Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills Digest #2-52

          Chalkhills Digest, Volume 2, Number 52

                Tuesday, 19 December 1995

Today's Topics:

                     This Is the End
                   The Little Express?
                    Popular Philosophy
                    Cozier Chalkhills?
                    Those Meaty Songs
          Re: Rolling Stone mag/XTC ref/Drummers
              X(t)Ceptional  Xmas Listening
                   Thanks For Christmas
                That XTC-Blur thing again
                         Re: Rook
                      Rook! ills Dig
             Moulding (and Maby, with Freedy)
               Re: Chalkhills Digest #2-51
                     Chalk Hill wines
                  End of the year issues
        Re: Saints3den's testimonial dinner stuff


To UNSUBSCRIBE from the Chalkhills mailing list, send a message to
<> with the following command:

        unsubscribe chalkhills

For all other administrative issues, send a message to:


Please remember to send your Chalkhills postings to:


World Wide Web: ""

The views expressed herein are those of the individual authors.

In this secret time, invading on our privacy.


Date: Fri, 15 Dec 1995 23:50:32 -0500 (EST)
Subject: This Is the End

For weeks now I've been buzzing through the daily Chalkhills bulletin,
marveling at the number and variety of fanatics XTC still draw after all
these years.  But sadly, I feel as if the parade has passed me by.  I've
been a devoted fan for more years than I want to count, but I really think
the boys from Swindon should pack it in.  They're long past their prime and
aging poorly, and another few records like "Nonsuch" could ruin what
remains a rich and impressive legacy.
	Wait!  Before you start banging out your sputtering rebuttals,
remem- ber that I've paid my dues.  I remember when "Making Plans for
Nigel" and "Life Begins at the Hop" were new tunes.  I remember when "Black
Sea" came in a green paper bag.  I remember forking out money I didn't have
every time there was a new release, snapping it up on the spot.  I remember
coveting the expensive, imported B-sides, knowing they might yield a hidden
gem like "Desert Island," "Extrovert" or "Dear God."
	But in the last few years, a few things have cooled my Great Fire.
First and foremost was "Nonsuch."  For a band that always delivered the
goods, this had to be their worst effort since "Go 2."  After a three-year
hiatus, this was the best they could cough up?  Three brilliant tunes ("My
Bird Performs," "Then She Appeared," "Books Are Burning"), a few tolerable
retreads ("Peter Pumpkinhead," "The Disappointed") and a dozen jazz-pop
duds, as flawlessly flat and sterile as Yes at their nadir.  Could this be
the same band that whipped itself into a frenzy on the recently issued
"Black Sea" concert?  Or conjured up the warm, murkey pastels of "Mummer"?
Or, even as recently as "Oranes and Lemons," courted U.S. airplay without
selling out, through the sheer inspiration of their songcraft and playing?
Usually when a band makes an album as rotten as "Nonsuch," they never realy
pick up the pieces aain.
	Another was reading Chris Twomey's biography.  Like most XTC fans,
I tended to indulge Partridge's quirks and foibles, but the "genius"
portrayed in Twomey's book came off as a fat, self-righteous old grump
who's too lazy to drag his ass off the couch and outside for the milk and
papers, much less turn the pop world on its ear.  And mopey old Colin,
writing his maudlin tunes and whining because Andy won't come out and play.
After finishing the book, the only member I had any respect for was Dave
Gregory, one of the most neglected guitarists in rock history, a player so
facile in so many idioms and so modest in his desires that by comparison he
shames Partridge's various genre exeriments and his Hamlet routine,
respectively.  How Gregory puts up with the two of them is quite beyond me.
	I can't help thinking that The Dukes of Stratosphear were both the
rose and the thorn.  XTC's commercial resurrection can be largely
attributed to their reinventing themselves as a '60s retro band.  First in
fun, then in earnest, they took up the studio mantle of The Beatles, and
since that's come to a dead end ("Earn Enough for Us" devolving into "The
Loving" devolving into "The Disappointed"), they have nowhere to turn.  The
band that carved the pop soil out of the hillside, exposing the baroque,
angular, almost sinister chalk of "English Settlement," well, those guys
haven't been heard from in some time.
	So dn't encourage them.  Let them pack it in while there's still
time.  The Beatles knew when to quit.  So did The Jam.  Like any living
thing, a band has a natural ifespan, and keeping it alive past its prime is
a shame and a sin.  If you doubt me, go out and listen to "Stripped," the
"new" Stones album.  Is this the fate you want for your heros?  Not me.  I
owe them too much.
					Yrs, J.R. Jones


Date: Sat, 16 Dec 1995 05:18:45 -0500
Subject: The Little Express?

I usually contribute an item or two to each issue of The Little Express.
Trouble is, I never know when the next issue will arrive; and, some time
ago, I would write to Pete and June every few months to find out
if. . . they weren't dead!

So, any news on when the next issue is set to go out?  For reference, the
last issue I got had my clip art game in it.  (If anyone would like my
version of the answers, I would be glad to post them here.)


Date: Sat, 16 Dec 1995 05:18:49 -0500
Subject: Popular Philosophy

Is there something about an XTCophile that makes it crave the unpopular
artist?  Is anyone like me, in that you are glad that everyone doesn't
know/love/hate XTC?  I remember being 7 years old and "hating" the Beetles
and Beach Boys because they were too popular (still don't follow them). Yet,
do you buy every XTC product you can find?  And do you ever feel compelled to
send the trio a few extra units of currency after you enjoy some unreleased
demos 'n' outtakes?

Since, obviously, XTC is more of a way of life than a band, we might label
some things we do as being way out of line with the XTC "philosophy" (isn't
it amusing how we make up these concepts?).  For instance, I adore songs like
Knuckle Down, but I can't wait to watch the Mike Tyson fight on TV tonight.
 Although an atheist, I can still enjoy songs like Dear God in which A.P.
clearly addresses and therefore believes in a god [ ;x) ;t) ;c) ].


Date: Sat, 16 Dec 1995 05:18:52 -0500
Subject: Cozier Chalkhills?

In my experience, a discussion list like Chalkhills becomes a nicer place to
visit when
(a) people discuss their XTC collections,
(b) people ask questions about XTC's recordings and history,
(c) the seasoned XTCophiles help the newer converts by spilling out wisdom,
(d) collectors offer items for sale or trade or free (read "dub").

So (b) it:
"Where do AP, CM, and DG live these days?  I've heard that CM moved some
distance away from Homebase Swindon.  True?"

"Where will AP live with respect to Holly and Harry?"

"Did anyone clearly hear that AP's musing on Nonesuch told the story of a
marriage going/gone bad?  Barnum, Crocodile, Holly (and not My Wifey)?"


Date: Sat, 16 Dec 1995 05:18:55 -0500
Subject: Those Meaty Songs

One aspect of this hobby that I treasure is that so many XTC tunes stay
mysterious to me for so long.  If I understand and mine right to the bottom
of an album when I first buy it, that album has a very short life with me.

For instance, I bought "Subliminal Plastic Motives" by the group Self; but I
understood it on the first listening--how sad.

Learning an XTC album is like watching a film and gaining something new each
time you view it (either in the dialog or the images).  XTC songs are
substantial and non-trivial.  Year after year, their songs will reveal new
words, new meanings/interpretations, and new musical intricacies.

Heck, so they only put out a new set of music every few years.  That's OK by
me.  Although I don't consider myself to be dense or blind, it takes a few
years for an XTC album to really sink in.  Hooray for the challenge!


Date: Sat, 16 Dec 1995 09:37:21 -0700 (MST)
From: Big Earl Sellar <>
Subject: Re: Rolling Stone mag/XTC ref/Drummers


Our happy friend Ira (Angry Young Man) asked:

> MY QUESTION IS THIS: If anyone can make heads or tails out of the backwards
> English written by this reviewer, could someone tell me if this is a knock
> or a compliment towards our Swindonian friends. Thanks!

I'm reminded of an article a few years back in SPY magazine on how to
write a rock review. Basically, a heading with standard phrasing
("...creates this year's...", "...using such musical devices as...") and
then giving a list of phrases actually used in RS, SPIN etc. reviews
("Hendrixian distortion", "hip-hopped Parliafunkadelia"). Their old
REVIEW OF REVIEWERS column had many hilarious examples of RSTONE-Speak.
That's why I gave up on reading lp reviews in magazines: I never could
understand whether the reviewer liked the album or not.

Since the recent post on producers/drummers is bound to restart the
drummer debate, I thought I'd add one that a friend of mine suggested: R.
Scott Kraus from Pere Ubu. The argument? He'd be the most muscular
drummer the boys have used since Dave Mattacks; he's not afraid to pound
a straight 4-beat over the densest synth line; and he might convince the
boys to drop the bloody samplers for EMI's and old Moogs. (Fashionable
nowadays too, ain't it? And I know that I'd love to hear some dense
Farfisia or Continental work on the next album)

Yikes! Starting to sound like a keyboardist! RUN AWAY! Later...
EEEEEEE Big Earl Sellar -
EE 	"He thinks his only problem is he ain't got more/He wants to get so
EEEE 	 rich that he can buy the whole damn store/Well I guess he knows the
EE  	 value of a hard-earned buck/If you try to bum some money you'll have
EEEEEE 	 no luck/But he spent a couple hundred on a decal for his truck."
Current Temperature: -19C		-What an Idiot He Is - Bob Snider


Date: Sat, 16 Dec 1995 08:55:12 -0800
Subject: X(t)Ceptional  Xmas Listening

An 'old fart' I know thinks that pop music began with Sinatra and Garland and
ended with the B*****.  I thought of compiling a  90 minute cassette
retrospective of the best pop band in the world in some kind of chronological
order and came up with the following  (remember home taping is EVIL so this
is purely hypothetical...):

Atom Age,  Making Plans for Nigel,  When Your Near Me I Have Difficulty,
 Respectable St.,  Burning w/Optimism's Flames,  Senses Working Overtime,
 Yacht Dance,  Blame it on the Weather,  Somnambulist,  Ladybird,   In Loving
Memory...,  Me and the Wind,  Funk Pop a Roll (guess my favorite album)
 Seagulls Screaming,  Wake Up,  What in the World,  you're My Drug,  Summers
Cauldron,  Grass,  Supergirl,  Garden of Earthly Delights,  Mayor of
Simpleton,  Miniature Sun.

I've ignored Nonsuch as IMHO I think it's pretty derivative of what's gone
before (had no room for it also).

I think  I've covered most facets of the diamond but would appreciate any
opinions.  Remember that we're preaching to the uninitiated...

'Angry Young Man'  wrote re Rolling Stone.  Firstly, I think it's a put-down,
and second, who pays attention to RS anyway :-)

Finally re Christmas gifts for Chalkhillians,  how 'bout one of those "X"
ball caps with an embroidered (or markered)  TC  added on?

Happy holidays!


Date: Sat, 16 Dec 1995 22:59:44 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Thanks For Christmas

 from the album "Rag and Bone Buffet"

[see explanatory notes at the bottom of the page]


  q  q  e  e  e  e   q  e  e  q  q    q  e  e  q  q    q  s  s  s  s  s  q  q

C - C(add D) pattern*
Thanks for Christmas
C - C(add D) pattern*
Thank you for the love and happiness
       F   Fmaj7  G     F   Fmaj7  G
That's snowing    down, all a-     round
C - C(add D) pattern*
Thanks for Christmas
C - C(add D) pattern*
Thank you for the winter friendliness
       F   Fmaj7  G     F   Fmaj7  C     (D) Ab
That's snowing    down, all a-     round the world

     Bb      Ab         Db                 F#
It's nearer, children's eyes shine clearer now
As they decorate the trees
All across the seven seas
     Bb      Ab       Db                 F#
It's nearer, Yule log fires burn clearer now
In the winter's frosty air
Sing with us and we can share a

(repeat Chorus)

It's dawning, Santa's reindeer yawning now
All their festive work is done
Filling houses up with fun
It's dawning, here is Christmas morning now
Greatest day of all the year
Listen now and you will hear our

Thanks for Christmas

D           G                             D
It's such a shame it's only one day every year
D                 G                                      D
Three hundred and sixty four days filled with doubts and fears
C                       Ab(C)**
You've been saving your love up
       C                        Ab(C)**
Let it out, 'cause Christmas is here

(repeat Chorus up semi-tone; i.e. start on C#)

Thanks for Christmas

(repeat to fade)

* C- C(add D) pattern -- tab

I've been playing the first two lines of the chorus in a manner that
picks out the melody line while brushing the chords in a down-up
motion in between notes; in tab, the first line looks like this:

   Thanks    for       Christ-   -mas
       C         C(add D)  C         C(add D)

For the second line, the melody notes are as follows; the chords
oscilate back and forth between C and C(add D) -- you'll figure it

   Thank you for the love and happ-i- -ness

** Ab(C) -- the odd-ball chord in the bridge

I think I've named this chord correctly! It looks like:

E  -----
B  --1--
G  --1--
D  --1--
A  --3--
E  -----

Happy Christmas!



Date: Sun, 17 Dec 1995 02:20:57 -0500 (EST)
From: Natalie Jane Jacobs <>
Subject: That XTC-Blur thing again

I was reading Brit music magazine "Select" today and they had an
interview with Edwyn Collins (who he?) in which he said that Blur would
never make it in the US because "No-one ever made it in America sounding like
a second-rate XTC."

As I haven't heard any Blur except the singles, I'm not qualified to
comment on this.  Discuss among yourselves.

P.S.  At the suggestion of people on this list, I bought "Soft Bomb" by
the Chills, and am currently enjoying it muchly.  Thank you.

Natalie Jacobs
"Gods by the bushel!  Gods by the pound!"


Date: Mon, 18 Dec 1995 00:01:11 -0800
From: (Mike Martis )
Subject: Re: Rook

Hi gang,

After a few months in the shadows, I couldn't help but de-lurk after
reading Kim E. Williams' recent post (Chalkhills Digest #2-51) re:
Rook. I was simply stunned by this song's beauty from the very first
time I heard it. And though I gather there have been some anti-Rook
sentiments expressed here in the past, I've always found the lyric
incredibly poignant, a perfect match for the music.

Three months ago I got a call from my dad, who told me he'd been
diagnosed with cancer. Not a fun call. I got in my car and drove around
for a couple of hours, playing Rook over and over and over again. It
provoked an emotional tidal wave that I found both bitterly sad and
comforting at the same time.

So, like Kim, I have a slightly different, more intense, association
with a song that has always been among my XTC favorites.


P.S. With my other cent, I'd like to add that Nonsuch has been in my CD
player more than anything else from XTC over the past year, and has
probably supplanted The Big Express as my favorite XTC album. IMHO,
Nonsuch is a great body of work, maybe not the conceptual equal of
Skylarking, TBE or Oranges and Lemons, but song for song a brilliant
record. So why does it get trashed so much?


Date: Mon, 18 Dec 1995 10:37:54 -0500 (EST)
From: thomas brislin <>
Subject:    Rook! ills Dig

Just wanted to voice some backup for Kim E. Williams, who noted "rook" to
be one of her favorite XTC songs.  Me too! As I had posted a few weeks
ago, my band, You Were Spiraling, covers it at shows.  It's our own form
of "missionary work".  The lyrics are chilling! The strings are
beautiful! The piano work(Dave, right?) is incredible! I'm gonna go
listen to it now.
Thanks for Christmas,
Tom Brislin

P.S.: Has anyone not been able to stop listening to Black Sea lately?


Date: Mon, 18 Dec 95 11:24 EST
From: Jeffrey Langr <>
Subject: XTC/Kinks

>From Tim Chan (2-51):

TC> IMHO I do see many parallels with Ray Davies in terms of subject matter
TC> and songcraft (and this includes Colin as well)--for example:

[ I did a paper on this and produced a tape to go along with it... ]


decrying modern technology:

XTC:   Leisure (they're put a microchip in my place)
Kinks: God's Children

"city & motor traffic rumble"

XTC:   English Roundabout
Kinks: Apeman

the sun:

XTC:   I Remember the Sun
Kinks: Lazy Old Sun & many others


Jeff L.


Date: Mon, 18 Dec 1995 09:11:09 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Moulding (and Maby, with Freedy)

I'm forwarding this message, laced with XTC references and
allusions, from the bass player's digest The Bottom Line (TBL).

For the aid of those who aren't on a first-name basis with the heroes
of the bass playing world, "Stanley" is Stanley Clarke and "Jaco" is
Jaco Pastorius, both jazz-fusion bass gods. And "Paul" refers to that
left-handed chap who played with ... ahh, never mind.


------- begin forwarded message -------

  From: Tony Flagg <>
  Date: Fri, 15 Dec 1995 10:39:18 -0500
  Subject: Influences

  I started listening to bass players around 1974.  At the time, I
  only paid attention to rock music.  The ones whose playing seemed
  outstanding at the time were Paul, John Entwhistle, Chris Squire,
  and Michael Rutherford.  In the latter part of the 70's I was into
  Stanley and Jaco mostly.  During the 80's some came to light who
  remain very good, of whom we hear little talk.  A sampling:  Colin
  Moulding of XTC.  Listen to "Mayor of Simpleton".  This is a basic
  pop rock song with thoroughly unconventional walking treatment on
  the bass that works perfectly.  It's simple, but nobody else would
  have come up with it.  Graham Maby (originally in Joe Jackson's band).
  He has always been very good.  His greatest strength is adaptability
  to the task at hand.  Hear him on Freedy Johnston's "Perfect World"
  recording - strong!
  - -Tony Flagg

------- end forwarded message -------


Date: Mon, 18 Dec 1995 10:56:15 -0800 (PST)
From: Chris Coolidge <>
Subject: Re: Chalkhills Digest #2-51

  Kirsty MacColl is actually half American; her mother's American folksin-
ger Peggy Seeger, Pete's sister. Quite a combination of heritages. She's
actually been recording since the late '70's; I remember an early album of
hers that has one of the best song titles I've ever heard of, "There's a
Guy Down At The Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis." (Wonder if he eats jelly
doughnuts and peanut butter and banana sandwiches)She also did a single
sometime in the early 80's, a cover of Billy Bragg's "A New England" which
I hear gave a whole new spin on the original. Very talented woman who I
haven't gotten around to investigating further.


Date: Mon, 18 Dec 1995 11:33:56 -0800
Subject: Chalk Hill wines

  Chalk Hill is a tiny grape growing region in Sonoma county, California
  (next to Napa valley).  There are some decent wines produced there but I
  feel there are better for less loot.

  There is actually a winery called Chalk Hill and the reputation of the
  owner is very similar to Todd R.  The debate remains; Judge the producer
  on the product, not the personna.

  If you like dessert wines and would buy a wine because it says Chalk Hill
  on the label, the Chalk Hill Late Harvest Semillon is very nice.

  Cheers, Richard


Date: Tue, 19 Dec 1995 22:06:46 +0000
From: (John Morrish)
Subject: End of the year issues

To round off the year, can I offer my first and last thoughts on the two
most virulent/stimulating controversies/discussions of recent months?

Producers: step forward Dave Gregory. Anyone who has heard the tapes he
made in his little front room in his old house in Swindon, duplicating
certain classic tracks by other artists, should have no doubt about his
abilities. They make "Faithful", for instance, look rather inadequate, and
we all know what an overblown epic that was.

Also his orchestration for 1000 Umbrellas, all done on manuscript paper by
hand, beats Todd's Macintoshed arrangements into a cocked hat. He has the
best musical taste of any of the band IMHO. (He was into the Smile tapes
when only a few  people had heard of them).

Most important, he's the meat in the Colin/Andy sandwich, and has been for
years. If they'd give him the authority to do it (a big if, of course),
he'd do a great job. Blessed are the cheesemakers, as Brian put it.

(By the way, I once asked George Martin about XTC and he showed not a wink
of interest. But then, he hasn't been much interested in any music since "I
am the Walrus". Does anyone know Stackridge's The Man In The Bowler Hat?:
great tunes, horrible MOR production.

Also he isn't keen on loud noise any more: ear trouble. He did like the
story about Dave's painstaking string writing versus Todd's instant
Mac-attack. He said he thought that by the end of the century, all
commercial music would be electronically produced, and playing an
instrument would be something you could only do as an amateur. "Like
looking after old steam engines," he said. I laughed: but he was probably

God/Non-God: I think Partridge is a Zen Buddhist, although he probably
doesn't think about it in those terms. Zen embraces spirituality, reverence
for creation, and a belief in the meaning of existence, without requiring
the presence of a personal God, creator and judge.

I believe in God (particularly when I hear Handel's Messiah or almost
anything by Bach). I also don't believe in God (when I read about children
being tortured in Bosnia). As Walt Whitman said, "Do I contradict myself?
Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes." The
same is even more true of the world.

The important part is believing, not what you believe in. Man is a
believing animal. He has a soul that strives for explanation, whether by a
belief in supernatural forces or by its mirror image, a belief in
scientific materialism. But that is what separates him from animals and the
super-intelligent computers that we are constantly told will soon replace
us. They won't.

Sermon over.

By the way, if anyone out there is in touch with Dave Gregory, tell him he
won't be getting his Christmas card this year because my dear wife threw
away the piece of paper with his new address on it. I'm blaming her,
anyway. So please, please, ask him to get in touch.

And while we're on the subject of Christmas (I'm sorry, despite my
professed atheism, I won't call it The Holidays or The Season: I may be an
atheist but I'm a Christian one) can I wish all lovers of the Swindon Three
all the best?

If you have been, thank you for listening.

John Morrish

Alle Manner Werden Bruder: Schiller, arr. Beethoven (sorry, no umlauts)


Date: Tue, 19 Dec 1995 22:57:09 -0500
Subject: Re: Saints3den's testimonial dinner stuff

The "Testimonial Dinner" was indeed an interesting mix of good remakes and
bad ones.  I was not pleased with "All You Pretty Girls" done by Crash Test
Dummies, for his voice just doesn't fit that kind of sound, I don't know.
 But I love the added-in song "Good Things", under XTC's pseudonym; it's
melodic and wistful.  Any other opinions on this?
    I've heard "Countdown to Christmas Party Time" on a few radio stations.
 Blessed thing to hear!
    Can anyone tell me the real meaning of the song "Real by Reel"?  I don't
have the lyrics with me.....


End of Chalkhills Digest #2-52

Go back to the previous page.