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Subject: Chalkhills #311


                  Chalkhills, Number 311

                Tuesday, 14 December 1993
Today's Topics:
              XTC:  Something For Everybody
                   variety is the spice
                   Christmas Countdown
                   RE: Chalkhills #310
                        re: mummer
                   Re: Chalkhills #310
                 Lifestyle's Complexities
              Buy the Martin Newell record!
                     Andy/xTc Breakup
                        wake up...
                     ICE Holiday Poll
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From: lsweet@netcom.com (Lawrence Sweet)
Subject: XTC:  Something For Everybody
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1993 15:37:45 -0800 (PST)

I first encountered XTC in 1979 directly after Drums And Wires was
released.  My friend bought the LP because he liked the cover.  I thought
the music was better than the cover.

The Andrews era isn't really my cup of tea, although "This Is Pop" and "Are
You Receiving Me" still ring my chimes a bit.

I've bought every XTC album in the Gregory era and found something to like
in each of them.  I have my favorites like everybody does, but I like each
and every one of the discs.  Todd is one of my favorite musicians as well;
I thought"Skylarking" was great, and that disc did a lot to break XTC in
the States.  Andy had a hard time with the production experience; he
apparently looks back onit with much less ire today.

Me, I'd buy 'em ALL over again....They all bring back special,
positive memories for me.

Happy holidays and peace to you all!
--

Lawrence Sweet                             "Every wave is new until it breaks"
San Diego, CA     lsweet@netcom.com                --Neil Young (1981)

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Date: Sat, 11 Dec 93 12:11:58 EST
From: Jeff Rosedale <rosedale@columbia.edu>
Subject: variety is the spice

After listening to XTC somewhat religiously for almost 10 years, I've
found it hard to dislike any album they've made.  Some have taken a few
listenings to catch on; perhaps Funk Pop a Roll was intentionally
included to prevent listeners expecting something "XTC" from tossing
the album out the window after the first listening (may I addd that it
has caught on with me in a big way since then).  Big Express was also a
weird first listen; I think I was dismayed to hear so much synth, after
liking the single "All you Pretty Girls" more than most people I know
(the bass chord on the refrain "do something for me, boys..." is
awesome at high decibel levels).

The early stuff requires a different approach, but I liked it
immediately.  White Music is just like driving 90 mph with the windows
down, a great sound experience!  Go2 was a little less accessible for
me, but some speedy good humor pervades much of the album.  I confess
this is probably my least favorite on balance, thoug I quite liked the
Barry Andrews tunes!

Then there were the blowaways:  Drums and Wires (the first album I
heard end-to-end, after which I knew I was addicted forever); Black
Sea; and English Settlement.  There just aren't any low points to be
found here, and I consider these to be among the fines pop albums
anyone ever made.

The "new stuff", Oranges and Lemons and Nonsuch, are again a little
softer, synth-saturated, and predictable.  They're great to listen to,
and I love the lyrics, but they lack the edge of their finest
mid-career work.

Then there are the "class by themselves" records- the Dukes' work and
Skylarking.  They are just different, really excellent, and show XTC's
talent for diversity (and Todd's stubbornness of production).

I can't help thinking that XTC has been getting a little self-indulgent
with their later works, and perhaps those who say a shakeup in their
lives will be good for them are right.  And I definitely agree that
some of the b-sides and "throwaways" are unbelievably good- the Bull
with the Golden Guts compared with Jules Verne reminds me of Psonic
Psunspot compared with 25:00...

If anyone finds out where Andy is hiding in NYC or if Aimee Mann is
coming to the metro area, please give a holler!

                                                        --Jeff

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Date: 11 Dec 93 16:22:10 EST
From: Steve Levenstein <70750.1117@compuserve.com>
Subject: Christmas Countdown

   Well, folks, it's come around to that tinselly time of year again.
Escape the cheesy commerciality by playing XTC's "Thanks For Christmas",
now available to all & sundry via the "Rag & Bone Buffet" release.
   And may I suggest that you phone your fave radio station's request
line and plug the tune. CFNY-fm in Toronto often plays the tune, and
they accept requests by fax these days.

"... next you'll be telling me it's nineteen nineteeeeeeeee..."
---> Steve

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Date: 11 Dec 93 16:22:00 EST
From: "Mary C Barnes" <MBARNES@gmuvax.gmu.edu>
Subject: RE: Chalkhills #310

I agree with Soupy Twist(??!!?)....I think that Mummers one of my favourites
along with Oranges and Lemons (Chalkhills is for me the quintessential XTC
song) Big Express and Skylarking... I guess I like later more than earlier
XTC tho' English Settlement is a classic....maryb

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From: OLIVER@slais.ubc.ca
Organization: SLAIS, UBC
Date:         11 Dec 93 16:40:25 GM+5
Subject:      re: mummer

We had some discussion about Mummer in the last issue of Chalkhills
and I thought I would offer some thoughts about what is probably the
strangest album in XTC's discography from certain points of view.
One reason I think that Mummer is not well-regarded is that it
was the followup to the fantastic English Settlement, which was the
band's peak up to then.  Mummer's unassuming songs and lack of fire
must have seemed like a huge letdown after that.  I didn't buy these
albums as they were coming out, but Mummer was the last album by XTC
I bought (until Nonsuch came out) and I do remember feeling rather
underwhelmed by it.  One thing that has always puzzled me about it is
the way people refer to it as XTC's acoustic album; to my mind only a
few of the songs on the original album (Farmboy's Wages, Ladybird,
parts of Great Fire and In Loving Memory...) fit this description.
In my opinion the problem with Mummer isn't these songs, which are
wonderful, but the more synth-driven material, such as the tedious
"Human Alchemy" or the pompous "Deliver Us From the Elements."
"Wonderland" is a nice song but the arrangement is really hokey, and
"Beating of Hearts" is interesting but doesn't make a good opening
track. Because the band had to keep going back into the studio to
record more tracks the continuity of the album suffers; I think it
sounds like a compilation album.  Someone wrote in about the
incongruity of "Funk Pop A Roll"; it is bizarre that one of the most
vicious and hardest-rocking songs XTC has done suddenly rears its
head at the end of the album.   The worst thing about Mummer in its
original form is that several of the best songs got dumped by the
ignorant record company.  Fortunately these are all on the CD, which
improves the album immensely.  "Jump" (which vaguely resembles "My
Bird Performs") and "Desert Island" (the late River Phoenix's
favourite XTC track) are charming songs in the "Farmboy's Wages"
vein, "Toys" is one of Andy's catchiest and clever pop tunes, and
"Gold," though the weakest of the four, is an engagingly driving
rocker.  I'm not sure, though, why they also stuck two boring
instrumentals on the CD.  In any case, I think the CD version of
Mummer stands alongside the other albums in a way the original record
doesn't (though any album that contains two fantastic songs like
"Love on a Farmboy's Wages" and "Great Fire" is worth having).

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Date: 11 Dec 1993 12:32:04 -0800
From: "Steve Krause" <steve_krause@qm.sri.com>
Subject: Re: Chalkhills #310

Mail*Link(r) SMTP               RE>Chalkhills #310
In Chalkhills #310, Daniel Kelley <dkelley@osiris.ac.hmc.edu> writes:

> 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.

As I recall from some interviews around the time, XTC originally
submitted _Mummer_ without "Funk Pop a Roll." With this album being
the first since Andy's withdrawal from performing and with Terry
Chambers having just jumped ship, Virgin Records decided that the
new batch of songs was too esoterically pastoral for the record-
buying public. Thus, Virgin refused to release it. Much a-bickering
later, the band made some concessions, the most notable of which was
the inclusion of a new up-tempo ditty, "Funk Pop a Roll." No doubt the
Virgin rep heard it and became wistful of those _Black Sea_ days when
XTC's marketability vector was pointing upward and the band was making
music the kids could dance to. Anyway, I'm not so sure how much
attention Virgin paid to the lyrics, but the rest is history.

(By the way, regarding the threads about favorite XTC albums and the
worth of _Mummer_, it gets my vote for best XTC album, edging
out _The Big Express_ and _Black Sea_ by an angstrom or two.)

--Steve

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Date: 13 Dec 93 10:50:57 EST
From: Kyle Skrinak <70702.3054@compuserve.com>
Subject: Lifestyle's Complexities

re: vince@austin.ibm.com

>>I find it interesting to see how many people dislike _White Music_(which I
guess would extend to _Go 2_ as well)_.

Nope! Even though I rated Go 2 at 7 out of my 10 favorite albums, it's quite a
favorite in my whole collection. I hate White Music. It always sounded so
desparatly written to me, and, after reading the XTC bio, I understand now.

Re: Jules ics3jpc@uk.ac.leeds

>>Okay, it (Mummur) sounds different, but it's all the better for it.

As someone who argued the virtues of Explode Together, I have no problems with
music that is "different." Yea, "Love on a Farmboy's wages" is OK, but I
never find myself having to listen to it. It just sits in my mind like a wet
rug in a damp forest.

Re:dss@minster.york.ac.uk
>>Do people like best the album they heard first?

Hmm... Some open and honest comments from the crowd will sort this out. I
first heard XTC via "Making Plans for Nigel," 1979, which I liked OK, but it
wasn't until English Settlement before I was big-time snagged.

And here's one from the "It's a cruel world" bin...

At a party over the weekend I had made my own mix for a party, which included
Butthole Surfers, Public Enemy, They Might Be Giants, The Fall, and most
notably, XTC. This wasn't the tape made for the party; your fairly standard
xmas fare was present, followed by bad, bad standard no-frills dance music.
After midnight, I was told that I may play my tape. Gee, that was so big of
'em! During "Cockpit Dance Mixture," someone took off the tape to put on some
En Vogue (barf!) tape. Philistine Pig! "Wasn't dancable" the lout informed
me. Of course I realized the party was over...

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Date: Mon, 13 Dec 93 11:32:16 -0500
From: poole1@husc.harvard.edu
Subject: Buy the Martin Newell record!

Just got my hot little hands on _The Greatest Living Englishman_, which
is finally out in this country.  It's absolutely fantastic!  The songs
tend to be a little more explicitly 60's poppy than XTC, but _Goodbye
Dreaming Fields", "Before the Hurricane", or even the title track could
have easily been written by M. Partridge.

My only real complaint is the lo-tech high-tech sound.  The drum tracks
are mostly drum machine (and a pretty cheap one at that) and some of
the string samples don't sound quite right in that annoying way that
some samples do.  Although, I must confess, this is bothering me less
and less.

I definitely think that anybody who like The Dukes or their subsequent
imitators (esp. The Kinks circa _Something Else_ or _VGPS_) would love
this record.  I also think that anybody who's into XTC's more English
poppy side like _Skylarking_, _Mummer_, or _Nonesuch_ would like it
a lot too.  There may be no new XTC album in the offing, but this is
as good a substitute as you could ask for.

(Btw, I must now own every Cleaners from Venus record that exists.
Could I possibly trouble someone in the know on this to e-mail me with
which records are still available in Britain.  My housemate is going
home for New Year's and I need to tell him what to get me.)

Geoff
poole1@husc.harvard.edu

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Subject: Andy/xTc Breakup
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 93 13:34:45 -0500
From: silva@mond1.ccrc.uga.edu

>>  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 <silva@mond1.ccrc.uga.edu> seems to agree:

 WeLL I tend to think that that is more than likely true in the UK.
Virgin hasn't been willing to expend a lot of energy on their behalf
since the early eighties. I don't know what Geffen's take on the
situation is, but I'm due for a chat with an industry conTacT there and
I'll report on that later. It just seems ridiculous though that
Virgin/whoever couldn't get xTc to sell well here and abroad. There are
TONS of bands who only have one potential single on their record and
their people turn them into MTV mega-stars. 'Peter Pumpkinhead' could
have been a top twenty song, if there had been some muscle behind it.
Instead of putting in all that cash for that Radio/Industry-only hits
CD, they could have bought some more publicity elsewhere.

   I wonder how successful a single of their's would have to be before
Andy caved in to the touring demons (Colin and Dave...).

> 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.

   I'm not so sure I agree. Nonsuch sounded fine. The songs weren't
that great, but sound-wise it was more than okay. I believe they need
hype. One more great tune coupled with David Geffen's wallet.

JoE "also a MuMMeR LoVeR" Silva

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Date: Mon, 13 Dec 93 18:20:21 EST
From: woj@remus.rutgers.edu (the dark saxophone)
Organization: fegmaniax anonymous
Subject: wake up...

dss@minster.york.ac.uk sez:
>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?

generalizations like that are hard to make, even for bands like xtc who
really haven't changed all that much in their history (sure, the *sound*
has changed, but the essential songcrafting hasn't).

>Do people like best the album they heard first?

more often than not, but not always. i really have no idea what xtc
album i heard first. i think the first song of theirs that i heard was
"making plans for nigel," but i honestly can not remember. i was aware
of the band throughout high school due to the evil influence of a local
college radio station, but it was not until i had the record library
of the radio station at the college i attended available to me that i
really explored the band's output (needless to say, _the big express_
is the album that i pick as my fave).

"John M. Chamberlain" <JC7704A@american.edu> sez:
>2) The Big Express is their best album.

amen, brother!

+woj

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Date: 14 Dec 93 14:50:08 EST
From: Joseph Holmes <72241.731@compuserve.com>
Subject: ICE Holiday Poll

What better place than Chalkhills to mention that ICE ("The Monthly CD
Newsletter") is holding its annual Holiday Reader's Poll? I don't have time
to post all the questions (I have to run to the post office), but I thought
XTC fans/ICE readers might enjoy these:

1. What was your favorite album (non-reissue) of 1993?

9. Which artist would you most like to see a box set appear from?

10. What one album would you most like to see a gold-disc version of?

(ICE Holiday Reader's Poll/P.O. Box 3043/Santa Monica, CA 90408).

By the way, there seems to be only a couple more weeks left to respond...

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