Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills #380

                  Chalkhills, Number 380

                Friday, 23 September 1994
Today's Topics:
                  Re: Your favorite song
                      XTC Questions
                     60's influences
                   Swindon's Twin Towns
             "Clever" doesn't Sell in the 90s
                   Faves and Non-faves
                     tops and bottoms
          Fave Songs, The Cops, Stink,er..Sting
                    Upcoming XTC Stuff
          Answers to the three question quiz...
                  Paul Simon/Watchtower
                      HoMo SaFarI...
                Favourite song, album etc
             Re:Colin is NOT better than Andy
                     Chalkhills #379
                      XTC vs Police
          My 2 cents and other random commentary
                        Re: Urgh!
                    Favorite XTC Song
            Wait, I want to change my answer!
                   Representative songs
                   XTC and spirituality


Date: Wed, 21 Sep 94 21:54:07 PDT
From: John Relph <>
Subject: Re: Your favorite song

Greg Langmead <> asks:

Oh no!  The Chalkhills Survey is on-line!

>1) What is your favorite XTC song?

"Wake Up!"  Hard-hitting, sonically brilliant, heavy bass rumble at
the end, great drumming, and pointed lyrics.  And it's by Colin!

>2) If you had to give a friend a song recmmendation for XTC

"Seagulls Screaming, Kiss Her Kiss Her"

>  If this song is
>different from the first, why do you think that is so?

Because I can remember more than "Wake Up" can get across.  "Seagulls"
covers more ground, but is not as brutal.

>  Do you understand
>them so well that more obscure songs sound better than representative ones?

Oh yes.  I *like* "Leisure".  "Cherry In Your Tree" is the best thing
they've done in years.  "My Paint Heroes" is excellent.  "Living in a
Haunted Heart" is haunting.

>3) XTC Lemons.  Is there a song, or whole album, that you listen to and
>say to yourself, "Self, where the hell did this come from?  What were they

Most of them, but in a good way.  "What were they thinking?  Where did
they find this stuff?"  But yeah, "War Dance", "The Smartest Monkeys"?
Is this supposed to be enlightening?  More of the same.  "Ladybird"?
Soppy, sappy, cheesy, basically dumb.  (I simplify for sake of
argument.  Really, I like almost all XTC songs at various times.
Tomorrow I'll tell you something else.)

        -- John


Date: Thu, 22 Sep 1994 01:04:38 -0400 (EDT)
From: James Paul Bach <BACH1@MUVMS6.MU.WVNET.EDU>
Subject: XTC Questions

Favorite song:  Statue of Liberty, or Making Plans For Nigel (the song
that got me into XTC in the first place)

Song I would recommend:  Making Plans For Nigel (It worked for me!) or
the much mentioned Senses Working Overtime

Lemon:  The entire Skylarking Album

       James Paul Bach 
                                          < or >


Date: Thu, 22 Sep 94 09:07:41  GMT+10
Organization: Twister II - Sydney, Australia. +612-30-3513
From: (Jon Flynn)
Subject: 60's influences

I've just been listening to my "Nuggets" compilation of 60's music, and
the best song on it IMO is "Open My Eyes" by the Nazz. I've alo got the
video to this song on a VHS tape somewhere and it's superb 60's pop. The
group features a young Todd Rundgren, which I'm sure is one of the reasons
XTC were interested in working with him...good pedigree.

I'm also very fond of Flowers in the Rain by the Move. Again, the video
(or should I say film clip) is great. The look and feel of it is very like
the video for Grass.

Anyone have any other recommendations for 60's gems worth chasing up by an
XTC/Dukes of Stratosphear fan?

-- Via Xenolink 1.90


Date: Thu, 22 Sep 94 09:50:28 +0100
From: John Nicholls <>
Subject: Swindon's Twin Towns

Town twinning is a very common English phenomenon whereby a town
makes culutural links with another (usually European) town.  This
gives local dignitaries the opportunity to swan off on
council-funded "fact-finding" missions e.g. spending 5 weeks in
rural Spain in June investigating the local transport system to
see if anything can be learned and applied back in Manchester.
Thus  a council will typically try to twin their town with a
highly exotic foreign location.  A friend came back from a
holiday in France, where he noticed that a sign on the approach
to a quaint, sleepy town in the Loire Valley proudly announced
"Twinned with Basingstoke, England".  I know who got the best
deal there.  (I'm sorry Basingstoke, but it's not exactly Bath or
Edinburgh, is it!?!).

I'm being cynical - twinning is a Good Thing.

As for Swindon, my little chamber in the Antheap is twin-towned
with at least two overseas towns - Salzgitter in Germany (in the
old West Germany near the East German border), and Ocotal in
Nicaragua.  We have roads named _Ocotal Way_, etc, and there are
occasional gigs to raise money for charitable concerns in Ocotal.

I've no idea how the Nicaraguan connection came about, this is a
fairly exotic twinning by English standards.  Probably in support
of the Sandinista government - the whole Nicaraguan situation was
perceived TOTALLY DIFFERENTLY over here compared to the US (at
least in the way the media portrayed public opinion) and some
left-wing councils in particular raised money for Nicaraugan
hospitals, education programmes, etc.

I have something a little bit special planned for the list but it
might take a couple of months to set up - watch this space.



From: Tim Szeliga <>
Subject: "Clever" doesn't Sell in the 90s
Date: Thu, 22 Sep 94 7:02:42 CDT

> Patrick,
>    I wouldn't call XTC a "supergroup" yet.  I don't think that they have
> any platinum albums, but I may be wrong.  Their cult success has been
> tremendous considering that they don't tour.  Believe it or not, I think
> the thing that may hurt by the fact that their lyrics are brilliant.
> Their lyrics are over most Americans' heads, and therefore people avoid
> what they can't understand.
>    The way to become a "supergroup" is to write sell-out, made for radio
> lyrics ala U2.  Don't get me wrong, U2 are all great musicians, but their
> songs are obviously commercially oriented.
>                                             Brandon - "Freeze"

I've noticed for years that many British lyricists are intentionally
"clever", mixing wordplay with jarring images that demand attention.
Consider Elvis Costello, Ray Davies, Andy Partridge, Colin Moulding,

I love "And the Rubbish tip is a valid form of nutrition",
"My hands were clammy and cunning/ She looked unsuitably stunning"
"Train Running Low on Soul Coal", "The Viliage Green Preservation Society".

Americans, on the whole, in the mass, the fifteen million who have to
hear and like your song to get one million to actually buy it, they don't
reward lyrical complexity or originality.  If you manage to string cliches
in a tuneful way, like in "If you Love Somebody...", yes you can reach
them, and after you have their attention, maybe get them to listen to
some of your other, more interesting work.

However, pandering to the masses means you give up small halls and
clubs for arenas and lose any chance of intimacy.  Heck, look what
happened to Randy Newman after "Short People".  The mass audience
has been characterized as a giant baby, who sees a new toy and wants
it and nothing else, plays with it a bit, then quickly loses interest
and moves on to something else.

Tim Szeliga  "Old Fart in Training"


Date:         Thu, 22 Sep 94 09:03:14 EDT
From: Karen Bouchard <AP201155@BROWNVM.BROWN.EDU>
Subject:      Faves and Non-faves

My desert island XTC song is also "Senses Working Overtime." I thought of
it immediately when I saw the question and was surprised at how many others

Song to recommend: I don't think it'd be "Senses". Although very catchy, I
think it may be a little too offbeat for some. I'd go with something more
like "Mayor of Simpleton."

Lemon: Pat said "All Along the Watchtower." Yes! I agree with this one. I
first heard it on an alternative radio program. A friend and I were saying
"Who is doing this horrible version of this song and is it ever going to end?"
We were absolutely horrified to find it was XTC! In general, there  is at
least one song I hate on every album. I'd add "Human Alchemy," "The Man Who
Sailed Around His Soul," "Here Comes President Kill Again," for starters.

Karen B.


Date: Thu, 22 Sep 94 10:48:20 EDT
From: Jeff Rosedale <>
Subject: tops and bottoms

Don't you hate people who ask wuations like "what's the best pizza
place in New York?", or "What's your favorite XTC song?"???  But
sensibiliy be damned, I can't help but be drawn into this impossible
corner.  I'd probably want to choose a best and worst by the album, but
that's cheating- just like the rating scale of 1-10 that I used for XTC
songs on a "best-of" compilation was shattered with the assignation of
an 11, then a 24, then 50, etc.....

(will you please get to the point?)

The worst is an easy one for me.  It's "Mermaid Smiled".  Something
about the muted trumpets and bouncy rhythm makes me convinced that this
song is a thinly veiled ripoff of the theme to "Bewitched".  So
toweringly inferior to "Dear God" which replaced it on later pressings
of Skylarking that I was actually somewhat sorry to have the
original...of course I bought the 12" single of Dear God to make up the
gap and then some...

The best... that is not easy at all.  I also love "All of a Sudden"
because of that famous weltanschauung (pardon my german speling,
please) "people will always be tempted to wipre their feet / on
anything with welcome written on it".  But then there is the triumphant
crescendo of Battery Brides live, misspelled Battery Bridges on the
album cover of a fair to middling bootleg.  The Helicopter bass line
leading to crashing cymbals and a sort of XTC power chord euphoria is
enough to give me a head rush.  Ten Feet Tall is unique in the XTC
catalog- at least the LP version.  It's untouched by the dischord that
permeates some part of almost everything that XTC touches, and in that
way shines as a sort of gemstone in the midst of twisted metal
sculpture (motorcycle landscape?).   But if you like dischord, and I
really can sometimes, there's the pinnacle to be found in The Rotary!

OK, decision time.  The winner is Making Plans for Nigel!  Wait, no,
it's got to be Hang on to the Night!  But what about that great version
of Dance Band live??? They're taking me away!  bndflbnbnfdkgfffff



Subject: Fave Songs, The Cops, Stink,er..Sting
Date: Thu, 22 Sep 1994 10:23:48 CDT
From: John A Lane <>

In response to Greg L's questions about fave songs & lemons:
(Greg, this may have changed since last I wrote you)

Favorite Song to Listen to When I Discover my CD Player in the Rubble After
the Apocalypse: "Melt the Guns" and/or "Down in the Cockpit". Actually, it
would be kind of ironic to listen to "Melt the Guns" in the aftermath of a
global holocaust, would it not?

Lemons: Let's face it. Our boys have harvested a few in their time.
"Leisure" is incredibly annoying & embarrassing. There are moments when Andy
does go a bit overboard with his enthusiasm for his own windpipe (which is
probably why Colin is such a great buffer). Anything on GO2 is pretty
disposable as far as I'm concerned, with maybe a couple exceptions.

In Defense of Mummer: Lately I've been reading a lot of bashing comments
about tracks on Mummer, which is disappointing. I think Mummer is great-
every track on there a winner! Greg, my friend, I can't agree with you on
"Human Alchemy". I'm not going to set you on fire for your opinions, as
other have, but I will say this: The song is not one that you can flip on &
zone out to while you do something else. It's a piece of music that really
requires attention on the mind. It reminds me a lot of the new craze for
Gregorian Chants.

What I See in That "URG!" film:
Everytime I've seen that scene where Sting & Andy are on stage with each
other, it's fairly obvious what's going on:  Andy is drunker than hell, and
he's obviously pretty insecure about sharing the spotlight. And to further
irritate the situation, Andy has to stand next to Public Egotist Numer One,
Sting, who decides to drag everyone into a rendition of a Police song. Talk
about EGO! I feel really bad for Andy everytime I see that. It's difficult
to fight arrogance.

As far as the Police go, i've never had a problem with them as a band.
Sting, on the othe hand, can't decide if he wants to be Fabio or John
Lennon. In general, the guy is an arrogant twit who has happened to read a
little James Joyce, and he thinks he's being clever by inserting literary
allusions in his songs. BFD. As far as I'm concerned you can put all of the
"rock intellectuals" into a jail cell and lose the key. I don't have a
problem with intellectual depth in music- I have a problem with
self-proclaimed geniuses. Same thing goes for Bono. The poor sap is having
an even worse identity crisis, because he has a bigger load of multiple
personalities. Bono= Jim Morrison, John Lennon, Eldridge Cleaver, AND Sting.
In short, Sting make me...YAAAAAWN!
I'll stick with Andy Partridge any day; the guy knows how to enjoy himself.

"Caught in the saddle in a one-horse town"
John A Lane


Date: Thu, 22 Sep 94 11:43:14 -0400
Subject: Upcoming XTC Stuff

A couple of interesting tidbits in the latest ICE.  They confirm the
new CD of radio performances, but they also indicate that a reissue
of _Skylarking_ is coming in November.  Anybody know what this is

Also, they list a new Martin Newell EP _Let's Kiosk_, to be released
by Collector's Pipeline on October 25.  The name rings a vague bell.
Did somebody already mention this and I missed it?

This message brought to you by the Veterans Tapdance Administration


Date:         Thu, 22 Sep 94 12:20:32 EDT
Subject:      Answers to the three question quiz...

1)  I don't know, that's a pretty close trade (humanity vs XTC-1).  I'd
try to bargain for three songs, and then I'd take Yacht Dance, Nihilon,
and Scarecrow People.  Wait a minute!  What about Mummer? I need something
off of Mummer!

I just couldn't do it.  If yer gonna take away most of XTC, you might as
well take it all.  The pain of listening to just one of the songs would
be just to great

2)  This is a much less hypothetical question; in fact, I've had it
happen a couple of times.  It really does depend on the tastes of your
proposed convertee.  The key, I think, is accessibility.  Peter P.
and Mayor of Simpleton may not be some of the best XTC stuff (though
they certainly aren't that bad), but I always try them on unsuspecting

3)  Lemons?  I get nothing from Thanks for Christmas, but hey, I got 20+
tracks on that album, so I shouldn't complain.  To me the real lemons
are on the second half of ES.  I don't like Fly on the Wall at all,
and I think the stretch from Leisure to Cockpit is very readily skippable.
I do like Snowman/Roundabout, though.  I guess F on the W bugs me
the most since it disturbs the tranquility of the first 8 songs,
which are spectacular.

Holy verbosity, Batman!  I'm outta here....


Date: Thu, 22 Sep 1994 13:41:12 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Lemming of the B.D.A." <>
Subject: Paul Simon/Watchtower

Uh, forgive me if I'm wrong, but _Mummer_ came out in 1983, while
Paul Simon's _Graceland_ wasn't released until 1986...which makes
the "Human Alchemy"/Ladysmith Black Mambazo argument a little bit
silly...more than a little bit, actually...

Also, Brandon, "It's Nearly Africa" and "Cockpit Dance Mixture"
are 2 different songs -- and I adore both of them (see how these
discussions go?  It's all relative, friends.)

Here's an interesting way to listen to XTC's cover of "All Along
the Watchtower":  I made a tape for a friend once, of just random
stuff, with no theme of any kind, and part of it was Bob Dylan's
original version of this song, followed by Hendrix's famous cover,
then XTC's cover, and lastly U2's cover.  The point of this was
to show why I almost never like cover songs at all -- U2's cover
is lifeless and boring (and I generally like U2, well, the early
stuff), because they just don't do anything with it.  Hendrix and
XTC, though, really put their own stamp on the song; you can't
deny the complete Hendrix-ness of his version, and the very original
early-XTC/late-70s sound of their version.  Because it's not just
regurgitated, I think the XTC cover of "Watchtower" is pretty cool.



Subject: HoMo SaFarI...
Date: Thu, 22 Sep 94 15:13:08 -0400

  The other day in Atlanta I found a near-mint copy of the Great Fire
12". It had a non-lp/non-R+G Buffet b-side ("Gold"), and two of the
Homo Safari cuts (No2. & No.6). Does anyone know how manythere were in
total? I know I have another on the flip-side of the "Senses" 12", but
I'd like to know if there were others. #2 & #6 were really quite good....
JoE Silva
Athens, GA


Date: Fri, 23 Sep 1994 08:49:34 +1200
From: (James Dignan)
Subject: Favourite song, album etc

Greg Langmead <> writes:

>1) What is your favorite XTC song? I.e. if all XTC songs but one had to be
>destroyed to save humanity, which one would you pick to listen to as your sole
>memory of the boys?

One? ONE??? Bloody 'eck. Erm, short list time, folks: Statue of Liberty,
Are you receiving me?, Battery Brides, Complicated Game, When You're near
me I have difficulty, Ten feet tall, Generals and Majors, Towers of London,
Ball and Chain, Yacht dance, All of a Sudden, Deliver Us from the Elephants
:-), All you Pretty Gils, Smalltown, Summer's Cauldron, Another Satellite,
The Loving, Chalkhills and Children, Holly Up on Poppy, Then She Appeared,
and Books are Burning(!), but the best? (and that's not including the
That lot cuts down to  Generals and Majors, Another Satellite, Then She
Appeared and All of a Sudden, in about that order. Generals and Majors is
one of those songs that you feel has been at the back of your brain since
before you were born, if you know what I mean.

>2) If you had to give a friend a song reocmmendation for XTC, that is, you had
>to suggest one (and only one) song that, in your opinion, best represented
>what XTC's music is, so that person could judge from that song whether he or
>she liked XTC, what would that song be?

Depends on the Friend. With some, it would be Smalltown, with others Senses
working Overtime, or Generals and Majors, or Merely a Man. Also depends on
what you mean by representative XTC. I've always thought XTC's particular
gift was a quintessential Englishness that goes beyond most English bands.
Reminds me of when I was growing up in the Cotswolds - sort of a rural
Kinks. And if you want representativeness of that, you've got to look at
something like Love on a Farmboy's Wages, The Meeting Place or Summer's
Cauldron. Cut it to One? Senses Working Overtime, probably

3) XTC Lemons. Is there a song, or whole album, that you listen to and say
to yourself, "Self, where the hell did this come from? What were they

I always find the inherent racism of Millions embarrassing, even if it was
done as a pointed attack on racists. And for anti home violence reasons, My
Weapon makes me cringe a little, too. Me and the Wind is not on my "Pick of
XTC" tape, either.

>Slavery was ended over a century ago in most of the world! Why harp on it now?

Ah, but there's slavery and then there's slavery, ain't there. Listened to
Paper and Iron lately?

James Dignan, Department of Psychology, University of Otago.

Ya jivu v' 50 Norfolk St., St. Clair, Dunedin, New Zealand
steam megaphone NZ 03-455-7807

   * You talk to me as if from a distance
   * and I reply with impressions chosen from another time, time, time,
   * from another time


Date: Thu, 22 Sep 94 17:30:12 EDT
Subject: Re:Colin is NOT better than Andy

Karen said this:

>I've honestly hated every Colin song on every XTC album I
>have with the possible exception of King For A Day.

How can any fan of XTC feel this way?  IMHO, Colin contributes greatly to the
diversity and beauty of XTC's works.  I don't see how you can separate him
>from the band like that.  Colin is an integral part of XTC, and a fine song
writer, singer and musician.

Why do some fans feel a need to pit Andy and Colin against each other?  I
just don't understand.

And "hate" is not a feeling that I can associate in any way with XTC.

Thank you and good night.

Curtiss Hammock


Date: Fri, 23 Sep 94 00:09:00 UTC
Subject: Chalkhills #379

Nothing of substance here, but I just thought I'd comment on how
entertaining we all are, discussing our favorite/least favorite XTC songs
and other ongoing threads.  One person's dearly favorite XTC song is
another's sour lemon vice versa.  It's both funny and heartwarming how we
can disagree so vehemently on the quality of various songs, on whether Colin
is a great songwriter or the bane of the band's existence or any number of
other items.  Yet, we all seem to agree that XTC is a band that brings a lot
of light and pleasure to our lives.  It's wonderful to be a Chalkhillian,
isn't it?  (I hope I see you all at the next convention, hopefully in
Madison, Wisconsin during the summer of '95!)



Date: Fri, 23 Sep 94 04:58:00 UTC
Subject: XTC vs Police

On Sting-vs-Andy, I am surprised no one has mentioned how close they were in
the late 70s.  Some of it is mentioned in Twomey's book, and more can be
gleaned from things like Sting and his wife appearing on a XTC b-side (anybody
remember which one?), passing remarks in interviews, etc.  For example, Andy
once said he at first detested the Police (when "Roxanne" came out) but
gradually came to see past the pop singles and blonde hairdos, and recognized
what really innovative music those guys were making.  Sting, in turn, was a big
fan of XTC in those days.  Of course, so were U2, REM, INXS, Peter Gabriel,
etc.  It is hard to remember sometimes just how influential XTC were for a
short (till maybe the 1982 Breakdown) time.  They inspired musicians who went
on to become some of the biggest names in alternapop.  Too bad they didn't reap
that same success themselves. :-(

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that XTC and The Police, and Andy/Sting in
particular, were friendly with each other and influenced each other's music
once upon a time.  If Andy learned not to dismiss Sting's work and see the
beauty in it, maybe we can try too?...

By the way, my XTC lemons would have to be "Man Who Sailed Around His Soul"
(pretentious) and "Bungalow" (thank goodness for the SKIP button).

In the "One Man's Lemons are Another Man's Oranges" department: I have to say
that "Human Alchemy" is a good song whose eery sound fits the lyric, "Big Day"
features the catchiest guitar riff on Skylarking, and "Hold Me My Daddy" is
wonderful music with a very personal & moving lyric, and it is definitely not a
Paul Simon rip-off.

Mike McCormick (


From: Gregory Braswell <>
Subject: My 2 cents and other random commentary
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 1994 08:49:54 -0500 (CDT)

Hi, my name is Greg.  I've been a fan of XTC for the last four years or
so, and I've been following Chalkhills for a while now.  This is my
first time posting to this mailing list.  I've been too lazy to do so up
till now.  So here's my $.02:

> 1) What is your favorite XTC song?  I.e. if all XTC songs but one had to
> be destroyed to save humanity, which one would you pick to listen to as
> your sole memory of the boys?

This is a tough one.  I spent many a night these last few days, sitting
up in my bed awake, staring at my bedroom wall, rocking back and forth,
mumbling the names of several XTC songs, wondering which is my
favorite.  I lost all my friends; my school work suffered.  I had to
figure this out!... Okay, this is all a lie.  I'd have to say "Yacht
Dance" is my favorite.

> 2) If you had to give a friend a song recmmendation for XTC, that is, you
> had to suggest one (and only one) song that, in your opinion, best
> represented what XTC's music is, so that person could judge from that song
> whether he or she liked XTC, what would that song be?  If this song is
> different from the first, why do you think that is so?  Do you understand
> them so well that more obscure songs sound better than representative ones?

I could be a sheep and say "Senses Working Overtime" but I won't.  I'd
suggest "Statue of Liberty".

> 3) XTC Lemons.  Is there a song, or whole album, that you listen to and
> say to yourself, "Self, where the hell did this come from?  What were they
> thinking?"

There's a select few:  "The Smartest Monkeys" and just about all of _Big
Express_, except "I Bought Myself a Liarbird" which I think is fantastic.

As far as this whole business about Sting and his latest efforts, why
doesn't someone start an newsgroup for that?  :-)

Gregory Braswell     
Psychology Department, University of Illinois


From: (Joe Lynn)
Subject: Re: Urgh!
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 1994 09:03:14 -0500 (CDT)

John Pescador writes:

> In Urgh! I thought Andy was just trying to be spontaneous in joining the
> Police on stage.  Wasn't Andy singing along besides holding the pineapple?

That was the closing scene from the movie, which consisted
of the "extendo" version of "So Lonely."  Everyone who appeared
on the bill at that particular venue (in France?) came out on
stage to join the Police as they sang their closing number.
(Ahh yes, Chicago's Skafish sauntering out to the strains of the Police:
a sight to see.)

Andy shared Sting's microphone for a good portion of the song,
and when he hit Mr. Sumner on the head with a pineapple, Sting
yelled at Andy, "You old fruit!"

Every time I see the movie (yes, it's readily available on video),
I become less and less convinced that Andy doesn't like to be
on stage.  I realize _Urgh_ was done two years before his breakdown,
but Andy actually seemed to thrive on hamming it up in front of
thousands.  As time passes, I'm less inclined to buy the "stage fright" bit.



Date: 23 Sep 1994 09:58:46 U
From: "Wesley Wilson" <>
Subject: Favorite XTC Song

Wots my favorite XTC song? Hard to pin down; very hard to pin down, but I
think of "Are You Receiving Me?" as XTC at its best: angular, jagged,
anguished...prematurely pulled from a futuristic vending machine for your
instant gratification.

Wots my least favorite XTC song? Well, I will tell you that I never go out of
my way to hear "Dear God."

Does anyone have more info. on this BBC sessions CD due out soon?


P.S. Colin rulz. Period.


Date:         Fri, 23 Sep 94 10:17:20 EDT
Subject:      Wait, I want to change my answer!

I just listened to "No Languge in Our Lungs."  I'm gonna need
*four* songs now instead of three.  Please?  I'm beggin ya...

Of course, our little three question exercise ommitted two questions:

4) If your dwelling/house/car/place where you keep your music caught
fire, which XTC *album* would you save first?

5) Which one would you watch melting while you toasted marshmallows?
(Note here that the toxic fumes from the plastic might really ruin
the flavor of the marshmallows.)

Okay, I better stop...

I felt like a crusader...


From: (Mark Derby)
Subject: Representative songs
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 1994 08:13:00 GMT
Organization: NWCS Online * Oregon USA

        Hi, folks.  Delurking alert.

        I first heard XTC in the mid '80s, when I was twenty and not yet
adventurous in my musical tastes.  A friend insisted on playing for me
every record by XTC that he owned.
        In chronological order!  A poor choice, 'cause my delicate ears
bristled at _White Music_ and after that I wasn't paying much attention.
        Anyway, by the time he reached _Drums and Wires_ I was begging for
him to stop.  (But he also played _25 O'Clock_ for me...which I kinda
liked, even then.)

        Finally gave them another listen, about four years ago--by which
time, my tastes ran towards the likes of Throwing Muses and Sonic Youth.
Browsed the entry on XTC in _Trouser Press Music Guide_...decided to try
_Black Sea_...and immediately loved it.  One of those rare records on which
Side B is strongest.
        Played _Black Sea_ over and over and over again.  Wanted more!  Had
heard somewhere that _Drums and Wires_ was their classic, so that was my
next pick.  Put it in the CD player.
        What ran through my head:  "Let's see...'Ooooh.  Ooooh.'  Well,
this 'Making Plans for Nigel' is awfully cutesy.  'Oh heli, oh heli...'
Um, is that short for 'helicopter', or 'helium'?"
        By the time I got to "Roads Girdle the Globe" I was thinking, "I
paid $15 for this?"  And "Complicated Game"...well, that one had me in a
        Decided _Black Sea_ was a fluke, and maybe I didn't like XTC after

        Flash-forward, two years.  First visit to a record store that just
opened in my neighborhood.  Mostly punkish inventory (yes!) but in the used
CD bin was _Nonsuch_.  Only $8?  "What the hell...I'm a glutton for
        A couple of months later, I owned nearly everything XTC has
        Including _Drums and Wires_, which I'd earlier sold to a used-CD
shop (I always feel so stupid, buying the same disc twice).  But by then,
I'd "got it".  I understood what XTC were doing.  And "Complicated Game" is
now among my favorites.  But its impact on me is almost too much.  On days
when I'm feeling depressed, alienated, etc.--I can't listen to it.  Andy so
perfectly sums up his/my sense of the absurdity of living in this world, it
literally gives me the shakes.

        _Black Sea_ and _Nonsuch_ are still my favorites, with _English
Settlement_ close behind.  But I like them all.  (Almost.  Still can't wrap
my ears around their first two efforts.)

> 1) What is your favorite XTC song?  I.e. if all XTC songs but one had to
> be destroyed to save humanity, which one would you pick?

        Only one?  Only ONE??
        "Towers of London".  With _extreme_ regret for having to leave
behind "Burning with Optimism's Flames" and "Wrapped in Grey".

> 2) If you had to give a friend a song recommendation for XTC

        "The Disappointed"

> 3) XTC Lemons.  Is there a song, or whole album, that you listen to and
> say to yourself, "Self, where the hell did this come from?  What were
> they thinking?"

        "Leisure" (Andy sounds so constipated...)
        Half or so of _Mummer_ and _The Big Express_, though both LPs
include songs I love
        "That's Really Super, Supergirl"
        "Big Day" (though rhyming "tie the knot" with "don't let it rot"
was clever)
        "Sacrificial Bonfire"
        "Here Comes President Kill Again"
        "Poor Skeleton Steps Out" (good songwriting, but the arrangement is
        "One of the Millions"
        "Cynical Days" (ugh ugh ugh!)
        Paul Fox's production of _Oranges and Lemons_ (even though four
tracks from this disc were listed above, it's still a damn good set of
songs...if only they would re-record them all!)
        The cliched guitar solo that concludes (and mars the otherwise
brilliant) "Books are Burning"

        ...considering the length of XTC's career, I think this is a mighty
small list.

 * WR  # 338 * sea is warship grey; it whispers "fool" then slides away


Date: Fri, 23 Sep 94 12:43:15 EDT
Subject: XTC and spirituality

Some tangental "Dear God" comments

All this debate had stirred my thoughts and recollections on "Dear God."
When I first heard "Dear God", I found that this song had wonderfully
encapsulated my thoughts on atheism/monotheism at the time. Something along
the lines of "Why would God create us, and then subject us to such abject
misery? Is it possible that God is just some convenient fiction of our
own?" Note: I recall Andy felt that 2 to 3 minutes is not adequate time to
sum up his feelings on the topic. I understand his point; please take my
comments relevant to the format he delivered his message in: pop music.
However, my hunch is that a more scholarly essay by the "mayor" on the
topic might not be as moving.

Similarly, I recall a conversation with a fellow XTC'er who said that XTC
always released songs that seemed to sum up whatever topical emotions were
on her mind, such as "Yacht Dance." Yea, I know, we had this conversation
11 years ago. Anyhow, When Andy or Colin get personal, the empathy of their
prose can be quite powerful. Other similar songs in this vain include
"Snowman," "1000 Umbrellas," "Angry Young Men" and "Dear Madame Barnum"

However, as a nice contrast to Andy's 1987 feelings about monotheism, I'm
just about to complete a book, written by C.S. Lewis, titled "Mere
Christianity" whose subject matter is an interesting contrast to "Dear
God." The author was (I think he's dead) an Oxford scholar and a former
atheist turned Christian, and delivers possible answers to some of Andy's
questions. The prose is remarkably absent of the bible-thumping that marks
my very limited experience with Christian writers. I'm not a Christian--but
thought that some might appreciate some prose on the other side of the
"God" debate.


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