Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills #310

                  Chalkhills, Number 310

                 Friday, 10 December 1993
Today's Topics:
                Re: Mid-Life Crises of XTC
                   Re: Chalkhills #309
                   Re: Chalkhills #309
                 The (XTC) Meeting Place
                   Re: Chalkhills #309
                    White Music sux!?
                     Just a minute...
              Psonic Psunspot marbled vinyl
                   XTC, TBE and Mummer
                  Re: Aimee Mann in ATL
                   Re: Chalkhills #309
            Re: andy's solo record/big express

Date: Mon, 6 Dec 93 10:07:51 PST
From: "John Relph" <>
Subject: Re: Mid-Life Crises of XTC

Will Kreth <>, had to be Wired to have written:
>it seems like the
>band is finally having their mid-life crises. About time! They've got to
>get out of the house some more. "Swindon this and Swindon that."

Probably true.  Whilst I appreciate that we all have our troubles, I
think a bit of a shake up is good for anybody.  Change is the only
constant.  And change, a state of flux, the unexpected, the unknown,
can be an inspiration.

> Partridge on stage in NYC, Moulding playing bass on
>an upcoming Sam Phillips album

Any further information on the Sam Philips rekkid?

> I'm sorry, but the whole martyr-bit about the
>record company continually asking them to bend-over is sad and worn.

And JoE Silva <> seems to agree:
>  What!?! That's it, that's the last time I want to hear Mr. Partridge
>cry "shyness" about playing in front of people. Too bad about the
>divorce but maybe Andy's getting his second wind and will loosen up again.

Remember, irrational fears are just that: irrational.  Sometimes you
work past them, but they are always there.  I just hope Andy has the
courage to continue.  But I think he has felt no need.  To paraphrase
Andy, "The Beatles were their records."  But if they DO tour, I'll see
you there.

> Hmm..yeah, this xTc as a cottage indutry is probably over. If there
>are no plans for an album at this stage, they'll either jump ship to a
>new label or call it quits soon. What do think JoHn?

I think they are trying to go to a new label.  I hope there is a
company out there who doesn't mind not having the BIG CHART HIT and
will settle for respectable sales of a proven long term artist.
Perhaps they don't set any sales records, but they do sell records.  A
predictable amount.  There should be someone out there willing to take
them on, perhaps even more than willing.

Perhaps XTC should be MORE of a cottage industry.  Captain Sensible's
last record was not released on a major label.  Martin Newell's latest
is far from mainstream.  But it can be found, and it is being bought.
(Which reminds me: I believe two New Musik albums have been released
on CD.)  But would they OR their fans be satisfied by less than
Hollywood production?  Good question.  I think they need to be well-
recorded, but I don't think it has to be Steve Lillywhite, Ocean
Studios, or Gus Dudgeon.  Something better than Andy's shed, and a
willingness on XTC's part, which is to say on Andy's part, to be truly
produced.  Todd shook Andy's world.  Perhaps it is best that his world
be a little shaken.

        -- John


Date: Mon, 06 Dec 1993 16:57:02 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Say, what's the big idea?" <>
Subject: Re: Chalkhills #309

I haven't had much to say in so long, and this issue I have TONS, but
I'll try to be brief.

First off, I have to say that thinking about all this news about meeting/
talking to Dave Gregory, and Andy appearing onstage in NYC was enough
to distract me from pretty much my entire workday.  Some people have
all the luck!

I'm not sure who said:
> I'm always amazed when I hear new B-sides and demo tapes by the songs
> that just get thrown away or never even considered.  What gets
> people's vote for the best unused XTC demo?  I'd vote for several;

I agree.  I love "The Good Things", certainly more than the stuff of
Colin's that made it on the O&L album (don't flame me, I usually think
Colin's stuff is GREAT).  I suppose a lot of the time the songs just
don't fit the rest of the album, like "Living In a Haunted Heart" is
wonderful, but I'm not sure it would have fit in with O&L.  Same goes
for "The Troubles", which I can never get enough of.

Patty Haley said:
> While I am fully aware that it's differences of opinion that make
> the world go 'round, etc.  Calling "The Big Express" "by far the
> of Blows" and "I Bought Myself a Liarbird" don't pack nearly the wallop
> that "Seagulls. . ." or "Wake Up" or "All You Pretty Girls" do.  And
> "This World Over" is worth the price of admission alone.  Yes, the

difference of opinion, indeed.  I think "Reign" and "Liarbird" have
several points above "Seagulls", and I've always thought "This World
Over" a little bit...well, nice, but boring.

> "Black Sea" as best XTC LP.

Now, THIS I agree with :-)

Then Derek Miner said:
>         I'd like to convince Virgin that they need a /second/ Rag&Bone
> type CD with extra tracks. I have a list of 30 or so oddities and
> B-sides that haven't been collected. Many of them were released before
> Rag and Bone Buffet.

Yeah, I made a tape once for a friend that was Rag and Bone type stuff
that wasn't on the R&B cd, and I was surprised at how much I was able
to come up with -- and that was in my collection, which doesn't even
touch that of many of the folk on this list.

Markus De Shon said:
> BTW, the other night I had to pull an all-nighter writing a term paper,
> so I did an XTC marathon: I started with White Music, and made
> it all the way to Skylarking by the time I was done and had to go to
> school. It was a great way to keep my spirits up through the night.

I used to do this all the time when I had to clean the house or
something, just start at White Music and go right on up.  It really got
me to appreciate Go2, though I rarely got past Mummer or Big Express.

Tim Connors gave us an interesting tidbit on the Small Faces and:
> Anyone who has heard the Dukes but not the bands they tip their
> hats to ought to check out this album, and also late Beatles,
> Yardbirds, Byrds, Love (especially _Forever Changes_), Hollies,
> Beach Boys (particularly _Pet Sounds_), and Kinks (the era
> covered by the Kinks Kronikles collection.)

I would add Frank Zappa and Capt. Beefheart.  I've often thought the
strange laughing at the end of "Albert Brown" referred to Zappa's

Kyle violently says:
> These comments prompt my big hands back into action. How dare you suggest to
> skip Big Express for Mummer!? In fact, I pride myself in ~not~ owning a copy
> of either Mummer or White Music. I find I appreciate XTC's genius much better
> without these two ~horrible~ albums.

I have to say that for a long long time I never listened to _Mummer_
because I didn't like it the first few times.  Then months later I
pulled it back out in desperation for new XTC, and decided I liked it
quite a bit.  I did the same thing with _Skylarking_.  For the record, I
loved _Big_Express_ from the moment "Wake Up" started.

> Here's a question to ponder: Could you go through life with a significant
> other that DOESN'T like XTC?


I think that's about covered it -- whew!


Melinda M. Hale      |  In a caboose lived a moose named Bruce. Next to
                     |  the caboose was a spruce in which did roost
in Massachusetts     |  Toulouse the goose. Whenever he had an excuse   |  he'd visit Bruce and they'd drink juice.


Date: Mon, 6 Dec 1993 18:06:50 -0500 (EST)
From: Derek C Miner <>
Subject: Re: Chalkhills #309

> I'm a new subscriber, so I'm probably asking an old question, but:
> does anyone agree that XTC are not great judges of their own material?
> I'm always amazed when I hear new B-sides and demo tapes by the songs
> that just get thrown away or never even considered.  What gets
> people's vote for the best unused XTC demo?  I'd vote for several;
> "My Paint Heroes," "Everything," "This is the End," "The Good
> Things," "Young Cleopatra" and "Always Winter Never Christmas" spring
> to mind immediately as songs that would have been as good as or
> better than tracks that appeared on the albums in question.  The song
> selection on O&L seems to have been particularly amiss.  I wonder
> what this has to do with the evil record company we keep hearing so
> much about.

        I would partially agree there. I haven't heard many of their
demos, but I have heard "Always Winter, Never Christmas," and thought it
was great. It even sounded pretty polished for a demo. As for Oranges and
Lemons, the songs were picked by the producer, Paul Fox, for that album.
Although I would agree with your idea of XTC as bad judges because they
all rejected "Merely A Man," which I thought was a great track.

> My friend Kent wonders if Andy is trying to reincarnate John Lennon by
> leaving his wife in the English countryside and moving to New York
> with a strange woman.  Let's hope an assassination isn't in the works.
> n.o.

        I've always considered Partridge to be quite like John Lennon,
especially in interviews. This incident you mention makes things even a
little more uncanny. I also hope there isn't an assasination in the works!

        Derek Miner


From: Daniel Kelley <>
Subject: The (XTC) Meeting Place
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 1993 15:17:17 -0800 (PST)

Hello, I'm Daniel, yet another new Chalkhillian.  One of my
friends mailed me an article about Chalkhills; I think it was from

I discovered XTC about three years ago when I heard someone's
_Skylarking_ tape.  "Interesting," I thought.  I requested it
for a Xmas or birthday (can't remember which) gift and got hooked.
So many styles on one album!  And I still think _Skylarking_ contains
some of their most finely crafted lyrics.

        Does anyone else think it's strange that "Funk Pop a Roll"
is at the end of _Mummer_? It's far less mellow than everything else
on the album, in my opinion. It sounds to me like it was left over from
around the _Black Sea_ period.  Does it have something to do with the fact
that the CD version was remixed?  Not that I have a problem with it; I think
it's a great song wherever they put it.

         Thanks for the great mailing-list,



Date: Tue, 7 Dec 93 09:39:41 GMT
From: (Brian Agnew)
Subject: Re: Chalkhills #309

Dear Chalkhills,

Thanks for all those who replied to my query about which album to buy next
(having purchased Skylarking, Oranges and Lemons and Nonsuch). It was good
to get such a huge number of replies.

In fact just after posting I went out and bought The Big Express. Currently it
hasn't grabbed me that much, but it's early days yet. I think English Settlement
will be next.



Subject: White Music sux!?
Date: Tue, 07 Dec 93 10:09:17 CST
From: Vince Layton <>

I find it interesting to see how many people dislike _White Music_
(which I guess would extend to _Go 2_ as well)_. I must admit,
there is quite a difference between the Barry Andrews era sound
and the Dave Gregory era sound. As you can probably guess, I
like _White Music_.

I grew up in Houston where dinosaur rock was king. By the time
I hit high school(1977), I was looking for something more
musically challenging. One day, I went to the neighborhood
record store(Evolution) and spied an import hanging on the wall
by a group named XTC. It was priced low for an import so I
took a chance. I liked what I heard, especially "This is Pop"
and "Statue of Liberty". Next, I infected my friends. I couldn't
wait for the next album. When _Go 2_ came out, I had to buy it
as a French import.

Now, I was already a fan of Beefheart, so that probably helped
with my appreciation of the early XTC sound. My highlight
of being a fan occurred when the import of _English Settlement_
hit the stores. I listened to that album daily for about
6 months. Never before and never since have I come that close
to wearing out the grooves of an album(well, the Pogues' _If I
Should Fall..._ was almost in the same league).

But I digress. I still like the quirky pop of the early albums.
I wouldn't rate them as masterpieces when compared to the entire
XTC catalog, but at the time of their release they were a breath
of fresh air and a kick in the pants to the sorry state of pop
music. I'm sure they must sound rather shocking to someone
weaned on albums from XTC's "Beach Boys" period. ;^D (Damn, I
didn't know I could string together so many cliches)

vince layton

Vince Layton


From: Jules <>
Date: 8 Dec 93 11:43:43 GMT
Subject: Just a minute...

What is this problem the you all appear to have with Mummer?

Kyle Skrinak called it a "horrible" album, but I must take issue with
this view.  How anyone can dislike an album which includes "Love on a
Farmboy's Wages", "Wonderland" (one of Colin's best songs) and
"Ladybird" is beyond me.  Okay, it sounds different, but it's all the
better for it.

Soupy Twist

Stephen: And now, Mr Hugh Laurie will say the word "Vilm".
Hugh:    Vilm.


Date: 09 Dec 1993 11:41:37 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Psonic Psunspot marbled vinyl
Organization: Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Hey folks,

        Been enjoying the interchanges of opinion re: favorite
albums.  Will not participate myself because my mood changes from
week to month.  Lately it's been all Drums and Wires for me, but again,
next week it'll probably be Mummer.

        I've got a question though.  I noticed in the XTC bio,
_Chalkhills and Children_, that only 5,000 copies of the Dukes'
Psonic Psunspot were released in purple marble vinyl, with a gatefold
cover.  I have one.  I thought they were all that way.  So, not
to sound too mercanary or anything, but I was wondering if
anyone had an idea of its value as a collectible.  Since I have
made the switch to cd's, I might be willing to  sell or
trade it if someone is very interested.  I don't mean to tease by
saying "might."  It's just that the idea that I may (or may not,
I don't know) have a valuable or notable XTC collectible has only
recently been brought to my attention.  So, I haven't really pondered
what I may or may not do with it.  If anyone can
clue me in, I'll be most appreciative.

        As may be implied from the above rambling, I'm more interested
in collecting XTC music than XTC things.

        Keep on keepin on..

        -Mr. Ed


Date: Fri, 10 Dec 93 11:26:47
Subject: XTC, TBE and Mummer

> (Patty Haley)
> Subject: regarding stuff in #308 and then some
> As far as XTC calling it quits, I doubt it.

I agree.  They don't really have the pressures that cause most bands to break
up.  Surely the usual reason for a band splitting up is that the members
spend so much time together touring and in the studio that they end up
sick of the sight of one another.  Not much danger of that with a band
who don't tour and who only record one album every three years!

> From: Helchick <>
> Subject: new/old groupie
> ... "Mummer".  It has a couple of low spots, but it's perfect
> listening for this time of year.  It was supposed to be a summer album,
> but it's got a quintessential sliding-into-autumn/falling-into-winter
> sound (why IS that?--or is it just me?).

I've always thought of it that way too, but I thought it was because I
first got the album in the Autumn six years ago and listened to it a lot
in the car at that time.  I have found that with other albums too (not
just by XTC) - that I tend to associate them with the time of year when
I first buy them (and therefore listen to them a lot).  I hadn't really
thought before that perhaps some albums already have a seasonal feel which
helps to promote this association.

> John wrote:
> I still do not understand what people do not like about _The Big Express_.

Although I like to go back and listen to tracks like "Seagulls Screaming"
>from time to time, I can't say that this album has ever really grabbed me,
but I must confess that English Settlement / Mummer was my favourite XTC

All this discussion leads me to wonder how people's views on XTC albums
relate to the order in which they encountered them.  Is it true, say,
that someone who got into the band at the time of "Go 2" (or even
"White Music") is more likely to like everything the band has done?
Do people like best the album they heard first?



Date: Fri, 10 Dec 93 11:51:19 EST
Subject: Re: Aimee Mann in ATL


I have a little more information on the Atlanta Aimee Mann show.
Cover is $8.00 advance and $10.00 at the door. I'm not sure where
to buy advance tickets (haven't done it myself), but I would
imagine it would be at the Point.

-Markus De Shon


Date:         Fri, 10 Dec 93 11:51:04 EST
From: "John M. Chamberlain" <>
Organization: The American University
Subject:      Re: Chalkhills #309

Hey, y'all.  My name's John Chamberlain, and I don't know enough about
email to be confident that anubody's going to see this, but I'll plow on
knowing that just the catharsis of getting my XTC opinions on the screen
will be valuable.
     I'm a clinical psych doctoral student at American U. in DC (please
don't ask me for emotional help, I haven't learned anything yet), and my
first semester has shown me that I don't know squat about squat.  But there
are a couple of things I know as objective truth, and I hope those of you
who don't agree will look into your souls to find out what's missing:
1) XTC has put out the best catalog of recorded music of any rock band
ever, followed closely by the Beatles.
2) The Big Express is their best album.
Hear my words and believe in them.  I don't claim to know everything.  I
don't know what the third-best band is (although they are a distant third).  I
don't know what XTC's best song is.  I don't know how to explain the lapse in
taste that was Oranges and Lemons.  I don't even know Andy's middle name.I
barely know my own.
     But I know The Big Express is the best.
     Now, we're talking about the vinyl here.  The CD has the excellent
Blue Overall, which I'd have substituted for "You're the Wish...," but
"Washaway" brings the whole thing down a bit.
     If you don't appreciate the relentless inspiration behind this
masterpiece, the attention to sonic detail, the totally creative chordal,
melodic, rhythmic, and technological effort, all in service of the
maximal possible (to date) emotional impact, all I can think is that you
haven't listened to it enough.
     Go home.  Put on the headphones.  Check out the way the guitar in
Wake Up messes with your head.  Check out the bizarre water-droppy harmonic
sound preceding the vocal lines in the second verse and how it changes
each time.  Digthe drumming and piano at the end.
     And that's just the beginning.
     Sure, English Settlement and Black Sea and Mummer and Skylarking and
Nonsuch and Drums and Wires and the Dukes are great, great stuff.
     But they're not The Big Express.


Date: Fri, 10 Dec 93 9:48:52 PST
From: "John Relph" <>
Subject: Re: andy's solo record/big express

Neil <> writes:
>About the Big Express;
>I find "I Remember the Sun" awkward and tuneless

It always reminds me of "If I Only Had a Brain" from _The Wizard of
Oz_.  And it's very summery, even in its darkness.

>By the way, what does the title refer to?  (I
>think they should have used the working title "Shaking Skin House")

The title of the album?  _The Big Express_?  I would think that the
big express is the journey of life!  Especially in light of the lyrics
to "Train Running Low on Soul Coal".

But I also liked the working title _Hard Blue Rayhead_.  What does
THAT title mean?

>I'm a new subscriber, so I'm probably asking an old question, but:
>does anyone agree that XTC are not great judges of their own material?


>What gets
>people's vote for the best unused XTC demo?  I'd vote for several;
>"My Paint Heroes," "Everything," "This is the End," "The Good
>Things," "Young Cleopatra" and "Always Winter Never Christmas" spring
>to mind

I definitely think that "This is The End" should have been used
instead of "Chalkhills and Children".  (Not that I think "Chalkhills
and Children" is such a bad song, no.  Just that I think "This is The
End" is much better.  But without "Chalkhills and Children" I probably
wouldn't have chosen "Chalkhills" as the name of this mailing list.)

I also like "My Paint Heroes", and I especially love "Gangway Electric
Guitar Coming Through"!  It's so ... Yeah!  (I guess I have a hard
time using words to describe my appreciation of that song, in case you
couldn't tell.)  "Living in a Haunted Heart" is also one of my
favourites, and my ex-girlfriend Jennifer loved that song to death.
(She also could listen to _Skylarking_ non-stop for hours.  Just put
it on repeat, she's happy now.)  "Terrorism" has a great sound, but I
can understand why it wasn't used.  It would have been nice to hear it
recorded for a B-side, instead of using the demo.  And "Obscene
Procession" is just an evil wonderful acerbic attack.  I love it.  But
I can definitely see what that track was never used, who could see
"Stink of bacon, defoliants, fear and small cigars / Whips and semen,
adulterous confessions" appearing on an XTC album?  Virgin would have
just said No.  (And perhaps many listeners.)

>Does anyone know where those little songs of Andy's, "Nicely Nicely
>Jane" and "Susan Revolving" come from?

I think they were just some more songs written and never used.  I
thought they were originally destined to be Dukes tracks.  But I don't
really know.

        -- John


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