Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills Digest #4-43

          Chalkhills Digest, Volume 4, Number 43

                Saturday, 10 January 1998

Today's Topics:

                        O.K. O & L
                        Re: Muzak
           The Verve Pipe's "Blue Beret" cover
                     Start 'Em Young
                     Cheers medears!
                Take Away my Salvage Lure
                  A Wee Bit of Pleading
                          DG CD
                       Yazbek Stuff
                         Kill it!
                   St. Louis XTC party
                    what smell is it ?
            Chipping, chipping, chipping . . .
                    Dave got the book!
               No ears, nice holes, though.
                       The Cavedogs
               Baltimore XTC Tribute Night
                Multimedia Content on CD?
                    Best of '97 [LONG]


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You still dug you spurs in.


Message-Id: <v04003600b0d32b2daf47@[]>
Date: Fri, 2 Jan 1998 19:23:59 -0500
From: arthur james virgin <>
Subject: O.K. O & L

Greetings!  Been a year since I've posted: do these keys still work??

***DeWitt Henderson wrote:***
>>O&L sound - whoever went on and on defending it, YES.  God,
>> I love that album and its sound.  I'd still love to hear the
>> MoFi version, though.
>>* OK Computer - the analogy about mixing up all those bands/sounds
>> ... hmmmm, I'm somewhat of a painter, and you know what happens
>>when you mix a bunch of different colors?  It all turns to a
>>variation of brown, black, or grey... called 'mud' by painters.
>>That was just my feeling about the album, anyway...

This must be thread #4748 about the sound of O&L.  I fall in the, "It sounds
gorgeous" category.  Sure everything is specifically placed in a precise
aural space, and the problem with that is.....??  I still have yet to hear
the MoFi version myself, but if its anything like the Skylarking MoFi, I'd
say it is worth a try.

As far as OK Computer goes: I really dont like jumping into debates about
other bands and albums that have no consequence with xtc, but I had to reply
to this one.  In one of the most disappointing years of album releases
(imho), OK Computer sticks out as *easily* the most ambitious album of 97,
if not the 90's.  They have a sound all their own and Thom Yorke is a genius
songwriter.  (btw, I still have yet to figure out the "physics of Yorke".
How the hell can someone that *small* produce such a huge wonderful wall of
sound??)  Out of roughly 200 live shows from a variety of artists (sans xtc,
of course) the Radiohead show I saw in Cleveland this fall was the most
amazing show I've ever seen (surpassing my previous #1: Crowded House 1993).

Thats all for now, have a safe and happy New Year!


Message-Id: <>
Date: Fri, 02 Jan 1998 15:41:00 -0500
From: Adam Tyner <ctyner@CLEMSON.EDU>
Subject: Re: Muzak

At 08:27 AM 1/2/98 -0800, you wrote:

>   Anyway, earlier today I was in contact with a wireless office in
>Florida and the rep had to put me on hold for a moment.  And the
>hold music was (wait for it). . .a muzak-ish version of The Mayor of
>Simpleton!!  Has anyone else heard this?  I was stunned.

YES!  I heard this in Captain D's last week.  Pretty funny stuff.  :-)

Wishing he had more to say,

The home of He-Man, "Weird Al", Yoo-hoo, Killer Tomatoes, and more!
   Demented music list admin           O-         MiSTie #67,326


Message-ID: <>
Date: Fri, 02 Jan 1998 21:07:44 -0500
From: Troy Peters <>
Subject: The Verve Pipe's "Blue Beret" cover

Hey, welcome to '98 (Year of "Firework"?  We'll see...)

For you especially thorough collectors who haven't tracked down the
Verve Pipe's cover of "Blue Beret" yet, it looks pretty easy to get...

If you point your browser to
you can order it on a compilation of Michigan bands for about $10.

If you want to hear what it sounds like, visit
and you can hear it in RealAudio, WAV, or aiff.

In addition to this compilation, it also appears on the import single of
"Photograph," but that seems pretty hard to find from what I have seen.




Message-Id: <>
Date: Fri, 02 Jan 1998 21:26:06 -0800
From: The Village Green <>
Subject: Start 'Em Young

Music is a big part of everyday life for my two kids and I.  My son will be
four very soon and my little girl is about a year and a half.  We have
kazoos, harmonicas, recorders, tambourines, keyboards (toy and real), a
ukelele, my guitars.  Our own little combo.  Needless to say the television
isn't on very often.  Mind you we live so far away from anywhere and only
get seven stations anyway.

Get to the point, will you.

Ok.  Part of our music lesson is learning which bands are great.  Sure the
kids like Barney but my son really likes the Kinks too.  Lately I have been
playing a lot of XTC.  Since my son likes to spell he is intrigued by
anything that he can spell on the fridge with his magnetic letters.  We had
the cds on the floor tonight and Andrew had to look at every cover.  He
thought O&L was a kids album and liked the Nonsuch cover painted directly
on the case.  He was also looking at all the singles covers in the Fossil
Fuel book.  Mary-Katherine wouldn't put Drums and Wires down all evening
(which started a few fights with her brother). If I could have a framed and
signed lithograph of that one it would enjoy a very prominent place in my

Listening to ES last night Andrew thought 'Melt The Guns' was
'Ham-bur-gers'.  By the end of the night he had that one right.

I should clarify a comment I made last month about early XTC being quirky.
Someone pointed out that they still are.  To a point I agree.  I guess what
I should have said was that on the first few albums XTC were too spastic,
jerky, etc. to hold my interest over an entire album.  The singles were
awesome, the filler not so awesome.  I have always identified ES as the
turning point for me but with listening so much to Black Sea lately I like
it much better than before.  I am from the Nigel era so I have had Black
Sea for quite a while, I just never appreciated it as much.

In other music news - our band was all set to play a New Years family dance
(no alcohol, bring the kids).  The weather had been incredible thanks to El
Nino.  No snow and temperatures a good 15 to 20 degrees celsius warmer than
normal.  New Years Eve at 6 pm it started to snow and I mean snow.  By
seven you could hardly see, the temperature was falling like a rock and the
roads had turned to ice.  Well we played to about a quarter of the expected
crowd.  No one made it in from out of town which is often important for any
event around here since our own little town only has about 1,200 folks.  At
first I was disappointed but not surprised.  Anyway as soon as the drummer
banged out the start to Midnight Hour I forgot about the small crowd and
had a blast anyway.  The next morning we had a foot of snow and it was -21
C outside.  Right now it's -27 C.  Ah... winter is here.

Hope the holidays were good to everyone and that the new year will be
everything that you want it to be.

>From high in the mountains of (bloody cold) Valemount, BC.



From: LadyCPlum <>
Message-ID: <>
Date: Sat, 3 Jan 1998 01:02:49 EST
Subject: Cheers medears!
Organization: AOL (

Well. The year's gotten off to start for me. Work SUCKS, other
than the fact that my MANager was waxing poetic about "Grass" being his
favorite song. I had asked him if he'd listened to Upsy Daisy yet, and he
said that he listened in anticipation of hearing "Grass". (Ahh, tis great to
share fave songs with one of your fave people.)

Alrighty then. I have one TEENSY WEENSY response.....

Cottard-Deary me! Seems I have to (gulp) disagree with Gregsy on his opinion
as well! Ouch, that's a first for me! I think GOED is a good opener, simply
because it was my intro to XTC, and it'll forever be encroached in my brain!

And th-th-th-th-that's all folks!
XTC song of the day-Millions
non XTC song-Loser-Beck


Message-Id: <>
From: "Matt Keeley" <>
Date: Fri, 2 Jan 1998 21:17:10 +0000
Subject: O

Well, if you were paying attention, you probably predicted what the
next subject would be... anyway...

> From: Simon Sleightholm <>
> >someone doled out some criticism for 'Thanks for Christmas,' calling it,
> >among other things, 'cynical.'
> whatsoever, it's a great song and I was _overjoyed_ to hear it in a public
> place.  And I think "cynical" was the _only_ thing I (rather mistakenly)
> called it.

I don't know.. it might just be me, but when did "cynical" become a
criticism?  I've often found it just a quality, and in most cases, a
rather desireable one... But that's just me who really doesn't like
most "happy" songs... I prefer an edge.  Which is why with a lot of
whiny, "angsty" songs piss me off as well... I say that life sucks,
don't pretend that it doesn't, but don't whine about it either.

> From: Dewitt Henderson <>
> * I'm still looking for that limited-edition 47.5 rpm Egyptian
>   pressing of "Living Through Another Tuba" on lime-green vinyl
>   in the special textured papyrus sleeve in the shape of a pair of
>   Andy's underwear.  :^)  (Sorry, just gotta kid you rabid
>   collectors.  Mark?  :^)

Ah, is this the leading single from Black Seed?  The one that had
such unforgettable tracks as "Regrettable Street", "Love at First
Fight", "Power in London" and the wonderful "Burning in Marxism's
Flames"?  If I recall, the B-sides to that one were "Smoking
Section," Colin's lament about restaurants and "Somnabulation,"
Andy's experimental attempt at a new dance craze... didn't go over to
well, though, IIRC.. too sedate.

> From: LadyCPlum <>
> with anyone from England recently." So I opened it and found a cd "Dave
> Gregory- Remoulds". I got very excited. "Wow! Someone sent me a Gregsy
> cd. But who?" Along with the cd was a Christmas card with a picture of the

Hmm.. two questions... A) Do you think that this might be released
commercially sometime in the future?  and B) Why didn't I get one?
Is it because I said I'm partial to the early XTC?  I mean, the late
XTC is great too... Anyway, Dave was a good replacement for Barry...
Where's my CD?!  8)

> From: "Witter, Karl F" <>
> "On Christmas Day, you can't be sore.
> Your fellow man you must adore.
> You can hate him all the more
> the other three hundred and sixty fooouuurrrr",

That verse is right up there with just about the entirity of
"National Brotherhood Week"... Same basic tone too... only sans
Xmas...  See, another example of cynicism being good!

> From: "J. D. SMX" <>
> It was my holiday XTC near miss.  I'll file this next to the time I
> was recording Devo's Whip It video and the MTV,  2" machine ate the
> tape on the air and switched to the Technical Difficulties slide.  Doh!

Actually, I don't think that they show the complete version of the
video on MTV or otherwise... I think they just keep it to the song
length... there's a few seconds more.. including the opening still
"DEVO in:  Whiptease" and the ending with the subtitle "Oh, that
Alan!"... anyway, I've got DEVO video so if you want mail me or
something, I guess... yeah.

Ah well, that's this world over...

(who actually sent a much more informational post than the last
one... I actually said stuff... and only one off topic thing!)
Living Through | (ICQ UIN: 1455267, Name: MrMe)
Another        |
Cuba -- XTC    | I used to be temporarily insane!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Now I'm just stupid! -- Brak


From: "Wesley Hanks" <>
Subject: Take Away my Salvage Lure
Date: Sat, 3 Jan 1998 13:22:36 -0800
Message-ID: <01bd188d$b6f35e60$fb4b2599@default>

WEEHOO to LCP for receiving her treasure.

I went to a record show recently and picked up a sealed copy of the 1986
reissue (OVED 130) of Take Away/Lure of Salvage by Mr.. Partridge. Can
somebody please let me know what it may be worth?

Blessings to all,

XTC song of the day - Young Cleopatra
non-XTC song of the day - Lozenge of Love - Radiohead


Date: Sat, 3 Jan 1998 21:40:57 -0500 (EST)
Message-Id: <v03007800b0d454f01f72@[]>
From: Will Kreth <>
Subject: A Wee Bit of Pleading

People of the Chalk-

After trying one of the posted e-mail addresses of someone who was said to
have a CD pressing of the demos of the new album, I received no reply (and
now the melody of The Beatles' "No Reply" is going through my head). So,
not to be a "me too" - but, if someone has a source for said demo, or a
good quality tape of said "Firework" demo, then please contact me via
private e-mail! Thanks!

I also found myself wondering if there were any XTC fans on the list who
were also fans of the late guitarist/composer Michael Hedges, who passed
away in a tragic auto accident on Dec. 1. His acoustic guitar work, sense
of rhythm and ear for melody were astonishing. If you've never heard his
stuff, his early albums "Breakfast in the Field" and "Aerial Boundries" are
a good intro. And in another XTC connection, Hedges was a big fan of Zappa
(like our friend, Mr. Partridge). He covered Zappa's "Sofa # 1" on his last
album "Oracle." The Micheal Hedges web site is at




Message-ID: <>
Date: Sat, 3 Jan 1998 23:58:50 +0000
From: Phil Hetherington <>
Subject: DG CD

Regarding Amanda's Dave Gregory CD - congratulations are due,
but I'm sure I'm not the only one to wish there were rather more
than 30 copies... couldn't DG be persuaded to do a second batch,
perhaps available exclusively through Chalkhills? They could have
different packaging or something to maintain the exclusivity of
the first 30... I'm sure we could shift 300 or so, and if not
they could always be made available by mail order when the next
XTC CD comes out.

I'd really really like to hear these songs, and I'd far rather
pay for a decent quality official CD with the proceeds going to
Dave, than end up with a 3rd generation bootleg tape or something
(or, for that matter, nothing).

Just a thought.
|_) |_  * |    My web page:
|   | ) | |    Shriekback web pages: The above + shrkindx.html


Message-Id: <v02140b00b0d56fac47fa@[]>
Date: Sun, 4 Jan 1998 12:01:24 -0500
From: (Yazbek)
Subject: Yazbek Stuff

It's Yazbek here. I'm a idiot. I forgot to post that we're playing live on
the radio on Monday, Jan. 5th at 3:30 on WMFU (89.9?) in N.J. and NY. More
importantly, we're playing Arlene Grocery, 95 Stanton St. at 9 pm on Friday
the 9th (NYC). If you haven't seen us, this is a good time. Drummer Dean is
off his medication so anythig can happen. New album "Tock" doesn't come out
till March.  Spoke to Dave G. who says he's very excited about what they
have on tape so far.
So are we all.


From: Xtckinks <>
Message-ID: <>
Date: Sun, 4 Jan 1998 17:54:42 EST
Subject: Alarming!!!!!!
Organization: AOL (

Happy New Year, C'hillers!!
   Well, the numbers are in and we have a tie!!!
   To refresh everyone's memory, these are the results of the XTC SONG-TO-
WAKE-UP-TO Poll from back before Thanksgiving.
   After all votes have been tabulated and counted, and then re-counted but
not re-tabulated, the results are as follows...........
714 votes for I Remember The Sun
714 votes for All You Pretty Girls
714 votes for Merely A Man
714 votes for Paper And Iron

Unbelievably, the first 714 votes I received were for IRTS and MAM!!!

Stay tuned for this Thanksgiving's poll, XTC SONG-TO-WAIT-IN-POST-OFFICE-

To all who participated.....714 Thanx(tc)

A part of decency's jigsaw,
Paul LoPiccolo


Message-ID: <>
From: Wood Robert MMUk <>
Subject: Kill it!
Date: Mon, 5 Jan 1998 08:32:09 -0000

>> The Second XTC will start their Oranges & Lemons album with "Mayor of
Simpleton 1998". And they will CORRECTLY leave off "President Kill"! <<

Man I *like* "President Kill". It's one of the stand out tracks on O&L.

Soz, I know these kinds of arguments are pointless, I'm just pissed off
at being back in work! <g> I just wouldn't let it lie...


From: "Dr. Foulger" <>
Organization: Cutting Edge Optronics, Inc.
Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 09:24:26 -0600
Subject: St. Louis XTC party
Message-Id: <>


Everyone in St. Louis, who is interested in a get together, please
let me know.  I had almost no response from anyone last time I
mentioned this.

Dames tWd

* ------------------------------------------------
'People will always wipe their feet on anything
with welcome written on it.' - AP


Message-ID: <711E5B56586DCF11BAF100805F38C43903382058@DUB-03-MSG>
From: Peter Fitzpatrick <>
Subject: what smell is it ?
Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 12:57:38 -0800

What smell comes to mind during an XTC song ?

think of
"Summer Cauldron"......
"Life Begins at the Hop".....
"Big Day"...

"fresh cut grass and hedgerow"....
"sickly sweet cheap teenage perfume, sickly sour adolescent b.o.".....
"clean starched in the church...smell of the bridesmaids'
perfume....smell of the groomsmen sweating (at the thought of the

of course the more lyrical among you (down Harrison ! down !!!) will no
doubt tickle my ribs further.



Message-Id: <>
Subject: Book
Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 17:37:59 -0500 (EST)
From: "Benjamin A. Gott" <bgott@Bowdoin.EDU>


When I'm not working hard as a college student and getting boxes of
cookies and wisps of hair from Dave Gregory (oh, wait! That's Amanda!) I
work at a bookstore. I will do my best to look into the new XTC book. I
could also conceivably order it for those people who would like it. I'm
sure my boss and I could work something out.

I didn't say it last time, but I hope everyone had a great holiday, and a
wonderful new year. Let's make 1998 better than ever!



Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 20:07:18 -0500 (EST)
Message-Id: <v03007801b0d83dd74950@[]>
From: Mitch Friedman <>
Subject: Chipping, chipping, chipping . . .

goes the XTC men as they finish their second day at Chipping Norton
Studios. I just received a call from a slightly inebriated Dave Gregory who
told me that earlier today (before going the pub) Prairie Prince
successfully layed down a very complicated but excellent drum part for "You
and the Clouds" and tomorrow they are going to play together as a band and
"have some real fun" and try to record "Stupidly Happy".  All is going very
well and everyone is getting along with everyone else so far. Barry Hammond
the engineer is a little under the weather but otherwise no problems. Well,
er, unless you count the bit of ugliness involving Chris Difford. Seems that
he's demanding a whole lot of money for the studio that wasn't ready whether
or not XTC actually used it or the engineer he provided, not to mention the
$4000 barn he rented them to live in for what only turned out to be a week
or so instead of the months that were planned. So Chris Difford is
witholding the master tapes that were done at his studio until he gets his
money and in the meantime XTC will just have to hope he will return them
before they finish recording whatever new stuff they are working on at
Chipping Norton. If he doesn't return the tapes then the songs that were
started at Difford's studio will have to be redone at the end of the current
sessions which are scheduled to end the first week in February.

Other than that, Happy New Ear to all!



From: LadyCPlum <>
Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 23:27:48 EST
Subject: Dave got the book!
Organization: AOL (

Got an email from the illustrious Mitch Friedman saying that Dave had phoned
him from Chipping Norton saying that he was pleased with the book and the
card I sent him.
(See Amanda faint, see Amanda's parents rush into dining room to revive
her. See Amanda get back up and continue typing.)

Tis all for now, shall pen more later,


Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 06 Jan 1998 23:13:01 -0700
From: jimnbob <>
Organization: netcom
Subject: No ears, nice holes, though.

	Hey Rene, whoever you are, your AP autographed copy of Nonsvch is
sitting at Amoeba records on Haight St., for something like $5.99.(?)
Oh, and for my favorite O&L fan, there is one of those highly expensive
($40) remastered gold CD versions of the aforementioned, released from
Japan, just to add some insult to your injury. Perhaps a nice graphic EQ
could come in handy somewhere between CD and speakers - for all that
"too perfect" sound.  And to you all, you've got to admit, Prarie Prince
is a monster god drummer!  Forget Terry Chambers.
....I take that back.                                       James


Message-Id: <v03007806b0d906c7e2bf@[]>
Date: Wed, 7 Jan 1998 05:19:25 -0500
From: Curtiss Hammock <>
Subject: The Cavedogs

I know there are some Cavedogs fans on the list, and we all know that Dave
Gregory played on ex-dog Brian Stevens' album "Prettier Than You." Well,
I've started a Cavedogs website and a newsgroup, and I'm looking to spread
the word.

The website (a work in progress): produced with the cooperation of the
'dogs themselves, and their associates. It features an almost-complete
discography and info about their current projects. It's at

The newsgroup: It's new and not a lot of ISPs carry it.
Mindspring has just added it at my request. If your ISP doesn't have it,
and you're interested, please put in a request.

Thanks, all.


Curtiss R.Hammock II
MacBeth Design
Atlanta, GA, USA


Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 07 Jan 1998 14:08:50 -0500
From: peaches <>
Subject: Baltimore XTC Tribute Night


                D.C./Baltimore-area fans may be interested
to know that an XTC-tribute night will take place in
Baltimore on the night of Saturday, January 24th at
the Ottobar (203 Davis Street, several blocks north
of the Inner Harbour, 410-752-OTTO).
                This will feature several bands performing
all XTC covers.  I always approach these things with
some trepidation (who needs an off-key "Dear God"?!),
but this one looks like it may be worthwhile.  My band
is opening with "Travels in Nihilon," and we'll do several
BLACK SEA tunes and at least one Dukes number.
Cover is $5 and it would be nice to have some people
present who know the songs.  We hope to make it wonderful!

                                e-mail me for additional information
                                and thank you for your time!


Subject: Multimedia Content on CD?
From: (Wesley H. Wilson)
Message-Id: <>
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 98 12:40:32 -0500

"We're due for replay 1998." - Andy Partridge

I wonder if the forthcoming XTC CD will have multimedia content? Heck, after
buying Michael Penn's "Resigned" CD last year, I thought so highly of one of
the software comanies involved (Macromedia's Director (TM)), that I bought
100 shares of Macromedia! I never bought a stock before in my life, but I
thought for sure that this idea was a great marriage to the audio CD. But
the stock doesn't seem to be doing much in spite of it all.

Tell me, is the trend for more and more CDs to have this extra multimedia
content with stuff in Director(TM)? Geez, this seems like this would be a
great idea for XTC's new one, especially since Andy comes up with ideas like
the Nonsuch card game, etc.


P.S. Where's the virtual tour of Swindon? Please http me. :-)


Date: Sat, 10 Jan 1998 16:54:20 -0500 (EST)
Message-Id: <v03007800b0dd56722130@[]>
From: Mitch Friedman <>
Subject: Yazbekistan

Hello again,

Nothing new to report from the XTC boys since my last bit of info but
I wanted to say that in the past week I have enjoyed quite a bit of
mingling and listening involving Yazbek and some east coast based
Chalkhillians of note. Last night (Friday) I attended a Yazbek gig at
a place called Arlene's Grocery in NYC and besides witnessing a superb
show by Mr. Yazbek and his band (including a solo consisting of
filleting a trout on stage), I got to meet Ben Gott, Ira Lieman, Tim
Kendrick and all of their related significant others and others. Jamie
Block of BLOCK was also in attendance and he told me that he will be
playing at The Mercury Lounge this coming Saturday so if you've never
seen him perform then by all means go because he and his band are
truly excellent. Earlier in the week Yazbek and his band were guests
on WFMU and they played live in the studio which was also
wonderful. That's all for now.



Message-Id: <>
From: "Mark Strijbos" <>
Organization: The Little Lighthouse
Date: Sat, 10 Jan 1998 00:32:56 +0000
Subject: Trainspotting

Dear Chalkers,

It has been mentioned here before that Haydn Bendall ( the producer
of the new album in the making) was one of the assistant engineers
during the Go 2 sessions.

But I don't think anybody already pointed out he also worked the
tapes during the recording of their very first records; the Science
Friction single / 3D-EP sessions in August 1977.

yours in an anorak,
Mark Strijbos at The Little Lighthouse
 the XTC website @


Message-ID: <>
Date: Sun, 4 Jan 1998 03:11:43 +0000
From: Phil Hetherington <>
Subject: Best of '97 [LONG]

[Extremely long & no relevant XTC content - feel free to skip]

Well, it's that time of the year again...

1997 was a rather chaotic (and in parts traumatic) year for me
personally, but I won't bore eveyone with that. Musically, though,
it's been the best year for a _long_ time (certainly since '92,
anyway, and a massive improvement on '96).

Anyway, a quick recap of previous favourite albums is in order
(mainly to remind me what they were):
  1992 - Goats Don't Shave - "The Rusty Razor"
    Still my all time favourite. Irish folk-rock at its finest, and
    the best live band I've ever seen. Where the hell are they now?
  1993 - Blur - "Modern Life Is Rubbish"
    I was still playing this to death when "Parklife" came out
    a year or so later. Quite an achievement.
  1994 - Barenaked Ladies - "Maybe You Should Drive"
    Pretty well documented my life at the time. Still their best.
  1995 - Low Pop Suicide - "The Death Of Excellence"
    Very noisy, but after about 20 listens the melodies start
    coming through, and it really rewards repeated listenings.
  1996 - J J Cale - "Guitar Man"
    His finest work for a long time.

  And my favourite single of 1996 was Toucan's "Shine", a 4-track
  EP full of _great_ songs. Having seen them live countless times
  now, I can't recommend this band enough. There was some talk of
  a change of name though; time will tell. Incidently, their bass
  player Garry McManus was in The Special A.K.A.

Right then. There were a couple of late 1996 albums which I only
bought in '97, and which may well have been favourites of the
year if I'd got them in time, these were:

Eels - Beautiful Freak
  If you've heard the singles you should realise that Eels have
  a somewhat diverse collection of songs, though you may not
  realise just how _good_ they are - I don't think there's a
  bad song on this CD (though I'm not overly keen on "Rags To
  Rags"). Personal favourites are "Guest List" and "Mental",
  but the whole thing is just awesome. They are also great fun
  live, though apparently bass player Tommy has since quit the
  band, so what will befall the second album remains to be
  seen. Still, I think this should really have been my '96
  favourite. Any XTC fan with slight indie leanings should love
  it. (Liking TMBG may help too).

TMBG - Factory Showroom
  Seems to have had a mixed reception on this list, but personally
  I think this is the best album TMBG have ever done (and my
  previous favourite was the first album, so it's not as though
  I only like the later stuff). "S-E-X-X-Y" and "New York City"
  are the standout tracks for me, "XTC Vs. Adam Ant" and "Pet
  Name" are close behind, "James K. Polk" is the only one I don't
  really like though I'm not overly fussed by "The Bells Are
  Ringing" and I can't remember what "Spiraling Shape" sounds
  like. Not quite as consistent as the Eels album, but nearly as

And now, 1997... and my favourite of the year is, by a long way:

Levellers - Mouth To Mouth
  This album is just incredible. Last year I had the Levellers
  pretty well written off, after a couple of below-par studio
  albums and a downright awful live album, but I honestly think
  that this latest one is the best thing they've ever done,
  better even than "Levelling The Land" (which I thought they'd
  never match).

  The reason it's so good is that, for once, they seem to have
  decided to take a bit more time over the arrangements, and by
  doing so they've really brought the new songs to life. I
  suspect the change of producer may have helped too (Jon Kelly,
  whoever he is).

  "Dog Train", "Beautiful Day" and "Celebrate" kick off the
  album (and have already been singles), but there genuinely
  isn't a bad song on it. It's impossible to pick standout
  tracks, as the whole thing is awesome, but "Chemically Free"
  is an epic piece and really should be the next single. And
  "Elation" is my personal favourite, and I really hope it's
  a single even though if it is it will probably flop. It's
  like nothing they've ever done before, a brilliant and epic
  folk tune, and I can't get enough of it: ('Oh there once was
  a man who had lost his own smile / And he wandered the
  country mile after mile / Never quite knowing what he wanted
  to find / For his heart, it laid heavy with the weight of
  his mind' etc.). And Eddi Reader's backing vocals are just
  perfect. "Too Real" closes the album and deserves a mention
  for being my brother's favourite.

  The main thing is, nobody I know who has heard this album
  thinks it's anything other than a work of complete genius,
  which for something I like is very unusual. It's also that
  very rare thing, an immediately likeable album which still
  gets better and better with heavy repeated listening. Just
  buy it.

The rest of '97s offerings don't even come close, but there
were still some excellent albums, most notably:

Ben Folds Five - Whatever And Ever Amen
  Apologies owed here, as I think I slagged this off when
  it came out. It's really grown on me though, and it's now
  getting played regularly. 'Kate' is probably my favourite,
  but 'Fair', 'Cigarette', 'Stevens Last Night In Town' and
  'Missing The War' are close seconds. Incidently, this is
  an ideal album for listening to on headphones on a Midland
  MainLine train, watching the London suburbs disappear
  behind you as you head past Luton and Bedford and on into
  Northamptonshire and beyond. A feeling of calm washes over
  you, and it's great. Second favourite of '97, easily.

Blur - Blur
  A real return to form - not that I disliked 'The Great
  Escape' or 'Parklife', but TGE didn't stand up to repeated
  listening, and Parklife got played well and truly to
  death on every pub jukebox across Britain. There are
  plenty of fine songs on this: "Song 2" (woo-hoo!), "Death
  Of A Party", "Strange News From Another Star" and,
  especially, Graham Coxon's "You're So Great" are personal
  highlights. Saw them live just before Christmas, and guess
  what, they're going to quit touring. Sound familiar?

David Byrne - Feelings
  I liked bits of 'Uh-Oh' and most of 'David Byrne', but
  this is his first solo album I've really loved. "Miss
  America" is a very clever song - if you've only heard
  the very much edited single version, you don't know what
  you're missing. "A Soft Seduction", "Dance on Vaseline",
  "The Gates Of Paradise", "Wicked Little Doll" and "Burnt
  By The Sun" are personal favourites. Live, the fluffy
  pink suit was probably the highlight, the music seemed
  to lack something. (Bass guitar possibly?)

The Flaming Stars - Sell Your Soul To The Flaming Stars
  They've been chucking out limited edition singles for
  a couple of years now, and this is their second proper
  album (3rd if you count their previous exploits as
  The Earls Of Suave). Until now, I've found them a bit
  inconsistent. They're sort of retro, with everything
  recorded on valve equipment; previously that seems to
  have come before the songs, but on this one there's
  some really strong stuff; I especially like the slower
  ones "London After Midnight", "I Remembered To Forget
  To Remember", and "Find Yourself Another Drunk". I
  doubt this is very widely distributed outside London,
  but it's worth checking out if you get the chance.

The Jayhawks - Sound Of Lies
  I have a confession to make. Apart from the 'Bad Time'
  single, this is the first Jayhawks thing I've bought.
  And I know they lost their main songwriter (Mark Olson)
  before they made this - and even almost didn't make
  this, but thank God they did, as it's a masterpiece.
  Since then I've bought one of the earlier ones (so
  far - the one with 'Bad Time' on it, whichever it is),
  but for me it doesn't come close to this. The title
  track is probably my favourite, but I love all of it
  (3rd favourite for '97). Hopefully the start of
  something great...

Yo La Tengo - I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One
  Points lost for "Spec Bebop" which is awful (and
  yes, I _liked_ "Sunsquashed", if you must know), but
  otherwise another really strong album from Hoboken's
  finest. Notable is the way "Moby Octopad" catches
  you out the first time you hear it, "Shadows",
  "Stockholm Syndrome" and "My Little Corner Of The
  World" are just gorgeous, and "Center Of Gravity"
  reminds me of something else (someone help me out
  here, this has been driving me mad for months!)

Murray Lachlan Young - Vice & Verse
  Debatable whether this is music, poetry or comedy,
  but it's a fine album which (rather surprisingly)
  can be listened to again and again. Not recommended
  for those of a nervous disposition, or your parents.
  (track names such as "Casual Sex" and "Simply
  Everyone's Taking Cocaine" should be warning enough),
  but honestly, this is a work of (almost) genius. Not
  pure, but rather impure. "The Closet Heterosexual"
  is hilarious (don't expect to ever hear it on the
  radio though), as is "I'm Being Followed By The
  Rolling Stones" (a curious take on the usual
  paparazzi thing). "The Life & Death Of Art" is also,
  er, interesting. The most important track, though,
  is called "W. A. H. Wiggins - The Boy Who Struck The
  Recording Deal", as this features "the artists
  formerly known as Shriekback" - namely Lu Edmonds,
  Simon Edwards and Martyn Barker (no Barry Andrews,
  sorry). It's the nearest to a Shriekback release
  we've had in the last 12 months, and according to Lu
  (who I asked a couple of months ago) it may well be
  as near as we get, as they are "unlikely" to do
  anything else other than playing on other people's
  records. Sigh. Great song though.

I think that's it for real favourites, but honourable
mentions must go to Juno Reactor for "Bible Of Dreams"
(patchier than previous albums), Mansun for "Attack Of
The Grey Lantern" (patchy, but promising), Portishead
for "Portishead" (no major advance on the previous one
though), Radiohead for "OK Computer" (no comment
possible), and Stereolab for "Dots And Loops" (haven't
really listened to it much yet though).

Of course, there were things I didn't like... my
absolute least favourite album of the year was Erasure's
"Cowboy", which I can only describe as the biggest piece
of crap they've ever done - it's awful. "Don't Say Your
Love Is Killing Me" is OK, and "Treasure" (being the
only one that sounds like it shouldn't be on this album)
is actually a decent song, but the rest of it leaves me
cold. Since the previous album ("Erasure") was one of
the best albums of (I think) '95, this is surprising,
but it seems to have been a deliberate artistic decision
to sound crap, more's the pity.

Tanya Donelly's "Lovesongs For Underdogs" doesn't live
up to expectations (or Belly). Slim's "Slim" is notable
for being the first _bad_ album on the em:t label.
Tindersticks' "Curtains" was extremely patchy, "Turn On"
by Sean O'Hagan and some Stereolab people wasn't great,
and Paul Weller's "Heavy Soul" was pretty bad.

As for singles, there were so many good ones, though in
many cases I only bought the album so I don't count them.
Eels' "Susan's House" is a contender for favourite as an
all round single, complete with great B-sides, but I
think Posh's "Porn Star" takes the prize, not only for
being a great song ('The last time I saw him / Was that
fateful morning / Filming sex scenes in the shower / Was
his final hour / he was electrocuted' etc.), but also for
a brilliant B-side 'Can We Borrow Your Boyfriend' ('We'll
have him home by three / We'll treat him tenderly').
They've released six singles now, with still no sign of
an album, but when it comes it'll be excellent. Great
fun live; I'm especially looking forward to getting
'Striplights' and 'Swinging From The Diamond Chandeliers'
on CD. Probably best described as synth-pop.

Also notable, Ben Folds Five's "Kate", Eels' "Your Lucky
Day In Hell", The Jayhawks' "Big Star", Juno Reactor's
"God Is God", The Levellers' "What A Beautiful Day",
"Celebrate" and "Dog Train", Mansun's "Closed For
Business" (notable mainly for the B-sides), Monaco's
"What Do You Want From Me", Orb's "Toxygene", Posh's
"Rough Lover", "Toys" (a bit weaker) and "I Confess",
Pulp's "Help The Aged" (grows on you), Radiohead's
"Paranoid Android", The Saw Doctors' "Simple Things",
Stereolab's "Miss Modular" and White Town's ">Abort,
Retry, Fail?_" (the EP with "Your Woman" as the lead track).

Future Sound Of London's "We Have Explosive" deserves
a special mention for having lots of picture of Standard
Eights/Tens all over it (for my own 1955 example see
my web page). It's a dreadful single though.

Packaging of the year award goes to Juno Reactor for
"Bible Of Dreams" which is in a digipack fastened shut
with a magnet (nothing too silly this year), and a
special stupid packaging award goes to Paul Weller, for
(a) supplying the album in a box just slightly too big
for my CD rack, and (b) supplying a 12"-sized poster
with a CD single, which makes the poster a bugger to
keep flat.

Live gig of the year was, by miles, Luka Bloom at the
Mean Fiddler as part of their 15th anniversary
celebrations - for various reasons, some personal, but
mainly that the music was so good. (For the uninitiated,
Luka Bloom is Christy Moore's brother).

Finally, saddest pop moment has to be the news (gleaned
from one of their web pages) that, a proposed best of
with a couple of new tracks, and a possible farewell
tour aside, OMD is no more. They remain my all time
favourite band, and 1996's "Universal" is a masterpiece
which, strangely, didn't sell the truckloads it
deserved to. I'm just glad they ended on a high note
(i.e. not "Liberator").

I think that's everything covered. Sorry this was so
long, but hopefully someone else can discover some
great records they'd missed... I'd be interested in
any feedback (by email please, not to chalkhills) on
any of the above.

If 1998 is half as good as 1997, it'll be a great
year. With XTC in the studio, it should be...

|_) |_  * |    My web page:
|   | ) | |    Shriekback web pages: The above + shrkindx.html


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