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From: chalkhills-request@presto.ig.com
To: chalkhills@presto.ig.com
Subject: Chalkhills #153


                  Chalkhills, Number 153

                  Wednesday, 1 May 1991
Today's Topics:
              b-sides... sklylarking quality
                     Chalkhills #152
                     Musings on #152
                     Chalkhills #152
                   More about Terry...
              Chalkhills #152 (various bits)
                   Re: Chalkhills #152
                 Making Plans for Andy CD
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Date: Mon, 29 Apr 91 01:10:41 EDT
From: cutter@silver.lcs.mit.edu (I have a fish nailed to a cross on my apartment wall)
Subject: b-sides... sklylarking quality

Correction to Mark Kirk (who should know better!)

"Find the Fox", "Terrorism", "Let's Make a Den", and "The Troubles"
are all "SKylarking" b-sides, technically.. though I imagine some of
them were written during Big Express and Mummer era.  The "English
Settlement" b-sides are "Punch and Judy", "Heaven is Paved with Broken
Glass", "Tissue Tigers (The Arguers)", "Strange Tails, Strange Tales",
and, uh, is that it?  I think so.

My favorite b-sides are "Chain of Command", "Toys", "Punch and Judy",
"Red Brick Dream".

Side note:  At the risk of overanalysing, has anyone thought of what
"English Settlement" refers to?  I know it may refer to the actual
settlement (as in group of dwellings/community) that the chalk horse
is found near... but could it be an english settlement as in the band
coming to terms with their british heritage.  Certainly ES is the MOST
"british" of their albums, in terms of being very folk influenced.
(Mummer comes close but it's not quite the same rustic feel).

In the same way, "The Big Express" -- choo-choo or large expression of
gratitude? (If not gratitude, then a big express(ion) of what...?)

As for the quality on Skylarking.    UGH.   Thin sound, harsh
prodution quality.  The drums are poor, at best.  Over-equalisation,
over-compression, tinny and just not full at all.  This has always
been my complaint with most Todd LPs -- he LOVES high end, hates bass.
I can barely hear Colin on the LP at all except for singing.

No hiss, true; it's mastered fine. Mastered so well you can hear all
the production deficiencies.

/joe

(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)
Joe Turner       cutter@silver.lcs.mit.edu
"I'm definately feeling some odd effects."
(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)

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Date: Mon, 29 Apr 91 09:20:40 -0400
From: Larry W. Seals <seals@uncecs.edu>
Subject: Chalkhills #152

In chalkhills #152, Jon Drukman says:

> Of course you meant to say _English Settlement_ here.

Yep!  Slip of the finger there.

As to his inquiry about whether I had listened to much of Rundgren's
work:

I think I can say I've been listening to Todd from early on with Nazz
(I had the original 45 version of "Hello, It's Me" (the slow, dreamy
version) until a "friend" liberated it) on through the solo albums and
into the Utopia years when I finally gave it up.

Now given that this was my primary introduction to XTC, I had no basis
to guide me as to what they sounded like as opposed to Rundgren's
influence.  So to me, the only overt sign of his "meddling" was the
production on "Earn Enough for Us" which sounded quite a lot like that
on _Faithful_ and pre- _Todd_ (piano/organ,guitar,bass & drums... not
much synth).  But everyone has their own opinion, I guess.   ;-)

Anyway, I didn't want to jump into the middle of "Tastes great - less
filing!" type of debate.  I'm listening to _Oranges & Lemons_ as I
write this and appreciating the things I really enjoy about this group.
The guitar work (especially on "Scarecrow People") by Andy reaffirms
that you don't have to be Steve Morse or Eric Johnson to exhibit great
chops.  I'd have to say that both the virtuosity of all the members and
the great (read: witty, biting, satirical) lyrics are why I have hope
when I go to the local whatever-it-is-you-call-them-these-days where
I buy my CDs (record store is obsolete in most cases, I suppose).

One last point:  I agree with Jon about _Skylarking_ on CD.  It sounds
great.  However, I thought that at times _Oranges & Lemons_ was a
little bright (had to de-emphasize the treble on my home unit, I'm
stuck with my Discman).  Anyone else notice this?

***********************************************************************
Larry Seals @ Trailing Edge Software - "When it doesn't have to be
                                          the very best!"
"I didn't sell my soul, I just took out a loan..." - Bruce Hornsby
***********************************************************************

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From: Jon Drukman <jondr@sco.com>
Subject: Musings on #152
Organization: The Santa Cruz Operation, Inc.
Date: Mon, 29 Apr 91 10:14:05 PDT

>From: Mark.C.Kirk@physics.umass.edu
>
>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.

Of course you meant to say that the home demos were from the
_Skylarking_ period.  Right, Mark?

>       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.

Life Begins At The Hop is an a-side, not a b-side.

>          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.

Well, I think the albums obviously got more complex as the band
progressed, so I find it hard to put D&W ahead of Black Sea in that
regard.  There isn't anything like Travels In Nihilon on D&W, after
all.  Also, it seems fairly obvious that once they were freed from the
touring yoke, they went full-blast on the arrangements.  Consequently,
my favorite albums are post-English Settlement.

>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).

That's right.  I don't know how you could do something like, say, "The
Man Who Sailed Around His Soul" on stage without bringing along a few
percussionists and a horn section, but there are plenty of songs from
post-ES albums that COULD be done live...  It depends on how many
extra musicians they want to employ, or if they want to use
sequencers, or whatever.

>From: 6600kevc%ucsbuxa@hub.ucsb.edu (Kevin Carhart)
>Subject: skylarking lit/fig, towers
>
>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

Er, I think you're maybe reading just a bit too much into it.  I
always got the feeling that it was just about small-town life.  Sure,
they have to work in the factory all day, but plenty of people in
America do that, and we're not quite a Totalitarian state - YET...
The whistle of the train at the beginning is a real "small town" kind
of thing.

The lyrics could be read in a fairly 1984-ish fashion though, if
you're into that kind of thing.

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

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From: Bailey@polisci.sscnet.ucla.edu
Subject: Chalkhills #152
Date: Mon, 29 Apr 91 15:50:00 PDT

Thank you, John and Doug [meep@wpi . . .], for your effusive
welcomes to Chalkhills.  I am suitably appreciative.  The only things I've
ever known about XTC that can be considered in the least trivial are the
following two misquotes of AP:

"we don't have porches in Swindon; we can't afford them;" and, "It's very
tiring to meet and fall in love with a thousand people."  [both from a radio
interview on KROQ in L.A., spring of 1989]  {I hope these are news to
SOMEONE, at least}.

--Liz

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From: lessor of two weevils <stewarte@sco.com>
Subject: More about Terry...
Date: Mon, 29 Apr 1991 16:04:19 -0700 (PDT)

    From: jondr@sco.com (Skinny Puppy)

    From: james@nrc.com (James McGowan)
    >Good thing, too!  I believe he was/is one of the most rhythmically
    >intricate and unpredictable drummers around (I wonder if he ever
    >played jazz?  Hmm...).

    I don't know that Mr. Chambers would agree with you here.  He
    consistently said in interviews that he was a very meat and potatoes
    drummer.  I don't have too many problems predicting where he's going
    to go.  Perhaps you could list a few of your favorite Chambers drum
    moments?

Aaah, what does Terry know about it, anyway!  Remember, if you could
trust what musicians said about themselves, we wouldn't need critics!
Besides, this is the guy who said Andy's songs were getting too weird
and XTC was going nowhere...so he quit and joined Dragon instead.
Now there was a great career move!

Seriously, though, Swindon's finest tend towards the modest side in
all the interviews I've ever read, so it's not suprising that Terry
would downplay his abilities...I think the drumming on "Black Sea"
and "English Settlement" is quite inspired, and I'd cite examples if
I wasn't listening to the Art Ensemble of Chicago on headphones as
I type this (makes it hard to think of other music in depth...).

-- Stewart

******************************************************************************
"This was the biggest bladder seizure we've ever had."
         -- Sgt. Joe Damico of Alaska Fish & Wildlife Protection

/* Stewart Evans, alias stewarte@sco.COM, aka uunet!sco!stewarte */

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From: lessor of two weevils <stewarte@sco.com>
Subject: Chalkhills #152 (various bits)
Date: Mon, 29 Apr 1991 16:19:08 -0700 (PDT)

    From: "Jonathan S. Drukman Esq." <jondr@sco.com>

    [ re:  Skylarking being "low-fi" ]
    Does anybody know what they're talking about?  On my Geffen CD, it
    sounds just fine.

I've got no idea, either.  It sounds great to my ears.

    From: Mark.C.Kirk@physics.umass.edu

    [ re: B-sides ]
    [ ... ] 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 think the demos are from the "Skylarking" era rather than "English
Settlement".  In any case, they were released in that era, on the
B-side of "The Meeting Place" 12".  (The fourth was "The Troubles",
which is probably my favorite of this batch.)  "Skylarking" also
spawned "Extrovert" as a B-side.  However, along with "Tissue Tigers",
"English Settlement" era B-sides also included "Blame The Weather",
"Punch and Judy" and "Heaven is Paved with Broken Glass" -- a
formidable quartet indeed!  I'd cast my vote for this period as the
top B-side era, with "Mummer" and "Skylarking" tied for second...

-- Stewart
******************************************************************************
"This was the biggest bladder seizure we've ever had."
         -- Sgt. Joe Damico of Alaska Fish & Wildlife Protection

/* Stewart Evans, alias stewarte@sco.COM, aka uunet!sco!stewarte */

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Date: Wed, 1 May 91 0:03:36 PDT
From: John M. Relph <relph@presto.ig.com>
Subject: Re: Chalkhills #152

"Jonathan S. Drukman Esq." <jondr@sco.com> asks:
>>Andy has often said that he thinks that _Skylarking_ doesn't sound as
>>"hi-fi" as most of XTC's other albums.
>>
>>      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. . .
>
>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

Actually, I think Andy was talking about the sound of the recording,
not the sound of the LP (versus CD).  In at least one interview he
complained about the "low-tech" state of Todd's Woodstock (NY) studio.
(Not to mention the fact that Todd was stoned most of the time, which
I won't mention here.)

	-- John

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Date: Wed, 1 May 91 0:43:10 PDT
From: John M. Relph <relph@presto.ig.com>
Subject: Making Plans for Andy CD

A big "Thank You" to Dougie for playing the middleman in the messy
business of finding us the _Making Plans for Andy_ CD!

But here's something interesting: the _Making Plans for Andy_ CD that I
got is a SECOND release!  The first CD was attributed to "Wax Works
Records" in Sweden.  This CD is attributed to "Living Legends Records"
of Italy, and is "copyright" 1990 by "Multi Coloured Music".

The downside to the "Living Legends" CD is the fact that it does not
include "Traffic Light Rock" and "Looking For Footprints", nor does it
include the two songs from The Spys' single (once thought to be XTC
under a pseudonym).

As usual with "alternative live recordings", the label misspells two of
the titles: "Senses Working Over Me" and "Life Begins At The Top".  (I
didn't notice the first for a minute, it tricked my eye.)

Sound quality?  Very Good.  The CD has a disclaimer: "We apologize for
the non excellent quality of the recording, which has been realized
with Sixties amateur equipment."  The recordings are of two concerts,
one taped from BBC Radio in 1978, the second from an (oft-traded)
Amsterdam Paradiso concert from 1982.  (The CD claims to be ADD, but I
highly doubt it.  AAD is more believeable.)

	-- John

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