Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills #211

                  Chalkhills, Number 211

                 Thursday, 16 April 1992
Today's Topics:
                    Thumbnail History?
                     general comments
                Encouraging Japanese News
       What do you call that noise that you put on?
      Burning with Criticism's Flames? Relax, folks.
                   on a lighter note...
                 the flame war continues
                 Omnibus Takes All of US

Subject: Thumbnail History?
Date: Wed, 15 Apr 92 22:31:23 PDT

Hey, I'm a (fairly) recent devotee of the band (have Mummer, Big Express,
Skylarking, O&L, Rag&Bone, and the Duke's compilation) and fully intend to
collect the rest of the catalog.  What I'd like, and hope someone will be
kind enough to supply, is a sort of thumbnail sketch of the band's history.
Personnel changes in relation to albums, especially.  Just want to know what
the lineup has been and when it changed, which albums were done with drum
machine and who the "session" drummers have been since the departure of
good old what's-his-name they're drummer (I'm not that knowledgable yet :).

Any help would be greatly appreciated, and btw I'm going to love Nonsuch
to some degree or other no matter what (well, I guess if it sounded like
the DeFranco Family I'd reconsider).

peace and thanks.
* "I would glady risk feeling bad at times  *  Edward Thomas Keller    *
*  if it also meant I could taste my        * *
*  dessert."                                *                          *
*            - Lt. Cmdr. Data               *      The Whethermen      *
*              ST:TNG                       *                          *


From: William Carroll <>
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 92 07:48:46 EST
Subject: general comments

First, let me remind everyone of something I'm sure their mother told
them at one time or another: (in very stern, parenting tone)

"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all!"

From: "John M. Relph" <>
>Andy is quoted in the latest issue of _Reflex_ magazine as saying, "I
>mean, things haven't changed for some people.  I still get letters
>>from this little fellow up the north of England that say, `Oh, _White
>Music_ were your best album, and I still remember seein' ya at
>sooch-and-sooch cloob. . .'  So, you've become the scenery for this
>bloke's personal time machine."

Perhaps we should all re-read this and ponder it a little.

From: Steve Levenstein <>
>   Having had a chance to listen to some of Nonsuch, I'm
>happy to say that (in my opinion) the "dump Dudgeon doomsayers"
>are over-reacting. Sure, Gus produced it, but he didn't mix
>it, and he sure didn't write and perform the music!

Another comment that should be pondered a bit before starting
up the flame thrower.

From: Desi The Three-Armed Wonder Comic <>
>in the latest little express, dave gregory says he's seen printouts of
>chalkhills and finds it odd that we slag off O&L while praising The
>Big Express even though both are "very produced."  well, i think what
>dave is missing is that while both _are_ elaborate productions,

I love this! Desi The Three-Armed Wonder Comic knows more about XTC's
music than one of the members of the group!

>From: (Tim Snyder)
>>This is the first XTC album to
>>come out since I discovered the band in a real sense, in the winter of 1989,
>	Ah, well, that tells me something. Someday, when the glow of
>	newness is off it all, you'll be able to go back and evaluate
>	these records with more objectivity, and you'll see what I
>	mean.

Ah yes, the "I've listened to them longer, therefore my opinions should
take precedence" attitude. Why does the date you first hear something
determine your ability to critically judge it?

William R. Carroll (Encore Computer, Ft. Lauderdale FL)

"We trained hard,  but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form
up into teams, we would be reorganized.  I was to learn later in life that
we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing;  and a wonderful method
it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion,
inefficiency, and demoralization."	-Petronius Arbiter, 210 BC


Date: Thu, 16 Apr 92 07:52:18 PDT
Subject: Encouraging Japanese News

In the last issue of Chalkhills, Steve Levenstein writes:

>Subject: Nonsuch in (Tokyo) stores! +

>Well, didn't we all know that Nonsuch would be released on
>April 14th... NOT!! Uh-huh, called Virgin Canada today, and
>Nonsuch will now be released April 27th (PLUS a day or three
>to get it in the stores). I heard that's the American release
>date, too. Wonder what kind of different cover the Yanks'll
>get... Trust the Japanese to one-up everyone else again:
>Nonsuch is on sale there NOW, in a gorgeous red & gold
>silk-screened CD jewel box!

This is *good news*, since I went ahead and ordered it from a US/Japanese
importer about two weeks ago. It could be in my mailbox now (I hope!).

I'm not paying much attention to the comments about the album yet, since
I haven't heard it yet and I want to form my own likings and dislikings
without prejudice.

I will say this, though, about the CD EP:

Compare the demo version of "Smartest Monkeys" with the Dudgeon-produced

One improvement I see is the little string synth part added after
Colin sings, "Well, man converted the newspaper to a blanket (da
DA da da DA da da DA da da DA da da, etc.)." This "cutesy" effect,
not in the demo, is really a good way to offset the depressing
content of the lyric, while enhancing the cynical humor Colin
intends - don't you think? Was this Gus's idea? I don't know.
Could have been.

The big drum sound on "The Disappointed" I could do without. This
track is my least favorite on the CD EP.

I need to hear more. I want to hear more! WHERE'S THAT CD!!!???

* * * * *

By the way, I still have the three, 3-inch set of Oranges and Lemons for
sale. Write me for details.

* * * * *

Also, Emmanuel Marin writes:

>Dear English Chalkhills, on the 7th May, tune to France Inter, (165 LW),
>at 9 p.m., to catch...
>XTC's French Radio Acoustic Concert Exclusive !!

Encouraging! Mebbe they'll do another radio tour. My "Live at WBCN (Boston)"
broadcast tape is a favorite of mine. Lotsa jokes; seems like the band
had fun doing it, too.

Favorite quote from the tape:

DJ: "What made you decide to do [the acoustic tour]?"

Andy: "Well, I heard the menacing click of a revolver on the back of my
sweating temple!"


Waiting in Walla-Walla)


Date:     Thu, 16 Apr 1992 09:29 PDT
From: (Fred Hamilton 408-450-5179)
Subject:  What do you call that noise that you put on?

Hi fellow Chalkhillians,

Do I sense the beginnings of a civil war?  Maybe we should break up
Chalkhills into more specific groups so people can pretend nothing
exists except their personal favorite XTC music, like:

Chalkhills.Drums_and_Wires-Black_Sea, or

Re: the Karl Elvis MacRae vs Gus Dudgeon atrocity:

Karl, if I remember your original post correctly, you haven't even
heard the album yet!  You seem to be engaging in a form of close-
mindedness I wouldn't expect from ANY rational human being, let alone
an XTC fan. I always thought XTC fans were, by definition, pretty
amazingly open-minded.

Desi The Three-Armed Wonder Comic <> writes:

>I was dismayed prior to O&L to learn that Paul Fox had produced a slew
>of terrible pop bands and the drummer for the album came from Mister
>Mister.  Fortunately, O&L turned out to be a fine record with many
>outstanding tracks.  It isn't perfect, but  a solid album.
>Don't write off Nonsuch before you've even heard a note of it.

Hear hear!  Although I tend to agree more with David Bregande's
comments about O&L:

	"I think what I liked most was how I could listen to it a
	 thousand times and still discover some new bits of musical
	 genius. What some of you call crowded, I call deep."

I've been an big XTC fan for over 10 years now, and O&L is the first
LP/CD that I could not bring myself to remove from my player for over
2 weeks... (Al Handa) writes:

>The only artist who give me the same feeling as XTC is Tom
>Verlaine, but even that is reaching.
>Nonetheless, buy Television's "Marquee Moon," then "Flashlight"
>by Tom Verlaine.

Alright!  Another Tom Verlaine fan!  What does Tom Verlaine have in
common with XTC (aside from awesome talent)?  Zero respect from any
American record labels.  Good recommendations, Al.  After those two
I'd get Television's "Adventure" and Tom's first solo album, "Tom
Verlaine". BTW, Television's been recording a new album!!!!
(I suppose I'll have to see who's producing it before I decide whether
or not to give it a listen, though. ;-)

Oh yeah, this is an XTC group...I now return you to your regularly
scheduled programming...



Date: 16 Apr 92 11:01:10 EDT
From: <>
Subject: Burning with Criticism's Flames? Relax, folks.

Karl: "But to say [Oranges And Lemons] is good product is to lie to yourself."

Whew. The tone around here has certainly changed lately.

Whether you like something or not is an OPINION. Personally, I like _O&L_ far
more that _The_Big_Express_, which I thought lacked the songs that _O&L_ had.
I know that _TBE_ is a big favorite around here, I just don't share that view.
Doesn't mean I'm right or wrong - just means I don't agree. Karl obviously
does not like _O&L_, which is fine - that's his opinion. But Karl, that
doesn't make the album patently bad, it makes it bad in your view. If someone
doesn't like what I like, that doesn't make either of us wrong, now does it?

I became a fan back in '82, and XTC's changed a lot since then. I've liked
each album since in varying degrees, some more than others.

Why don't we all take a breath, relax, and get back to a few calm discussions.
I'm looking forward to "Nonsuch", and I'm going to pick it up the day it comes
out (provided it ever does <sigh>), and I'll form my opinions then.

	-- Owen

PS: Content not related to current flame war:

I don't think the "Difappointed" was a typo. The style of the drawing on the
CD cover looks very "1700's". I'm sure the "f" is being used similarly to its
use in old American (and British? dunno) documents. Just my $0.02 worth.

Owen Gwilliam - .. or .. CompuServe: >CSI:OTG

"Oh ... I thought the 'G' was a middle initial."
        - Heard far more times than I can even begin to remember ...


Subject: "ELVIS"
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 92 11:06:57 -0700
From: Jemiah Levon Jefferson <>

I'm not used to being upbraided on a public newsnet -- this is
after all my first year at this sort of thing.  But I'd like
to kindly reply, UP YOURS, me fine lad.  I love Oranges
and Lemons, and damn you, the songs are great, okay?  What
the hell kind of standards are you going on, anyway?  What do
you consider a good song?  Edge is good for edge.  If I want
grunge I'll listen to Mudhoney or the Vandals.  If I want
good, heavy, solid, intelligent pop music, I listen to XTC.
Producers are people too.  A good and creative producer is
as much a joy to behold as a good band.  Take Kingfisher for
example... or Brian Eno.  I'm sorry, John dude, but I just can't
keep my cool about this.  "ELVIS" here just insulted something
very close to me and I'm not about to put up with it for one
second.  I'm sure you think I'm a schmuck for liking Duran
Duran, too, don't you?  I oughta...
A grateful thanks to John Pinto at Dartmouth and Dave
Bregande, from wherever, for buoying me up and making me
sound a little less weedy.  I'm glad someone else out there
actually doesn't just write off XTC because they've
mellowed off and polished up some since "Set Myself On Fire."
Love to all, EEYORE (


Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1992 14:22 EDT
Subject: on a lighter note...

well, amidst all of this "fun banter" about the merits or lack thereof of the
new album, I feel compelled to point out that drummer Dean Clean is sporting a
Drums and Wires t-shirt on the sleeve of the new Dead Milkmen album, Soul
Rotation, which for me at this point is still just okay, for anyone who's
interested.  I recall back in my junior high days of adoring the Police that
Stewart Copeland often was pictured in the same shirt.  I think it is
testimony to the tremendous rhythmic influence of Terry Chambers.  Geez, I
miss the guy.

By the way, I'm sure you'll get this from a zillion other sources, but it's
not a misprint on the cd single- that's not an "f", it's an old English "s".
So no worries.



Subject: the flame war continues
From: Desi The Three-Armed Wonder Comic <>
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 92 11:24:31 PDT expostulates:

>	I like Skylarking. It's brilliantly recorded, and has
>	a few *really* great songs on it.
>	O&L, however, is simply not a well made album on any level.

gee, i think the majority of listeners consider skylarking to be very
BADLY recorded.  no matter how much you dislike O&L, you have to admit
it's very well engineered.

>	My feeling about production is that the more you hear the
>	producer, the worse the product is, *IF* you have good
>	material and talent to biging with.

what a silly position.  i buy records based solely on who produced
them.  when the circumstances are right, a producer can add his or her
"signature" to a record and lift a good record to the realm of great.
tell me you can't hear todd rundgren's influence on skylarking.

>	Sorry. When you start to show off on purpose, it's ego
>	masturbation. And it's not good composition.

it's only bad composition if you can't balance between showing off and
solid structure underneath.  i agree that there are places on O&L
where it is too conciously showy for its own good, but there are
plenty of places where the glitz is built on top of solid foundations.

William H Stoner III <> sez:

>in.  the first thing I noticed was that the cover, spine and disc were all
>miss printed as "The Difapointed", the back ws correct though, so how many
>of you got miss prints?

it's supposed to be that way, silly!  it's supposed to look
Elizabethan.  go look at some reproductions of the shakespeare plays -
all the "s"s are "f"s... (Al Handa) speculates:

>One, it sounds like those people are hearing pre-release
>copies, which probably won't have the final mix we'll hear.

I doubt it.  There is a lot of ramp-up time in producing CDs and
records, so the tapes that are circulating are probably exactly what
will be released later.  Maybe someone out there with a tape and the
Disappointed single (john? woj?) would care to comment...

Jon Drukman (finely honed machine)              uunet!sco!jondr
With hungered flesh obscurely, he mutely craved to adore.


Date: Thu, 16 Apr 92 13:56:19 PDT
From: Chalkhills Administration <>
Subject: Omnibus Takes All of US
Organisation: Chalkhills Anonymous

[ Thanks to the folks at The Little Express for sending this article
  to Chalkhills.  -- John ]

Chris Twomey talks to _Limelight_ about what fans can expect from his
XTC biography, _Chalkhills and Children_, due out in April 1992 and
published by Omnibus:

    They'll be surprised by the thickness of it.  I'm really
    happy with the format of the book.  Omnibus send me down
    two books, one was a coffee table book on Madonna and the
    other was a very pictorial book on REM.  I passed them on
    to Andy saying I preferred the format of the REM book,
    but he didn't like either.  He wanted a thick dusty tome,
    something like _Shout!_.  I thought, bloody hell, you've
    got no chance there mate.  How do you say it to
    somebody's face, but XTC aren't exactly the Stones or the
    Beatles?  But to my surprise Omnibus shoved me down a
    couple more books and one was a biography of Phil Ochs,
    who I've never even heard of, and it's a proper book with
    a spine and photographs down the middle and that's what
    I've done for XTC.

    It's a serious read, although I think it's very funny in
    places, as you'd expect from Andy.  The important thing
    about a book is that you've got to read it, you've got to
    discover things that you didn't previously know.  I found
    they were incredibly honest.  Andy particularly, but all
    of them really.  Colin told me about an affair he had
    which I'm sure the fans don't know.  Likewise Andy had a
    bit of a do with somebody at Virgin.  I was worried that
    Andy might not let me go into his mental health problems
    in any depth, because it's a sensitive issue with his
    mother being a bit wobbly, but Andy's reaction was that
    it's happened, so it should go in.  I think when he read
    a lot of it back he thought, oh dear, but he was so
    honest and he said just leave it.  When I did a book
    about The Stranglers, it was the total antithesis of
    that, there was nothing in it that you couldn't have got
    from diligently reading your _NME_.  Ninety per cent of
    everything I got for this one was from the band and
    people they put me in touch with.

    The band did look at it chapter by chapter, mainly for
    corrections, but the only thing that got censored -- not
    taken out, but toned down -- was the detail of what went
    on between Colin and Deborah.  It's still mentioned.  I
    argued for it, not just to be salacious, but because the
    one really interesting point was that it all happened at
    the time of "Making Plans for Nigel".  At last they've
    got their first hit and it's Colin's song and Colin's
    mind isn't even on the job, he says he can't remember
    that time at all.

    This may be blowing my own trumpet, but through reading
    the chapters back, Andy said that a lot of things that he
    hadn't even known about have started to affect him.  One
    theme that runs through the book is that Dave and Colin
    are more often criticising Andy than praising him.  He
    said he got to learn things that they'd never voiced to

    I don't know if it's a good book -- I'm dreading the
    reviews.  Rock books are reviewed by rock journalists who
    always think they can do better themselves.  There'll
    always be criticisms.  Things are missed out, but that's
    inevitable.  My brief was to write between 60 and 65,000
    words.  I decided to write the way I wanted to write it
    and then review the situation once I'd finished it and if
    I was drastically over I would have to go back and take
    things out.  I did do that and I was still about 10,000
    words over, but Omnibus said it was OK.  I decided there
    were certain areas that I wasn't going to deal with at
    all -- I wasn't going to deal with video shoots and I
    wasn't going to go into depth on record sleeves.  I
    thought that would get boring; only the very keen fan
    would care.

    At the end of it all it's got to be entertaining and
    informative.  It's written as a story of a band who have
    missed so many chances.  It could be called _How Not To
    Do It_.  There are two things you learn from the book.
    One is that you don't have to be in the first, second or
    even third division of success to make a really good
    living as a band -- I'm staggered at the amount of money
    that got passed around and then got lost.  The other
    thing is that the integrity of the band is spot on.  They
    do it for the right reasons and Andy genuinely doesn't
    give a shit about whether they have a hit.  I like Andy
    because he does things that he really believes in and not
    to make money.

    Andy's original idea was for me to do an in-depth review
    of every album and I thought, well, I don't want to do
    that because it would get ponderous and slow the
    narrative down, and the other reason is, who gives a shit
    about my point of view?  Equally, if you can see that
    it's written by a sycophant, you quickly think, hang on,
    I'm not really learning anything here.  I found with The
    Stranglers I wasn't given permission to say anything
    critical and if I did they would have got really up-tight
    about it.  With this I gave what I considered to be my
    honest opinion and Andy just went, OK then!  Most people
    when they meet Andy, they see a very witty, very charming
    kind of guy.  I did actually start to see a kind of
    darker side to him, but I always thought he was honest.
    I approached him on the aggro he causes and his
    obstinacy, but he just accepted it.  He never got
    up-tight about it.

    The story begins with Andy's nervous breakdown and then
    goes back to the beginning.  It all bubbles along quite
    nicely until they stop touring and Terry leaves.  Towards
    the end I was worried that it would just become a blow by
    blow account of the making of each album.  But as I
    interviewed them about each album, things came up that
    were totally unexpected and that saved the end.


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