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From: chalkhills-request@presto.ig.com
To: chalkhills@presto.ig.com
Subject: Chalkhills #367


                  Chalkhills, Number 367

                  Friday, 5 August 1994
Today's Topics:
                   Re: Hello Chalkhills
                   Re: Chalkhills #366
         Andy and Despair (Being and Nothingness)
                    Info about me etc.
                   Re: Chalkhills #366
              Barry Andrew's Delicate Touch
                 Intros and all that jazz
            Re: The Greatest Living Englishman
                  RagnBone buffet insert
                    AnDy Interview...
                     Through the Hill
              The Greatest Living Englishman
                 Some Thoughts On G.L.E.

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From: ALIZAN@aol.com
Date: Thu, 04 Aug 94 14:43:03 EDT
Subject: Re: Hello Chalkhills

Also being new to the list, it was great to read Paul Vincent's recollections
of  'discovering XTC" back when on U.K.'s Old Grey Whistle Test.  I've
recently seen the clips...it certainly is great.

For me, I suppose the crucial event had to be seeing XTC live at Hurrah in
NYC, during the Drums & Wires tour.   Amazing....If anyone can share any
tales of that tour, it would make for interesting reading for all.

Bill

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Date: 4 Aug 1994 11:54:52 -0800
From: "Steve Krause" <Steve_Krause@qm.sri.com>
Subject: Re: Chalkhills #366

> Are you and I the only ones on this list who actually liked
> Barry's playing?

Another vote, pro-Andrews. I think some of the anti-Andrews sentiment
stems from people grafting his style onto the values of latter-day
XTC--"I can barely imagine what he'd have done to English Settlement;
glad they got rid of that bloke."

To my mind, Andrews' playing fit in with the way XTC was for the
first two albums. If you look at his further work in Shriekback, you'll
see quite a bit of evolution away from the wacky-organ bit. He would
have been an interesting factor in some of XTC's later stuff. And
even his songwriting improved greatly over time (which shouldn't have
been too hard, given the baseline was his abysmal Go2 contributions).

I still think Barry Andrews reuniting with XTC for some cuts would
add interesting tension to the mix. Dave Gregory is an eminently
tasteful guitarist and keyboard player, but something remains to be
said for measured dosages of Andrews' more subservise tendencies.

--Steve

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Date: Thu, 04 Aug 1994 17:05:26 -0400 (EDT)
From: "it says `Two Eggs, ANY Style'..." <MELINDA@delphi.com>
Subject: Andy and Despair (Being and Nothingness)

Marshall V Pierce says:

> First, I can't agree with Melinda's statement that "hopelessness" or, p'raps
> more accurately, "negativeness" is not a re-occurring theme.  Of course, if
> Melinda was being even a bit sarcastic, then I've put my foot in it and you
> have my apologies.

No, I wasn't being sarcastic.  Maybe I said this to someone in private
e-mail, and not here to Chalkhills, I don't remember, but I'll say it
again, just in case...

One of the things I love about Andy (XTC in general, but Andy
especially) is that he is able to write stuff that is biting, angry,
intelligent, political -- without being...hm, I don't know how to
put it.  I find his stuff to be very multi-dimensional and realistic
because he doesn't *just* gripe or *just* sing happy pop songs.  He
does both, and what makes him have such substance is that he really
believes the stuff he says.  Sure, he's able to be angry, he's able
to show frustration -- but there's a difference between anger and
despair.  *sigh* I don't think I'm doing a very good job of explaining
this...

Think of "Beating of Hearts", since in the last issue of Chalkhills we
got to see that old interview in which Andy says he likes the lyrics and
believes every word.  Someone who writes that song, or even more
specific ones like "Jump" or "Knuckle Down" does not believe in despair/
hopelessness.

I want to stress that I like "Travels In Nihilon".  I suppose one could
chalk it up to immaturity, "angry young sod" sort of stuff.  That's sort
of how I see "Complicated Game", too, which is another despair song (and
yes, I like that one, too).

Am I making any sense at ALL??  :-)

Melinda

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Date: Thu, 07 Jul 1994 00:20:55 GMT
From: Ashley@apowell.demon.co.uk (Ashley Powell)
Subject: Info about me etc.

Me
--
I must confess that I have not been an XTC fan for very long.  One of my
friends had a few records, but I'd never really heard them.  Then, shortly
after its release, I saw a cheap copy of Nonesuch on CD and bought it for
my friend.  Unfortunately he had bought it himself in the couple of days
since I had seen him, so, not wanting to waste a few quid, I decided to
listen.  Since then I have more or less worked my way backwards with the
previous albums.

To be perfectly honest my main reason for wanting to join this mailing list
is simply for information, rather  than  any deep and meaningful discussion
about the music.  Music is there to be heard, not pulled apart, and the
best experiences to be gleaned from any music are either public (i.e. live
performance) or personal: I've been to some bloody good concerts in my
time, but you really had to be there, and if I were to compile a list of my
all-time top ten songs I think "Holly up on Poppy" and "Wrapped in Grey"
would be there quite close to the top, but I couldn't really say why.
That's not to say I haven't got anything to say, I just hope I don't start
reading meaningless twaddle about how Andy Partridge is a "poet", and how
much better Skylarking would have been if Dear God had been on it.

What I really want to know is; do XTC still exist? Does the Budd/Partridge
album mean that they are no more? If they _are_ no more, what are Moulding
and Gregory doing (they've always wanted to tour again, so are they?).  If
they are all still together, what new stuff is in the offing?  Are there
any obscure facts that I ought to be aware of?

Okay, so I could get the Little Express fanzine sent etc., but I only
subcribed to Internet access a week ago so the novelty won't wear off for a
while yet.  Besides which, you always know you're up to date, and the
grapevine branches out much faster on the net.

Chalkhills
----------
I heard about Chalkhills from a one of the cheaper overpriced books about
the internet, "The Internet Resource Quick Reference", ISBN 1-56529-748-2,
published by Que (it cost 16.45p sterling - cheap considering that most
others range from between 25-40 Quid!).

This is actually the first mailing list I have ever tried to contact, and
was pleasantly surprised to discover that it had actually worked (and so
quick too!).  The next list I tried was for Jethro Tull
(jtull@remus.rutgers.edu) but have had no reply as yet.  Lists for which I
can find no refence but which _surely_ must exist are things like Thomas
Dolby, Joe Jackson, David Sylvian,   Talk  Talk,  etc.  Any info anyone may
have on such lists would be appreciated.

More Me
-------
One final point: I compose a lot of my own music, primarily on a computer
through lack of technical ability on any instrument, and am always on the
look out for interesting samples.  As most people's ideas of a good sample
revolve around how many times you can fit an echoing voice shouting
meaningless crap into a twenty minute dance mix, I would expect XTC fans to
be a tad more discerning.  Therefore if anyone can so direct me I would be
grateful.

Well, that will do as an introduction.  I look forward to many bulging
wallets overstuffed with useful info.

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Date:         Thu, 04 Aug 94 23:12:30 EDT
From: Eric Wagner <BI599110@brownvm.brown.edu>
Subject:      Re: Chalkhills #366

Barry's playing was generally pretty lame in XTC, but he got a bit better
in Shriekback.  Anybody agree?

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From: Fred_M_Hamilton@cup.portal.com
Subject: Barry Andrew's Delicate Touch
Date: Thu,  4 Aug 94 21:02:18 PDT

Jim McGowan asks (responding to a comment from Paul Vincent):

>Are you and I the only ones on this list who actually liked Barry's playing?

Hell no!  One of the things I love best about XTC is their sense
of humor-not just lyrically, but musically as well.  Sometimes they
come up with a riff or a little guitar fill that just cracks me up!
One of my favorite (and most minimalist) examples of this has always been
the middle part of "Meccanic Dancing"-the part right after "I feel like a
giant tonight!"  After a few bars of the creshendo, Barry decides it's just
not quite dissonant enough and tosses in the final clinching note to
propel the song just over the top.  I love that stuff!

Listening to it now-the entire Go 2 album is full of great organ bits!
The cheesy organ fills between the lyrics of Meccanic Dancing make me
smile every time.  The entire song "Jumping in Gomorrah", from concept
to every detail of its execution, simply slays me.  There are a lot of
gems on this oft-underappreciated album.

That said, I must add that Go 2 is no more my favorite XTC album than any
other.  I'm not a big fan of rating albums-I find that my favorite XTC
album is whichever one I'm in the mood for at the time.  The band's kept
its sense of humor throughout all its later albums, but nothing brings as
big a smile to my face as this album.  Other albums bring other pleasures.

If any of you other Chalkhillians out there enjoy music with a sense of
humor like I've been talking about, I'd urge you to locate any music you
can find by James White and the Contortions, aka James White and the
Blacks.  Hilarious stuff!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fred Hamilton                              fred_m_hamilton@cup.portal.com

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From: kiwi@sage.cc.purdue.edu (-==Kiwi==-)
Subject: Intros and all that jazz
Date: Thu, 4 Aug 94 23:04:49 EST

I recently subscribed to this list and I have a question:
        How old are the majority of you?
I'm under the impression that I'm about the youngest one on here.
        I'm only 18. I first heard of XTC when I saw "Peter Pumpkin Head"
        on The Box. I thought it was an amazing video so I went out and
        bought Nonsuch.
I'm waiting to get 25 O'Clock from the record store. I can't wait.
Oh, to but the age thing in perspective, how old were you when Drums and Wires
came out(1979)? I was 4 years old.
        It was wierd to listen to Drums and Wires. I mean, I'm so used to
listening to Nonsuch and Lemons and Oranges it's gonna take a while to get
used to that British/New Wavish/Punk sound of the cd. It is good though.
        That's basically it,
        + Steve

--
Boycott .sigs

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From: adkoning@hvsag01.att.com (Andre A M De Koning +31 35 87 4927)
Date: Fri, 5 Aug 94 11:05:46 +0200
Subject: Re: The Greatest Living Englishman

Curtiss Hammock (CurtissH@aol.com) wrote about The Martin Newell CD:
>The songs are all very 60s, with great vocal harmonies.  The music is quite
>beautiful, and often haunting, with some fine arrangements by Mr. Partridge.

I bought it two days ago (I finally went ahead and gave my birthday
money the only correct destination), took it with me to work yesterday
and slided it into my portable CD player when I got into the bus. Wow! I
have never been smiling so much on my way to work!! Each Song Is Great.
One almosts forgets that the drums sound cheesy a lot of times. Which
made me think of this: if Andy's talk about using no drums on the new
XTC record will lead to anything near the quality of the arrangement for
'Before the Hurricane', I will be a very happy person. I can eat plates
full of that stuff (as long as the 'desert' will be something in a 'Funk
Pop a Roll' style . . . >;-).

No, I won't wait until my next birtday with buying the Budd/Andy
collaboration, the shop just ran out of it (which, come to think of it,
is a good sign for something with Andy's name on it!).

        ,
 -- Andre de Koning

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Date: Fri, 5 Aug 94 12:26 BST-1
From: joeo@cix.compulink.co.uk (Psion plc  Joe Odukoya)
Subject: RagnBone buffet insert

Dear All
I have tried lots of different ways of trying to print this with no
success  is there any kind soul who would be prepared to print me off a
copy which I could then photocopy and distribute amongst five hungry XTC
fans that I know.
Contact me direct and I will provide my snail-mail address.
Thanking you profusely in anticipation,
- Joeo -

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Subject: AnDy Interview...
Date: Fri, 05 Aug 94 09:44:39 -0400
From: silva@mond1.ccrc.uga.edu

   As promised here's the transcript (albeit a partial one..) of my
recent chat with Andy. I should have the rest of it done and posted
soon. EnJoY...

JoE "listening/loving Mummur at the moment..." Silva

QRM: Did you know much of Harold's work beforehand?

AP: Not a great deal, no. He was a rather romantic kind of shadowy
figure that played the odd chord with a lot of space in between. The
stuff of his that I'd heard, I liked the mixture of this pure
meditation coming-at-ya thing and the audacity of it. I'd had a few
things of his and I'd heard a few things of his. I don't have many
records. I used to have quite a few vinyl albums, but a few years ago I
just gave all my vinyl collection away one day because I wasn't playing
them and now I don't have tha many records. But I'd heard quite a few
things of Harold's. In fact a year before we got together, there was a
documentary about the fun parks on Coney Island which was made by an
American company and being shown in Britain. I was getting ready to go
somewhere in the evening and was looking round the door and thought
"Oh, that's really nice music in this documentary." not knowing it was
Harold. And then they played a piece of music and I thought "I know
that. Oh my God, it's a piece of mine!" They'd lifted "Frost Circus"
which is one of the "Homo Safari" series and put it in there. And a
little while earlier in the States, Harold had seen the same
documentary and obviously he recognized his own music, but quite like
the other music in there which was mine. So it was sort of out of
coincidence that we both got to see that film with our music in it and
liking the other person music, not particularly knowing who it was at
the time.

QRM: Is he particularly known in ambient circles?

AP: I suppose he's got to be one of the top three in that neck of the
woods. And I know that he doesn't necessarily like the gentle ghetto
expression of "ambient." And he'll positively claw your eyes out if you
say the words "New Age." Yeah, I would say he possibly one of the top
three along wit Brian Eno, and who else....

QRM: Kitaro?

AP: Yeah, um...my God, Kitaro's offensive...I don't know why. I just
don't like what he does. One doesn't need to necessarily have a name on
that stuff, it's just here's track number 145 and we'll have track 146
in a minute. Kind of Orwellian...It's probably a good approach.

QRM: So you didn't listen to any ambient music to get yourself primed
for this project?

AP: His record company All Saints sent me a couple of his CDs to listen
to, which to be truthful, put me off initially because I thought this
is perfect as it is, there is nothing I can contribute to this. It
really was. It just existed. One was "Music For Three Pianos" and
another was "The White Arcade" and just before we started our record
they sent "The Dawn's Early Light" which I liked the most because I
liked the poetry stuff on there. Then actually meeting Harold and
suggesting that we improvise together and seeing if the marriage is
going to work, and he did very well. We were giving each other goose
bumps up and down the back of the neck all afternoon. And so it was
obvious it was going to work and my early fears were unfounded. But
initially I was put off because his music has this framework, kind of
like a swiss cheese..all held together with holes and I was kind of
fearful of treading in those holes and spoiling the whole delicate weave.

QRM: I thought it was interesting that a lot of the solo material
you've released isn't really noodling on sythesizers, or anything like that.

AP: There was a branch in the earlier XTC career which I was very
interested in following and did follow for a while. It was a branch
shaped like the Dub records I did or the Homo Safari experients or odd
bits and pieces that were usually studio down time or cheap studio time
and they were experimetns. There was no pressure for it to be a song.
But that kind of branch seemed to wither and die off in me as I got
more and more seduced by song writing and rather strict structuring,
which is kind of  what I'm known for I guess - the very structured,
clockwork, mechanical toy kind of song. The trinket as it were. I've
wanted to make a longer record of that kind of stuff, so for me it was
a nice journey, out and about into what I thought had died off.

QRM: You'll probably contradict me, but having been a musician myself,
isn't it to sort of easy to noodle about on a synthesizer, give it an
interesting title and call it "ambient?" How do you juxtapose that with
what you and Horld wound up with?

AP; Yes, you're right. It is easy. Where somebody else is involved..and
we're both picky people, we're both very exacting in what will do and
what won't do...uh, the tough element is that it all came from
improvisation. And if it didn't work then it was binned, or it was
erased, or we just didn't follow that line along anymore. And we threw
away about a third of the stuff that we recorded that just wasn't
happening. And aborted other countless other things that weren't
happening. I mean, we'd just come in each morning over a two week
period and just improvise. Sometimes [we'd have] a springboard theme, a
little motif like "dum dum da dee dum" or it would be just a chord
change. That would be the initial springboard. And we'd improvise and
if it didn't work we'd take a break and wipe that and go back or change
over instrumentation and try something different. The tough thing I
think is making the improvisation...in fact you don't make an
improvisation...you make something that "is" an improvisation and if it
works, you get that wonderful glow and you know you're making some sort
of alchemy. It's a totally different feeling to writing a song.

QRM: Did you ever feel like you were treading n uncertain territory at times?

AP: My only trepidation would be, and again, has totally dissapated,
that certain critics would say that "Aha! You're merely jumping on some
ambient bandwagon!" Not that that would hurt me, bacause as I did say,
we did have a branch of experimental, purely musical things early on in
the XTC career. For me that was just a return to that sort of feel.

QRM: How about the instrumentation? Did you sort of leap right in and
say that you were going to play guitar here and there?

AP: The only constants seemed to be that Harold never played the guitar
and I never narrated the poetry. Otherwise we just took whatever was
around. I would sit at a hammond, he would sit next to me on a grand
and we'd play. And that might work out and then Harold might say "Well
we need a bell there..." and I might say "We need to highlight the top
line on the last piece..." so we'd overdub maybe a synth or something
that picked out the high line. Or Harold might come in one morning and
say "I've got these shakers and rattles and I'm going to shake
these..." and I might sit at a synthesizer. And in the afternoon, I'd
maybe pick up a guitar and he'd go back to sit on the piano. Or we'd
have a poem that he would narrate and then the pair of us would sit at
synthesizers. It was wherever you cast your eye literally, and largely
just running on the gut feeling that  acertain something needed. If we
were either working on a title like "Okay we're going to play 'Through
The Hill' now..." It doesn't exist but we're going to play it and then
you'd literally just play your hunch. You would sit down and say "What
is this about? I'm sitting down and designing a picture in my head
that's hopefully not a million miles away from the picture in Harold's
head. If I play the picture in my head and he play's the picture in
his, we should get this sort of stereoscopic image working somehow."
And sometimes we'd play to a title we already har and sometimes we'd
play with a sensation like "This piece of music we're going to make
this morning...let's go for a really vast sounding piece that you can
fly above and see it sort of five miles below you in all it's detail
and it's slipping away as your hovering over it this thing." or "Let's
make a piece of music that's so tiny that all the glinting facets of
it, all the little details, are worn smooth." We'd talk endlessly about
what we were doing which helps a great deal, becasue that was the
equivalent of writing the music out, we spoke. Sometimes we just played
to a sound until it pulled us toward a title that existed or it pulled
us to a feeling that we'd had and didn't know how to dress it.

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From: joe.kopera@cynosure.clark.net (Joe Kopera)
Subject: Through the Hill
Date: Thu,  4 Aug 1994 23:22:00 GMT
Organization: Cynosure Online - 410-781-6271

Was muddling around in a lcoal Music store today and, while looking through
the XtC Almbums..I came across "Through the Hill"..by Andy Partridge, which
(it says on the back) was just released.

What is this?  I've never heard of this before. (I just joined this list)
Could someone please explain to me?

I should've bought it, but, <sigh>...no funds...

      .------------------. .-------------------------------------.
      | Joe Kopera       | | If You Don't see the Fnords,        | .---.
      | Disgruntled Teen | | They can't eat you...               | | X |
      | Baltimore, MD    | |     =p   =0   =I   =]   =B)         | `---`
      `------------------` `-------------------------------------`

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Date: Fri, 05 Aug 94 16:04:57 MDT
From: RussSchroader@dswi.com (Russell Schroader)
Subject: The Greatest Living Englishman

     In the new issue of Rolling Stone (RS 689), the critics review the new
     album by Martin Newell and Andy Partridge, giving it three and a half
     stars.  The only problem is, to buy it, you have to call Pipeline
     Records at (516)681-2125.  Ask for Lulu when you call and she'll work
     everything out for you.  Tell her Russ from the Internet told you
     about it. (No, I don't get anything for it. When I called to order my
     copy, I talked to her for a while and she seemed really cool.)

     Happy listening.

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From: KyleSk@aol.com
Date: Fri, 05 Aug 94 19:14:22 EDT
Subject: Some Thoughts On G.L.E.

Howdy, all

I've been too lazy to type, but this message prompted me into action:

<<Has anyone heard the album "The Greatest Living Englishman" by Martin
Newell?>>

I have obtained a copy of it, and I'm not as pleased as Mr. Hammock. The
album's weaknesses backup what I've been saying all along about Andy's
weaknesses--his production and his "use" of a drum programming machine.

I like Martin Newell's songwriting. There are times when it rises above the
production. And, OK, I like everything about "Before the Hurricane" and "The
Greatest Living Englishman" The beauty of being prolific is that you're bound
to hit the mark sometimes.

But I digress. The drumming in "Good-bye Dreaming Fields" (or something like
that) sounds is just plain amateurish. Specifically, in the chorus, when the
offbeat is emphasized, sounds as if the whole backup band is working against
the singer. It hesitates too much, too obviously. And, at it's worst, is the
final song, whose title escapes me at the moment. The drum programming in
this post-Beatles instrumental, sounds like a drummer and his drum kit was
kicked down a flight of stairs, where he meant to do a drum roll. As for
production overall, the dynamic range and tonality are remarkably flat. I
find myself searching for the EQ knob that my car radio doesn't have.

The point is best made this way. I have G.L.E. on one side, and the latest
Elvis Costello outing on the other. When I finish listening to the EC side, I
simply rewind. After about a dozen listens, I have no interest in the
G.L.E. side.

I feared that this "New, improved" Andy would take over the production and
drumming reins of XTC as well. The post I read, where XTC was going to be
working on much less on a drum-oriented arrangement, is encouraging news.
Andy is one of this generation's best composers. Why can't he focus on that?
Yea, of course he's free to do what he wants. We're all better for it,
anyway. However, I speculate that his production wishes is just some bizarre
self-destructive habit.

Kyle Skrinak

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