Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills Digest #2-72

          Chalkhills Digest, Volume 2, Number 72

                 Sunday, 18 February 1996

Today's Topics:

               Overproduced and Overplayed
               Re: Chalkhills Digest #2-71
                    We must be swift!
                   Oh dirty Maggie May
                       Tribute tape
         Q magazine's "Testimonial Dinner" review
                The *Sad* One continues...
        Me and the Wind - A Cosmetilogic Manifesto
                        zut alors!
                      D.I.D. update
                      Stephen Duffy
      Senses W/Overtime and the lyric remover thingy
                  "Wrapped in..." what?
                    Meccanik Dancing?
                Chalkhills & Children Book
               T O T A L   R A R I T I E S
     Madam Barnum, Continuity, Tribute Tape, reviews
               Re: Chalkhills Digest #2-71
                    Interactive XTC!!
           New Directions for Swindon's Finest


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From: Benjamin Woll <>
Subject: Overproduced and Overplayed
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 1996 01:55:39 -0500 (EST)

Well, Anthony, I hate being negative about my favorite band (XTC, of
course) but let me explain why I believe Deliver Us From The Elements,
Human Alchemy, and Peter Pumpkinhead are just not up to standard.

1.  Yup, pretentious, but that doesn't bother me so much -
anytime a pop band gets ambitious and writes lyrics having to do with
something other than teenage love you are going to get that.  It just
seems to have been written on a lick that wasen't a lick.  Only XTC could
have recorded it, but this is one of the very few examples of studio
trickery getting the best of them.  It reminds me of the overproduction of
O & L.

2.  Interesting, I never thought of Human Alchemy being a Drums and Wires
type song, only thicker.  It does remind me a bit of Millions, without the

3.  I hate Peter Pumpkinhead.  Sorry, but it's lyrics are unimaginative,
Andy's singing just does not measure up, and when my friends ask about
XTC, and the only song they know by them is PP, they just laugh and ask
how anyone can listen to that schlok.  I'll admit it, it's personal with

Hate to end on a bad note, so I'll end listing some great bands aside from
XTC I enjoy.  The Beatles, Steely Dan, The Replacements, Pete Himmelman,
Teenage Fanclub, The Smiths...yes, I know, Morrissey is annoying, Shed
Seven - AWESOME!, Primus, The Jayhawks...listen around, listen alot.
Cheers, Ben

Tip of the day - have sex with your honey to Don't Lose Your Temper!
Makes ya' laugh and have fun.


Date: Fri, 16 Feb 1996 00:42:33 -0800 (PST)
From: Anthony Ciarochi <>
Subject: Re: Chalkhills Digest #2-71

Sean Robison wrote:
(concerning "I Resign As
Clown" and Margaret

>>However, I know she wasn't exactly the most popular person
amongst the creative community (check out Elvis Costello's
"Tramp The Dirt Down") at that time. And XTC's lyrics do seem
to be making pointed jabs at a joke of a leader. And, in my
opinion, Andy is putting himself in the place of "england"...
aka "we refuse to put up with your foolish orders". "I resign
as clown" = "I'm not going to go along with your ridiculous

I think the clincher is the set of lines:

"If I'm not the sole fool
	to pull his trousers down
Then Dear Madame Barnum
	I resign as Clown."

It's obvious (to me) that this is a very clever metaphore for a guy
who's leaving aldulterous lover, nothing more, nothing less.  Trying
to read anything more into it may be amusing for a minute, but let's
not get overly analytical.

(Did you notice that 'sole fool' is Loofelos spelled backwards?  You know,
Loofelos, the evil dwarves from Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.  The song
is obviously about the English government's suppression of recent evidence
that chocolate cures male pattern balding.

...and by the way, if you listen to 'Rook' backwards, you can hear Princess
Diana telling a naughty joke about the Prince's willy...)

-- Anthony


Date: Fri, 16 Feb 1996 11:49:45 +0000
From: (Jon Eva)

Dear All,

Large Earl Sellar asked:

> INTERESTING! I knew that Andy had done some work with John (a single or
> something) but *this* is new? Info please - which 2/3?

Johnny Japes & His Jesticles was Andy Partridge, Dave Gregory and John Otway.
(John Otway used to 'play' with Wild Willy. And I'm the one whose supposed
to be pre-occupied).

He also suggested that:

> 1/4 Joni + 1/8 Curt - 5/16 (Liz Phair x Bryan Adams) = Alanis

Human biology was never one of my strongest subjects, and I didn't do very
well in the exams (please refrain from making jokes about failing the oral),
so I don't know whether this means you think Alanis is good or bad. I heard
a bit of her album the other day and it sounded ok.

I was amazed to see that Mayor Of Simpleton is now the official favourite
song of subscribers to this list (and by a huge margin). I guess there must
be a lot more newish fans than oldish ones. Or maybe the older fans haven't
got fed up with replying to polls yet. Anyway I disregard any poll which
doesn't have Senses Working Overtime at #1, so there.


From: "Burgess, Christopher (msx)" <>
Subject: We must be swift!
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 1996 09:14:33 -0500


I have a good idea.  Even though the boys have apparently resolved
their differences with Geffen, it may be a while before we see "product."

Why don't we (quickly) compile a new "Testimonial Dinner" CD of XTC fans
doing renditions of the stuff from the "Hello" CD?  That way, it'll be out
BEFORE the Swindon lads!

I suspect this would be a first.



Date: 16 Feb 1996 10:00:22 -0500
From: "Ken Salaets" <>
Subject: Oh dirty Maggie May

From: "Sean Robison"
Subject: Re: Dear Madam Barnum

>> Okay, but isn't "Dear Madam Barnum" just a veiled reference
to Margaret Thatcher? ...However, I know she wasn't exactly
the most popular person amongst the creative community...

Perhaps, but they sure liked her tax policies!  'Spect many more of
them stayed put in Merry Olde England, as compared to when the Labour
Party was in power in the '60s and '70s.


Date: Fri, 16 Feb 1996 10:41:28 -0500 (EST)
From: Natalie Jane Jacobs <>
Subject: Tribute tape

As a fellow frustrated SKYLACKING contributor, I wholeheartedly endorse
John Christensen's suggestion that we put together a Chalkhills tribute
tape. I have the feeling that something like this has been done before,
but with the amount of XTC material out there, and the collective
creativity of Chalkhillians, it isn't like we're going to put out a
carbon copy of the last effort (if there is one).  Is anyone else
interested in this?  It sounds like a lot of fun.

Natalie Jacobs
"Are we not proof that the universe is a drooling
idiot with no fashion sense?"	- Mr. Nobody


From: (Giancarlo Cairella)
Subject: Q magazine's "Testimonial Dinner" review
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 1996 18:17:33 GMT
Organization: L'Agora' S.r.l., Milano

The March 1996 issue of Q, a very popular (and usually very good)
British music magazine, includes a negative review of "Testimonial

Reviewer Sam Taylor gives the album only one star out of five (the
worst possible ranking). Here's the full text of the review.

"Tribute albums - don't you just hate'em? This effort would have made
some sense had the contributors include more famous XTC-devotees such
as Blur, but the followings of Space Hog and The Verve Pipe are
unlikely to add much to Andy Partridge's bank account. The bands
certainly haven't added anything to his artistic reputation: half
these songs are grunge-lite, with the quirky, intelligent Englishness
of the originals almost entirely estinguished. The only tracks of any
note are Sarah McLachlan's melodramatic Tori-telling of Dear God and
Ruben Blades's execrable version of The Man Who Sailed Around His
Soul, which sounds like a cross between John Coltrane and Barry
Manilow. Oh, and a crystal-clear, harmony-drenched recording of an old
B-side, The Good Things, by someone called Terry & The Lovemen. It's
XTC in (thin) disguise and it's the only possible reason for wanting
to buy this."

There, I just saved you $6.75 :-)


Giancarlo Cairella  -  Internet Movie Database Team


Date: 16 Feb 96 14:22:10 EST
From: Simon Sleightholm <>
Subject: The *Sad* One continues...

Slap my thighs! I forgot to include some items in my recommendations;-

The Triffids - The Black Swan (as inspired a collection of songs as
any I've heard. The styles range from Antmusic to manic folk-rap and
Latin torch-song)

The Fall - Noise-merchants supreme. Check out 458589 for a cross
section of prime avant-garde bile.

Black Grape - It's Great When You're Straight...Yeah! Heads down and
boogie. "Can you feel the spirit of the lord?"

Are there any Chalkhiller's out there who are also fans of Bill Best's
legendary pastoral space-rockers Taunton? I know he's been lying low
after the Live Aid incident but I've caught a few snatches of him on
the radio recently. If there ARE any "Taunters" out there, I have a
mint copy of the "cosy" Bill Best set, "Live At The Pig And Shovel",
which I will exchange for any pre Iron Elf material (I have Space
Tractor, Satan Is King and Crazy Rice but I NEED The Leg Of Time, on
sheep-shaped vinyl if possible).

If anyone is interested about the request that I made for information
leading to the discovery of a *sadder* XTC fan than myself, I would
just like it to be known that I have received just such notification
and that there is someone out there with *far* more free time than is
commonly considered to be healthy. The identity of that person shall
remain a secret UNLESS funds to a certain value are transferred into
my bank account. You know who you are. <G>

Regards to one and all,



Date: Fri, 16 Feb 1996 11:34:04 -0800
Subject: Me and the Wind - A Cosmetilogic Manifesto

Any in depth analysis of the above titled song will lead to an obvious
correlation to the cosmetics industry and Andy's disdain for those deemed
it's victims. I won't dissect the song line by line, but the general tenor
seems to indicate that the singer has finally shucked the artificial
constraints of cosmetics and is celebrating the natural look so prevalent in
the early 1980's.

This theme is even more obvious in 'Funk Pop A Roll-on'.  The reference to
'fixing you rabbits up' is a reflection on the dubious testing methods of the
major cosmetics companies. Notice also the reference to 'opium',  a major
fragrance line.  'Big money selling you stuff that you really do not need' -
once again we see the yearning back to the 'natural' look.  'Music by the
Yard' - is this a not-so-veiled reference to the Yardley company?   Using the
music industry as a metaphor for the cosmetic industry is classic P; knowing
full-well the legal powers of Big Cosmetics, Andy had to couch his anger ,
choosing  music as a generic enemy.

I hope we've cleared this subject up once and for all. It's all so patently
obvious when you take the time to seriously listen to the lyrics without
letting  all that music get in the way.

<please don't listen to me...>


Date: Fri, 16 Feb 1996 13:15:03 -0400 (EDT)
From: "John E. Daley" <>
Subject: zut alors!

hi keeds, just thought I would weigh in with
my tuppence as I overlook the Pacific Ocean as I type...
A semi-recurring theme as of late has been, Person X
will say that 'Song1' is their favourite XTC tune, and then Person
Y feels compelled to state to reply that 'Song1' is rubbish.
I know there is a lot of us out there, but do you all
think there could be _one_ XTC song, that we could all
pretty much agree, "yeah, that's a really good song"?
Not that I am trying to get anyone to conform, Jonny is just
curious as to what that song might be.
I offer these three choices:
"mayor of simpleton"
"life at the hop"
"sacificial bonfire"
which, of course, are Jonny's 3 all-time faves.

what say you, o my sistahs and brothas?


Date: Fri, 16 Feb 1996 16:56:41 -0500
From: (Chris Van Valen)
Subject: D.I.D. update

Hi all

Just a reminder that you have 2 weeks left for selecting your three
"must have" D.I.D.s. e-mail me on or before 2/29 to be included in the


If you have an unpleasant nature and dislike people
this is no obstacle to work.
                                --J.G. Bennett
Help us save "Forever Knight"!


Date: 16 Feb 96 19:40:00 EST
From: "will heyniger" <>
Subject: Stephen Duffy

I'm another lover of The Lilac Time, the now-defunct band that
produced four excellent albums, including the import-only
"Astronauts," their last record. (Chalkhills fans take note:
Andy Partridge produced the vaguely psychedelic TLC album
"...And Love for All.") Duffy is indeed alive and well and
recording. He's released several solo singles in the UK under
the name Duffy; an English friend of mine has sent me the
sublime "Sugar High" and the pretty good "London Girls." these
are precursors to a solo album that may have been released already
in the UK and probably will get released in the States as well,
if the U.S. labels have any brains at all.

In between The Lilac Time and his solo work, Duffy worked with
some U.S. bands, writing songs and playing with first Velvet Crush
(his song "Faster Days" is one of several excellent tunes on
"Teenage Symphonies to God") and Canada's Barenaked Ladies (he
co-wrote "Jane" and "Alternative Girlfriend" on 'Maybe You Should
Drive.') He stays busy!

cheers, Will

p.s. whoops I made a mistake up there -- I type 'TLC' album when I
meant TLT. Duffy has nothing to do with TLC. sorry...


Date: Sat, 17 Feb 1996 12:39:48 -0500
Subject: Senses W/Overtime and the lyric remover thingy

I remember someone a while back talking about a device which cuts
the vocals out of songs, and that a magazine used Senses Working
Overtime to test it.  I think the article said the device cut all
the vocals out except for 'A striking beauty!'.

The reason is this:  These devices subtract one channel from the
other, effectively removing any sounds that appear in both channels
at the same time.  As most vocal tracks are recorded in the exact
centre of the soundstage, the vocals can be matched up and removed,
leaving only the music.

Now... the entire vocal track for Senses Working Overtime is set in
the centre of the soundstage, _except_ for 'A striking beauty!',
which only appears in the right channel.  This is why it's the only
lyric that can be heard when the vocals are cut out.

How do I know this?  I've got a vocal fader.  It's called a
'Karaoke vocal fader' on my system, and it's possibly the most
fantastic thing I own.  If Alanis Morrisette's vocals get up your
nose, you only need press one button and they're gone.  :)

If anyone doesn't understand what I mean above, email me and I'll
go into more detail, in simpler terms.

Just a couple more things... I bought a vinyl copy of Skylarking
last week.  The company mustn't have paid much attention, because
it's called 'Skylark' on the record label.  Has anyone else
seen/got this?

Oh, and I bought King Crimson's 'THRAK' last week as well.  I know
this has nothing to do with XTC [apart from the Pat Mastelotto
connection], but it's an incredible album.  Highly recommended for
fans of their '80s stuff.  Proof that vintage rockers can pull it
off with style... also proof that XTC will never die.  Inconclusive
proof, I know, but we can only hope.  :)



Date: Sat, 17 Feb 1996 00:33:06 -0600 (CST)
From: "Jeffrey with 2 f's Jeffrey" <>
Subject: "Wrapped in..." what?

Mark Fisher <> challenged someone to prove that
"Wrapped in Grey is really about interior decoration."

Well, never being one to refuse to take up a seemingly absurd challenge...

First, the song *is* about interior decoration--if you take "interior" to
mean the singer's "heart" (emotions). My guess is, this is why Mark
thought of "interior decoration" in connection w/this song.

But that's too commonsensical--let's be absurd. First of all, the song is
far darker than Mark imagines: it's not just any interior decorator
singing the song, but a serial killer interior decorator...I refer you to
the chorus. The "dreamers/ Adrift in [their] beds" are clearly his
victims, and there's something disturbingly Dahmer-esque about "decorate
the inside of your heads"....

Sorry--I guess I was listening to Bowie's _Outside_ too much recently....


Jeffrey Norman                                  "Watson! Something's afoot...
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee             and it's on the end of my leg."
Dept. of English & Comp. Lit.                     --Sherlock Holmes, in some
e-mail:                   Firesign Theatre skit, I think...

In my CD changer: The Smiths _Rank_
		  The La's [s/t]
		  Soul Coughing _Ruby Vroom_


Date: 17 Feb 96 11:10:58 EST
From: Simon Sleightholm <>
Subject: Meccanik Dancing?

Just a quick note;

There is a new PC sound card from Spea Media called the XTC. It's a
plug-and-play device with wavetable synthesis and all that stuff. I
don't know why it's called the XTC; maybe it's a subconcious link on
the basis of consistently high quality sound output, or maybe it's got
a wonky wavetable chip that makes everything sound like Work Away
Tokyo Day.



Date: 17 Feb 96 11:39:04 EST
From: "Eddie O'Hare" <>
Subject: Chalkhills & Children Book

  >From: Dave K Gold <>
  >I'm still seeking to obtain a copy of XTC: Chalkihills and Children. Does
  >anyone have a copy they can loan or sell to me, and/or know where to get it?

As a new subscriber to the list and ravenous fan, I was on the phone
immediately to track down a copy of the book myself, once I read about

Found that it is still in print from Omnibus Press, and I was able to
order it through Encore Books' Hard to Find Order Desk 800/795-5049
for about $25 plus S&H.

Have ready for them; Title, Author: Chris Twomey, and the ISBN Number:

Good Luck,
Eddie O'Hare


Date: Sat, 17 Feb 1996 12:23:22 -0600
From: (JH3)
Subject: T O T A L   R A R I T I E S

Hello one and all... Sorry in advance about the length of this posting...

Thanks to everyone who responded to my question about XTC comic book
appearances. This has got me to thinking I should just draw my own comic
book, sort of like a "Comic History of XTC", only with the lads dressed up
in cheesy superhero outfits. And why hasn't anybody ever done a "Scissor
Man" comic book? Or maybe a "Pink Thing" series, in which the villains are
dispatched by a giant...

But (ahem) let's not dwell on that. I'd much rather converse about rare
demos and b-sides, since some of you have been talking about tape trees and
such, and since there probably won't be a new album for several months at
least. Basically I've been collecting XTC stuff religiously for 17 years,
and though I still don't have everything, I ask myself: Should I share this
material with others, knowing that by doing so I lower the intrinsic value
of the rarities in question? Or do I have a responsibility to do so in the
interest of improving world culture for future generations?

Recently (and admittedly with the help of those Demos CD's) I finally
reached the 90-minute mark -- I can now fill up a 90-minute cassette with
stuff that I consider to be reasonably "rare." Some of these are demos that
are so rough they can barely be considered more than sketches. There is room
for some pruning; some of the stuff isn't THAT rare... Maybe a 60-minute
version would be better.

Below you'll find the lyrics to two songs that haven't been posted before
(one of which seems to have made its way onto a Cleaners From Venus LP).
There are others. So if anyone's interested in a little rarities trading,
and/or maybe even helping to "seed" a future tape tree, e-mail me, and I'll
send you a list. I'm looking for tapes of:

"Refrigeration Blues"
"Nicely Nicely Jane"
"Susan Revolving"
Geffen Holiday Promo w/ "The Merry Christmas Song"
"Some Sort of Magnetism"
...And of course the Rock Over London 92/16 radio show

--John H. Hedges (

(Recorded by Andy Partridge, live, by himself, on a cheap cassette recorder)
(Imagine a sort of shuffling reggae ballad here)

Pearl, oh, Pearl
Don't cloister yourself away
Everybody loves a pretty girl
The world's your oyster, come out to play

And you know that you shouldn't wear
Dark clothes anymore
Your heart should be an open book
And not a locked and shuttered store

Pearl, oh Pearl
Don't cloister yourself away
Everybody loves a pretty girl
The world's your oyster come out to play

And you know that should't cry
Those tears anymore
You could wash your love away
And send it sailing out the door

Pearl, oh Pearl
Don't cloister yourself away
Everybody loves a pretty girl
The world's your oyster come out to play

Oh Pearl...

(There's a nice middle bit here...)
(Repeat first verse/chorus)

(Same recording technique; more of a rocker)

Monkeys in human-skin suits
Climbing to the top of our institute
Monkeys in human skin suits
Sitting in the finest trees, eating all the best fruit

See them praying people
In the House of Lords
All that fancy play-talk
Sticks in the throat like cocktail swords

Monkeys in human-skin suits
Climbing to the top of our institute
Monkeys in human skin suits
Sitting in the pine trees, picking all the best fruit

(I'm afraid Andy runs out of lyrics here)
Naah na naah naah na naah
It's not my idea
Of that party at all, they're...

Monkeys in human-skin suits...


Date: Sat, 17 Feb 1996 13:36 -0700 (MST)
From: Miles or Gigi Coleman <>
Subject: Madam Barnum, Continuity, Tribute Tape, reviews

>Okay, but isn't "Dear Madam Barnum" just a veiled reference
>to Margaret Thatcher?

I must disagree and also with Chuck's religious interpretation.  IMHO, this
song pretty much describes a relationship where the woman is out with her
men and poor Andy is the stable fool in her life, the "safety net."  He's
now fed up with her infidelity, the "circus parade," and he's hitting the
road.  I don't really think you can realistically read much more into it.
Anyone else?

>There is no connection between the actual songs that I can see,
>unless perhaps it's: "Oh boy, more songs about girls and the weather!"
>(To mis-quote Andy yet again :-)  )
> Anthony Ciarochi

I think that the "concept" or connection of the songs is quite obvious and
certainly ingenious.  First there is the more obvious seasonal relationship
described in songs like "Summer's Cauldron," "Ballet for a Rainy Day,"
"Season Cycle," "Sacrificial Bonfire." But more interesting to me is the
human cycle that is illustrated with all of its ups and downs.  Young love
and sometimes foolish love in "Grass," and it continues even while caught in
the mundane working world of "The Meeting Place."  From there we move to the
hurt experienced in love's relationships, i.e. "That's Really Super..." &
"1000 Umbrellas."

>From here we fall out of the "traditional" way of doing things.  In the past
we see marriage and then children.  Is the reversal here a more modern
interpretation?  Children are the issue in "Season Cycle" with marriage
following in "Big Day."  "Earn enough..." is a universal truth whether
married or not.  Believe me, I *know* that for a fact!  (BTW, wouldn't have
it any other way.)  "Another Satellite" could either be and old flame he
wants to get rid of or the marital relationship falling apart.  Mid life
Crisis in "The Man Who Sailed..." and the questions of life are asked in
"Dear God."  "Dying," I hope, is clear and with "Sacrificial Bonfire" the
whole process starts over again.

This of course is all IMHO, but it makes for me a special piece of work with
which I can identify.  Hence, _Skylarking_ is my favorite album. (With
_Black Sea_ right behind.)

Any comments?

>1. A fan tribute tape. It has been a real "community" effort; involving
many >people with different skills and talent levels.

A great idea!

>2. Album reviews.  Volunteers were solicited from the list to write album
>reviews for the Costello web page.  This will allow newbies to scan through
>the discography and get a feel for which album to start with.  Could be
>useful and fun for the Chalkhills page as well.
>Anyone agree?

I second the motion!



Date: Sat, 17 Feb 1996 19:28:53 -0500
Subject: Re: Chalkhills Digest #2-71

Lilac Time were a great band.One of my favorites.SDuffy has started a new
band called Duffy.Great stuff,similiar to Lilac Time.Can only get them on
import though.


Date: Sun, 18 Feb 1996 06:19:32 -0800
Subject: Interactive XTC!!

Fellow Chalkhillians!!

Yours truly has designed and authored an interactive discography of
Swindon's finest!!  There are a few finishing touches that I'd like to
include and YOU can help...

I have a screen where the user can click on various boxes (i.e. the
boxes are XTC albums) and go to a new screen that features music, video
and lyrics from that album.  I would like to have images of the actual
album covers to click on instead of the labeled boxes I have now.

I understand that the Nonsuch CD (I've got the cassette) came with a
booklet in which **small, equal sized**  thumbnails of each album
appear.  I would buy it myself but I'm told that new issues of Nonsuch
are hard to come by and no longer contain this booklet.  Perhaps, a
kind soul in Chalkhillsland could:

i.	post a scan of this to Chalkhills,
ii.	e-mail one to me as an attachment, or
iii.	point me to somewhere on the net where this can be found.

I'd be glad to issue a personal thanks on the album-menu page of the

Ecstatically yours,


Date: Sun, 18 Feb 1996 06:38:30 -0800
Subject: New Directions for Swindon's Finest

One great thing about Chalkhills is that it allows us a forum for the
free exhange of ideas (XTC and otherwise but XTC especially :>).

Now that four years have passed between recordings, I thought it a good
idea to speculate about what we as XTC afficionados would like to see
(i.e. hear ;>) in future recordings.

I only speak for myself here and welcome anyone else's thoughts as

I've been fortunate enough to hear some of the "orchestral" material
that is likely to find its way onto a future release (thanks, Ben G!!)
and find most of it to be pretty solid.  More like Skylarking with
occasional Nonsuch trappings if one were to unjustly pidgeonhole it.

One thing I find disturbing is perhaps not XTC's fault so much as it is
an inherent insolubility (is that a word?) of orchestral music and the
pop song format.  It seems as if the pop song format does not allow one
to do justice to orchestral music which often requires more time to
stretch out and develop.  Also, some orchestral music works better with
less repetition than pop songs usually have.  BTST, orchestral
ambitions can often leave pop songs devoid of the charm that they have
as "just" pop songs.

This is not to say that it shouldn't be attempted but rather that when
it is attempted, we often wind up with ELO rather than the Beatles
(save the flames re: Free as a Bird).

Still, the overall feel of the recordings is mellow and very much in
the same pop vein that JR (not John Relph) railed against (justifiably
so IMHO).  The songs are still excellent and do **new** things but
**within this pop framework** that has become almost routine.  BTW,
AP's home demo quality has risen a thousandfold so hopefully that too
will translate into the studio.

With this in mind, I thought about what things XTC can do to stay fresh
and exciting.  As I stated in a previous post, now that this "pop
resurrection" has failed to ignite XTC's sales levels, there's no
opportunity cost to going back and experimenting.

Since there has been so much mellowness lately, I'd like to see/hear
something that is noisy.  They could always say, "we've been there,
done that" so how about using non-instruments?  Saws, garbage cans,
washing machines, running water... anything can be sampled and looped
nowadays.  I'm sure they could make this sound musical in ways NIN
could only dream of.  This is an area that Tom Waits has explored to
great effect lately.

Another possibility is to leave drums out of the orchestral stuff they
put out.  The record companies might view this as commercial suicide
(again the pop song format pretty much demands drums of the usual trap
kit setup).  At least, justice might be done to the orchestral

In the spirit of noise and things orchestral, how about an album of
acoustic instruments only?  Not just acoustic guitars like every
unplugged show from here to eternity but rather, unconventional
instruments like kalimbas (African thumb piano), gongs, stringed
instruments made with gourds!!  True, there would be a learning curve
here but surely, musicians of their caliber would be up to the task.

Then again, I'd be happy with more genre hopping (one of the things I
like most about XTC is their willingness to try their hand at any
style).  There's plenty of things they haven't tried yet using
conventional instruments.  I would love to see Colin go hog wild on
FUNK -- tear the roof off the sucka, tear the roof on duh mudafuk-ah.

Other areas that they have ventured into but only superficially could
be explored further.  For example, African rhythm and guitar styles
were touched upon in It's Nearly Africa, Egyptian Solution and Hold Me
My Daddy yet there's an unlimited world of African music that could be
a source of inspiration.

Now that multi-part harmonies figure so prominently in their toolbox,
how about some Gregorian chant material that goes beyond what was done
in Human Alchemy?

The one idol that XTC has never smashed yet is the pop song format
itself.  This is what I'd like to see them do most.  Stretch out a
little.  Do an album with even more continuity than Skylarking.

Perhaps, a theme in addition to sonic continuity.  A sense of
spontaneity would be welcome as well.  The problem with so much of
today's so-called modern/alternative rock is that it's all so well
crafted yet without boogie.  Bereft of improvisation.

So, thank you all for reading this long and do throw out some ideas.
Maybe some of them will make their way to Swindon...



End of Chalkhills Digest #2-72

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