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Subject: Chalkhills #253


                  Chalkhills, Number 253

                 Sunday, 13 December 1992
Today's Topics:
                           rook
               Re: Bill Nelson's Red Noise
                   10 Years whining....
                 those were the days....
                     Re: Bill Nelson
                     explode together
                  More XTC Then and Now
                   Red Noise & Rebuttal
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Subject: rook
From: Desi The Three-Armed Wonder Comic <jondr@sco.com>
Date: Tue, 8 Dec 92 13:29:57 PST

Ray Sherrod <rsherrod@ecst.csuchico.edu> opines:
>Andy sings, "If I die and I find I have a soul inside
>             Promise me you'll take it up on it's final ride"
>
>  I would conjecture that these are fairly soft words for a devout athiest.

what does belief in a soul have to do with belief in a god?

Jon Drukman (God's personal DJ)                 uunet!sco!jondr   jondr@sco.com
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Your head will become a crazy bulbous punchbag of sound.

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Subject: Re: Bill Nelson's Red Noise
From: buzzsaw@bluemoon.use.com (Patrick Buzby)
Date: Tue, 08 Dec 92 21:41:53 EST
Organization: Blue Moon BBS ((614) 868-998[024])

     I have Bill Nelson's "Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam," the album
right after the Red Noise album.  One song, "False Alarms," sounds a lot
like early XTC, but@ most of the rest doesn't.  Perhaps the Red Noise
album is entirJely in that vein, but I suspect that most of the later
Nelson albums don't have much in common with XTC.

 This is from
     buzzsaw@bluemoon.use.com
who doesn't have his (or her) own obnoxious signature yet

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Date: Wed, 9 Dec 92 06:55:51 PST
From: driver8@night.corp.sun.com (Albert Handa)
Subject: 10 Years whining....

In regards to Melinda (I assume :-) challenge to the critics to send her
a tape of anything as good as NONSUCH....If the record is offered for sale,
and people are expected to pay real money for it, then the artist is defin-
itely subject to opinion.  I know about artistic merit and all that, but in
a perfect world, XTC would have stopped release of any music they thought a
producer had screwed up.  Frankly, I like the band enough that I would cut
them some slack, even on a recording like NONSUCH, which I consider to be
slightly mannerist and overly baroque.  I'd certainly buy their next record
when it comes.  But come on...asking people to send their own music as an
argument?  Does one have to be a peer of XTC to criticise?

Bill Nelson Red Noise Section:  I don't think Bill did a lot of stuff that
one could consider XTC-like.  His guitar style, as a rule, had a sort of a
very fat, jazzy distortion.  If one wants to hear jerky rhythms, atonalities,
quick odd guitar riffs and mannered vocals, then check out some of the early
and middle James Blood Ulmer records (er..tapes or CDs).  That's definitely
more in the harmelodic jazz world, though....

New Ten Year Plan:  I don't think XTC has reached it's ten year cycle and
is in decline.  I think they've just stayed too long in a particular phase.
That late 60's pop-intricacy stuff is sort of getting old.  The key record-
ing from this late period will not be SkyLarking or even Big Express, but
25 O'Clock (so it will be written by press-release hacks who will some day
be dependent on me for a paycheck and to stay involved in the glamor of the
music business).  The Dukes were the 60's XTC they really wanted to be.
Most major artists like Dylan, Kinks, Lou Reed, Tom Verlaine (er...fan's
choice there I admit) tend to change from record to record.  It might be
time for XTC to make a radical style change.  There's been enough personel
changes that there's no point in arguing that it's the same XTC as ten
years ago.  So, a radical change is possible.  Also, a truly great artist will
take a chance and do something that might piss off their cult (the rest will
buy the stuff in the rarities compilations later, so a cutting of losses is
possible).

-Al "I haven't traded NONSUCH in at the local used-record store so I must
still like them" Handa.

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Date: Wed, 9 Dec 92 15:17:03 CST
From: tmeyer@il.us.swissbank.com (Tom Meyer)
Subject: those were the days....

        Ok, there seems to be another debate brewing about the '10
Years' theory advanced recently by a couple of subscribers.

        I think it is dangerous, though, to apply it universally
(with a -R for all us UNIX geeks) to all bands that manage to hang
around long enough to fall into this situation.  I think each band
has to be looked at on its own (de)merits and not with a blind
gee-I-wish-they-were-still-making-music-like-in-1977 attitude.

        In that XTC were in the legendary "Class of '77", I do think
it is fair to compare them to bands of that era. The Boys are among
the last survivors (still then same band, more the most part) of this
period and it is only natural for them to want to make more mature
music.  Would anyone still take them seriously if they still sang
about 'Radios in Motion' and dancing like a 'Spinning Top' ??  Take a
look at other members of this class did/are doing:

Sex Pistols - Didn't even last a year, PiL made one classic album
        (Metal Box) and had one semi-hit ('Rise'), but have remained
        somewhat of an enigma to most.

Talking Heads - Byrne *did* seem to mellow with age, with their last
        LP being release in 1988.  The band is kaput now, though.
        Their last real big effort was probably "Speaking in
        Tongues".  After their first 4 ('77, More Songs About
        Buildings and Food, Fear of Music, and Remain in Light
        ) everything else seemed to pale in comparison.  Now let's
        here everyone chime in "XTC are the same way, blah blah
        blah..."  In actuality, they're not.  The Heads initial sound
        was much closer to where they ended up that is/was XTC's.
        While Black Sea and English Settlement may be great records,
        Andy has said time and time again that he did not like making
        that type of music (moreso with Black Sea, I think).  XTC
        still had a lot of room to develop after these records, while
        the Heads' crowning achievement was probably "Remain in
        Light".

Elvis Costello - He isn't making any more "This Year's Model"'s or
        "My Aim is True"'s. While "Spike" was one of the best of '89,
        his last was somewhat disappointing.  His development, I
        think, closely mirrors that of AP and both have shown the
        same type of maturity in their recent work.

Wire - Pretty much impossible to pin down, since the music they make
        now is soooo different than the art-punk of their first 3.
        They went from a weird punk band to a weird dance band(that
        you can't really dance to, either).  But, they have shown
        considerable development/influence throughout their career

Robyn Hitchcock - Still makes relatively the same stuff, although
        somewhat smoothed over.  He too was tamed by Paul Fox.  Once
        in a while still lets you reminisce the good old days of
        songs about fish and disembodied heads with LPs like 'Eye'. I
        think he suffered on 'Globe of Frogs' and to a lesser degree
        'Queen Elvis' by trying to force the weirdness that
        characterized his earlier work.

I think the bottom line is this: Everyone gets older, wiser, etc,
etc... To expect a group to keep making the same music album after
album.  Few bands can get away with it, although many try.  Look at
the Beatles.  They lasted less than 8 years and probably changed
their style more times than any band in history.

We should al be thankful for the fact that Andy, Colin and Dave have
persevered this long.

Just my (little more than) $.02 worth.

-tom
tmeyer@il.us.swissbank.com

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Date: Thu, 10 Dec 92 08:49:40 -0500
From: lee@quincy.cs.umass.edu (Peter Lee)
Subject: Re: Bill Nelson

John Relf writes:

>A friend I met through Guitar Craft sent me a tape a few years back, and
>it included a couple of tracks from "Bill Nelson's Red Noise", "Revolt
>Into Style" and "Don't Touch Me (I'm Electric)".  I was listening to
>them the other day and I was struck by the similarities between those
>two songs and XTC's "White Music".  Has anybody else noticed this?  The
>jerky rhythms, atonalities, quick odd guitar riffs, and mannered vocals?
>Is the remainder of "Red Noise" similar to those two songs?  Or perhaps
>my friend, also an XTC fan, taped those two songs with XTC in mind...

Yes, both the remainder of "Red Noise" and some of Nelson's other early work
(check out "Atom Man Loves Radium Girl" or "Mr. Magnetism Himself" from the
"Two-Fold Aspect Of Everything" compilation, or several of the tracks from his
first solo CD, "Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam") has a remarkably similar
sound to early XTC (say, the first three albums).  He's gone through several
stylistic changes since, though, and his more recent stuff bears little
resemblance to his early material (he's put out several atmospheric, mostly
electronic instrumental albums, a couple of very lush studio "pop" albums, and
six CDs of 4 track demos (mostly featuring vocals) that rival the quality of
many fully produced albums).  It's all quite good, IMHO.

                                                                -Peter Lee

/-------------------- Peter E. Lee, Software Conductor ----------------------\
|                       Specular International, Inc.                         |
|       lee@cs.umass.edu or (413) 256-1329 (H) or (413) 549-7600 (W)         |
\-------- Beauty is 24 bits deep, plus eight bits of alpha channel ----------/

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From: melinda@world.std.com (Melinda M Hale)
Subject: explode together
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 92 22:53:21 EST

Jim, I'm sure you'll get a million replies to this, but...

If memory serves, EXPLODE TOGETHER is a compilation of two earlier
recordings, GO+, and TAKE AWAY/THE LURE OF SALVAGE.  GO+ was a freebie
with the original (UK only?) release of XTC's second album, GO2, and TAKE
AWAY/THE LURE OF SALVAGE is a solo album Andy did.  They mostly consist of
new songs constructed from riffs/melodic motifs from XTC songs, and TAKE
AWAY has some original songs by Andy.  These are not XTC-sounding songs,
though -- they are late 70s/early 80s experimental synth stuff.  It's fun
as far as "spot the song", but if, like you say, you're not a fanatic, you
probably won't find it very interesting.  I think it's marginally
interesting, but I *am* a fanatic. :-)

Melinda

melinda@world.std.com
"They taught me how to work, but they can't teach me how to shirk
correctly..."

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From: Jim_McGowan@qad.com
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 92 15:38:07 -0800
Subject: More XTC Then and Now

As far as the old versus new XTC debate goes, I'd suggest that there's also
something to be said for the way production values have changed in recent
years.  Black Sea/English Settlement-era XTC albums had the best "sound" in my
opinion.  They used a big, live-room ambience that sounded great when played
really loud.  Compare the mix and ambience of "Jason and the Argonauts" to a
recent hit like "Mayor of Simpleton" and you'll see what I mean (and make sure
to play both of them loud enough to annoy your neighbors!). Plus, I think they
were more experimental with their choice of instruments and tones in the early
days. Both of these factors suggest to me that the producer/engineer/studio
has a lot to do with the difference. While I thought he was highly overrated
in most cases, Steve Lillywhite did wonders for the XTC "big sound". He liked
drowning everything in reverb, but he liked to mix the drums way up front,
which I think was a good thing since I still feel that Terry Chambers was an
exceptional musician.

I miss the old sound of their records. Today, every pop album seems to use the
same "King-Kong-In-A-Beatbox" midi-drum sounds, the same clear, crystalline and
processed-to-death guitar tones, etc.  Makes you wonder what the boys would
sound like if they recorded the next album in a funky, low-end 16 track studio
and had all the time in the world to do it and be creative. Also makes you
wonder how they'd sound (here comes that word) live, don't it?

Seasons greetings all!

- Jim McGowan
  qad.inc
  6450 Via Real
  Carpinteria, CA 93013
  (805) 684-6614
  jjm@qcohp01.qad.com

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Date: 12 Dec 92 15:21:37 EST
From: Steve Levenstein <70750.1117@compuserve.com>
Subject: Red Noise & Rebuttal

   Our Fearless Leader, John Relph, mentioned Bill Nelson's "Red Noise"
in the last Chalkhills, and commented on their real similarity to early
XTC. I recently bought the CD, and all of the tracks are in the same
style. The CD also includes a couple of live bonus tracks. Bill Nelson
is an acknowledged AP fan, at least he said so in an interview from
"Spiral Scratch" magazine. I believe "Red Noise" only put out the one
album, in 1979. Pity!
   In reply to the person (was it Melissa Hale?) who objected to what
she terms "whining" about XTC not being what they used to be, I say
Whoa!! (or should that be Woe!!). Hey, I wasn't whining, only expressing
my feelings about XTC recent "inconsistantcy" IMHO. I never said that I
didn't like XTC anymore, (I do!), only that (again IMHO) they have lost
the sense of finger-on-the-pulse urgency & relevance that they once had.
I remember buying Black Sea, listening to it a few times, and thinking
that they've lost it, that there's nothing appealing on this album.
Over the next year, I gradually came around to loving every song on the
album (well, except "Travels In Nihilon", which I still don't get).
I've listened to Oranges & Lemons and Nonsuch a LOT, and I feel that
these two efforts gave up all their musical secrets to me too soon.
   XTC is still my favourite band, and I love them enough to feel
personally disappointed by their shortcomings. One thing is certain,
their next album/CD will be bought at first sight!
---> Steve
"Help me get through these cynical days!"

Distribution:
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