God EP*
>Mantis on Parole - just doesn't do much for me. But I like the other pieces
>                   of the Homo Safari Series (especially "Procession").

For once I agree.  And so do `our boys'.  Andy said:

    I didn't like ... number four...  That was ``Mantis on
    Parole''.  That was really kind of cobbled up very
    quickly on the merest whim.

                           . . .

Graeme Wong See <> says, about the Box Set:

>However the listing of songs on the outside of the box was still incorrect as
>it had the song "My Weapon" from Go 2 missing, but it's on the CD.

Gee, I hadn't even noticed this little slip.

>My question is are there anymore picture discs available? Either singularly
>or in boxed sets? If there are I'll diligently seek them out!!

Yes, the "King for a Day" CD-single from Geffen USA is a picture disc
(or a half-picture disc).  Half of the CD has a fish-eye picture of
XTC on it.  Unfortunately, you can't see what Andy is doing with his
hand, as it is obscured by the center of the disc.

        -- John


Date:         Mon, 04 Mar 91 13:51:42 EST
From: Jonathan <>
Subject:      Re: Chalkhills #135 writes:

> Do the Dukes use a theremin on Pale and Precious?

Without knowing a thing about it, I would suspect not. Theremins are rare,
expensive, and difficult to play, and their sound (a pure sine wave) is
very easy to reproduce on even the most rudimentary analog synthesizer.

(A Theremin, named after the guy who invented it, is a '20's vintage
electronic instrument that produces an eerie, pure electronic tone
(one can be heard in the background of "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys).
It is played by holding the hands at a certain distance from two rods or plates
-- the distance from one rod determines the amplitude (loudness) and the
distance from the other determines the frequency (pitch). It is a unique
instrument because it is played without physically touching anything.)


Date: Mon, 4 Mar 1991 23:33:11 PST
From: John M. Relph <>
Subject: All the News that Fits in Print

Hey all youse Chalkhillians, greetings!

Finally, the Winter 1990-1991 issue of The Little Express has arrived
in my mailbox.  Not their fault, its lateness.  They tried.

I love the Christmas card, drawn by Andy with lyrics from "Thanks for
Christmas".  I also got some information from June and Peter regarding
the discography, which by the way they say "is extremely well done."
A big "Thank You" to all the Chalkhills subscribers who have contributed!

Also, news of the proposed XTC Convention 1991: to be held in Barrie,
Ontario, the home town of The Little Express (conveniently located
between Japan and Great Britain), sometime this summer.  They are
planning an outdoor affair at a park owned by a local brewery.

Please subscribe to The Little Express and let them know you're out
here.  They produce a wonderful magazine with many contributions from
fans such as yourselves and deserve your support.

Other news: the Chalkhills _Rag & Bone Buffet_ CD booklet is now
available.  We can send you the PostScript raw file, and otherwise we
can send a printed and cut version for the cost of postage.  Any and
all comments on the booklet are welcomed!

Both _ICE_ and _Rolling Stone_ are claiming that the remaining XTC CDs
not released in the USA will become available on March 19, so keep
your eyes open.

	-- John


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