Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills #152

                  Chalkhills, Number 152

                  Sunday, 28 April 1991
Today's Topics:
                     Musings on #151
             B-Sides and Radio Tour Comments
                  Re:  Skylarking debate
                skylarking lit/fig, towers
                    Travels in Nihilon
                   Re: Chalkhills #151
                   Re:  Chalkhills #151
                        Two Things

From: "Jonathan S. Drukman Esq." <>
Subject: Musings on #151
Organization: The Santa Cruz Operation, Inc.
Date: Fri, 26 Apr 91 13:31:00 PDT

-----Larry W. Seals <>-----

> 2) While I count myself as an XTC fan (and not yet a fanatic), I too
>    heartily enjoyed _Skylarking_.  My only previous exposure to XTC
>    had been the video for "Senses Working Overtime" which I liked
>    but not enough to get _The Big Express_

Of course you meant to say _English Settlement_ here.

>    Grass").  The only evidence I saw of Rundgren's hand was in the
>    only track to get any airplay in Cincinnati "Earn Enough for Us".
>    Otherwise, production was excellent (clean).

Have you listened to much Rundgren?  I thought "That's Really Super,
Supergirl" (the first track I heard off _Skylarking_) had his stamp
all over it.  The synth sounds, specifically.  "Earn Enough For Us" is
relatively free of Rundgren-ness, as far as I'm concerned, since it's
mostly a straight-ahead guitar/bass/drum song.

> 3) Was "Dear God" dropped from later releases of _Skylarking_?  It's
>    on the copy I bought just after it was released ('86/87?).

It was _added_ to later releases.  See John Relph's more than adequate

(I bought _Skylarking_ around October 86 and it had Mermaid Smiled.)

--------John Relph--------

>Andy has often said that he thinks that _Skylarking_ doesn't sound as
>"hi-fi" as most of XTC's other albums.  A review published in _The
>Absolute Sound_, a high-fidelity enthusiast's magazine, had this to
>say about _Skylarking_:
>      I AM MAD.  I am *infuriated*.  Time to hit the Shift
>    key: !@#%$*@$!
>      Why?  Because this record, by one of my favorite bands,
>    is yet another example of great music rendered almost
>    unlistenable by bad sound.  It's so frustrating. . .

Does anybody know what they're talking about?  On my Geffen CD, it
sounds just fine.  No audible hiss, no sibilance, popping, bad edits
(all you Todd fans are thinking of that fun game from
Something/Anything here, aren't you?) whatever...

Was the LP pressed by numbskulls or something?  When I had the LP, I
had the world's cheapest turntable, so I couldn't tell if it sounded
particularly bad, but now that I have a decent system with CD and all
that, I don't hear anything offensive...

>I'll agree with Jon here.  But I always say this when someone asks.
>Buy _The Big Express_.  Andy says that the song "Seagulls Screaming,
>Kiss Her Kiss Her" is one of the few songs that successfully made the
>transition from imagination to tape.

Hear, hear.  "Seagulls" is an incredible song, with strong resonance
for anyone who's ever tried to make a pass at a (wo)man but been a bit
nervous about it...  (Is there anyone who hasn't felt that way?)

jon drukman              always note the sequencer:
sco docland wage slave      uunet!sco!jondr     this will never let us down


Date: Fri, 26 Apr 91 17:08:21 -0400
Subject: B-Sides and Radio Tour Comments

        A mention of "Black Sea" as being the worst period for XTC b-sides
spurred me to consider which "era" was the best for them in my opinion.
I guess I'm torn between Mummer and English Settlement.  After listening
to Mummer all week (musical monomania strikes me occasionally) I decided
that "Desert Island" is one of the best b-sides from that period.  English
Settlement had Tissue Tigers and the excellent home demos "Find The Fox",
"Terrorism", "Make A Den", and the other which I can't recall since I don't
have it in front of me.

       I'd be hard put not to put Drums & Wires on the list too but I had
to narrow it down to 2 at least.  Limelight and Life Begins At The Hop are
certainly two of their best.

          On the XTC radio tour Andy mentions that they kept things simple
on the first few albums so they could work on stage.  Any comments?  Drums &
Wires seems to be a bit more complex than maybe Black Sea and White Music.
Could they play their recent material on stage if they ever went on tour
again?  Seems they'd have to grossly oversimplify it.  (from Mummer on hasn't
been done live if I recall correctly).

"...the rusting north star shines it's iron beams on Swindon town..."


Date: Fri, 26 Apr 91 23:00:42 EST
From: (MEEP)
Subject: Re:  Skylarking debate

John M. Relph <> writes:
>doug (MEEP) <> writes:

>>and I have to admit, I think the production (both technical and artistic)
>>is uniformly excellent.

>Andy has often said that he thinks that _Skylarking_ doesn't sound as
>"hi-fi" as most of XTC's other albums.

That's odd...I think _Skylarking_ has some of the nicest sound I've ever
heard.  It's crisp and lush at the same time, always appropriately so.  I
love it; the sound hooked me just as much as the lyrics.  Each song has its
own flavor and personality; listen to the sharp opening on "The Meeting
Place"; the quiet melodicism of "Season Cycle"; the tightness of "Earn
Enough For Us" (absolutely brilliant...the spareness of the arrangement
complements the song PERFECTLY); the beatiful surf (not the computerized
stuff; the actual guitar-moving-forward-and-back-in-the-mix surf effect) on
"Mermaid Smiled."  I could go on like this forever (I may already have).

I will admit, however, that _SL_ sounds almost *nothing* like anything else
by XTC.  I think that this is not a bad thing; some others may.  Let's
leave it at that, shall we?

>>  I know that Colin Moulding quit the band at one point over
>>dispute with Rundgren,

>Really?  Damn, I must have missed this.

I read this in *Rolling Stone*.  Their "Best 100 Albums of the 1980s"
article (which was a crock, BTW:  they picked _London Calling_ by The Clash
as the best...not minding in the least that _LC_ is from 1979...*sigh*) had
_Skylarking_ as about number 47.  It mentioned that the recording of the
album was very turbulent indeed, and said that at one point Colin packed up
and flew back to England, and that the band very nearly split up.  I don't
know if this is true (*RS* is not the best of sources), but it makes a good
story, dunnit?

On a final, rather personal note:  I most enthusiastically welcome new
member Liz Bailey to Chalkhills.  (I'd better:  she's my sister, the one
who got me interested in XTC...this seems the least I can do in response.)

doug (


Date: Fri, 26 Apr 91 20:50:01 PDT
From: (Kevin Carhart)
Subject: skylarking lit/fig, towers

The great thing about Skylarking is that it is multi-layered.. the songs
give (me at least) some literal images as well as figuratively fitting
into the theme...
>from The Meeting Place, I get the impression that they're in a totalitarian
state where people are forced to work on dehumanizing assembly lines all day,
so they make love in the woods to declare that they are still human
That's Really Super Supergirl: I must have read too many comic books when
I was younger.. I can't help seeing some hapless guy going after the DC
Supergirl.. and the Fortress of Solitude.. and the big yellow metal key
to open it..  (Sgt. Rock,Braniac's Daughter and the Justice League for good
Mermaid Smiled: I see a real sea captain, on a boat, looking into the water
and seeing a mermaid, which unlocks memories of his childhood, giving him
a kind of Ebenezer Scrooge transformation..
John pretty much described how I see Sacrificial Bonfire last issue.
And if you think those are obscure, every time I hear "at home, at work,
and on the bus" in Earn Enough For Us, I think of an old article in MAD
magazine about some guy who rides the bus a great deal and is thinking
of marrying the bus driver since he sees her so much..
In a recorded radio concert I have, before they play Towers of London, Andy
says something like  '...some critics think we're crazy for writing songs
about buildings, but I think as much love can go into making a building
as into something human...'
Did critics give them trouble about that song?



Date: Sat, 27 Apr 91 04:06:33 -0700
From: Scott Drellishak <>
Subject: Travels in Nihilon

This may not be news.  Bear with me.

I was looking through _The_SF_Book_of_Lists_ (that's Science Fiction, not
San Francisco) recently, and under the category "Thirty Famous Writers
Who Have Published SF" I found:

25.  Alan Sillitoe (_Travels_in_Nihilon_)

According to UC Berkeley's online library catalog, this book was published
in 1971.  Anybody know anything about it?  Did Andy do more than just
steal the title?

Scott Drellishak


Date:         Sat, 27 Apr 91 17:33:54 EDT
From: Mark Hessman <>
Subject:      Re: Chalkhills #151

     Somebody posted about a band called Dragon, which Terry Chambers
is reputed to have joined; I remember hearing of an album (or song, I
forget which) by them, entitled "Rain", a few years back.  Maybe 1987.

                                                    -- Mark


Date: Sun, 28 Apr 91 11:52:24 -0400
Subject: Re:  Chalkhills #151

RE: Alan White playing drums on Beatles Albums.
Sorry folks, it was a rumor that I heard from
a friend... and I thought I read it in some
book on "art rock" in the seventies. Alan
White WAS a session player in the sixties...
but hey, Icould easily be wrong. By the way,
I do like Ringo.....sheesh !


Date: Sun, 28 Apr 91 16:45:31 PDT
From: John M. Relph <>
Subject: Two Things

From: John M. Relph <>
To: <>
Subject: Re: Chalkhills #151
In-Reply-To: Your message of Fri, 26 Apr 91 11:44:48 -0700

Carol b <bdofed!@bdofed.UUCP.broderic> asks:

>Being only 100km away from Barrie, I was very excited to hear that the
>XTC convention is being held there, but I would like to know exactly what
>goes on.  Anybody willing to describe what is likely to happen?

What is likely?  You'll meet fellow XTC fans, buy some XTC stuff you
didn't know you could still get, watch some XTC video, hear some fans
totally ruin some XTC songs and help them do it, dance, party.
Whatever.  A good time will be had by all.

				. . .

A short note in the May 1991 issue of _Tower Records' Pulse!_:

    XTC went into Townhouse [Studios] to lay down tracks this
    April with a little help from Hugh Padgham and Steve


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