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Subject: Chalkhills Digest #5-198


         Chalkhills Digest, Volume 5, Number 198

                    Friday, 7 May 1999

Today's Topics:

 A long post with XTC content on the bottom, like yoghurt
                        Don McCrap
                   Dave G and R Stevie
                      Funeral music
                     Can you read me?
                        XTC in NME
                         Nonsuch
       Schoolkids Ann Arbor; RIP ( and world music)
                    Insipid Arguments
                  "melting miracle play"
       Re: parents and concerts-- never fear ageism
                      Can't resist!
                    Traduise pour vous
                  Stepped Off the Train
                   Run for the hills...
       RE: Abuse, Death & Handbags at ten paces...
        Rundgren, SL, O&L, and what's good and bad

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Millions, all babbling crossword.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Message-ID: <19990506163221.4057.qmail@hotmail.com>
From: "Megan Heller" <hellerm@hotmail.com>
Subject: A long post with XTC content on the bottom, like yoghurt
Date: Thu, 06 May 1999 09:32:21 PDT

Hello all...killing time at work during final exams, and I feel like
talking, so god help you all...

David Ferguson wrote:

>"I walked right out of the machinery."
>   -- Peter Gabriel
>
>No he didn't! Anyone else see the commercial for Disney's animated >version
>of Tarzan yet?  Pete MUST be doing the music, it was Rhythm >of the Heat
>drums....saw him on the Oscars singing. Fat, balding and >trying to hide
>himself in a long black coat

argh!  Seeing this post is particularly timely for me, since I've recently
been on a wild Peter Gabriel kick.  Unfortunately, I can't think of a
blasted thing to say, except that I think he's a bloody genius (christ, I'd
be captain of the debate team today-- my next comeback would be "Because!").

  Gabriel belongs in my sort of in my inspirational triumverate-- musicians
who I don't necessarily consider my *favorites*, but who I just consider to
be among my personal Greats.  Some people put the Beatles in this category;
others Velvert Underground.  For me, it's Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, and
David Byrne.

John Boudreau wrote:

>Denny ( and Baxter ) have influenced rockers from Genesis P. Orridge
never though I'd see a reference to Psychic TV on this list.  Makes me
happy.

>to Ryuichi Sakamoto and countless others in between including me . >Not
>everybody's cuppa , perhaps , but " cheesy " ?? For anybody out >there who
>is interested I make this offer : for $ 5 ( to cover >postage and cassette
>) I will put together a tape of Martin Denny and >Les Baxter tunes so you
>may judge for yourself .

I must admit, I am not familiar with the work of Martin Denny or Les
Baxter, but I am intrigued.  Actually, it's interesting that you're in
Japan-- I was listening to the new album by the Pizzicato 5 yesterday, and
it occurred to me that I was grooving to something that sounded like Burt
Bacharach sung by a Japanese girl [it also just occurred to me that I
mentioned Bacharach in a paper I wrote for a film class the other day-- I
was talking about "The Blob"-- I don't even know where I've *heard* Burt
Bacharach-- he's just sort of *there*].  A lot of Japanese music intrigues
the hell out of me-- I started listening through the British musician
Momus, because he also writes songs for Kahimi Karie (one of the songs he
wrote for her, "Good Morning World," was actually used in a cosmetics
advert in Japan).  I'm interested in the Shibuya-kei culture.  Plus, it's
more fun to get ready to go out listening to that than Nick Drake...the
other end of the spectrum in my cd collection.

dan@gge.com said--

>the creatures was (were? did we ever get that straight?) siouxsie's >band
>even before the banshees, but who really cares.

erm...me?  Actually, while The Creatures have been around a while, they
don't pre-date the Banshees.  The Creatures formed in 1983 when Siouxsie
and Budgie (drummer) of the Banshees took some time off.  In the meantime,
Steve Severin, bassist of the Banshees, recorded an album with Robert Smith
(taking time off from the Cure) under the name The Glove called "Blue
Sunshine" (it's awful).  This was also around the time "Hyena" (christ, I
know I just spelled it wrong), the Siouxsie and the Banshees album with
Robert Smith playing guitar (the Banshees have historically had a problem
with guitarists only slightly less violent than the Spinal Tap problem with
drummers).  The Banshees first formed around 1977, I believe-- I remember
the first issue of Propaganda Magazine (goth rag) I bought when I was
thirteen had an article on the thirteenth anniversary of the Banshees.  I
seem to remember something on the Damned, too.  Plus an article on London
after Midnight (any closet goths on the list here, please gag with me).

Xtckinks@aol.com commented:

>PS : I've seen the new Tom Waits album get a few mentions here. I >bought
>it last weekend, and it's really good.....

you think?  I heard it last weekend, and it struck me as kind of a re-hash
of _Bone Machine_ (eg, "What's He Building?" and "The Ocean Doesn't Want Me
Today").  I liked _Bone Machine_, true, but after so many years, I was
hoping for something different.  Anyway, I found there was a bit too much
of the whole vocal distortion thing, and several of the songs just sounded
too familiar.  Granted, I could be wrong-- I didn't get to listen to it
very carefully.  I don't know-- I may just like the old stuff better.

Duncan mused on his funeral:

>Well that's the wish list anyway. Knowing my luck I'll probably end >up
>with selections from "101 Accordions Play The Hits Of The Style >Council"

I saw that and for some reason the concept "The Boston Pops play Haircut
100" entered my mind.  I really should sleep more during exams.

FINALLY (oh my god this is a long posting), some XTC content-- I, too, must
admit to not being crazy about Nonsuch.  There are some individual songs
that really do it for me-- "Rook" comes to mind-- but the album overall
leaves me with a kind of "Close-but-no-cigar" feeling.  I really like AV1,
though.  I was so blasted happy when I got it and I really liked it-- I
listened to a little of it at the store and started to smile.  It came out
two days before my birthday, so it was like a present.

I return once again to my cubbyhole...I think I've posted enough for a
while...

megan.

------------------------------

Date: Thu, 6 May 1999 10:35:02 -0700 (PDT)
From: Misty Shock <mccrtny@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Don McCrap
Message-ID: <Pine.OSF.4.10.9905061026360.28186-100000@saul5.u.washington.edu>

<<American Pie...?
I always thought that song vastly over-rated (and way too long).
(McClean's "Vincent" is a much better song).>>

"Vincent" is one of the most sickening songs I've ever heard.  Talk about
pretentious.  Okay, Donny, we get it -- you're a sensitive, intelligent
soul.  You love the fine arts, and Van Gogh was sane, while all of us are
just wackos.  How touching and inciteful -- worthy of high school poetry.

(Actually, the tune is catchy in a very singer-songwriter-y way, but the
lyrics... just bleck)

Misty Shock
"No round of drinks can extinguish this feeling of love and engulfing
bliss."						--Andy Partridge

------------------------------

Message-Id: <TFSABEDC@paraengr.com>
From: David J Arnold <darnold@paraengr.com>
Date: Thu, 6 May 1999 12:26:19 -0600
Subject: Dave G and R Stevie

According to R Stevie Moore's website (www.rsteviemoore.com), Dave Gregory
did a couple of versions of Stevie's song "Dates" - possibly for an upcoming
"remoulds" CD. It's a great song, and I'm sure Dave did it proud. The
original version of the song is on the recently reissued (and fantastic) R
Stevie CD "Phonography."

- David in Houston, hoping this isn't old news

------------------------------

From: Melsta@aol.com
Message-ID: <b65ee101.24633cba@aol.com>
Date: Thu, 6 May 1999 14:43:06 EDT
Subject: Funeral music

Hi Chalkers,

Just a quickie today:

James Dignan wrote in no. 195:

> I'm kinda hoping that when the time comes someone will
> see fit to play Brian Eno's song "Here he comes". A perfect
> funeral song.

Then I want the La's "There She Goes"!

And Dom sez:

> the creatively vibrant Metal scene has so little in common with
> the public's usual perception of it that it makes me spit blood
> just thinking about it.

LOL! You and Ozzy both, eh?

--Melissa "I don't know if that was intentional or not, but it was funny"
Reaves

------------------------------

Message-Id: <3.0.5.32.19990506153740.0097b6c0@smtpgw.ametsoc.org>
Date: Thu, 06 May 1999 15:37:40 -0400
From: David Gershman <dgershmn@ametsoc.org>
Subject: Can you read me?

Jonathan M. said (?):
>I think that performing live would involve just too many compromises ; B&Q
>Garden Centres proudly present XTC's Fruit Nut tour or General Motors
>proudly presents XTC's River of Orchids tour. No thanks. We would also
>spend years debating the proposed set list.
>
>river of Orchids YTour  s the rhthe Fr   rosies
>stnes currentalk abotu the can only
>
>H 's I  of y Hawaian music. cis nnworkd musici suic
>
>it go

Jonathan! Come in, Jonathan! You're breaking up! Please repeat!

------------------------------

Message-ID: <000101be97f4$e651fda0$641017d4@smj>
From: "Stephen Jackson" <smj@zen.co.uk>
Subject: XTC in NME
Date: Thu, 6 May 1999 20:15:23 +0100

Again, the NME have nice things to say about XTC. English Settlement is
reviewed in the magazine's "Respect Overdue" section. I can't be arsed
writing it all out but the record is described as "a frighteningly ambitious
attempt to create a new English music; a polglot fusion of folk
music,psychedelic rock and reggae, featuring the loudest drumming hitherto
heard on record."

Steve.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Two steps forward, six steps back.

------------------------------

Message-ID: <000701be980f$4b821420$e1efabc3@vucqprlj>
From: "David Seddon" <D.Seddon@btinternet.com>
Subject: Nonsuch
Date: Thu, 6 May 1999 23:23:57 +0100

I've really enjoyed the continuing debate about Nonsuch and my love for the
album is so great that tonight I sat down and decide to write a poem about
it.  I used to write a lot of stuff, but I never get the time now (a
teacher's lot is not a happy one) and anyway, I seldom get any sort of
inspiration.  I am mindful of the fact that it is quarter past eleven at
night and that this is something I would not send tomorrow in the cold
light of day, so I'll do it now before morning embarrassment can prevent it
and before I realise that it's a bit crap.

Nonsuch

England carved in staves of wood
Where rhythms richly thud the blood
And daisies lull the senses.

In long forgotten palaces
Fickle fancies diving, float
And reptiles snap the tidal moat.

Medieval verses fuel the flames
Of lovers who were circus dames.
Battle rages, dreams are spent,
Horses rock the firmament.

May you find your house by the sea
Before nimbus rolls in miserably,
Before birds of woe circle overhead
And strange creatures creep into your bed.

------------------------------

Message-Id: <l03130300b357cfa91920@[204.144.224.55]>
Date: Thu, 6 May 1999 17:01:53 -0600
From: Brian Landy <blandy@lawyernet.com>
Subject: Schoolkids Ann Arbor; RIP ( and world music)

I used to live in Ann Arbor.  I am sad and disappointed to learn that
Schoolkid's Records is going out of business.  What a selection.  That
place rocked!

==================================
Brian Landy, Attorney at Law
==================================

------------------------------

Message-Id: <199905070101.VAA17165@lima.epix.net>
From: "Michael Davies" <miser17@epix.net>
Date: Thu, 6 May 1999 17:53:09 -0500
Subject: Insipid Arguments

> river of Orchids YTour  s the rhthe Fr   rosies
> stnes currentalk abotu the can only
>
> H 's I  of y Hawaian music. cis nnworkd musici suic
>
> it go

Dude you are totally misinformed.  I have no idea what you think
you're talking about.  Maybe you should actually listen to more than
one song by that band before passing judgment on them.

Michael davies
miser17@epix.net

------------------------------

Message-ID: <3732480E.5C45C518@earthlink.net>
Date: Thu, 06 May 1999 18:55:26 -0700
From: Yoshiko Yeto <beaudrillard@earthlink.net>
Subject: "melting miracle play"

A hearty hello to all Chalkhillians!

This seemingly prefabricated tale, which I am about to tell, is
completely true in its content.  The testimonial will now commence.

Today, as I was attempting to drive upon a rather grim stretch of
highway, I was halted by the usual rush hour traffic.  Lo and behold, in
my imposed state of arrest, I noticed an inky, black feather
(unfortunately, not a brilliantly colored AVI peacock feather)
wondrously drifting above my sooty Los Angeles car, as I heard Mssr.
Partridge sing the prophetic words:  "save us from the ball and chain".
Given "His" aversion to this lowly chariot, which is a necessity in
these parts, I had the distinct impression that I was being given a sign
from the Stratosphere.  Hmm... Notwithstanding my vehemently anti
Christian beliefs, I found myself wholly converted to the "gospels".
Praise be Andy, Colin, Gregsy, and XTC!

Blessings to all Chalkhillians.

Faithfully,

Malady Nelson (a recent convert!)

p.s. Do to my base appreciation of the physical manifestations of these
Three Wise Men (now actually two), I am now experiencing a bit of
spiritual discord.  Must retrieve my hairshirt...Must retrieve my
hairshirt...

------------------------------

Message-ID: <19990507035204.64183.qmail@hotmail.com>
From: "Andrew Gowans" <ratwhacker@hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: parents and concerts-- never fear ageism
Date: Fri, 07 May 1999 13:52:02 EST

Or perhaps a (sort of) reverse situation.

I distinctly recall being allowed to accompany my older sister (she
would've been all of 12-13 y.o.) to some concerts that our father took her
to, the family that ....together...etc.

However, I don't think I shower myself in glory by admitting they were the
Osmonds (mercifully no clear memories of the gig) and the Bay City Rollers
<shudder>.

I have, obviously, no pretentions re: being cool in any way, shape or form
(damn !).

I did see the BCR's later on at the North Sydney RFC, during a reunion tour
of the mid 80's and they pumped.

Strip away the nonsense and the twee arrangements and they could make a
half-decent pub band.

Oh God, have I really admitted to all this ?

Ciao for niao,

The Rat.

------------------------------

Message-Id: <l03130300b357d19b6b27@[208.252.69.238]>
Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 00:11:54 +0100
From: MinerWerks <dminer@gte.net>
Subject: Can't resist!

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist sending this to all of you:

  Check out the latest from Disney Records!

  * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

  LIVE CHAT WITH PHIL COLLINS!

  * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

  On Friday May 21, 1999 (6 p.m. PT, 9 p.m. ET), Walt Disney Records
  proudly presents a live chat with Grammy(R) Award-winning
  singer/songwriter Phil Collins.  He will answer your questions and
  discuss his latest exciting musical project, the soundtrack to
  Disney's upcoming animated feature "Tarzan(R)", coming to theaters
  in June.  To join in the chat, just go to

  http://home.disney.go.com/chat/DisneyRecords

  Phil Collins' legendary talent sets the tone and underscores the
  film's theme through five captivating new songs that propel the
  fantasy, energy, and imagination of this literary favorite as
  never before.  The album also includes a bonus track featuring
  teen supergroup 'N Sync with Collins on a special version of the
  percussive scat number "Trashin' the Camp."

  Be sure to swing over to the chat to receive special savings on
  the soundtrack from CD Now.  The soundtrack will be available
  May 18 wherever music is sold.

  Don't miss out on this exciting event!

Please don't shoot the messenger, especially if the above includes anything
that may signify the proximity of the apocalypse...

= Derek =

------------------------------

Message-Id: <v01540b00b35818ff8f01@[192.168.0.72]>
Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 16:17:11 +1200
From: digja611@student.otago.ac.nz (James Dignan)
Subject: Traduise pour vous

some of those clever folks on the Robyn Hitchcock list had a fgo at that
weird bit of French, and came up with the following possible translation.
Of course, it might be way off track, but...

>> >>>  j'ecris l'anglais en le burinant a la
>> >>>  serpe ce qui me laisse peu de moyens de reparties. Cela dit,
>> >>>  n'entravant que pouic quand ca se corse, ca me fait le dos large en
>> >>>  matiere d'amour-propre ecorche
>>
>> Oh hell, I can't resist.
>>
>> I still don't think I've quite gotten it. You want to have a go, Ross?
>
>Here's my best guess, paraphrased:
>
>"Normally, when I write English it's graffiti scratched
>with a knife, so I can't get too clever.  When all you can do is
>'scritch', it's a bit dangerous to take on too much to build up
>your ego."

>Ross Overbury

Hope that doesn't confuse things further...

James

------------------------------

Message-ID: <373223BD.F9AABC78@erols.com>
Date: Fri, 07 May 1999 00:20:33 +0100
From: "Neal H. Buck" <nealhbuck@erols.com>
Subject: Stepped Off the Train

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom,

Man, you get off track and the whole world passes you by!

I'm not even going to try to "catch up" at this point, just a few random
observations...

Heard a snippet of "Roads Girdle the Globe" during "Car Talk" on NPR.

Do you think Andy sounds like he's singing with an "American" accent on
"Knights in Shining Karma"?

Todd & Oingo Boingo are both in my Top-10 All-Time Favorite
Musician/Groups list, so I guess that's why I like (almost) all of XTC's
music. BTW, I would LOVE to have a video tape of the Oingo Boingo Bud
commercial! Bombs Away!

As a reward for a nice tax refund I bought the Crown Jewels - that is,
the Queen box set w/the first 8 CDs & booklet. "Original" album artwork
on each CD - very bad resized digital scans: "The Game" is the worst,
and "News of the World" has a red moire pattern. The music was generally
great (I think) - ahead of it's time. I'm not enough of a fan to have
any bio's (as opposed to both books on XTC), but I wonder whether they
named themselves "Queen" in deference to "*King* Crimson" especially
given the tone of their first album.

I also finally got "Modern Music" and "Futurama" on CD.

Phil Collins aside, I saw a preview for "Tarzan" and it looks like it's
gonna be one of the better recent Disney cartoons.

Well, I'm back, I'll try to pay attention this time,
Neal

------------------------------

Message-ID: <19990507062825.96276.qmail@hotmail.com>
From: "Duncan Kimball" <dunks58@hotmail.com>
Subject: Run for the hills...
Date: Thu, 06 May 1999 23:28:24 PDT

Thanks to Amanda for the info about Squinty's website - sounds
grooveliciously fabtastic. As for Dave's letter ... well I think that's
proves perty conclusively that it's what they refer to in the trade as a
"messy divorce". I can't see Dave coming back for the 25th anniversary
tour, can you? *sigh* Love's labours lost ...

Meanwhile, Dominic has gone all pedagogical on our asses:

>Subject: PREACHING TO THE ENORMOUSLY STUPID

(bla bla bla "Heavy Metal" bla bla bla)

<snip>

>Of course, I could just be talking bollocks again.....it's so hard to
> >tell!

No Dom, its not *that* hard to tell :P

I have made the following general observations about metal:

- they play EXTREMELY loud

- they use unusual time signatures

- the guitar playing basically alternates between: A)'diddly-diddly' guitar
bits executed at or near light-speed, during which the perrformer throws
his head back, and B)the earthquake-magnitude 'chugga-chugga-graaaaanch'
riffs, during which the singer bangs his head forward

- the singer either growls like Nick Cave doing a Linda Blair impression,
or wails like Wayne Newton on steroids. (Incidentally, for Yes lovers - a
friend of mine used to refer to Jon Anderson as the Wayne Newton of rock -
I kinda like it).

- they sing a lot about Satan and death and how there's no hope etc etc.

- love, peace, happiness and beauty are not favoured topics

- dancing only occurs if it is with the devil

- they wear very tight pants and have long black hair

- they are invariably men

- they are predominantly white

So - what else happens? What does it all mean?

My theory is that Heavy Metal is the 'Opera' of the 20th Century: it's very
loud, very long, very melodramatic, and the singers yell and scream in the
loudest, most artificial, most unpleasant way possible.

Don't make me read the book Dom - just give me a Reagan-style one page
briefing, so I can finally get a handle on this inexplicable phenomenon. I
promise I'll read it. I might even try to listen to some heavy metal. Give
me an example or two and we'll see how we go. Suggestions, I can handle.

OK OK so plenty of people like stuff - I get the message - but then plenty
of people like Richard Cleyderman. It's called personal taste. I find it
inexplicable that people don't like XTC, or the Beach Boys - but it happens
all the time. You just have to accept that as a part of life. We are by
nature divergent - it's genetic - it's an adaptational advantage. It would
be great if EVERYONE loved XTC, but let's face it - that kind of thinking
is best restricted to daydreams. Mostly, the people who try to enact that
idea in real life seem to have names like Benito and Joseph and Adolf and
Augusto....

Dunks

------------------------------

Message-Id: <4782AD6ADDBDD2119B570008C75DD5C10A302A@MGMTM02>
From: Lawson Dominic <LawsonD@parliament.uk>
Subject: RE: Abuse, Death & Handbags at ten paces...
Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 10:15:34 +0100

Firstly, I can't really let this go.

>> And who thinks that one person's abuse of another is FUNNY?
I do. It's fucking hilarious. But here's the catch.......ART REFLECTS LIFE!
Not the other way around.
As any fule kno, comedy is all about stereotypes and the suffering of other
people (I dare you to name a sitcom that isn't!) and there's nothing quite
like some abuse to make people suffer. You bastards.

Sure, political correctness was a necessary evil at one time, but ENOUGH!!!

>> Jill O. asked us what we'd like to hear on our funerals.

Yeah, thanks Jill. What a cheery thought. I suppose we're picking XTC tunes,
so I would definitely go for "Complicated Game" for, I'd like to think,
obvious reasons or, somewhat obviously, "Travels In Nihilon". Maybe even
"Jumping In Gomorrah", if somehow I fail to avoid the Christian funeral that
awaits every nice, middle-class Hertfordshire boy....damn those God-fearing
chintz guerillas!

Non-XTC choice would have to be either "Burn, Die & Fucking Fry" by Abscess
(for a cremation) or Iron Maiden's "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner", purely to
annoy any anti-Metal fools in the congregation for a full thirteen and a
half minutes.

(In so-called reality I'd choose "New Grass" by Talk Talk, but don't tell
anyone!)

Re: Dave Vs Andy

Yawn! I think this what we call a "difference of opinion". I wouldn't
listen to friends of mine bickering like this, and frankly it's no more
interesting because its AP and DG. Give it a fucking rest, the pair of you.

Dom.

------------------------------

From: JEFFREY.THOMAS.JT@bayer-ag.de
Subject: Rundgren, SL, O&L, and what's good and bad
Message-Id: <0006800011061917000002L072*@MHS>
Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 11:14:54 +0200

Hi "Kreideberger",

Not only the language barrier regularly rears its head here at Chalkhills,
the "Englishness" or "Americanness" of an album is also becoming an issue,
most recently re. "O&L" and "Skylarking" in posts from Chris and Dave.
Interesting topic, but, for me, it touches the wrong nerve!  Then again,
maybe I'm oversensitive.

Did I, in some post, already say the bit about "Skylarking" being difficult
to "find" because of the production being so different?  (I know, Dom, no
XTC album is difficult to get into, but...)  For me, it is interesting to
note that, whereas the production values play a huge role (Beatles w/o
George Martin?  I dunno.), it is the songs themselves, the "core" of good
music that, as a rule, makes or breaks it in the long run (George Martin
w/o the Beatles????  Try America!).

To say that Todd Rundgren's approach to production makes "Skylarking"
*American* doesn't seem to fit.  Even Andy admits that Rundgren did an
excellent job.  Rundgren is American.  His influences are probably
primarily British and American.  But the songs are *not* particularly
American, in fact, they often evoke a very British or even Celtic feeling,
as in "The Meeting Place" or "Sacrificial Bonfire".  The only real
Americanism is "Supergirl", and honestly, it could have been on several
other albums; besides, its Americanness has nothing to do with Rundgren.
(Okay, okay, I guess Jasmine's vocal is American, too.)

There seems to be an implicit suggestion that a record is "American"
because it has somehow included possible hit potential in the recipe,
which, to me, is absurd.  Just about every record made there by any popular
group would by this definition be "American".  That would include Black Sea
and English Settlement as well as O&L.  XTC is/are a group very much
influenced by the Beatles, Kinks (British, hitmakers), the Beach Boys
(American, hitmakers), etc.  Their music takes off where the others'
stopped, and goes on on its own fantastic way.  Their modern records seem,
while evolving in general, to go in cycles, more punchy - less punchy -
more - less - etc., ES - Mummer - Big Express - Skylarking - O&L - Nonsuch.
I like the punch of O&L which is equally due to the production values and
to other stylistic elements -- the choice of the songs, the drummer (Pat
Mastelotto is an avid Terry Chambers fan, and it shows, I think he did an
excellent job), etc.  But why is it particularly American?  Could it be
that the word "American" is being equated to "sellout" (or "pandering to a
crowd that like[s] everything bigger, better, more accessible"), which,
although there is some basis to this stereotype, isn't really fair?  I
don't think O&L was a sellout, and I doubt XTC does/do either.

Coming back to Skylarking, the production itself on SL was very, very
different from previous albums.  The drums were much less "punchy" than we
had become accustomed to since the Steve Lillywhite days.  The guitars were
less aggressive, the mix was different.  I recall thinking the album had
none of the "drive" to it that I so loved -- and therefore, for quite
awhile, I just plain didn't like it.  But to call it American because of
Rundgren?  Do you call an album "British" if it's produced by Jeff Lynne
(or do you just call it "typical Lynne", or worse)?  Did the group America
suddenly turn into Britain when George Martin produced them?  I don't think
that most of the big producers are so much "American" or "British" as they
are "good" or "bad".

And this is where the Dave's original comment started, saying SL was more a
Rundgren album and made to please American ears.  Whereas I obviously do
not agree with the second half, the first half is interesting.  "Good"
producers, in my eyes, bring out the best in the music.  They can do this
by staying "in the background" or "blending in" (George Martin) or by
putting a loud stamp on everything they touch.  Steve Lillywhite and Jeff
Lynne are examples of the latter type.  I submit that "Real Love" and
especially "Free As A Bird" would have sounded much, much better had the
Beatles let George Martin produce them, because FAAB ended up sounding like
*JEFF LYNNE* and not like the Beatles.  It was an interesting song, not
incredibly strong, but not as weak as Lynne made it sound.  And in keeping
with this, although I ended up liking Rundgren's production of SL, I can
certainly understand why some people wouldn't.

To paraphrase another contributor (Brian, commenting on "Nonsuch"), XTC
follow their hearts, their gut feelings, they set their own rules.  I don't
believe there are many pop bands with as much courage to do that in the
face of low popularity/low sales, etc.  That they sound different as time
goes by is a function both of their own growth as musicians/writers, their
moods, and of the fact that they choose to use different producers on each
album.  I don't think any of XTC's albums have been sellouts, and I don't
find any of them to be particularly American or British, but more a bit of
both.  Let's face it, XTC know(s) that the countries that keep their
records selling are the USA and Britain, and they don't seem to mind
pleasing *their fans* -- who, in contrast to many other groups, "came to
XTC", rather than XTC "coming to them".  I.e.  it isn't that hard to please
fans if the fans are totally, completely tuned into the same wavelength. It
can be done without selling out.

Sorry for carrying on.  Ciao!

- Jeff

PS - Dave got into the *songs* on Skylarking in his critique, too, but
that's an entirely different story.  We can debate that some other time.

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