Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills Digest #5-166

         Chalkhills Digest, Volume 5, Number 166

                   Friday, 9 April 1999

Today's Topics:

             More stuff and a real Fruit Nut.
                     Tinkie's winkie
                        OOR update
                   Re: Ridiculous Song
                   Andy's Sgt. Pepper?
        There Ain't Half Been Some Clever Bastards
                  My sister is my clock
                   All so ridiculous...
                  guilty sonic pleasures
                      Re: 25 O'Clock
            Power pop/TMBG/Testimonial Dinner
                 Wouldn't It Be Nice ...
            If you like XTC you might like...


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In a milk bar and feeling lost.


Message-Id: <>
Date: Thu, 08 Apr 1999 14:03:52 +0100
From: Philip Lawes <>
Subject: More stuff and a real Fruit Nut.

Apologies for this overextended blurt of stuff, but there's so many
ideas in Chalkhills that it takes me a few readings to think to the
bottom of it all (a bit like an XTC album really)

Dunks wrote:

>Gee, those Christian saints were top blokes, weren't they? So
>tolerant, so accommodating of divergent religious practices ... I was
>watching something about the Incas on Discovery channel last night,
>and they showed a sacred site in Peru, which dated back to pre-Inca
>times. There were niches carved into a large rocky outcrop; according
>to the voice-over, these had once held statues of various deities,
>which the Spanish missionaries had obligingly toppled over and >pounded
into dust.(Not to mention the thousands of priceless Mayan >codices,
which they found to contain only "heresies and lies of the >Devil" and
therefore consigned to the flames, thus destroying almost >every written
record the Maya ever made).

Well, to be fair to Boniface he did most of his stuff pretty much on his
own and, unlike the conquistadors,  without the support of several
hundred armed men. When he was hacked to death a few years later by the
members of one of those divergent religious practices the only thing
that Boniface had to defend himself with was a thick book that he
happened to be carrying. In much of South America the Spanish came
across a largely settled, peacefully integrated society (and destroyed
it), whereas Northern Europe in the seventh and eighth century was a
turmoil of warring factions and invasions (much like any other century
come to think of it).  In all of this Rome was one of the only unifying
forces - very different from the instrument of imperial expansion that
it became five or six centuries later.

Mark Fisher wrote
>You need it (a car) to travel a greater distance to reach the
out-of->town supermarkets that wouldn't have existed were it not for the
car. >You need it to live further and further from your neighbours, and
then >wonder why there's no sense of community any more. Were once you
>would have sent 15 minutes walking to the shops, you now send 30
>minutes driving there. And you call it freedom.

Too right. The British Government recently merged the Countryside
Commission and the Rural Development Commission to hopefully get them
pulling in the same direction.  The first report of this new body makes
sobering reading, depicting the English countryside as being deprived of
resources and jobs and having a rapidly failing infrastructure.
The report says:
  1. Most parishes have no GP(doctor), no school and no daily bus
2. Nearly half have no shop
3. Traffic has increased four times as fast as in urban areas
4. Since 1985 nearly half of all new houses have been built in the
Given points 1, 2 and 4 then point 3 is no surprise.  More worryingly
the more point 3 increases the worse 1,2 & 4 will get - this seems to be
developing into an accelerating cycle with no brake.  I think I remember
Andy saying in an interview somewhere that he thought cars were
responsible for the ruination of the countryside.  Well, he's right and
the statistics prove it.

>The voices in "Knights in Shining Karma" are pure, strong, and airy. I
>like that. The lyric, "Jealous winter sun/ cold like
vichyssoise"-->arresting, but what does it mean? Jealous sun (?)  like a
cold potato >soup?

This is a great lyric. Try imagining pale, cold soup in a round bowl on
a blue tablecloth.  Andy also uses the image of a boiling egg, both
deftly linking the sun with food/sustenance and the seasons (more Joseph

>I do have a really sad story.  <G> I met a local guy who loved the
>band, and who even made me a pre-Skylarking tape, mailed with a >love
note, but I blew him off.  Man, I feel bad about that....please,
>anyone, flame me for blowing off an XTC fan!  I didn't know what I was
>doing. That's been 10 years ago, and the self-flagellation continues to
>this day.

While reading this I lost control of the English language and embedded
myself firmly in the central reservation of the transatlantic linguistic

Finally, read this and then listen to 'Fruit Nut'

From The (London) Independent
8 April 99
Mardi Gra bombings plotted in greenhouse
By Jason Bennetto

ELDERLY and balding, Edgar Pearce seems an unlikely looking master
criminal. But in many ways Pearce, 61, fitted the stereotype of the
deranged but intelligent recluse who spends years trying to beat the
system and devise the perfect crime.

He was motivated by money, obsession, a desire for notoriety and the
satisfaction of outwitting Scotland Yard's finest while terrorising
large sections of London.

As always in these cases, the unmasking of Pearce as the man behind the
Mardi Gra came as a shock to neighbours and relatives.
Pearce was described as an unfriendly, reclusive man who drank heavily
and quarrelled about the parking space in front of his home. He was
nasty to children, had bizarre eating habits, but was considered
"intelligent and frustrated".

Unemployed, at one point he worked for his younger brother, Philip, who
runs an advertising firm in south-east London, although the brothers
have not seen each other for more than nine years. Later, he described
himself as a property developer.

Pearce's three-bedroomed house in Chiswick, west London, is split into
three bedsits. He lived in the downstairs front room and rented out the
three upstairs bedrooms.

One lodger, Graham Hunt, described him as "well educated and very
knowledgeable about world events and the news".

Mr Hunt said: "He drinks heavily. He has some strange habits. Every
morning he gets up early, about six o'clock, and cooks a roast joint of
beef or lamb with roast potatoes and vegetables. It's like a normal
person's Sunday lunch, but he has it for breakfast with a glass or two
of red wine."

Much of Pearce's plotting took place in the greenhouse at the end of his
garden where he would work until 1am.

Ten years ago, after 30 years of marriage, he separated from his wife,
Maureen, 57, who lives in Welling, Kent.

His daughter, Nicola, 26, refused to believe her father was the Mardi
Gra bomber. "My dad shops at Sainsbury's because he likes their food. He
doesn't go there to bomb them," she said.

"He's a gentle man," she added. "He's not screwed up in the head at

Back to the shed.

(A language is a dialect that has an army and a navy. - Max Weinreich)


Message-ID: <000701be8133$15b12a40$82fdabc3@vucqprlj>
From: "David Seddon" <>
Subject: Horrors
Date: Wed, 7 Apr 1999 21:12:18 +0100

All of this talk about best and worst records has got me thinking.  Here's
some fun categories to ponder  (with my own personal answers) :

Least favourite moment on Apple Venus1:
The hand claps at the end of ILT

Least Fav XTC song:
Here comes President Kill Again

Artist most people seem to think is pretty naff, but you actually quite
John Denver

Worst Beatles song:
Kansas City

Songs that should have been strangled at birth:
A tie between Lucky Stars, by Dean Friedman and Seasons in the Sun by Terry

Extremely popular artists that you can't see what all the fuss is about:
Meatloaf and Bruce Springsteen

Musician you'd like to kick hard:
Andrew Lloyd Weber

Whackiest Title for a song:
All I want for Christmas is a Dukla Prague Away Kit (Half Man Half Biscuit)

Most Unpleasant Musical Experience:
Bat Out of Hell.  I was stuck at a crap party miles from anywhere and the
only thing the hostess would play (over and over) was this.


Message-ID: <>
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 06:33:39 -0700 (PDT)
From: nross <>
Subject: Tinkie's winkie

Todd asked why I, Nicole, thought Andy Partridge would
be the teletubby to carry the purse...

Oh... so many things I'd want to write... I'll get reamed by
anyone who calls themselves a feminist! For example: he sounds like
he throws tantrums and holds grudges like a woman; or, he obviously
doesn't like his car... he must drive like a woman, etc.


The man seems to hold the bag with the band, doesn't he? He does most
of the interviews... he writes most of the songs. I imagine this
scenario:  Colin brings in this beautiful purple velvet magic-bag
Andy admires it so... doesn't stop talking about how he would desire
such a magnificent purple velvet magic-bag... Dave sort of sits there
admiring the bag, wanting the bag, but doesn't get aggressive about it,
Colin graciously gives the bag to Andy... because Colin doesn't really
need it as much as Andy does... and Dave storms out  20-some years after
the incident because he really REALLY wanted the damn bag.

Now I will undoubtably incur the wrath of Amanda! :-).

YES AND RIVER OF ORCHIDS:  Actually, I didn't hear it for the longest
time... until driving the long tortuous drive during rush hour home...
with the purpose of finding the similarity: I though, no... I don't
think so (but I had been limiting myself to older YES) It does! It
does! It actually sounds sort of like "Leave It"!



Message-ID: <>
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 16:22:38 +0200
Subject: OOR update

Hi Chalkfriends,

Here's my bi-weekly OOR update you've been waiting for (yeah, right :)
AV1 went down from 6 last week to 12 this week in their Moordlijst :(

OOR also does a pop-history countdown to 2000. This week's issue was about
'britpop'. XTC is not mentioned anywhere... except for the top-10 lists!  I
was pleasantly surprised to see that XTC is number 7 as most infuential
(Kinks at no 1, Beatles 2) and also at no 7 as best band according to the
readers (Oasis at no 1, Smiths at no 2).

That's all for now. I'm having a kinda busy time at the moment: at work
we're implementing Oracle Financials and at home we're implementing a new



Message-ID: <>
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 06:59:49 EDT
Subject: Re: Ridiculous Song

>For the second time in 5 days driving in to work... I heard
>the song "Mandy" by Barry Manillow (please don't shoot me
>for incorrect spelling).  I BLAST that song. I LOVE that song.

>My question to you all is... What is the MOST RIDICULOUS song
>you LOVE? My submission, obviously, is Mandy.  Come on... embarrass


  This week it's The Beach Boys- "Johnny Carson." Can be found on the
otherwise rather uneven 1977 album The Beach Boys Love You.



Message-ID: <>
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 10:48:30 -0700 (PDT)
From: Tyler Hewitt <>
Subject: Andy's Sgt. Pepper?

Andy Partridge, from an interview in Contrast Magazine, Spring 1990:

"I thought, at one point in my philosophy, that the Residents were as
big as the Beatles.  I thought 'Duck Stab/Buster and Glen' was like
their Sgt. Pepper. Wonderful stuff."


From: "john gray" <>
Subject: MFSL?
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 21:58:11 +0100
Message-Id: <E10VMhM-0002Du-00@rhenium>

> From: "Eddie O'Hare" <>
> Of course, I ran out to the car and gave my therapist my old
> non-MFSL copy

sorry - what's MFSL?



From: "Michael Versaci" <>
Subject: There Ain't Half Been Some Clever Bastards
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 18:09:09 -0400
Message-ID: <000001be820c$6def99b0$>


(If you've had enough of the "Sgt. Pepper's", "Pet Sounds" and "Tape as
canvas" threads-)

Ben had this to say:

>So what I meant in my post was that "Wouldn't It Be Nice?" and "God Only
Knows" are, in my >opinion, better *songs* than "She's Leaving Home", "Good
Morning Good Morning", "Being For The >Benefit of Mr. Kite!", "Lucy In The
Sky With Diamonds", "Lovely Rita", "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely >Hearts Club Band",
and its reprise.  Lennon & McCartney are great, but even the great aren't
>infallible, and Brian Wilson is great too.  And once we get to Lennon &
McCartney's solo work, >well..

Obviously, I don't  agree. I think that the bulk of John and Paul's work
with The Beatles is perfect, and I love  a certain amount of their solo
songs as well ("Maybe I'm Amazed", "Every Night", "Imagine" and all of
"Plastic Ono Band" to name but a few).

Regarding the rest:

In a way, it all started with Dylan and The Beatles.

You see, Jim "Roger" McGuinn and David Crosby went to see "A Hard Day's
Night" and decided to form The Byrds.  David wanted to be chased down the
street by lots and lots of screaming girls, and Roger wanted to play a form
of pop music that would feel like The Beatles coupled with meaningful lyrics
like those of his personal hero, Bob Dylan.   So much so, that The Byrds
covered "Mr. Tambourine Man", with Roger playing the electric 12 string
guitar that he heard in "A Hard Day's Night".

In the meantime, Phil Spector was working his own pop-music-magic in the
studio, creating and refining his now-famous "Wall of Sound" production.  I
would say that he beat George Martin (and The Beatles) and Brian Wilson to
the punch when it comes down to the "tape-as-canvas" concept.  Recording
studio technology was still in its infancy back then, but if you listen to
the original Spector-produced Righteous Brothers' version of "You've Lost
That Lovin' Feeling", which pre-dates "Pet Sounds" by about 2 years, you'll
hear what I mean.

 The Beatles heard  what Dylan, The Byrds and Phil Spector (among others)
were up to, and quite  frankly, had a knack for taking  what they heard and
spinning it into something better.  I think John's first attempt at a pop
song that actually was about something besides love was "Nowhere Man".  Some
might argue that he had already accomplished this 2 years earlier with the
marvelously introspective "There's A Place" from the "Please Please Me"
album, but with "Nowhere Man" there is no room for debate.

Brian Wilson admitted that he was knocked out by "Rubber Soul", and this is
what inspired him to conceive of and record the critically acclaimed and
very influential "Pet Sounds".  Paul McCartney has said that when he heard
"Pet Sounds" he thought, "Oh no, now what are WE gonna do?".  He also has
acknowledged that "God Only Knows" may be the best pop song ever written.
(Even the not-so-humble Paul McCartney wouldn't pick one of his own songs,
would he?)

What The Beatles did decide to do was to pretend that they were another
band.   They went into the studio in late 1966 with the idea of doing
something new and different.  First to emerge from these sessions was
perhaps one of the most important and beautiful singles to ever have been
released in the rock era, "Penny Lane" & "Strawberry Fields Forever", a true
"double 'A' sided" single.  It was released in March of 1967.  This was a
marketing decision, not a creative one.  Had these two songs been included
on the album, even the most die-hard-Brian-Wilson-is-God fans would have had
trouble keeping a straight face if they had tried to convince anyone that
"Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "God Only Knows" are superior to "much, if not all
of" the songs on "Sgt. Pepper."  That particular sentiment seems way
off-the-mark to me even without the inclusion of those two songs, but after
all, it is in fact, just my opinion.   Paul McCartney may think that "God
Only Knows" is the best pop song ever, but I think that "Yesterday" is a
better song, not to mention most of the songs that were recorded during the
"Sgt. Pepper" sessions.  Better records. Better songs.  Better lyrics.
Categorically better.

In June of 1967, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" hit the record
stores and the F.M. radio stations and the face of pop music was changed
forever.  Is it their best album?  I don't think so.   Is it a great album?
Absolutely.  Is it "better" than "Pet Sounds"?  I believe that it is.

* * *

Mike Love, on a number of occasions during the 60's could be heard saying
that The Beach Boys were "better" than The Beatles. Never mind that he was
little more than a hired hand.  Everyone knew that Brian was the talent and
the brains. (I'd like to point out here that publicly, Brian has always been
very respectful of The Beatles and vice-versa.)  In response to that, Paul
wrote the excellent "Back In The USSR" and recorded it  (with John and
George only, as Ringo had walked out of the sessions for a few days in a fit
of frustration) proving (to my ears at least) that The Beatles could - on a
whim - recreate a textbook "Beach Boys" song.   The fact that Paul's tongue
was planted firmly in his cheek and also that they rocked out in a way that
the Beach Boys never could, (not even if you stuck them
smack-dab-in-the-middle of The Who in 1969!),  demonstrates the difference
between one of the better pop bands of the 60's and The Beatles.

Michael Versaci

"Van Gogh did some eyeball pleasers
 He must have been a pencil squeezer
 He didn't do the Mona Lisa
 That was an Italian geezer"

From Ian Dury's "There Ain't Half Been Some Clever Bastards"


Message-ID: <>
From: "Jason Garcia" <>
Subject: dAVe
Date: Thu, 08 Apr 1999 15:47:12 PDT

>This question goes out to those who know and to those who think that
>they know.  What did Dave play on AV1?

Well, according to the "liner notes", he plays quite a bit.  I would
imagine he plays piano on "Frivolous", "I Can't Own Her", "Harvest
Festival", and perhaps "Your Dictionary".  Of course, there were "extra
keyboards" that were played by Nick Davis and Haydn Bendall.  But my
guess is anywhere you hear a main piano part, it's Dave playing.  And
he plays guitar on "Fruit Nut";  I remember that from some account of
the sessions.  And I could swear that's him singing with Andy at the
end of "I Can't Own Her".  And he probably sings on "Easter Theatre",
"I'd Like That", hell, I don't know.

Funny quote from the UT Austin college paper today- some guy decided
to review AV1.  Here's what he said (I'm paraphrasing):

"XTC have written some of the most beautiful songs ever, tunes like
'Dear God', 'Chalkhills and Children', and 'Making Plans for Nigel'..."

Yeah, 'Nigel' could easily slip in next to 'Easter Theatre' on this

He also decided to do little research to support his review, claiming
that the only reason XTC hadn't put out an album in 7 years was because
"let's face it, their sound didn't fit in with the 90s".  He portrayed
XTC as just another defunct 80's supergroup, sitting around reveling in
past glory, and then deciding to get back together and do a "reunion"
album.  Moron.  But he did give it ****, so he's got some sense.

Well, back to allergy wonderland.



Message-Id: <>
From: "Jeff Smelser" <>
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 16:21:42 -0700
Subject: Spacehog!

Hi Chalkmembers,

> and Spacehog's version of Senses Working Overtime, what ever
> happened to them (Spacehog I mean)?

They toured with Aerosmith last year to support the album they put
out, The Chinese Album.

That should get you there,



Date: Fri, 09 Apr 1999 10:34:34 +0930
From: "Van Abbe, Dominic" <>
Subject: My sister is my clock
Message-id: <>

For those who enjoyed XtC circa English Settlement, especially the
(dareisayit) quirkier moments, there is a new album which may appeal- "The
Ideal Crash" by a Belgian band called dEUS.

In the past their albums veered all over the shop, mixing wonderful tense
pop with almost unlistenable Tom Waits-ish swamp songs.  Beautifully
produced by Dave Bottrill, this album harnesses 10 songs of the former,
almost completely cutting out the latter.  Songs roll dreamily along,
sometimes changing course midway through, all driven by Tom Barman's reedy,
bruised, Lennon-like voice.

Sounding somewhat like a collision between Radiohead, Lennon, James, Peter
Gabriel and mid-period XtC, it is truly IMO a stupendous album.  Put it this
way- it is the only album that has managed to supplant AV1 in my CD player.
In a fair world, bands like XtC and dEUS would be huge....

The other Dom (not to be confused with....)


Message-ID: <>
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 21:09:20 EDT
Subject: All so ridiculous...

  Howza bout these ridiculous songs I still have on 45's----- "Gimme dat
ding" from The Pipkins &  "Chick-a-boom" from Daddy Dewdrop. AND I LOVE "EM!!
Dontcha ya love it,Dontcha ya love it, oh yea,dontcha love it?
  Gotta go,the smallmouths are biting, Roger


Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 22:14:41 -0700 (PDT)
From: Benjamin Lukoff <>
Subject: guilty sonic pleasures
Message-ID: <>

I really disliked the Spice Girls when they first came out with "Wannabe",
but I gotta say "Stop" is a great song!  I am the proud owner of the
CD single.  What else...The Monkees, for sure, and solo Paul McCartney!
"Listen to What the Man Said", "With A Little Luck" and "No More Lonely
Nights" don't get much respect, but I wouldn't want to do without them!


Message-ID: <>
Date: Thu, 08 Apr 1999 22:21:44 -0700
From: Rich Bunnell <>
Subject: Re: 25 O'Clock

>A minor point, I'll grant you, but since The Dukes' material is pure
>pastiche and a pastiche of psychedelia at that, it's not exactly surprising
>that they would sound more "inherently psychadelic" (sic) than They Might Be

Well, one would think that in covering a psychadelic pastiche, (yeesh, your alterations on their name just get weirder
and weirder) would retain the psychadelic qualities. That was the one
part of the song that they changed.

>And what are "sly" vocals? No, I know, don't be horrid - but I'm
>just curious!!!

To me the way that the vocals sound like in the 25 O'Clock cover is that
while John Flansburgh's singing them, he's grinning in a sly manner.
Yes, yes, that sounded incredibly retarded, but that's the best way for
someone who did horribly in a speech & debate class last year to put it.
Andy's...well...Sir John John's vocals in the original are more
fragmented. Not in a bad way, of course.

* ----------------------------------------------
Rich Bunnell or "Taoster Man"--No, it's not a typo


Message-Id: <>
Date: Fri, 09 Apr 1999 01:36:05 -0400
From: Adam Tyner <ctyner@CLEMSON.EDU>
Subject: Power pop/TMBG/Testimonial Dinner

>Forgive my English senses of humour, but what the lightly-poached arse is
>"power pop"? Is that the same as "new wave" (English meaning) or "new wave"
>(bizarre US interpretation) or "post punk"? Sounds like one of those
>meaningless, vapid examples of journo-speak to me! I want examples, and I
>want them now!!!

Here's the description of power pop from the All Music Guide:

"Power pop is a cross between the crunching hard rock of the Who and the
sweet melodicism of the Beatles and Beach Boys, with the ringing guitars of
the Byrds thrown in for good measure. Although several bands of the early
'70s -- most notably the Raspberries, Big Star, and Badfinger --
established the sound of power-pop, it wasn't until the late '70s that a
whole group of like-minded bands emerged. Most of these groups modeled
themselves on the Raspberries (which isn't entirely surprising, since they
were the only power-pop band of their era to have hit singles), or they
went directly back to the source and based their sound on stacks of British
Invasion records. What tied all of these bands together was their love of
the three-minute pop single. Power-pop bands happened to emerge around the
same time of punk, so they were swept along with the new wave, because
their brief, catchy songs fit into the post-punk aesthetic. Out of these
bands, Cheap Trick, the Knack, the Romantics and Dwight Twilley had the
biggest hits, but Shoes, the Records, the Nerves, and 20/20, among many
others, became cult favorites. During the early '80s, power-pop died away
as a hip movement, and nearly all of the bands broke up. However, in the
late '80s, a new breed of power-pop began to form. The new bands, who were
primarily influenced by Big Star, blended traditional power-pop with
alternative rock sensibilities and sounds; in the process, groups like
Teenage Fanclub, Material Issue and the Posies became critical and cult
favorites. While these bands gained the attention of hip circles, many of
the original power-pop groups began recording new material and releasing it
on independent labels. In the early '90s, the =Yellow Pills= compilation
series gathered together highlights from these re-activated power-poppers,
as well as new artists that worked in a traditional power-pop vein.
Throughout the early and mid-'90s, this group of independent, grassroots
power pop bands gained a small, but dedicated, cult following in the United

>A minor point, I'll grant you, but since The Dukes' material is pure
>pastiche and a pastiche of psychedelia at that, it's not exactly surprising
>that they would sound more "inherently psychadelic" (sic) than They Might Be
>Canadians. And what are "sly" vocals? No, I know, don't be horrid - but I'm
>just curious!!!

They Might Be Canadians?  I've heard that used to describe at least 2
Canadian bands in the past, but never to actually describe They Might Be
Giants.  Maybe I just don't get the joke.

>Well, you got that right. I've said it before, and I'll say it again,
>Testimonial Dinner sucks the poop from a badger's arse. And an ugly badger
>at that.

Does anyone like Testimonial Dinner?   I don't dislike it, really, although
I don't think it's good by any means.  Thoroughly alright would be the best
way to describe my feelings, I suppose.

/=---------------- ----------------=\
 He-Man, Tuscadero, "Weird Al", Yoo-hoo, Killer Tomatoes, & more!


Message-ID: <>
From: "Duncan Kimball" <>
Subject: Wouldn't It Be Nice ...
Date: Fri, 09 Apr 1999 01:17:05 PDT

... if people stopped arguing about "Beatles vs. Beach Boys" ...
especially when they probably havent heard half the stuff that matters

First, let me deal with the spray from the mysterious "RF":

>Subject: The Beatles/Brian Wilson/Guilty Sonic Pleasures..
> On the Beatles vs Brian Wilson controversy (i.e. who is more of a >
> I think BW's reaction to hearing Sgt Pepper speaks volumes.
> He became a musical recluse, and almost destroyed his mind with
> the large amounts of LSD he took trying to "compete" musically
> with the Beatles. Funny how Brian could hear the musical genius
> that so many Beach Boy fan/Beatle-detractors cannot.
> btw, I am a Beach Boy fan myself, and Pet Sounds was great,
> but they werent' the Beatles by a long shot.
> - RF

OK "RF" - here's how it is:

BW's 'reaction' to Sgt Peppers - i.e. his supposed withdrawal in
defeat - may or may not had something directly to do with Sgt Peppers.
It's debatable. It's a conventional, easy explanation for the many and
complex causes which led him to abandon the Smile project and withdraw
from the music scene. Personally I think he saw Sgt Pepper as a signal
that he could not hope to reclaim the lead he had already lost, before
Peppers was released and that the cards were all stacked against him.
Peppers was a symptom rather than a cause. He knew that however
brilliant Smile might be, it couldn't "beat" Peppers - it had arrived
at exactly the right time and place and had won the laurel both
critically and commercially. Smile couldn't help coming off second
best, so Brian cut his losses and dropped it.

Addressing your other assertions:

Point 1:
As we now know, by the time Pepper came out, Brian was seriously ill;
it ran in the family. That his breakdown happened at the time of Sgt
Pepper was largely coincidence - he was already cracking under the
pressure and had more or less given up before Sgt Peppers was

Point 2:
Brian did not take "large amounts" of LSD. By his own account he only
took it on a few occasions, although it did have a profound affect. He
was, however, smoking VERY large amounts of dope, which can have a
very strong affect on the psyche, and was undoubtedly also taking a
lot of speed. The main difference between him and Lennon was that
Lennon was still more or less able to function - although arguably Sgt
Peppers shows Lennon at his least functional. (It is well known that
during this period Lennon was deeply depressed, withdrawn and taking
large amounts of drugs - by his own admission, he took hundreds of
acid trips over that time.)

Lennon may have had some hassles, but he did not have the underlying
mental problems, or the incredible 'structural' difficulties that
sabotaged Brian. Nor were Lennon's 'problems' such a crisis for the
Beatles - after all, there were two other strong writers in the band,
and a separate producer, to keep things running.

Aside from the collaboration with his lyricists, Brian was the sole
writer, arranger, chief engineer *and* producer for all the Beach Boys
projects. IN addition, throughout 1966/67 he was working under the
added pressure having a record company who had NO idea how of what he
was doing, merely wanted more hits and were effectively bleeding the
band dry, and undermining his work, doing things like releasing a
"Greatest Hits" package immediately after the release of Pet Sounds,
further undercutting its poor sales. What's more, he was
simultaneously facing off against members of the group such as Mike
Love who were exterting intense pressure on him to abandon this
experimental approach - Love on one occasion literally ordering him:
"Don't fuck with the formula"

Of course Brian could hear the genius in the Beatles. He said on many
occasions that "Pet Sounds" was a direct result his hearing "Rubber
Soul". But likewise, Paul has always acknowledged the enormous
influence Pet Sounds had on Sgt Pepper.

Of course Brian regarded the Fabs as competition. But there were many
others - Burt Bacharach, Dylan, The Byrds - and as is well known, he
regarded Phil Spector as by far his greatest "threat" - so much so in
fact that his illness eventually caused him to have delusions that
Spector was bugging his house, probing his mind, trying to kill him
etc etc.

I love both bands, but you have to see the situation in perspective.
Sgt Peppers has a proud place in music history; happily time has begun
to restore "Pet Sounds" to the place of honour that it truly deserves
and should have always occupied. Paul has lauded the album again and
again, and has been quoted as saying that no musical education would
be complete without having heard it. The fact is that Pet Sounds
preceded and inspired Sgt Peppers. Ask Paul - he'll tell you.

I think the whole idea of trying to determine who is more of a genius
is spurious, and demeans the subjects. They are all geniuses. What is
to be gained by trying to rank them? Its all great music. Enjoy it.

In closing - let me address the points raised by Chris Vreeland:

>From: chris vreeland <>
>Subject: Beachless

>However (of course there's a however- Male Answer Syndrome has me in
>its grips) There are two things I see in Sgt. Peppers that I have
>never detected in the Beach Boys material that I've heard. One is the
>surrealism of the lyrics, and the other is the downright abstract
>nature of the noises the Beatles used to color the songs. I think it
>was a major leap from the world of 20th century visual art into the
>auditory world. It was only the flood gates swinging open, though, as
>the tide had been rising for a while.

I think the crucial phrase there, Chris, is:

" the Beach Boys material that I've heard."

Unavoidably, we see history from the perspective of the victor. The
fact is that Sgt Pepper got there first. Smile was never finished and
never released, and most of the incredible music Brian made lay on a
shelf unheard until 1990. Even now, as we know from this list, Pet
Sounds is something of a well-kept secret, and Smile is virtually
unknown. What most people know about the Beach Boys is surf songs and
"Good Vibrations"

Almost all of us know the lyrics for "Lucy" or "Day In the Life".
Regrettably, comparitively few people have experienced the sublime
surrealism of Van Dyke Parks' amazing lyrics for Smile. Frankly, I
consider "Surf's Up" or "Cabinessence" to be the equal of anything the
Beatles did.

And how innovative musically were the Fabs really? What they were
doing was groundbreaking of course - for pop music. But backwards
tapes were old news for avant-garde musicians, and if you want
abstract noises, I suggest you get hold of Zappa's "Freak Out" - which
came out almost a full year before Pepper - and have a listen to "Who
Are The Brain Police" or "The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet".
Relevant? Well I recently read a quote from Paul which dates from
early '67 - when questioned about the nature of the forthcoming album,
one of his responses was that it was going to be "our Freak Out".

And let's not forget, while we are talking influences, that Paul
visited America just before they started work on Pepper, while Brian
was in the middle of working on Smile. Indeed he is rumoured to have
appeared on a version of the Smile track "Vega-tables". Did Macca come
away empty handed? I think not. Is it any coincidence that he had the
idea for the concept of Sgt Peppers on the plane home from America? I
doubt it.

Musically, sonically, Smile would have been on a whole different plane
from Sgt Peppers. I love Peppers, but you have to admit that what you
are hearing there is still, basically, the Beatles - a rock band -
with overdubs. Smile was to have been a totally different affair, and
Pet Sounds had already shown that in terms of songwriting,
arrangements, production, instrumentation, Brian was working on a
totally different level to the Beatles. Look at the instrumatation on
Good Vibrations alone: drums, Fender bass, string bass, percussion,
organ, pianos, flutes, cellos, Theremin ... and above all that,
Brian's killer advantage - six of the most superb voices ever to grace
a microphone. The Beatles were *great* singers, but, frankly, the
Beach Boys were better.

Of course Pepper was an is an amazing record, but I believe that Smile
would have been even more amazing. If you can get hold of a copy of
the "Good Vibrations" box set, listen the Smile outtakes on Disc 2,
and you'll see what I mean. The nearest the Beatles got to what Brian
was doing was on "Day in the Life".

The other incredible thing is (as I alluded to above) that all the
Beach Boys music - the writing, the arrangments, the production, the
engineering - was virtually ALL Brian. And he did it in the face of
intense pressure from an unsypathetic record company and a band who
were split down the middle in their support for him - with half for
and half vehemently against. (PLUS they were all brothers and cousins,
with all the added angst that comes from that).

The Fabs were a tight, unified group, close friends, with a common
background and years of gigging behind them. They had three strong
writers, one of the best producers in the business, the best
engineers, unlimited use of one of the world's best studios,
unqualified support from their record company. Full colour gatefold
sleeve with inserts? No problem. Symphony orchestra? Sure, here you

It's easy to say that Peppers is *the* record, and in one sense that
is true, if only because Smile isnt around to challenge it. But what
if it was Lennon who had a the nervous breakdown? What if Peppers, and
not Smile, had never been released?



From: "Don Rogalski" <>
Subject: If you like XTC you might like...
Date: Fri, 9 Apr 1999 16:22:52 +0800
Message-ID: <000001be8262$297211e0$e2fd20a3@user>


I always feel a bit of nervous apprehension whenever inspired to "de-lurk"
on Chalkhills, and with good reason -  XTC's internet-enabled appreciators
are an erudite bunch, and not just in the discussion of our favourite
musicians.  With that in mind, allow me a few centimetres of bandwidth to
propose the following:

If you like XTC, you might like the novelist Anthony Burgess.

He was born in Manchester in 1917, and died in Monaco in 1993, but in
between he managed to become the most prolific published writer in the
English language (some would argue in any language), writing some forty
plus novels, hundreds of book reviews, various plays, film and TV scripts,
academically-oriented books including studies of English literature as a
whole, Shakespeare, James Joyce and even as study of phonology, which was
one of his passions.  Or, more correctly, language in all its varied
expressions was one of his principal passions, the other being music.  He
wrote symphonies, operas, pieces for string and wind quartets, film scores,
and even was able to accompany the whole uncut version of Fritz Lang's
"Metropolis" on piano, a four hour opus performed at the University of Iowa
in the 1970's.  Unfortunately, none of his music was recorded outside of
stave paper.

Though he's best known for "A Clockwork Orange" (or rather, relatively
unknown as the author of the novel that Kubrick's film was based on), a
slightly dogmatic morality play ("Alex is more of a man as an evil man than
as a good zombie") that is saved only by the genius of his invented
language "nadsat", a slang dialect composed of Russian and demotic English
spoken by the teenaged hoodlums of the story ("nadsat" is actually Russian
for the suffix "-teen", as in sevenTEEN"), the book is not the best of his
oeuvre.  My vote would go to 1981's "Earthly Powers", his grand romp in the
guise of a homosexual writer of popular fiction through the artistic and
religious vagaries of the 20th century.  Number two on the list would be
1976's "The End of the World News", one of the first novels to successfully
employ the technique of zapping in and out of three separate stories being
told at the same time, namely: Freud's last days in Vienna before being
herded out by the Nazis; Trotsky's time in New York, presented as a musical
(must be read to be believed!); and his only science fiction piece, the
apocalypse as delivered by a rogue planet colliding into the earth.  It's a
mammoth novel, if only because it deals with the 20th century's three major
discoveries, those being the unconscious, outer space, and the possiblity
of the "salvation of the human race through world socialism" (which in the
1920's and 1930's was still a very sincere concept in the west - faith,
Burgess is far too canny to even remotely resemble a
Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist stooge, yet not so, dare I say American, that he
paints the philosophy of economics as a bare communist-capitalist
dichotomy).  But then, any book by Burgess is worth picking up, if only for
it's sheer entertainment value.

What's the link between Burgess and Andy Partridge then?  It's not so
tenuous as you might think.  Certainly, where Andy is a highly emotive
singer and writer of song lyrics, Burgess is rightly accused of a lack
thereof.  He admits as much, and puts it down to being raised by an
emotionally distant father and stepmother, his birth mother having been
killed by the Spanish influenza epidemic that swept Europe right after WWI
("There was no doubt of the existence of a God: only the supreme being
could contrive so brilliant an afterpiece to four years of unprecedented
suffering and devastation").  And where Andy lauds the merits of the "mayor
of Simpleton", Burgess sometimes delves into the pedagogic for such long
stretches that it makes you want to come up for air.

But beyond that, there is the uncanny whiff of genius in the both of them
that's exhilarating and humbling at the same time.  They are two singular
English artists who, in their respective fields, command critical respect
(though not from the more zeitgeist-oriented critics - they're wankers
anyhow), yet are virtually unknown beyond the communities of their
acolytes.  They have at times flirted unsuccessfully with mainstream
popularity (Burgess wrote a script treatment for the Bond film "The Spy Who
Loved Me", unused - Andy was on the verge during the Black Sea tour, but we
all know what happened then), but have ultimately remained true to their
muses in a very stubborn fashion, commercial considerations be damned.

Even more, and here is the clincher - they are both in love with language.
They manipulate it to such a degree that oft times you are astonished that
something could be said (or sung) in such a way, and why couldn't I think
of that?

If, in the critic Harold Bloom's words, the main aim of literature (and by
extension, any art, including music) is "to enlarge a solitary existence",
then one could do worse than read Anthony Burgess and listen to the music
of XTC.

There.  I've said my piece.  Forgive the length, will you?

Don R.


End of Chalkhills Digest #5-166

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