Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills #313

                  Chalkhills, Number 313

                 Monday, 20 December 1993
Today's Topics:
                      New Blur Song?
                   Re: Chalkhills #312
                  Share your Weltschmerz
               Garden of Earthly Delights I
                       RE:Jazz snob
                   Reign of Blows Rules
                    Take These Lyrics
                   Re: Chalkhills #311

Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1993 11:21:54 -0500
From: (Merlin "Lite Vinagrette" Mann)
Subject: New Blur Song?

Is it just me or does that new Blur song (Chemical People) put anyone else
in the mind of XTC?

Nice song, in any case; good transition from that "Manchester" thing.


Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1993 12:28:33 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Chalkhills #312

        All this talk about never getting over your first
listened-to album had me wondering. As it turns out, I suppose
I am one of those, too. Sort of. I heard "Senses Working Over-
time" on MTV back when the channel still had a variety of music.
I only kind of liked it. I heard a presentation on the influence
of world music in contemporary pop a couple of years later; this
included "This World Over," which is still among my least favorite
XTC songs. But then, in the glorious year of 1989 (still in a daze
>from having read and been changed by Moore's _Watchmen_), I
heard two tracks: "Drowning in Summer's Cauldron" and "Happy Families."
Ah, the memories! I heard "Drowning" while talking to a friend who
had one of those cd changers, so I didn't notice at first what was
going on. Then I found myself attracted to the music, but I could
not make out the melody. It was like being drunk--I was very
pleasantly disoriented. I was in another friend's room when he
played "Happy Families"; here too, I was immediately enraptured.
Beautiful music, incredibly clever lyrics (it was not until 1992 that
I found out that it's a British card game).
        I soon went out and bought _Skylarking_ and _Black Sea_. I
also got _Big Express_. I had mixed reactions to each for the first
few weeks. I remember thinking that the strings on "1000 Umbrellas"
were purely a rip-off of the recurring stings thing on the White Album.
I thought that _Black Sea_ was "trying to hard" and a little "too spastic."
At first I only liked "All You Pretty Girls."
        But for some reason, I was nevertheless hooked. I now think of
all these albums (plus O&L and Mummer and English Settlement and Chips)
as being very spring-time albums--I bought them all during the first
springtime which I really paid attention to the season cycle and whatnot.
        Still, though, for as much as I love the entire canon, my first
two favorites remain transcendent experiences for me.
        XTC: has there ever been a more appropriately named band? Besides,
maybe, the Beat?

Merry Christmas, gang!
Craig E. Canevit


Date: 17 Dec 93 10:22:39 EST
From: Kyle Skrinak <>
Subject: Share your Weltschmerz

RE: "Greg O'Rear">>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.<<

Oh yes! I gotta wonder about how XTC is so partial to release ~everything,~
like all the demos for their recent albums. I, too am glad that this stuff is
available, but it does dilute their work as a whole. To wit: a sketch and the
finished art are two entirely different things.

Markus De Shon helps me with some of my more controversial arguements, when he
recalls a conversation wiht Dave Gregory after a recent show: >>He feels tha
Mummer was unsuccessful because there were too many divergent interests when
working on it.<<>>He also feels that they "were not very good live.<<

Markus De Shon also editorializes to the contrary, but I'll take Dave's word
any day.

Mr Relph states>>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.<<

One of the best radio stations ever to exist, WFMU, out of Upsala College, E.
Orange NJ, has a catalog out of various stuff. Within you'll find various
rare XTC and Partridge releases that I haven't seen elsewhere. I left the
damn thing at home, so I can't be any more specific. I believe I saw some
various Cleaners CD's but, like Elvis sitings, I'm not too sure 'bout that. I
can give a number: 201-678-8264

Maria:<<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.>>

Chalkhills, Miniature Sun, Omnibus reflect more focus on syncopation, and more
complex chord structures, in a "blue" vein. I like this. Colin (first a
disclaimer--I like Colin's contributions on the whole!) however, hasn't been
able to make similar attempts as succesfull. "Smartest Monkey" "My Bird
Performs" etc, has jazz influences, falls down for other reasons, most


Date: Fri, 17 Dec 93 13:09:46 EST
From: (Patty Haley)

Yep, I've been enjoying reading the last line quotes, but tell me,
is J. Ross going to identify them all for me?  I know my XTC, or
at least I *thought* I knew my XTC until I went to identify them
all.  No fair having a quiz without getting the answers.

Oh, yeah, and I've been sick since last Friday with an infection,
and didn't get to make it to see Aimee Mann here in Baltimore last
night, and I won't be able to see Catherine Wheel in New York tonight,
either. :-(  So much for reviewing Aimee Mann for Chalkhills.



Date: 17 Dec 93 14:27:25 EST
From: Dave Franson <>
Subject: Garden of Earthly Delights I

The Garden of Earthly Delights Part I

Proposition I:  Does the first XTC album one hears more often than not
become one's favorite XTC album?

Proposition II:  Does the sequence in which one becomes acquainted with
XTC albums determine one's favorites and less-than-favorites?

I first became acquainted with XTC via my discovery of a Canadian "Drums &
Wires" in the cutout bins of a Milwaukee record store.  This was May of
1981.  I snapped it up immediately because 1) I had always been intrigued
by the cover art, going back to my Minneapolis days in the late 70's (the
"lost years") and 2) because it was damn cheap and I was looking for some
new sounds.

Well, I was immediately hooked.  One key factor was the big, booming Steve
Lillywhite production of that day (as also heard on XTC's "Black Sea,"
Peter Gabriel's 3rd, and the first two Psychedelic Furs albums).  But the
overriding appeal was most certainly XTC's pushing of the pop frontiers,
their obvious musicianship, the witty songwriting, and especially the near
seamless mix of the songcraft and lyrics.  And their playfulness with
subject matter and the conceits (in the good sense) they used were very
engaging to the literary wannabe in me.  Yet if you didn't want to delve
deeply, the songs remained just plain fun and you could dance to them!

I still remember the first time I heard the "plinked," anti-guitar hero
solo over the bridge in "Life Begins at the Hop."  And my wonderment over
how the song found such a strong lyrical voice of innocence and youthful
enthusiasm.  "Helicopter" I've never warmed up to-- an Andy metaphor and a
pounding, repetitious rhythm that have never worked for me.  "Making Plans
for Nigel"-- I have always thought that this was one of the most haunting
pop songs by anyone, ever.  Colin writes best when he suggests and evokes
("Nigel," "Grass") rather than tying it all up in a bow ("Cynical Days,"
"Smartest Monkey").  "Nigel" is the surest way to turn someone on to XTC,
I've found.  It's a heady song when you're 23 and don't know what the hell
you want to do with your life.  (Ooops, lyrical flash-- see Buzzcocks, "A
Different Kind of Tension," Pete Shelley energetically lamenting "I Don't
Know What to Do With My Life").  "Ten Feet Tall," "When You're Near
Me...," "That is the Way"-- these three always trailed off to the
inevitable final groove for me, until I "rediscovered" the tracks several
years later with a lighter frame of mind.  (Or was I just completely
indoctrinated by that time?)

"Reel by Reel" was too obvious with its Big Brother concerns and nothing
special happening on the musical front.  "Millions"-- bliss!  The perfect
song to have in my head as I entered college in the early 80's, the heydey
of the Ronny years, when the line "I hear you asking for Western thinking,
I say it's poison that you'll be drinking" was a mental talisman
signifying how to approach my studies.  (And immune to charges of
"political correctness," a term (and concern) not yet fashionable.)
"Outside World"-- okay, but not in my greatest hits collection.  "Roads
Girdle the Globe"-- an ironic anthem for the kar kulture.  The title alone
evokes such a strong image.  Definitely one of Andy's finest tunes.  "Hail
mother motor, hail piston rotor, hail wheel."  And the plodding rhythm,
speaking more to industrialization than to convertibles and windblown hair
a la "Little Deuce Coupe" and its ilk.  Do any of you listen to "Car Talk"
on NPR?  I've had a powerful urge to send them a tape of this tune, as
they play less-than-obvious kar kulture songs to segue between segments.

"Scissor Man" is most interesting to me for its freeform percussion,
particularly as heard in the live performances of this song.  I've always
heard "Complicated Game" as a Pink Floyd (or insert the name of your
least-liked band along the same lines) parody.  I don't think one can take
the apocalyptic cynicism at face value given Andy's demonstrated ironic
bent throughout much of the album.  Or maybe it's simply that I had grown
tired of cheap apocalyptic cynicism at that time.  However, I can think of
few other XTC songs that play so well cranked up in one's headphones or,
better yet, through one's speakers.  And Andy's vocal histrionics are some
of his finest.  Did I mention the absolutely ominous way the bass kicks
in, and the sheets of delectable noise that have draped you by song's end?
The first "let's kick 'em in the head with the last song on the LP" tune
of XTC's middle period.  Others, of course, are Black Sea's "Travels in
Nihilon," English Settlement's (though not the final cut) "No Thugs in Our
House," Mummer's sublime (yes, sublime!) "Funk, Bop, a Roll," and The Big
Express' duo of "Reign of Blows" and "Train Running Low on Soul Coal."

But further consideration of such wonders must wait for future long-winded
missives. . .



Date: Fri, 17 Dec 93 14:42:23 EST
Subject: Re-Introduction

Hello again to John and all Chalkhill readers!

My name is Larry Seals and besides doing the programmer thing during the day
(which I have to do), I play guitar with a local group (which I like to do).
I first stumbled onto XTC courtesy of MTV in the early 80's (Senses Working
Overtime video) but really became a fan when  _Skylarking_  was released and
have been listening since.  I hit upon the mailing list during a perusal of a
list of available mailing lists on the 'net.

I haven't had 'net access for nearly two years due to a change in employers,
but I just discovered that America Online has a 'net email gateway so I
decided to re-subscribe to the list.

Looking forward to the first mailing!


From: uswnvg! (Robert Frangooles)
Subject: RE:Jazz snob
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1993 16:37:08 -0800 (PST)

Marria, I recently read a mag article that stated "An art form that has
more than one Herbie (Hancock and Mann) in it is an art form that's in

I agree that it is nice to have a radio station with a diverse playlist,
but if it jumps around the musical world too much it can be very
frustrating.  It is nice to tune in and have a general idea what to
expect.  If I'm in the mood for loud guitars I probably won't want to
hear be bop, and vice versa.

Regarding the "if it was first is it best?" question.  Since I first
heard English Settlement, which is definately the best album, I am not
qualified to comment on that question (are you out there Kevin?)

For those of you who like English Settlement the best (or for that matter
those of you who just like it), what are your favorite tracks.  I
generally prefer 1) Yaght Dance 2) Down in the Cockpit 3) Jason and the
Argonauts 4) Senses working overtime.  Though the order varies.  If
people want to e-mail me this list and comments I would gladly tabulate
the favorites and submit the results.  (

Robert Frangooles, Bellevue Washington

-------All opinions expressed are my own, not my employers-------------


Date: 19 Dec 93 13:02:13 EST
From: Steve Levenstein <>
Subject: Reign of Blows Rules

   Well, I note that from the ongoing commentary in Chalkhills of
late, that most folks either love or hate XTC's "The Big Express".
   IMHO, it's the best XTC album (actually part of a troika along
with Eng. Sett. and Black Sea). Yet, I didn't get into the album
at all until 1987 after I began subscribing to The Little Express
and ordered the "Back Issue Compilations, Vol. 1 & 2".
   I bought TBE on sight (being an XTC fan since "Crowded Room"),
but after playing it a few times, I could only manage a liking for
"Your The Wish I Had". The rest of the album sounded like a
dissonant mish-mash with no hooks to catch in my mind. Of course,
I was used to this phenomenon with new XTC, but a little persistance
(like playing the new album while I cooked, cleaned, etc.) always
paid off. I might like a few songs upon first listening, a few more
some months later, and the remaining bunch months after that.
   Thus, XTC had a musical longevity that most of the other groups
I like/liked couldn't match! But TBE resisted likability, even
after repeated playings. Since I was not impressed by Mummer (the
previous album I bought, also "on sight"), I began to think that
XTC was on a downward curve since Eng. Sett.
   Then I bought Skylarking, LOVED it, and signed on to The Little
Express. After reading the comments and commentary about TBE, I gave
it another spin. And to my surprise the album began to work for me!!!
   The biggest turnaround was about "Reign Of Blows". That "terrible"
song embodied my dislike for the whole album, but ya gotta know
where Andy's coming from and his reasons for ROB sounding like it
does, to appreciate it.
   Let me quote from an interview with Andy by George Gimarc:

GG: "Every time that this comes up on the LP,I don't know whether to
skip it because it depresses me or makes my speakers want to fall off
and start hitting me over the head or something, but... Reign Of Blows...

AP: "Yeah, a violent song about violence, we had to record it violently.

GG: "An oppressive track..."

AP: "Yeah, I wanted it to be; everything about it was tailored to
upset people; everything from drums that are too loud to over-fuzzy
guitar, vocal which I had a big argument with everybody else in the
studio about going on; they said 'Look, this song is... this fuzzy vocal
is just so aggressive it's going to upset people.' I said well, this is
fine, this is the idea behind it all and they had to let me have my
own way, it being my song, in the end I suppose. But it did cause a
bit of an uproar cause I wanted this fuzzy harmonica which I played
this little tiny amp which was absolutely screaming 'Don't turn me
up any more! Turn me off!' So there's this very screaming harmonica
and a very distorted voice which is kind of heavy and violent.
   It's a song about all sorts of violence upwards from terrorism
in our backyard to violent regimes the world over, be it England,
America, Russia, Nazi Germany, whatever. I hate violence and I wanted
to put my dislike of violence into a song that hopefully, musically,
graphically illustrates some of the things that depress me.
...But that's the effect I wanted, I wanted people to feel attacked."

   OK, so now listen to Reign REALLY LOUD and feel what Andy wants
you to feel. As John Lydon says, "This is not a love song."
---> Steve


From: (Joseph Kopera)
Date: Sun, 19 Dec 93 17:32:38 EST
Organization: Channel Zero -- +1 410 426 0847

Hmmm...I heard my first XtC song on the local Alternative (whatever() sta
about a year was "Peter Pumpkinhead"....I thought it was Ok....
But then my uncle was into XtC and said I should lsiten to ' I
picked up Nonsuch.....I thought (and still think) it sucked.  I heard
"Generals and Majors" before last year...but I didn't know it was XtC.
Right now my favorite album of theirs is English Settlement....I want to
get Mummer and Rag and Bone....But my funds are limited.

Ah well...Cya all....Forgive me for the errors....but I'm typing this with
a really bad editor...

-=( The World`s Green Laughter )=-


Date: 19 Dec 93 20:35:01 EST
From: Steve Levenstein <>
Subject: Take These Lyrics

   I'm sure that I read once in Chalkhills that someone wanted
to know the correct lyrics for "Take This Town".
Well, here they are:

"Living in a rabbit tunnel
Keep the doggie in her kennel
Mustn't let her see the world
Oh no don't treat her like that
"  "  "     "     "   "    "

Living under Mum and Daddy
Carry hope just like a caddie
Mustn't let them see your killed

Shout it clear for all to hear
You won't shoot this bird down
Shout it clear for all to hear
We're going to take this town

Turn a deaf ear to the orders
Keep them as your perfect daughters
Mustn't let them know their minds

Turning on to only music
Breaking from their childhood attic
Mustn't let them open the blinds

It's time she stopped being your ornament
It's time she put that in the past for permanent
You can't hold her if she wants to roam around
You can't hold her dream and keep it gagged and bound."

   What a great tune that one is, nice that it's available on
"Rag & Bone" for all to hear. Can you believe I actually heard
someone request it on the radio? And that is was played??
---> Steve


Date: Mon, 20 Dec 93 00:02:31 EST
Subject: Re: Chalkhills #311

Recently I read Chalkhills #3 blah blah and found the  "why this is my
favorite XTC album and when I first heard the group" list of letters to be
very lacking in interest. Making my own compilation tapes of the groups
music, and appreciating each as a *separate* song allowed me to go beyond
what I felt were the lacking tunes on each album. This way I could
concentrate on those terrific segments of musical perfection expected from
the lads. A fresh listening to the whole album then can make me wonder why I
left a certain song off a compilation tape, prompting a whole new mix of
songs, usually intermixed with the latest album. I guess what I'm saying is
don't let the bad apples (read: your first opinions) effect the good ones!
Comments are welcome.  ;)>

Also, I recently heard Dave Gregory's interview on Detroits WDET public radio
when he stopped in for the Aimee Mann performance, but did not get a chance
to record it.  Email me if anyone has a copy! He played his acoustic guitar
but I didn't recognize the tune as I only caught the end. TANJ! Cheers all.
"It's a democracy, dammit!" - beginning quote from an A. Partridge radio
interview about how songs are picked by the group for the next album.


Date: Mon, 20 Dec 1993 12:53:53 -0500 (EST)
From: Bryan Askew <>
Subject: Introduction.


I'm brand new to the list and.  As requested, I'm sending along a little
introduction of myself.

I've been listening to XTC since...well, since _English Settlement_ was
new.  About the only thing I know about the band is its music...I've
really done very little reading about the members or about the history of
the band.  So...I hope being a part of this list will change that.  I just
learned about this list from the Musical List of Lists.

So there's my introduction!


Bryan Askew
Department of Client Services
Computing and Information Systems
University of North Carolina at Greensboro


For all administrative issues, such as change of address,
withdrawal from the list, fan club addresses, discography
requests (last update 7 December), back issues, FAQ list,
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.  There is no language in our...

Go back to the previous page.