Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills Digest #423

              Chalkhills Digest, Number 423

                 Wednesday, 22 March 1995

Today's Topics:
                   Top 40 / Big express
                      The Lilac Time
               "Uh've been in love before"
                    Re: XTC AND STING
         Peter Pumpkinhead-again (slight return)
                        XTC Videos
                   allsorts (licorice?)
                     The Big Express
                     XTC & The Police
                 Intro, Jellyfish, Tubes
                  Fretless and Wireless
                      I'm So Square
                        Dukes = ?
                 Crash Test Dummies Cover
                RE: Chalkhills Digest #422
                      Todd is Godd?
                Thanks and Disappointment
                     Ahoy collectors
                      The Anti-Todd
        The continuing saga of "My Bird Performs"
                Re: Chalkhills Digest #422


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Date: Mon, 20 Mar 1995 10:23:02 -0800 (PST)
From: Thomas Long <>
Subject: videos

Can someone provide a complete list of xtc videos post Look Look?
I was flipping thru Twomey's (sic?) biography and was amazed to find
out videos were made of Wonderland and Mole from the Ministry.

ps And if anyone out there has the time/is kind enough to dub them or
   any other bits of video business (eg Puppet Show, At the Manor,
   MTV, etc.), please let me know!!
                                   ciao, thomas


From: "Lance Johnson" <>
Date: Mon, 20 Mar 1995 12:38:34 -0600
Subject: Top 40 / Big express

I hafta jump on this thread about top 40 XTC songs.  Didn't Peter Pumpkin
Head land well into the top 40 territory in 92-93?  Top 40 stations were
playing it at the time, to my chagrin. And I thought that I remember Casey
Casem doing a count featuring PPH. But, I could be wrong.

I have to admit that I am not wowed by the Big Express album cover art
either.  But I did happen to find a 12" vinyl copy of the Big Express
picture disk - just a 12" rusty wheel.  Pretty cool.  I think that I'll
have to dust off the turntable and start collecting XTC albums on vinyl, as
I have all of their compact disc creations.  For starters I found a used
record store with Black Sea(in the green bag), Big Express, English
Settlement, O&L, Go2, White Music, Drums and Wires and Mummer.  I very good
way to spend $100 US these days.




Date: 20 Mar 1995 14:47:06 -0500
From: "Wesley Wilson" <>
Subject: The Lilac Time

Greg Merritt in Chalkhills #421 opines that The Lilac Time's albums get
worse (as if they were bad to begin with!) with order of release.

I've gotta disagree vehemently. I don't think any of them are bad at all.
Quite the contrary.

The LT's first album, self-titled here in the U.S., has some beautiful gems
like "Black Velvet," "Return to Yesterday," and "You've Got to Love."
Unfortunately, it also has some rather sleepy, go-nowhere songs like "The
Road to Happiness."

And while I have not heard the LT's second album, "Paradise Circus," I have
heard a track from it, "American Eyes." Great song with refreshing,
thoughful lyrics and vocal harmonies.

Now, "And Love for All." This album took a while to grow on me, but I now
count it among my favorites. Songs like "Fields," "The Laundry," and "All
for Love and Love for All," "Wait and See" are pure effervescent pop.
"Paper Boat" is great. This is the LT's best album, in my opinion. Again,
great vocal harmonies and thoughful production.

The last Lilac Time album, "Astronauts," has some good cuts as well, but
the band split up in production of this album, so it's not all Lilac Time.
A lot of this album is basically Stephen with his acoustic guitar. Still,
good stuff.

I just think Stephen Duffy's music gets better all the time as he matures
as an artist. Check out "Music in Colors" (1992). The man can pen a great
melody.  He's due for a new album this spring. I hope he's back with The
Lilac Time.



Date: Mon, 20 Mar 95 15:17:25 EST
From: (Patty Haley)
Subject: "Uh've been in love before"

> From: Craig Dickson <>
> Re: "My Bird Performs":
> |I always looked at this as just being a man (I've never viewed this as
> |being autobiographical by Colin, by the way), who doesn't give a hot
> |goddamn about what others collect or call valuable because he's got a
> |terrific relationship with a woman who's keeping him sexually satisfied
> I have no idea why people insist on reading sexual (or, for that matter,
> drug-related) overtones into perfectly straightforward songs. Sorry, but I
> think you're totally wrong on this. "My Bird Performs" is a song about the
> quiet pleasures of life. The things many people think important are no big
> deal to him -- "Fine art never moved my soul", etc. -- but the simple
> pleasures of home life are all he wants.

Craig, I wrote the text you're rebutting above.  First of all, I can't
see how someone's opinion can be "wrong."  Facts can be proven, opinions
can't be.  And, if you'll look at what I wrote again, you'll see that we
are saying the same thing, at least about the "things many people think
important", as I mention "what others collect or call valuable."  I find
that Chalkhills is a most cordial bunch of people.  I hope that my spirited
differences of opinions have insulted no one.  When I disagree with someone,
such as Jon's opinion that the first songs on albums are weak, I didn't think
of him as being wrong, even though I disagreed heartily.  Let's please all
be careful of the way we disagree with someone--opinions aren't "wrong,"
they're just different, and they're also what keep this list interesting
and often open up a new way of looking at something, which I am glad of.
And hey, isn't sex a pleasure of home life? :-)

Now, for something a bit lighter, does anyone else find Andy's vocals
in "Great Fire" as amusing as I do (see my subject line above for specifics)?
His accent really shines through here--it always evokes a smile from me.

And hey, I heard a song by Sam Phillips' _Martinis and Bikinis_ on the radio
the other night.  I liked it!  Wow, maybe I should buy it, after all.

Last but not least to Mike McCormick:  Andy may not ever have played a
fretless penis, but has he ever held a fretting son?


Catherine Wheel World Wide Web Home Page:


Date: Mon, 20 Mar 1995 12:18:08 -0800
From: (Bill Wisner)
Subject: Re: XTC AND STING

>I am also wondering if XTC was mocking Sting in their song "This World Over"
>which I believe is on the BIG EXPRESS album.
>I see the whole tune as a lampoon of the obvious and "in-your-face" protest
>song that pin-heads like STING and DON HENLY have popularized lately.  Any
>thoughts anyone?

No way.  I can't really see XTC blatantly mocking anyone in this fashion.
And This World Over seems very sincere - like all of XTC's music.  When
Andy sings about something he means it, and this is one of the reasons I
love him so.



From: Louis Barfe <>
Subject: Peter Pumpkinhead-again (slight return)
Date: Mon, 20 Mar 1995 23:11:01 +0000 (GMT)

The DJ on Radio 1 who evangleised over 'TBoPP' last weekend was Kevin
Greening. He was going on about how he kept hearing XTC's version in the
most unlikely places. Greening's XTC love is well known to regular
listeners. He once played 'Generals and Majors' and back announced it
with 'I'm never happier than when I play XTC on the radio' (according to
an ex-girlfriend  of mine, but that'e the gist.). Isn't
Greening good? Apart from his impeccable taste, he is literate, funny
and very dry.


From: Jennifer Heather Zinn <>
Subject: XTC Videos
Date: Mon, 20 Mar 1995 20:08:41 -0800 (PST)

Waterloo Records in Austin TX has a Japanese compilation of videos for rent-
cheesy videos actually shot in "video"-

I remember Generals and Majors and Making Plans For Nigel being especially


Date: Tue, 21 Mar 1995 16:13:21 +1200
From: (James)
Subject: allsorts (licorice?)

>It's at Uffington, in the Vale of Evesham, near the borders of Oxfordshire
>and Gloucestershire. And it's the most beatiful carved creature in the
>whole wide world ( James wallows in waves of homesickness...)

Ooops, I'm slipping. Make that the Vale of the White Horse, a bit further
south than Evesham, nearer the borders of Gloucs, Oxon and Wiltshire - even
nearer Swindon. After 20 years away, my memory's going. And yes, of course
I meant Summer's Cauldron, not Grass. I've been ill lately. Excuse me, I
hear some more porridge calling...


Another thought about Englishness (it's so hard to know what sort of
"obvious" things are or aren't known in the US...), do you Americans know
that the cover of the single of "Wait Till Your Boat Goes Down" is modelled
on a box of "Ship" brand matches?


Re Go2's cover, I've read (I *think* in a folio of album covers by some
design company or other - Hipgnosis, perhaps?) that the cover used for Go2
was one that had been conceived as a joke by the cover designers, and
several bands had turned down as being daft. Then along came XTC and said
"THAT one's EXACTLY what we want!!!"


>give XTC a run for their money.  CH is an Australian band that has been

<cringe> yeah, and U2 is English... seriously though, CH is now based in
Australia most of the time, and the band's membership is jointly Oz/NZ, but
they still think of themselves primarily as a NZ band.


James Dignan, Department of Psychology, University of Otago.

Ya zhivu v' 50 Norfolk St., St. Clair, Dunedin, New Zealand
pixelphone / 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                     (Brian Eno)


Date: Tue, 21 Mar 1995 16:14:11 +1200
From: (James)
Subject: The Big Express

>I have to admit that the Big Express was the very last XTC album
>I got simply because I thought it had an *ugly* cover.  I know, very
>superficial.  Prime case of "don't judge a book (or record!) by its
>cover".  Okay, I get the train theme, but that poorly photographed rusty
>wheel is completely at odds with the very polished, shiny feel to the
>Big Express.  This is an album where all that extra production actually
>works.  The only train song is Soul Coal, anyway.  A seafaring name
>would have been more appropriate, in my op.

Sorry to disagree, but here's where some English knowledge comes in handy.
Back in the heyday of Steam - y'know, REAL trains - the biggest railway
junctions in Britain were in London, Glasgow, Crewe, Darlington and
Swindon. Swindon was (and still is) primarily a railway town. For a band
 from Swindon, particularly one that has a certain British nostalgia
inherent in there songs, the image of a rusted wheel from a steam
locomotive, straight from a wreckers yard, is perfect. Check too the lyric
sheet of the LP. The green colour is that of the Great Western Railway's
steam livery. The photo of the band sees them on the footplate of a GWR
steam locomotive - probably a "Castle" or "King", since these were the two
main passenger hauling locomotives of the GWR (which had its regional
headquarters in Swindon). No, the railway imagery is perfect. And although
it's not the most glamorous of cover pictures, it perfectly reflects the
nostalgic feel of an earlier, more idyllic Britain that XTC try to conjure
up in a lot of their songs.


James Dignan, Department of Psychology, University of Otago.

Ya zhivu v' 50 Norfolk St., St. Clair, Dunedin, New Zealand
pixelphone / 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                     (Brian Eno)


Organization:  Wells College
Date:          Mon, 20 Mar 1995 23:29:45 +0500
Subject:       XTC & The Police

Greetings All!

   In Chalkhills #422 Jim Slade asked whether the Police and XtC ever
shared producers. The  booklet which accompanies Message In A Box:
The Complete Recordings of The Police states:  "[The Police in
1981] asked around for a new producer and, on the recommendation of
XTC's Andy Partridge, called in Hugh Padgham (a young, but
experienced, engineer whose first co-production credit had just
appeared on Phil Collins's Face Value)."

  Someone else asked what we thought were the influences for some of
the Dukes' songs. I've always thought that 25 O'Clock sounded a lot
like Journey to the Center of Your Mind by the Amboy DUKES (Ted
Nugent's original band); The Mole in the Ministry is very much Sgt.
Pepper era Beetles; and, finally, there's no doubt in my mind that
Your Gold Dress is Pink Floyd's Set the Controls For the Heart of the
Sun done up 2-3 times faster than the original!  :>)
   Other ideas?



Date: 20 Mar 1995 23:19:47 U
From: "Scott Underwood" <ideo_pa!>
Subject: Intro, Jellyfish, Tubes

This is my first post to Chalkhills, and while I do feel some of you could
be spending your time more wisely, I am enjoying most of the conversations.
I especially like the transcripts of interviews with the band members
printed here. I have a Skylarking-era interview with Andy that I've kept,
published in BAM (a free SF Bay Area magazine covering California music).
Perhaps I'll scan bits of it in.

I can't imagine hating an XTC song (or a whole album!)--I might not get it,
but work went into it and I have yet to find filler on an XTC album. The
only album I've passed up is something called Waxworks, which seemed to be
house mixes of XTC songs.


I will thank you all for the recommendations of Jellyfish, an amazing band.
Queen, 10cc, Cheap Trick, Sweet--they're all there, and given a lovely
sheen by the group. I hope to hear The Grays soon, but they're not played
on the station I frequent.


Sorry to continue this drift, but I must defend one of my first great
loves, The Tubes. Far from being just another pop band, I think the Tubes
had one of the best live shows ever, and I saw many. Dancers, costumes,
props, gratuitous nudity, it was more of a cabaret than a mere rock show.

In addition to the songs previously listed, they were well-known here for
the rock anthem "White Punks on Dope" (with lead singer Fee Waybill
appearing as Quay Lewd, archetypal glam-rocker with two-foot platform shoes
and lighted glasses spelling out his name) and the girl-group parody "Don't
Touch Me There" (sung by Re Styles and Fee in full leather regalia atop a
Harley-Davidson). Many of their songs contained very clever wordplay,
abounding with double-entendres, especially the '79 album "Remote Control"
which is almost a rock opera about a man obsessed by TV, and is produced by
Todd Rundgren.

>My favorite Tubes' song is "What Do You Want Out of Life?"
>(A rubber baby doll's head, of course...)

 From their '75 debut, the song is "What Do You Want From Life" and the final
line is "A baby's arm holding an apple?"

>I own one of their albums, called "The Pleasure Principle",
>and wouldn't listen to it now if you paid me

That's too bad, you're missing out. The album is called "The Completion
Backward Principle" and contains the oft-mentioned "Talk To Ya Later," an
obvious bid for airplay, and the far superior "Sushi Girl."

Two final bits of Tubes lore: Prairie Prince, in addition to being a
fabulous drummer (the snare on "Earn Enough For Us" is amazing), is also an
artist, responsible for much of the band's cover art. He also designed
their famous T-shirts featuring an airbrushed face that took up the entire
shirt front.  This was made very popular by the Mork-era Robin Williams.

Also one of the two keyboardists, Vince Welnick, is now in the Grateful
Dead, having replaced a member who recently died.

Thanks, and see ya.

Scott Underwood


From: Byron K Wright <>
Subject: Fretless and Wireless
Date: Tue, 21 Mar 1995 03:35:50 -0500 (EST)

Two comments from #422 follow:

"Jay E. Scott" <> wrote,

> What is the significance of Drums & WireLESS, since the disc spans
> several years and is not necessarily acoustic?

"Wireless", as in RADIO, eh?  Not to mention the play on the title of
the third album. wrote,

> While I'm at it, let me categorically state that Andy Partridge has
> never in his life played a fretless penis....

...While I'm (thankfully) quite ignorant of the particulars of Andy
Partridge's autoerotic tendencies, I assume that like most humans he
indeed indulges in the pleasures of sight-slaying pastimes.  If so, then
he very likely HAS played a fretless penis - on many occasions, too,
judging from: 1) "that song", 2) his recent divorce, and 3) his thick
eyeglasses.  Of course, if his wang IS fretted, I just don't want to know.


Date: Tue, 21 Mar 1995 03:55:27 -0500
From: (Gene Yoon)
Subject: I'm So Square

>A thousand Cheshire cats / Grin inside of me.
>[like a fox eating shit out of a wire brush -- John]

Huh?  Call me whatever, but I don't get this simile, John.

>Why on earth would the sexual connotations of "My Bird Performs" offend
>Carol Moulding?  This may be another "Englishisms FAQ", but I thought Brits
>use "bird" as slang for any female, wives included.  So translated from
>English to American: "My Chick Performs"?  Carol would be perhaps

All I know is, if I called my girlfriend "my chick", or my "bird", for that
matter, then she'd, well, actually, I don't know exactly what she'd do
except that it wouldn't be very nice.

It's the quiet pleasures of life, as someone already said.  The quiet
pleasures of a content man.  Alright, let's bury this thread already. (James)
>For a band from Swindon, particularly one that has a certain British
>nostalgia inherent in there songs, the image of a rusted wheel from a steam
>locomotive, straight from a wreckers yard, is perfect. Check too the lyric
>sheet of the LP. ...The photo of the band sees them on the footplate of a GWR
>steam locomotive.... No, the railway imagery is perfect. And although it's
>not the most glamorous of cover pictures, it perfectly reflects the
>nostalgic feel of an earlier, more idyllic Britain that XTC try to conjure
>up in a lot of their songs.

You're quite right, of course, thanks for the historical background.  But
whenever I have a listen to the Big Express I usually end up imagining
oceans--I guess that's because "Pretty Girls" "Seagulls" and "This World
Over" (with its pseudo-Carribean beat and "when you get to a sea of
rubble") are all pretty much in succession on side one.  I feel like I'm on
a ship, not a train, and shouldn't the album name and cover reflect its
content?  The other albums do this quite well, all of them in fact.  Mummer
is a good example--three silhouettes on a rather vague pastel background
matches the album's obscured quietness.  Black Sea: four tough-looking guys
in heavy gear reflects the hard-hitting tone of that album.  Skylarking's
artistically drawn cover of male and female figures is dead-on with its
songs about nature and love.  Etc etc, and then there's a wheel shot in the
dark for The Big Express.

In reality, I've always loved trains, and that's one reason why I'm
studying engineering now, engineering as in lots of differential equations
and not the kind where you toot whistles, but I still love trains
nonetheless.  I think the inner sleeve photos of the band are really fun
(almost hilarious), so why not one of these on the cover?  Or how about an
actual engine.  That would evoke this "more idyllic Britain" nostalgia just
as well, I think.  (I know how pointless I'm being since this album was
released eleven years ago, but I'm just sharing my thinking aloud.)

>I met Neil Finn at one of the very first Crowded House headline dates in
>Toronto, at the Diamond Club if you are from T.O., I was sharing a three
>way conversation with Neil, Myself and a gent in a Drums And Wires T
>shirt.  We were talking about John Lennon and XTC which made perfect sense
>don't you think.

Do elaborate, please.  I'm very very curious as to what Neil Finn had to
say about XTC.
By the way, Crowded House comes from Auckland, New Zealand, and not
Australia, just to be perfectly anal about it.



Date: Tue, 21 Mar 1995 09:38:07 -0500
Subject: Dukes = ?

In Chalkhills 422, Jim Slade wrote:
>does anyone know or guess the models on which XTC based some of their
>Dukes songs?  Many are obvious (to me), and I've read something with
>Andy Partridge comparing "Kaleidescope" to the Move's "Blackberry
>Way", but I've never heard anything on "Your Gold Dress".  Does
>anyone, like me, think that the song is related to "Dropout Boogie,"
>from the first Beefheart album?

Here's what I think:
"Your Gold Dress" is an homage to Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd as is "Bike
Ride To The Moon."  Especially the high pitched vocal harmony.

"Mole In The Ministry" = '67 Beatles, a la "Strawberry Fields Forever" and
"I Am The Walrus," while "Kalidoscope" mines a later John Lennon solo
material vein.

"Pale And Precious" = Pet Sounds era Beach Boys, a cross between "God Only
Knows," "Caroline No," and "Good Vibrations"

"25 O'Clock" = "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night" by the Electric Prunes.

The genius of the Dukes is evoking the sound of these groups without
resorting to blatent mimicry.  Most of the others remind me of something,
but I can't quite put my finger on it.

Craig Vreeken, Sacramento, CA


Date: Tue, 21 Mar 1995 13:23:16 -0500
From: "Craig Snyder" <csnyder@YorkU.CA>
Subject: Crash Test Dummies Cover


My name is Craig Snyder and I thought I would delurk as I am trying to
avoid working on a presentation I have to give tomorrow.  I just wanted to
make the point that the best thing that the CTD cover of PPH has done is
brought the XTC version back into the spotlight.  I actually saw the
original XTC video on Much Music (Canada's cover of MTV) the other week.
        I was very dissapointed when I heard the CTD version of PPH.  I
know they are big fans of the band and they were approached by the people
responsible for _Dumb and Dumber_ only after someone heard them playing the
song live.  I am a big fan of covers. I have a copy of the _Stairways to
Heaven_ CD and Video which has 25 different versions of that song.  Those
of you in Australia and NZ will be aware of this and those of you in the UK
have probably heard the Rolf Harris version.  The rest of you are
unfortunate not to be able to hear this excellent compilation made by the
Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
        Sorry I digress, my point is I dislike the CTD version because it
is too much like the XTC version and frankly not as good.  If they had only
done something different to the song, speed it up, slow it down, anything
just change it!



Craig Snyder
Post Doctoral Fellow
Centre for International and Strategic Studies
Joint Centre for Asia Pacific Studies
York University, Toronto, Ontario Canada
Phone: (416) 736 5156  Fax: (416) 736 5752


Date: Tue, 21 Mar 95 19:42:01 -0500
From: "David Harris" <>
Subject: RE: Chalkhills Digest #422

I figure it is time I formally introduce myself.  My name is
David Harris.  I work with a pharmaceutical company as a Lab
Services Technician and I play music in my spare time.  I feel
privileged to be surrounded by a group of  individuals who share
a common interest, XTC.  I thank you for allowing me to be a part
of this information exchange.

One question:  Was XTC in the movie Urgh, A Music War?


Date: 21 Mar 1995 16:03:46 U
From: "Russell Shaddox" <>
Subject: Todd is Godd?

John Lisiecki ( wrote in #421:

> Skylarking is amoung the most musically significant records XTC has ever
> released, but it does in fact sound really awful ... Strangely, I still
> think it is their best work.

I definitely agree on the first count (and possibly on the second). Todd
Rundgren is a definite creative genius, but nobody ever accused him of being
meticulous. Utopia's "Oops, Wrong Planet" (despite being an album full of
excellent songs) is one of the worst produced records in the "whole history of
the whole history," if I may quote Olivia Newton-John. Rundgren does have a
talent for bringing out a band's creative best (as he did with Bourgeois Tagg,
the Tubes, XTC, etc). But though he's a fine songwriter and a Significant
Musical Figure, he's a sloppy producer, IMHO. Still, as John L pointed out,
sometimes that's just what a band needs.

Russell Shaddox
If it's dangerous, illegal, sickening, strange or obscene,
You can get it from the man if your money is green. (Utopia)


Date: Tue, 21 Mar 1995 17:38:30 GMT-6
Subject: Thanks and Disappointment

Hi Folks,

Thanks for the many helpful responses to my questions about XTC top
forty hits in the states and about the Homo Safari series. I'm
disappointed (but not surprised) by the lack of commercial success for
our boys on this side of the pond. You people are a veritable treasure
trove of information. I am the most knowledgable XTC fan I know and
yet you fill me with shame as your brilliance "blots out the sun."

Thanks again.


From: (Joe Jarrett)
Subject: Ahoy collectors
Date: 21 Mar 1995 20:24:29 GMT
Organization: North York Board of Education

I just recently found a source of lots of XTC vinyl singles and 12"ers. If
you are looking for some items to complete or pad your collection e-mail me
privately and hopefully we can work something out. Cheers, Joe.


Date: Tue, 21 Mar 1995 22:42:39 -0500
Subject: The Anti-Todd

I've been away from the terminal for awhile so I just read the last 9
issues in one sitting. Not a recommended practice, but nothing beats a
Vise-Grip for keeping that mouse button down. Standout items: the Sherwood
bros. most excellent flame-fest, a Hugh Marsh sighting, the multiple choice
entrance exam and more schmeckel zingers than a seder at the Concord
(apologies to female Chalkhillians [Chalkettes?], moil Chalkhillians and
anyone else offended by penis jokes). Btw, that stuff about Kurt Schwitters
was garbage.

I'm hoping to interview Todd Rundgren soon to hype his appearance at a
seminar I'm involved with. As part of my research I got in touch with his
fan club (initial contact thanks to C.Vreeken on this list) and was amused
to learn that many of TR's fans used to speak of Andy as the evil anti-Todd
until AP finally recanted about Skylarking. And then I thought, gee, if
Utopia fans could find it in their hearts to embrace Andy, maybe I could
stop thinking of him as The Man Who Destroyed XTC To Save It...



Date:   Wed, 22 Mar 1995 10:31:39 -0500
From: (Gerald Wheeler)
Subject: The continuing saga of "My Bird Performs"

Hi Gang;

Just to add my two cents worth to the debate, I've always viewed "My Bird
Performs" to be a simple analog to Andy's earlier composition "Ladybird."
The juxtaposition of the two songs reminds me of those competitions that
poets like Wordsworth and Colridge used to have, as well as Burns and
Keats, where they would select a topic or simile and each, within a certain
time frame, would write the best poem he could on the topic--later they
would directly compare the results and have friends pick the better poem.
I bet if you asked Andy and Colin when the songs were written, you would
find that the two songs were the fruits of artistic sparing.  Example:
"Shall I compare thee to a [type of bird], thou art more fair and
temperate..."[Sorry Shakespeare, by the way, Shakespeare's sonnets don't
leave me cold]

While I generally prefer Colin as a songwriter and lyricist to Andy, I must
say that Ladybird is definitely my favorite XTC song to date.

Regards all,

Jerry Wheeler


Date: Wed, 22 Mar 1995 13:07:16 -0500 (EST)
From: "Christopher R. Coolidge" <>
Subject: Re: Chalkhills Digest #422

  Well, after lurking for a couple of weeks, can't keep my ten fingers
still any longer. I first became aware of XTC when I was living in Montreal
in '79 and Drums And Wires was practically the first "New Wave" band the
local FM rock station would touch, along with Joe Jackson and occasionally
Elvis Costello.(another great songwriter who IMHO has improved with age)In
fact, Drums And Wires actually went gold in Canada that year. Their status
as "token new wave band" turned me off checking them out further, besides I
was too busy discovering the Ramones. Though I like it now, D&W was too
commercial for me at the time. A year later I went to college in Amherst,
MA, heard Black Sea in friend's dorm rooms a lot, and I was converted.
English Settlement won me over for good.
  Hopefully I'll be able to respond to a lot of people indirectly with
general comments on the subject. Personally, I like XTC because they're
intelligent people who write and sing very well-written songs about sub-
jects that mean a lot to them that few others will touch.(Funk Pop A Roll
is a fine example I haven't seen mentioned yet)Also my favorite bands are
highly imperfect and aren't afraid to try experiments that don't work or
songs that seemed like a good idea at the time but come out rather dodgy.
XTC certainly qualifies. IMHO, the only XTC albums that are close to per-
fect are, in descending order of greatness, English Settlement, Skylarking
and Drums And Wires. You could also include side 1 of Nonsuch; if that were
a single album unto itself it would be their best ever in my book. XTC were
also intelligent enough to put most of their experiments on B-sides and
British EP's.
  Speaking of experiments: I have a second generation dub of a cassette of
Andy Partridge demos that for the most part never saw the light of day.
Anyone else know about this? Two demos eventually got released in finished
form; "Happy Families" on the "She's Having A Baby" soundtrack; and "She's
A Little Lighthouse" on the Dukes Of Stratosphere album. The rest are
mostly outtakes from Mummer, The Big Express, and Skylarking. A few are
incomplete or half-finished, a few more are little more than rough work
tapes; a few more, like "Young Cleopatra" "Work" or "Bleu Disque"(the last
is Andy's attempt at a tender love ballad that in his opinion fell flat on
its face)are close to ranking with his best. "Young Cleopatra" is an
outtake from Mummer, and would have brought the mood of that album up
several notches; showed he was actually capable of being upbeat at that
stage in his career.
  There was a couple of guys I knew in college who put together a stand-up
bass/acoustic guitar duo playing nothing but XTC covers, the likes of
"Yacht Dance" and "Love On A Farmboy's Wages." Just thought somebody would
be interested.


End of Chalkhills Digest #423

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