Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills #216

                  Chalkhills, Number 216

                 Thursday, 30 April 1992
Today's Topics:
                  Nonsvch Geffen Insert
                   drummers and wearers
                     Chalkhills #215
                     unreleased demos
                   The Vgly Vnderneath
          My very first thought (about Nonsvch!)
                     chalkhills #214
                    a dance of joy....
                 praise for The Relphster
                   Re: Chalkhills #215
                    Dear Madam Barnum
                  More Nonsvch stvff...
                 Re: nonsuch - the review
                Virgin Japan does it again

Date: Wed, 29 Apr 92 12:38:35 PDT
From: "Chalkhills Administration" <>
Subject: Nonsvch Geffen Insert

Geffen USA included a booklet advertising their XTC back catalog in
copies of NONSVCH.  Here it is!




Four years' worth of songs saved up and recorded (virtually) live
in one short burst.  Noisy, arrogant, stark, triangular and
desperate for your attention.  Four young snots dismantling pop!

GO 2

Four weeks worth of songs, hastily scribbled on hotel notepaper
and beermats.  We were living out of carrier bags and in rental
vans, making nasty noises _at_ each other and _with_ each other.
Something had to give and here it is.


Twang!  Barry goes, Dave comes and the band is reborn.  We revel
in electric guitars, voodoo tom toms and the discovery of our
songwriting muscle (which is becoming delightfully erect).


The band are becoming a slick-sounding, commando, trouble-
shooting unit, ready to go anywhere on earth, songs written on
the hoof, rehearsed in dressing room and slammed down here on our
hardest album.  The live machine captured with minimum trimmings.


I gave away my acoustic guitar in a TV contest and had to buy a
new one, suddenly all these new tunes flowed out!  Colin gets
fretless, Dave goes 12-string, Terry still "just 'its 'em".  This
15-track warehouse of songs sounds expansive, fresh, unfinished
and vast.  It was to become many people's favourite XTC album.


Spooky, unreal, dripping and unstable.  The thrills and horrors of
modern life in three-minute scenarios.  No adult allowed unless
accompanied by a child.


Five years of solid touring "wigs out" yours truly and the band
comes off the road.  The result was a record built in troubled
times.  Is he dead?  Will they split?  Have they lost it?  The
answer was no, no and no.  Try a spoonful, out of the sour came
forth the sweet.


If Mummer was a gentle chug through the countryside, then The Big
Express is a loco derailing itself in the rusty goods yard.  An
altogether more industrial affair.  Slashing electric guitars,
sheets of steel bass and diesel oil drums.  An iron opera, steam
powered and brick encased.


Musician and producer Todd Rundgren squeezed the XTC clay into
its most complete/connected/cyclical record ever.  Not an easy
album to make for various ego reasons but time has humbled me
into admitting that Todd conjured up some of the most magical
production and arranging conceivable.  A summer's day cooked into
one cake.


Strip it down, build it up, here comes the dragster, polished and
chrome, it's big, it's long and supercharged with song.  She's
hard and she's fast, eats future and shits past.  Fifteen songs,
a fluorescent feast, you'd better be hungry!


So the world goes urrph! grunt! shifts gear and in comes the new
technology of compact discs.  Suddenly someone says, but what
about all those vinyl B-sides, pseudo-name singles, film tracks
and giveaways that are going to be lost forever?  Embarrassed that
this is the only reason the Rag And Bone compilation exists, it
then goes and gets great critical reviews.  Sometimes I can't
figure you folks out!

PSONIC PSUNSPOT -- The Dukes Of Stratosphear

The Dukes were the band we all wanted to be in when we were at
school.  Purple, giggling, fuzztone, liquid and arriving.  If you
want to know where those cheap charlatans `The Beatles', `Pink
Floyd', `The Byrds', `The Hollies' and `The Beach Boys' stole
their ideas from, well just listen to this and weep.



From: Ray Sherrod <>
Subject: drummers and wearers
Date: Wed, 29 Apr 92 15:15:49 PDT

 1.  Peter Phipps is the only XTC session drummer which I know nothing of.
     Can someone give me a quick bio on the guy?

 2.  I have a Drums and Wires t-shirt which is an extra-large size, but
     it's really made for a person about 5' 9" and weighing 135 pounds.
     It's one of those cheap 50/50 jobs which says "SCREEN STARS" on the
     tag in the back instead of something more respectable, like "Beefy T"
     in a 100% cotton.  Does anyone know where I could buy a good T-shirt
     of the Drums and Wires logo or the Skylarking logo?

 3.  I'm a little concerned about my immediate liking of Nonsuch, except for a
     couple of songs, like Bungalow.  Usually it takes me a good month or two
     or maybe more to realize what a timeless piece of music is.  But Nonsuch
     was immediately likeable, and in a sense, to me that could be an
     indication that the music doesn't have the depth that earlier recordings
     by XTC have.  After one listen, I found myself whistling many songs on
     the record, and many of them are great, but some of the melodies aren't
     as complicated as I like them to be.  Right now the two tracks that stand
     out in their brilliance are "Omnibus" and "That Wave".  Many of the
     tracks, like "Pumpkinhead", "Disappointed", and "Then She Appeared" seem
     to be built for the radio; they are a little too sugar-coated for me.

 4.  Somebody wrote about some demos, two of which being "Omnibus" and
     "Goodbye Humanasaurus".  Where are these from and how can I get some?

 5.  In the May 1 issue of Goldmine magazine on the inside back cover is
     listed an ad for Nonsuch in a 2 LP 45 rpm set for 18 dollars.  No
     mention was made on if it was an import.


     "I decided to drown my sorrows but my sorrows learned to swim"


Subject: Chalkhills #215
From: Desi The Three-Armed Wonder Comic <>
Date: Wed, 29 Apr 92 14:29:52 PDT

john relph writes:

>It seems to me that Geffen are really trying to promote "Nonsvch".
>For once.  Geffen have been pretty bad about promoting XTC records in
>the past, but I think they are putting some money into it this time.
>They've already got at least two and probably three promotional CDs
>floating around (XTC NAC, Radios in Motion, This is Not...).  And in
>the Geffen release of "Nonsvch" there is a flier, in the style of the
>"Nonsvch" cover art, which attempts to show reasons why you should buy
>ALL of Geffen's XTC back catalog.  The comments in the flier are all
>from Andy Partridge!

Don't forget the back cover ad on Pulse!  It's a very nice full color
deal.  In fact, it has the pictures of the band from the booklet in
color, whereas they're black & white in the geffen CD booklet.
It also advertises all the previous discs.  I'm going to snip it and
stick it up on my office wall.  Yup.

Could you post the text of the Geffen flier?

Jon Drukman (finely honed machine)              uunet!sco!jondr
Your head will become a crazy bulbous punchbag of sound.


Date:         Wed, 29 Apr 92 18:29:49 EDT
From: Ben Zimmer <>
Subject:      unreleased demos

>So what demos are there, not on thealbum?
>- Goodbye Humanasaurus
>- Always Winter Never Christmas

Well, people have already mentioned "Rip van Reuben," which would be nice to
see recorded properly.  Another one they just _gotsta_ put on a B-side is
"The Man Who Murdered Love," another great one that somehow got left off.
Now really, how could they have nixed those two in favor of "Bungalow"?
Were they just humoring Colin?
                                                          Ben Zimmer

"Hey! Whaddaya think of that?"


Date: Wed, 29 Apr 92 18:38:04 EDT
Organization: fegmaniax anonymous
Subject: *blush*

as so many people have pointed out, social/political songs are not new
to the band. i plead temporary insanity regarding the past songs. as for
the new ones, i guess they just strike me as a little more, um, cliche
now...i think that the point comparing colin's and andy's songs is valid




Date: Wed, 29 Apr 92 17:35:10 PDT
From: "John M. Relph" <>
Subject: The Vgly Vnderneath

Has anybody noticed that while the song "The Vgly Vnderneath" is listed
as being 2'37 in length, that actually the main part of the song is
2'37, and the wonderful little organ "outro" lasts for another 1'17,
making the total length of the track 3'54 (or so).  I wonder if the song
had been timed in a different mix (perhaps without the ending)
originally, and the Nick Davis mix made it longer...  The world may
never know...

	-- John


Date: Thu, 30 Apr 92 09:55:55 EDT
From: (Mark Glickman)
Subject: My very first thought (about Nonsvch!)

I can't believe I wasn't able to buy the album on the
day it hit the stores!  Well, my track record is still
pretty good (I bought Skylarking, Psonic Psunspot, O & L
all the first day they were out...).

So I bought Nonsvch last night, didn't get home until 12:00am,
but listened to bits and pieces of it.  I listened to Peter P
in its entirety.  Great song (great harmonica!)!  My first
thought was that the verse musically reminded me of
"My Paint Heroes."

The rest of the album seems very promising.  What struck me
most was that the album seems to be much more guitar-oriented
than O & L.  Also it seems that it's not so "thick" or "layered"
as O & L.  This is a *good* sign!  I'm very excited to give
it a listen (over & over & over....).

                 - Mark


From: Mark Laforge <>
Date: 	Wed, 29 Apr 1992 20:00:00 -0400
Subject: chalkhills #214

In reply to: Steve Levenstein <>

>   Hey Mark Laforge, are you still working at A&A Records?
>I've bought many an unusual XTC release there, perhaps because
>you influenced their buyer. A belated Thank You! (g).

I'm sorry but I can't seem to place your name.

No, I'm not at A&A anymore.  I left about a year ago and now work a
couple doors south at HMV on the weekends.  While at A&A my roommate
was the import CD buyer and I was able to influence the import buying
quite a bit.  I got lots of neat stuff over the years.  I don't have
the same pull at HMV but we get lots of interesting import items there

In regards to the Canadian Nonsuch CD release that I spoke of in issue
#213 of Chalkhills, I was wrong about Virgin Canada importing intial
copies of this CD.  "For a limited time" the Canadian version, which
is pressed by Cinram in Canada, will come with the silk-screened
cover.  The catalog number is the same as the UK release (CDV 2699)

Mark LaForge
p.o. box 156, adelaide st. station, toronto, ontario, canada  m5c 2j1
---------------------------------------------------------------------             (OR                 (OR


Date: Thu, 30 Apr 1992 13:20 MDT
Subject: a dance of joy....

Picture this--I am sure that deja vu will overcome
the majority of us--tuesday afternoon, the sun is
shining, my arms and face are changing into that
color that lobsters know and love, and I am on my
way down to the local music haven to purchase an
album that I have been waiting for since the first
time I heard _Oranges and Lemons_.  I burst into the
store, my steps vast with determination, and I grab
the only copy of the new XTC that they had.  (There
aren't many XTC fans around here, so sales weren't
expected to be high).  I sign my name to the check,
praying that I remembered my I.D., and sprint from
the store, my knuckles white from the intensity of
my grip.  Arriving home, I tear the box mercilessly,
only pausing to toss the tattered remains in the
recycling bin, open the case, and with no small
amount of reverence, place the work into my CD
	OK-now for the comments:  I hadn't heard
any of the advance copies, and also hadn't had any
previous experience with the production style of
one Gus Dudgeon.  I didn't know exactly what to
expect, and so approached it with an open mind.  I
must say that I love it.  I wouldn't use the phrase
"over-produced" at all(but then, I love the production
on both "The Big Express" and "Oranges and Lemons."
The album, overall, is great.  After probably five
listens, I have no complaints.  I particularly like
"Books are Burning," and "The Smartest Monkeys."
As an aside:  a friend of mine, who detests XTC, saw
the video and said that he loved it.  Not necessarily
the song, but he loves the video, even enough to sit
through a song that he won't allow himself to like.
And, my roomates' girlfriend asked me rather brightly,
"Who is this you are listening to?"  With a huge smile,
I reply, "XTC."  "Oh," she says, a touch confused, not
recognizing the name, "I like it."  My smile broadens.
"So do I," I say ruefully.   Perhaps this album will
expose more people to the joys of intelligent, twisted
pop.  I am pleased to hear that Geffen is spending
some money and time on this one.
	Oh--In the last Chalkhills, someone mentioned
The Wonder Stuff.  I have to suggest this band to
all of you--at least, give it a try.  The Wonder Stuff
are my personal favorite, followed closely by XTC and
Robyn Hitchcock.  The lyrics are incredible, the music
is at times angry, rocking, poppy, mellow, silly, country,
and most of all, fun.  If anyone is into air guitar, check
out the Wonder Stuff.  Yee-Ha!
I'm off to listen to Nonsvch again,


Date: Thu, 30 Apr 1992 13:24 MDT
Subject: praise for The Relphster

Hey-this is going to have zero XTC content, but
I feel that these words need to be said.
John Relph Is A Stud.
John Relph Is A Stud.
John Relph Is A Stud.
Any arguements?
I just wanted to say thanks, John.
I feel like you are doing a great job
as editor of this fuzzy green monster,
possibly without worthy lavished praise.

tanpoco-Is everyone going to continue
into the summer?  Summer school, for me,
so I should be here for the entire ride
this year.  Yee-Ha.


Date: 30 Apr 92 16:20:41 EDT
From: Jan Schiffman <>
Subject: Re: Chalkhills #215

How Disappointing that XTC has turned into an easy listening band for
the middle aged population. Just as Robert Smith of the Cure said
"I'm older now, I want to write pretty things", XTC is no longer
interested in pushing the envelope of music creativity as they once
were. The band's members are financially secure, married, middle aged
and fat. Many argue that XTC current fodder is "better than any of
the other pop music out there". Well I've never listened to american
pop music (personally I think it is shit) and this is a category, that
until recently, XTC would not have fit in. Every band has only ten
good years to it, then the spark, energy, anger, motivation, call it
what you will, dies.By the way, to the person who complained that
Skylarking was too highly compressed and as a result suffered from
poor sound quality- it was not compressed much more than Mummer, for
example. Sure, as the compression ratio increases the fidelity is
reduced in a number of ways but Todd Rungren "Rungrenifies"
everything he touches and loves to layer sound upon sound requiring
more compression than usual. Try listening to Skylarking on a really
good turntable, like a Thorens or a Linn, not on a shitty CD player.
CD's have horrid fidelity when compared to fresh vinyl. I found
Skylaring a tad to precious and at times tedious anyway.

                                - J. Schiffman

Jan Schiffman
Systems Specialist
The Wharton School
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pa.


Date: Thu, 30 Apr 92 16:01 CDT
From: Jill Strauss <>
Subject: Dear Madam Barnum

I've never written in to Chalkhills before, so hi, everyone! I wanted to know
if anyone else had a feeling of "Oh! That sounds like ... like ... oh drat,
what does that remind me of?" when first hearing Dear Madam Barnum. The best I
could come up with to soothe my imagination is that it sounds like (besides,
of course, sounding exactly like Dear Madam Barnum) the Traveling Wilburys'
song "Last Night" and the Talking Heads (perhaps "And She Was"). Any other

"I don't have a catchy quote to put in this space."


Date: Fri, 1 May 92 00:51:04 -0400
From: (this day's dead so hurry up and bury it)
Subject: More Nonsvch stvff...

First off, I LOVE the sound of this album.  The big drum sounds are
straight out of "Big Express", which is just peachy with me.  Andy's
and Colin's voices are tip-top all throughout... and as many are
pointing out, the production is just fine.  In fact, half the time I
don't even notice myself thinking about it.

I bought the CD and tape (so I could listen to it RIGHT THERE AND THEN
UPON PURCHASE), but had to return the tape because it was only on the
right channel; we found 5 tapes in the store that were like that.

I echo Jon Drukman's comments about the guitar sounds; they overuse
the "slightly-chorused, very treble-y" sound that Dave Gregory is
favoring these days; a little is fine, but variety IS the spice o'

The songs:

The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead - Just wow.  Just WOW.  VERY "Big
Express", to these ears.

My Bird Performs - Hurm.  Jury's still out on this one but I do like

Dear Madam Barnum - a little hokey, but the Gus Dudgeon cameo is cool
and it does chug along nicely.

Humble Daisy - sounds like a "Mummer" b-side, or "Seagulls Screaming Kiss
Her Kiss Her" on valium.

The Smartest Monkeys - "English Settlement" music played by "Big
Express" musicians.  GREAT synth solo, I love it.

The Disappointed - Heresy time.  I don't like it.  The drums and muted
guitar arpeggio line remind me too much of "Everybody Wants to Rule
the World", even more than "King for a Day" did.  It sounds like a TV
theme song.  Totally subpar.

Holly Up On Poppy - Sounds like "Happy Families".  Definately
"Mummer"-esque.  I like the melody a lot.

Crocodile - WOW again.  This is probably my favorite song on the album
so far.  The drum sounds are terrific.  I'm a sucker for
call-and-response vocal/guitar bits anyway.  VERY VERY "Big Express";
ask Drukman about our fights over "I Bought Myself a Liarbird", of
which this very reminiscent in the break.

Rook - So "Mummer" it's gross.  I like the odd piano rhythm in the
break.  A tad fey, but very very pleasant and makes a nice contrast to

Omnibus - Another "English Settlement" song, played by "Oranges &
Lemons" musician.  The verse is ok, but the refrain ("Ain't nothin' in
the world like a...") makes the whole song worth it.  My 2nd favorite
song on the album.  I think this should have ended the album.

That Wave - I dunno.  The starting vocals turn me off immediately (I
think it should have been just Andy's solo vocal for two lines or so,
but that's just me).  More "Big Express" sounds.  Goes on a little too
long, but the ideas in it are cool.

Then She Appeared - The lyrics could be better.  Why are y'all calling
this a Dukes track?  Brian Wilson influence, yes, but the drums are
all wrong (they try for that punchy "Revolver"-era snare sound and
don't quite get there).  The bass line in the break gets pretty funky
for a short moment, though.  The lyrics really rot, though.  Drukman,
mixing does not a genre make - anyone can mix drums to the left.  If
it was REALLY a Beatles mix, the bass and drums would be on one side
and the guitar and vocals would be on the other.  :)

War Dance - Dumb lyrics but the bassoon line is cool and the melody is
neat.  I love the bass punctuations.  Colin's voice sounds good
doubled like this, he should do it more.  I -do- like the couplet
about Churchill, national service, and the Union Jack.  Nice

Wrapped in Grey - Starts off like a Residents song, then the voice
comes in a suddenly I'm listening to "Chalkhills and Children" sped
up.  If he's gonna sing about painters, for god's sake, put on "My
Paint Heroes".  So Beach Boys I could vomit.  Woops, there, I did...
What an out-of-place ending, too.

The Ugly Underneath - Yowsah!  This is more like it.  Check out the
"We Will Rock You" drumbeat.  Very "Big Express"/"Black Sea" for the
verse, then "Mummer" for the break.  Lovely backing tracks.  Really
full, lots going on.  Nicely, nicely!

Bungalow - Bungle-o.

Books Are Burning - Er, good.  Just good.  Not superlative, not
fantastic, not scrotum-tearing nostril-flaring gear-shaft-bearing
all-out sonic hoohah like the end SHOULD be.  Program your CD player
to put this somewhere in the middle and have it end with "Omnibus" or
"The Ugly Underneath".

And there we have it.  Wonder what the next one will be like...

"eats future and shits past"


Date: Thu, 30 Apr 92 23:32:20 PDT
From: "John M. Relph" <>
Subject: Re: nonsuch - the review

Desi The Three-Armed Wonder Comic <> opines:

>the opener, `ballad of peter pumpkinhead' is incredible.
>  one thing that puzzles me is why they called it the BALLAD of
>peter pumpkinhead.  the song isn't balladesque in the least.  it would
>have been more appropriate to call it the LEGEND of peter pumpkinhead.

But one of the connotations of `ballad' is that it relates a perhaps
by now legendary occurrence, part of oral tradition when history was
passed by storytelling and song.

>we move into a rather sweet track by colin called `my bird performs'
>which is really puzzling.  maybe i'm missing something, but this track
>seems appallingly sexist.  obviously the `bird' could be a real bird
>or his woman, but if we're meant to infer the latter choice, lines
>like `the cage is open but she's no desire to fly' seem really sick.

Here's my interpretation: "the cage is open" -- she is free to leave
if she feels she must, he won't try to stop her.  As in, "go ahead and
divorce me if you're not going to be happy with me".  "she's no desire
to fly" -- she IS happy with him, and so she stays.  An ideal
marriage?  But if you take "my bird performs" literally, what is he
saying?  That she's great in bed?  Or merely that her actions provide
him with all the `entertainment' that he needs?

>dear madam barnum - i intepret this as a kissoff from andy to the
>record industry that has treated him like so much shit.

Gee, I thought it was about a dying relationship in which the woman
treats the man poorly and prevaricates to him.  So he's saying, "Hey,
I've had enough of this, I'm getting out, I quit".  I especially like
the lines "If I'm not the sole fool \ Who pulls his trousers down"
which for me mean that there are probably more fish in the sea for
Madam Barnum...

>war dance - nice but mostly harmless.  trite lyrics.

I agree about the lyrics.  Shibumi says it's a Moody Blues song.

>books are burning - i was prepared for an all-out assault on the
>senses, in the tradition of such closing pieces as "funk pop a roll"
>and "train running low on soul coal" (probably still my all time fave
>xtc track) but this one was rather mild, actually.  not a bad song,
>but from the little express and chalkhills reports i was expecting
>something more...

This song REALLY reminds me of "This Is The End", the song that didn't
make it onto "Oranges & Lemons" as the closing track.  Same basic
structure and an instrumental fade-out.

>  soundwise:
>there's this sort of bright jangly electric guitar sound that they use
>a lot on this album that REALLY bothers me - i hate jangly electric
>guitars more than i hate fascism.

Yeah, that's the "groovy Gretch" sound.  Same guitars that The Byrds,
Robyn Hitchcock, The Beatles, The Bangles, and others used and use.
Gotta love it.  Or not.

	-- John


Date: Thu, 30 Apr 92 23:43:37 PDT
From: "John M. Relph" <>
Subject: Virgin Japan does it again

I found a copy of Beeswax on CD the other day, same day that Nonsuch
was released here in the USofA (Rodney King, you're my man), and after
tedious transliteration of the Katekana (or whatever) it seems that
Virgin Japan have seen fit to re-release most of XTC's back catalog,
probably to coincide with the release of Nonsuch.  The release date
listed for Beeswax is 1 April 1992, so I would guess the others were
re-released on that date as well.  Here's a list of titles and catalog

White Music, VJCP-23132
Go 2, VJCP-23133
Drums and Wires, VJCP-23134
Black Sea, VJCP-23135
English Settlement, VJCP-23136
Mummer, VJCP-23137
The Big Express, VJCP-23138
Skylarking, VJCP-23139
Oranges and Lemons, VJCP-23141
Beeswax, VJCP-23145
The Compact XTC: The Singles 1978-85, VJCP-23140
Explode Together (The Dub Experiments 78-80), VJCP-23143
Rag & Bone Buffet (Rare Cuts & Leftovers), VJCP-23144
The Dukes of Stratosphear: Chips From the Chocolate Fireball (An Anthology),

Oh, and the CD booklet had wonderful (as in completely terrible)
transcriptions of the lyrics for the songs on Beeswax.  Soon, soon,
soon, I will enter the lyrics for Punch and Judy.  Amazing.

	-- John


Welcome back, Jim McGowan!

For all administrative issues, such as change of address,
withdrawal from the list, fan club addresses, discography
requests (last update 29 April), back issues, etc., send
a message to the following address:


The Chalkhills archives are available at "".

All views expressed in Chalkhills are those of the
individual contributors only.  ____ tha police!

Go back to the previous page.