Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills #312

                  Chalkhills, Number 312

                Thursday, 16 December 1993
Today's Topics:
           Mummer, and some meandering thoughts
                    Last Line Pop Quiz
                      first is best?
                   Re: Chalkhills #311
                Aimee Mann & Dave Gregory
                       Frost Circus
                   Re: Chalkhills #311
                   Re: Chalkhills #310
                    Jazz Snob or what?

Date: 14 Dec 93 21:07:07 EST
Subject: <None>

I'm a tech writer for a software company in WA, near the Canadian border.
I've been an XTC fan since "Drums and Wires," and Andy Partridge is the only
musician I've stood in line for an autograph from.

I saw Chalkhills on a global listserv lol.



From: "Greg O'Rear" <>
Organization:  Industrial and Systems Engineering
Date:          Wed, 15 Dec 1993 08:11:39 EST5EDT
Subject:       Mummer, and some meandering thoughts

Background: my first exposure to XTC (that I recall) was "Senses Working
Overtime."  But I didn't get the album at the time.  I remember a local
"cool" radio station playing "Great Fire" when Mummer had just been released
in Britain (it would be another year before it was released in the US).  I
bought Mummer as soon as I could, and I remember it being described as Andy's
therapy album, something pleasant to do after his nervous breakdown.

I like Mummer a lot.  It has lots of great tracks, even "Wonderland" (and I
don't mind the arrangement), and don't forget Colin's "In Loving Memory of a
Name."  OK, so it isn't as rocky as The Big Express (which took me longer to
get into).  And even though "Funk Pop a Roll" may have been added as an
afterthought, or shooting the bird at the record company, I think it's a
great song.  Like Andy said in "Mayor of Simpleton": "well I don't know how
to write a big hit song"...bullshit!  If only I could write as many musically
catchy but lyrically solid songs as Andy!  Of course, Andy has written more
than his share of dogs, too....

Which leads me to disagree slightly about the bonus tracks on Mummer.  I like
many of them, but it seems, especially recently, that Andy feels he has to
release just about every song he records.  His comment on MTV about Colin
doing quality and Andy doing quantity is true in this regard.  I think
Nonsuch maybe and Oranges & Lemons certainly could have benefitted from a
little judicious cutting.  He can release more Rag & Bone Buffet discs if
he's concerned about providing his fans with his output (and I'm glad he
does).  Or just flag them as "bonus tracks," and not part of the album.
Not to get into a "White Album" thing, but I think O&L could have been a
great single album.
 Greg O'Rear                                        E-mail:
 Industrial and Systems Engineering Department      Phone:  (904) 392-3389
 University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida        FAX:    (904) 392-3537


From: J Ross MacKay <>
Subject: Last Line Pop Quiz
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 93 8:35:46 EST

OK kids, it's the "Relph's Last Line Pop Quiz" time!

The winner gets to shake the hand that shook the hands of 2 out of 3.
That is, if you can find the hand that shook the hands.
So sharpen your pencils, and dig in.

>From the last 72 Chalkhills last line quotes:
                     Which album gets the most quotes?
                     Which song gets the most quotes?
                     Which song writer gets the most quotes?
                     And what's with that electric guitar tune?

    Whips and semen, adulterous confessions...
    And I'm crazy for girls like that...
    They won't drop Fat Boy on your town...
    Here comes President Kill again...
    Lets us vote someone like that in.
    Broadcasting from his killing den
    Don't hurt nobody 'less of course they ask you
    You've been asleep for 100 minutes.
    You say it's just a passing phase...
    Polite applause excepted.
    I'm a 30-year old puppy doing what I'm told.
    Thanks for all the love and happiness.
    Thank you for the winter friendliness.
    Pink thing it's a whole new vibe.
    The man who walked across his heart...
    Let's see you wriggle to this one...
    They're closing Winter down...
    Lazybones, look into the sun...
    I take home my notes and coins every week...
    You've learnt no lessons...
    The disappointed All congregate at my house.
    The smell of the pinecones and the sea...
    A splendid creme bun!
    But there's something missing in the middl.
    I was lucky to remain beguiled...
    There's no youth culture.
    Only masks they let you rent.
    We've seen, no Jesus come and gone.
    Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb.
    But will your love have the fireandglow?
    Men are too bored, they're scrubbing floors.
    You boys will tire of these games.
    ... Just don't hurt nobody.
    Big day come and big day go...
    Life goes on after the show...
    But will your love have the fire and glow?
    Like on the Big Day...
    I heard the engine's dying breath.
    Crow, crow / Spill all you know...
    Jets should hide, I'll fly alongside.
    She just lifts up her skirts...
    And pours down the truth on you.
    Oh, my head is spinning like the world.
    You've been eclipsed by your own son.
    There may be no golden fleece...
    So here's where sweet and bitter rivers blend
    Gangway electri cguitar is coming through.
    No hard feelings and no hard glands.
    And that we spoke and threw a turd.
    Won't you bop on over Little Charlie...
    It's za bees, za bows, zabaglio...
    The wisdom of the ancients in a box.
    Don't kick your wife / Put down that knife.
    But sharks made a meal out of him.
    There's a beat in his arm still.
    Whips and semen, adulterous confessions...
    It's the rotary!
    I put it in a note, one night I wrote.
    Just like the son of Sam.
    But the words got in the way.
    The hunt is on to find the fox.
    Heel to heel and toetotoe/In a 'Danceband'.
    Human volcano at a zillion degrees.
    I'm really burning, fit to boil up the sea.
    And I made her drink a cup or two.
    They need their warfare to deflate 'em.


From: "Michael Murphy" <>
Subject: first is best?
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 93 11:04:22 EST asked:
> Do people like best the album they heard first?

And responded:
> 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

I tend to agree: more people probably like the best the one they heard first,
but not necessarily everyone.

I have an interesting twist on this: I'm not sure which was the first XTC
i ever heard (that i was aware of), but it was probably the single "Senses
Working Overtime" on the radio, back when it came out.  I don't remember
much about what i thought of it at the time -- i probably neither liked it
nor hated it.  Then when i came to college about 10 years ago, i had a
roommate who played English Settlement a lot, including "Senses".  I actually
started to develop quite a DISlike for it -- i especially found that singer's
voice annoying!  Then, a few years later, for some reason i took another
listen to the album, and for some reason this time i kinda liked it!  I began
to listen to it somewhat regularly, and before long i had decided that it was
a pretty darn great album indeed.  One day i was telling a friend about it
and he said "oh yeah, they're one of my favorites, check this out" and he
produced Black Sea and The Big Express.  I immediately loved them, too.
English was still my favorite of the three, though, at the time.

Now i have all their stuff, and i like them all -- i probably couldn't pick
a favorite (although if i were forced to do so, i guess it would be from the
"middle" -- not Go 2 or White Music, and not the latest two).

So, in my case, i did NOT like the first album i heard, until several years
later when it DID become my favorite.


Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1993 12:21:19 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Say, what's the big idea?" <>
Subject: Re: Chalkhills #311

Jeff Rosedale said:

> 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

I thought it was weird, too, very surprising, but I have a tradition of
listening to new XTC records all the way through on headphones as soon
as I get them, and those opening chords on "Wake Up" blew me away.

> 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).

Yes, this is VERY good VERY loud!

OLIVER said:

> 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

That's interesting.  I started on XTC with Black Sea, then bought Drums
and Wires, White Music, and Go2, and *then _Mummer_ so it was really a
change.  I don't remember why I didn't get English Settlement until
later, except perhaps that I was 12 years old and couldn't afford the
import, which was all I could find at the time.  Anyway, I put Mummer
away for a long time, then dug it back out *after* I knew English
Settlement, and liked it a lot better.

> wonderful, but the more synth-driven material, such as the tedious
> "Human Alchemy" or the pompous "Deliver Us From the Elements."

I think "Human Alchemy" sounds appropriately "trudgy", rather than
tedious.  The echoey backing vocals and heavy beat really fit the tribal
business in the lyrics.  I kinda like "Elements", though it's not my
favorite, and I always sing "Oh, lord deliver us from the elephants"

> improves the album immensely.  "Jump" (which vaguely resembles "My

Oh, man, I LOVE "Jump", but I only have it on a 7" single -- I have to
go ahead and get Mummer on disc so I can hear it in the context of the

> vein, "Toys" is one of Andy's catchiest and clever pop tunes, and

"Toys" is an okay song, but I think anyone would have a hard time
fitting it in with an album.  Then again, I have a hard time fitting
most of these songs in with the albums, because I had them on singles
years before the CDs were out, and they tend to sound like an
interruption to me, like I like "Blue Overall" and "Washaway", but they
sound kinda like intermission on the CD.

> doesn't (though any album that contains two fantastic songs like
> "Love on a Farmboy's Wages" and "Great Fire" is worth having).

I agree :-)

Kyle Skrinak says:

> '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...

What do they know!!  When I was in high school, I played the hell out of
"Cockpit Dance Mixture" on the flip side of "Ball and Chain", and that
was before I even knew the original song.  For a long while, I played it
EVERY SINGLE MORNING while I was getting ready for school, and jumped
around my room.   Ah, high school... :-)

By the way, for those of you who've been here a while, Wes Wilson called
me the other day, and wanted me to tell everyone on Chalkhills hello.
He says he misses it terribly, but someone has been sending him
printouts of it, so it's not too bad.  He loves the Martin Newell record
.  He told me something about an XTC fan in Japan that he talks to, but
I forgot what it was (Wes, I'm sorry, I suck).  Lastly, he pointed out
to me that there's a comic called _Wild_Star_ that currently (#4) has a
character in it that looks just like Andy Partridge.  I looked at it,
and agree with Wes that even if it's just a coincidence, it's enough of
a likeness to be really funny.

Gotta go back to work now (though after reading Chalkhills I'm reminded
yet again that Andy Partridge played live onstage in NY, and I'm
distracted all over again.)

Melinda    "louder than tanks on the highway..."


Date: Wed, 15 Dec 93 13:20:44 EST
Subject: Aimee Mann & Dave Gregory

Hi Chalkhillians,

Well, I went to the Atlanta Aimee Mann show. It was at a club called The
Point, which in the past has been host to mostly local bands, and
also visiting punk bands or bands like Southern Culture on the Skids (who
are great to see live, BTW). So, the club is a small place, and it was
pretty much packed. It was a strange crowd, specifically there was some
guy harassing Aimee throughout the show, something about his own band
and trying to get a single out.

The show started with a band who called themselves The Olives. They kept
saying "We're the last New Age band", and they sort of had the attitude
that we just needed to suffer through them until Aimee was ready to come out.
As it turned out, they were Aimee's band minus Dave Gregory, and they were
playing those songs together for the first time. So, when Aimee came out and
they all went back up on stage, Aimee said: "Now you _have_ to like them".

So, Dave kept pretty much in the background during the show. Aimee, when
introducing the band, introduced the others and then said "And back
there is a guy who plays in the best band on the planet, XTC. It's
Dave Gregory." The crowed cheered at that, and Dave sort of leaned over
the keyboards and bowed, shyly saying "Thank you."

After the show, I flashed my WREK ID card to get up to the balcony
where the dressing room is, and I was able to meet Dave. He's a very
soft-spoken person, and very humble. My impression was that he feels
sort of like he's the George Harrison of the band, which to me means, though,
that he's also _very_ important for the musical aspect of the band. He
said something like: "I'm just glad to be working with someone as poetic
as Andy is."

We also discussed the different XTC albums. He feels that the albums sort of
go in stylistic pairs. For example, Drums and Wires and Black Sea sort of
go together. He feels tha Mummer was unsuccessful because there were too
many divergent interests when working on it. I told him that I personally
like the diversity of the album. I think he was measuring the success of the
album in terms of its material success, which of course was a letdown
after English Settlement.

He likes Skylarking, even though it was difficult making it. He also
feels that it saved their career in the United States. He also said:
"Andy is rather ashamed of Dear God, since it doesn't adequately explain
his thoughts on the subject, but it had such a strong effect here
in the U.S." that they couldn't really stop it.

I told him that they have pretty much universal recognition and respect
among musicians, and he said: "Yes, we do seem to have a lot of musician
fans. I don't understand why, though." From that and other remarks he
made, he doesn't seem to think they are that great of musicians. I
tried to indicate my strong feelings to the contrary. He also feels
that they "were not very good live. We just made a lot of noise."
Just having gotten the XTC 1980 live CD, I knew that that was most
certainly false.

In all, I guess Dave either does not realize how great XTC actually
is, or does not want to be too arrogant about it. In any case, I
was glad to have met him.

He also mentioned that the only other dates they would be playing were
Detroit and Baltimore.

Bye all,

-Markus De Shon
  DJ: Captain America will return. In the flesh. In the Great Tribulation
      there will be a great Captain America who will save many from total doom.
  M2: That's a good thing to hear.
    --Daniel Johnston, interviewed in Mondo 2000 by Andrew Hultkrans


From: Andrew Russell Mutchler <>
Subject: Frost Circus
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1993 12:33:27 -0600 (CST)

#| From:
#| Subject:      re: mummer
#| I'm not sure, though, why they also stuck two boring
#| instrumentals on the CD.

Frost Circus isn't boring, it's mesmerizing!  Procession Towards Learning
Land is pretty good, too.  Sort of weird, but I like a little weird in my
  Andrew   + "Do you not be happy with me as the translator
  Mutchler +  of the books of you?"


Date: Wed, 15 Dec 93 16:34:23 PST
From: "John Relph" <>
Subject: Re: Chalkhills #311

Neil <> writes:
>  I'm not sure, though, why they also stuck two boring
>instrumentals on the CD.

The reason is because those two WONDERFUL instrumentals were the
B-sides to the _Great Fire_ 12" single.  Some of the best
instrumentals that XTC have ever done.  Not that they have recorded
very many, but these two engaged me for quite some time after they
were released, and I still like them.

Geoff <> writes:
>(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.

Uh oh.  I don't think there are ANY Cleaners From Venus records still
in print, with the exception of _Golden Cleaners_, the recent CD
compilation of the best of The Cleaners.  I've got it on order.  I
happen to own two Cleaners releases, the _Going To England_ LP, and
the _Living With Victoria Grey_ 12".  Remember, though, that Mr Newell
was also the force behind The Brotherhood of Lizards.  They have an
album entitled _Lizardland_ which should still be around as a cutout
in used CD shoppes.  Two Lizards songs are also on Captain Sensible's
_Smash It Up Pt. 4_ 12" single.  And Mr Newell contributed heavily to
The Captain's _Revolution Now_ and _The Universe of Geoffrey Brown_
(good name, eh?) albums.

        -- John


Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1993 12:15:51 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Say, what's the big idea?" <>
Subject: Re: Chalkhills #310

"Mr. Ed" said (y'know, they put cotton up in his gums to make him
look like he was talking...):

>        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.

I have one, too.  Course, I bought it from a guy on this list, so this
is not a bad place to try to unload it, if you've a mind to do so.

John Chamberlain:
>     I'm a clinical psych doctoral student at American U. in DC (please

Man, when I went to AU a mere coupla years ago, we had no Internet and
only one XTC fan besides me!


   Melinda M. Hale      |   "There may come a time when you can even
   in Massachusetts     |     take your clothes off when you dance."   |                               -- Frank Zappa


Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1993 22:17:14 -0800 (PST)
From: Helchick <>
Subject: Jazz Snob or what?

Thanks to for the illuminating comments on Mummer.  I
think that the "compilation" sound of the album is one of the things that
makes me keep coming back for another listen--I'm subconsciously trying
to "figure it out" or put it all together into a coherent whole.  Sort of
like a complex, picaresque novel.

Do I like best the first XTC album I ever heard?  No.  English Settlement
was the first for me and, while I think it's way up there, I'd have to
say Skylarking was and still is my favorite (in spite of the clumsy
production and murky sound).  And the jazzier tunes on O&L and Nonsuch
have worked their way into my heart, too.

Speaking of jazzy--I think many people tend to dismiss Colin's songs and
some of Andy's recent works (Chalkhills, Miniature Sun, most of Nonsuch)
without really listening to them with an ear for the jazz-influences that
really make them some of the most interesting stuff they've done yet.  I
don't want to sound like a snob or anything, because I've just been getting
interested in jazz lately; but, since I've started listening to a lot of
jazz and classical music recently, XTC is one of the few rock/pop groups
that can hold my attention still--and I'm appreciating O&L and Nonsuch
more.  Maybe this is an argument for diversity in radio station
programming; if more people heard John Coltrane and Thelonius Monk mixed
in with the standard pop fare, we'd also hear more XTC, too.

Y'all let me know what you think.



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