Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills Digest #5-2

          Chalkhills Digest, Volume 5, Number 2

               Thursday, 24 September 1998

Today's Topics:

                Lo-Cal XTC Pop Substitutes
                 re: Tyranny of Distance
                       Just listen
                    Peel In A Peartree
              Re: A bit of an off-topic plea
                       XTC and Dada
                     More Soundalikes
                        Andy's art
                NEW!! Be Bop Deluxe Album
       JLC, Thanks Karl, Dear Sarah is a big sissy.
                    Transistor Stories
                  New Chalkhorse Shirts
   Re: Throwing a spanner in the works/ Drums and Wires
Travels in Nihilon on US Black Sea CD - why no track length
                  A Match made in Heaven
                   Blurred Impressions
       RE: What are your thoughts on Todd Rundgren?
         Chalkhills get together in London shock
          Yazbek on NPR's All Things Considered
                 My XTC audio experiment
  Two-fold Merchandising Poll (AKA Building your whimsy)
                Thoughts on Todd Rundgren
      The Partridge/Moulding/Gregory Report: 9-24-98


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Singing coloured songs.


From: Joel Reamer <>
Message-Id: <>
Subject: Lo-Cal XTC Pop Substitutes
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 00:30:21 -0500 (CDT)

   Chalkhills Folk.

     In the spirit of Ken H., and to mark the 77th straight month with no
new XTC material, here's a few pop recommendations:

        The Minders- "Hooray for Tuesday": Gorgeous. Apples in Stereo-esque
melodies and harmony.
        Various Artists-"Losing Friends and Losing Money:The March Records
Story": Rad comp with Holiday, Ciao Bella, and Valerie LeMercier among
        Heartworms-"during": Archie Moore from Velocity Girl's other band.
Sophisticated arrangements and beautiful playing.

    I finally went out myself and bought that Sugarplastic album. Wow!
Thanks for the recommendation. For you L.A. pop lovers(Sugarplastic,
Falkner) do you know what the old Autocollants are doing? I'd love to know,
but aren't counting on an answer.

       Check these out during the continued drought.



Date: 22 Sep 98 15:31:00 AST
Subject: re: Tyranny of Distance
Message-ID: <>

Fellow Oz Chalkie Greg Wright (hi Greg) and others may be somewhat
heartened by this news from Sean at Helter Skelter, the UK publishers of
"Song Stories":
* __________________________________

Hi here Paul
Our edition will be distributed in Australia - the release date will
probably be November of this year.
If anyone has difficulty getting the book in Australia, they can always
order it by mail direct from us.
All the best
* __________________________________

As suggested, you can order by email as I did - just beware our lousy $AUS
exchange rate:



Message-ID: <>
From: William Tindall <>
Subject: Just listen
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 1998 23:52:45 -0700


Dave does Clapton and Bruce beautifully, and I've NEVER heard anyone pull a
convincing Ginger Baker.  Until now, that is.  That was real fun.  I'd love
to hear him do "Dance the Night Away" and "As You Said"

Not to ask how or why, but is there any more cool DG to listen to on the

Well, I needn't ask *why* at least...

Bill T, skimmin' the Cream


Message-Id: <>
From: "Mark Strijbos" <>
Organization: COSS Holland BV
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 13:38:11 +0000
Subject: Peel In A Peartree

Dear Chalkers,

Another nit to pick:

> Paul Culnane made a copy for me of something called "Drums & Wireless :
> The BBC Radio Sessions".

Hometaping is killing music :)

> It was  introduced by BBC DJ and legend John Peel, and ...

No it wasn't... as a matter of fact the "dj" is none other than Andy
Partridge impersonating John Peel.

yours in xtc,

Mark Strijbos


Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 08:35:19 -0400
From: Brian <>
Organization: InfiNet
Subject: Re: A bit of an off-topic plea


Yes, I know this has NOTHING to do with XTC (except that it would put me
IN XTC to get help), but go to:

I am in laid-off land, and I am looking for a way out. I figure, you
never know who knows what, so I'm tapping you folks. If anyone has any
ideas, please, by all means...


My apologies for any inconvenience.


Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 08:39:47 -0400
Message-Id: <>
Subject: XTC and Dada

I was curious to see if the new Dada album is available, so I checked www. and found some interesting notes.

Regarding Dada's first album (Puzzle), a reviewer from _Spin_ writes,

"...echoing The Police, XTC, and even Simon and Garfunkel, Dada sounds
like a band that's been together for years...."

I do know of one fairly popular hit from this record, "Dizz Knee Land,"
which I do like. And stations here in MA have been playing "California
Gold" from the self-titled new Dada album, and I like that song.

The new album cover is really cool looking, not unlike a Max Ernst piece
or even something Andy might have come up with.

The first track from the new Dada album - "Information Undertow" I
immediately thought of, "Please don't pull me up, I'm relax in the
undertow." Another track is called, "The Ballad of Earl Grey and Chamomile."
At least one of these guys must be an XTC fan, eh?


"One pound tax, Marshall stacks, Carnaby Street's got a Union Jack..." -
Nick Heyward


Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 06:09:03 -0700 (PDT)
From: Andisheh Nouraee <>
Subject: More Soundalikes

To the writer who asked us if we can think of any other XTC
soundalikes,  I nominate Johnny Nexdor & His Neighbors from the Carmen
Sandiego CD.  Whoever sings that song has the Andy-style vocal hiccup
down perfectly (think of the line "make it all a little better").  I
recall that there was a long debate here over whether it was Andy
singing or not.

And as long as we're talking about other bands, may I nominate
Atlanta, Georgia's very own Sundowners
(  They don't have an XTC sound
but they certainly adhere to the XTC ethic of sharp melodies,
breathtaking chord changes, and witty & heartfelt lyrics.  They're
playing Dottie's on Friday, Sept 25th.



Message-Id: <s6077044.053@OAG.STATE.TX.US>
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 09:38:44 -0600
From: Steve Oleson <Steve.Oleson@OAG.STATE.TX.US>
Subject: Andy's art

Dear Chalks-
I received Song Stories late last week, and quickly devoured
it. I enjoyed reading the bands divergent viewpoints regarding
given situations. Very revealing and interesting!

I was most impressed and surprised by the
excellence of Andy's sketches.

Has anyone printed an edition of Andy's artwork? I
would very much like to see more (and larger) prints of
his work.

My only disappointment with Song Stories is that there were
too few photos and illustrations, and those that there were
are too small.

Best Regards,
Steve Oleson


Message-ID: <>
From: Jill Oleson <>
Subject: NEW!! Be Bop Deluxe Album
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 09:58:23 -0500

"Song Stories" mentions Be Bop Deluxe and the
John Peel sessions for BBC radio as early influences
on the members of XTC.  Last month, Hux Records
released a new Be Bop Deluxe album that features
previously unreleased sessions originally recorded for
John Peel's Radio 1 show between 1974 and 1978.

I got my copy of "Tramcar to Tomorrow" on Friday
and have been on Cloud Nine ever since.  It is an
incredible grouping of songs including a rarity called
"15th of July (invisibles)," which has never been released

The jams captured in these live recordings really blow
me away.  I don't think I'd ever realized what an awesome
guitarist Bill Nelson, the band's leader, is.  In the year's
since Be Bop Deluxe, Nelson has focused on techtronica
rather than strings.  Nelson's better-than-Van Halen's
guitar/finger tango combined with the talents of the rest
of Be Bop Deluxe's power blast have never sounded
better.  Despite all the changes that have happened in
music in the last 25 years, Be Bop Deluxe still has "IT."
I swoon.

The thing that surprised me most was near free-form
improvisational jazz/rock jams in the middle of "Stage
Whispers" and "Blazing Apostles."  It was well worth the
$22.50 US I paid for the CD.  Yes, well worth it indeed.

Check out the sound files available from Hux Records
for yourself:


Jill Oleson
Austin, Texas


Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 11:37:41 -0400 (EDT)
From: Funk Genie <>
Subject: JLC, Thanks Karl, Dear Sarah is a big sissy.
Message-ID: <>

Adam from Clemson wrote
> I'm a big fan of J,LC, but I found Magazine to be a bit lacking.  It's
> good, but Licorice Tea Demos was *much* better, IMO -- much closer to their
> Irish roots as a band than the guitar-pop of Magazine.

Yeah I've heard that complaint that Magazine wasn't as good as the Tea
Leaf demos but I felt like most XTC'ers would appreciate Magazine more
because it did have such a pop flavor to it. As for the Irish thing, in a
recent article the band members were talking about the fact that most of
the Irish influence was due to one of the band members being Irish. he has
since left and they felt that they should try to expand their interests
rather than harping on something that was in their background but not in
the present. Some complain that "Magazine" is too "mainstream" but I just
think that they have better production and different influences. Also I
think people get mad when they aren't the only person on the block to know
about a band. So the moral of the story for my fellow XTC'ers: You people
need to find some Jump Little Children because they're good enough for
Adam and I to take up three digest posts. I'm glad to see someone else
plugging the NC music scene.
Jonas thanks for the Wannadies recommendation. When my workstudy check
comes in I'll be sure to purchase one. : )
Karl mentioned the Sarah McClaghlin (sp) version of Dear God. I thought it
was definitely mediocre-but isn't most of Sarah's stuff? Her sissy voice
just could not get the more subtle effects of the song. Now I think that
Jump Little Children could do a good job of it. *chuckle*
Looking forward to seeing that rad Song Stories picture of Andy at age 18.


Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 14:12:37 EDT
Subject: Transistor Stories


I bought my copy of Song Stories and am up to English Settlement.  Suggestion
(echoing Simon's sentiments): read this book while listening to the albums.
It's made my rail commute quite enjoyable.

To all those scratching their heads about the order of "Drums & Wires," there
must be a half-dozen different track listings for that album.  Every time it
was re-released Virgin seemed to omit or add different tracks.  The original
LP versions came with a bonus 7" record, the US version had "Chain of Command"
& "Limelight" on it, the UK version had these two and "Life Begins at the
Hop," thus excluding it from the LP running order.  After that whatever you
got; you got.  Once the CDs were printed, the running order often did not
coincide with the packaging or surface label.  I think Geffen in the US
finally matched up the packaging with what was actually on the CD.

I can't wait for "Transistor Blasts" especially since I dropped my "Drums &
Wireless" and put a big gash in it and it doesn't play "Seagulls..." on it
without skipping (yes, CDs are destructible).  Thanks to Song Stories I've
been getting into the Barry era stuff and would love to hear a concert from
that time.  Hopefully that ICE story is true and it will be available here in
the States.



Message-Id: <>
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 12:44:28 -0600
From: Phil Corless <>
Subject: New Chalkhorse Shirts

Due to popular demand, I am announcing a new production of the
Chalkhorse shirts!  The details are at:

There are many new colors available this time around.  Email
me with any questions.

- Phil Corless


Message-ID: <000801bde65a$3ee852e0$633663c3@default>
From: "David McGuinness" <>
Subject: duped
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 19:52:14 +0100

Erm ...

>"Drums & Wireless : The BBC Radio Sessions". It was introduced by
>BBC DJ and legend John Peel

As far as I'm aware, the real John Peel hasn't a hint of Swindon in his
vocal chords.  Exploding Truss should be a real band though.

And Inevitable Groin.



Message-ID: <004a01bde65b$caceba00$2e0417d4@default>
From: "Steve Jackson" <>
Subject: Re: Throwing a spanner in the works/ Drums and Wires
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 19:27:26 +0100 wrote

>A few weeks
>ago, fellow OzChalkgeezer Paul Culnane made a copy for me of something
>called "Drums & Wireless : The BBC Radio Sessions". It was introduced by
>BBC DJ and legend John Peel

It wasn't John Peel actually, it is infact AP sending up John Peel!!!

It's an excellent CD and I'd consider it an essential XTC purchase.


Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 12:06:59 -0700 (PDT)
From: Benjamin Lukoff <>
Subject: Travels in Nihilon on US Black Sea CD - why no track length
Message-ID: <>


Anyone know why, on the back cover of the US CD of Black Sea, track
lengths are given for every song except for "Travels in Nihilon"?  Was
this deliberate?  Is it this way on other countries' CDs?

Ben Lukoff


Message-ID: <>
Date: Wed, 23 Sep 1998 00:11:49 +0100
From: (
Subject: A Match made in Heaven

All Chalks ,
            Just a quicky.... If XTC ever decide to become a 'real band'
again instead of a Difford/Tilbrook kinda deal, I have the ideal man for
the drum stool. Matthew Priest of Dodgy. Hes a stocky , down-to-Earth ,
stylish drummer who hails from the West(ish) part of England. He loves a
beer is a great laugh and does great back-up vocals. No frills with
Matty , just top skin-bashing with plenty of style and charisma.His
hairline is also receding in a Partridge kind of way . Oh - did I
mention his band are splitting up as we speak ? Perfect ! Grab him while
you can , boys. ( Hi Cheryl ) See ya,
                                     Mrs. Priest. ;-)


Message-ID: <>
From: "Bob Crain" <>
Subject: Blurred Impressions
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 17:41:03 PDT

Good Evening, All,

Here are some presumptuous opinions on some subjects.

>From: Jill Oleson <>
>Personally, I'd like to see XTC work with Paul Leary of the
>Butthole Surfers as their next producer.  Paul's work with many
>bands, such as the Meat Puppets, Supersuckers, Toadies and
>Bad Livers, shows that he can bring the best out of those bands
>without overriding their unique style.
>** So, having said all that, what are your thoughts on Todd Rundgren
>as a producer?  As a musician?  **

Someone like Paul Leary would make a VERY interesting producer for XTC.
Hopefully, he would work cheap, too.  :)

Todd as a producer:

For the most part, I agree with you Jill.  Most of his productions that
I know of are drenched with his vocal harmony style and have that same
boxy sound that I love from his own records.  I really don't think he is
a hi-fi producer, as is understandable from the description of Utopia
Sound in the "Song Stories" book! His working method of "booking the
tape" so he wouldn't have to do any edits is probably about as lo-fi as
you can go with tape, as the band presumably had to track over the same
tape many times in nailing the parts.  I hope that wasn't the only

However, he does have a way of bringing out the best in bands, though
many of them only seem to belive that in retrospect.  The Mojo article
on Todd has a sidebar with several of the artists he produced expressing
such opinions.  The Pursuit Of Happiness is one that is still in
business, and the main guy was a big Todd fanatic anyway, from the sound
of interviews he has given.  There are probably fewer problems with
young bands than with established bands in the personality department
(although the NY Dolls shared the same low opinion of him that he had of
them!).  The Tubes albums he produced were very influenced by Todd's
sound (and it sure is interesting that Prarie Prince still has a strong
working relationship with him). And didn't the Furs make several albums
after their experience with Todd, including some classic songs like "The
Ghost In You?"

Todd as a musician:

Inspired, self-abosorbed, and always trying for a new sound or style.  I
saw his lounge tour last year, and the rapping wasn't that bad.  He just
seems to go his own way, and to hell with the rest of the world if they
aren't buying it.  This behavior is to the detriment of major popularity
(it's interesting how Eno is able to have a similar attitude, but still
gets asked to produce the first division bands.  It might come down to
his basic gregariousness).

>From: "Steve Jackson" <>
>Bands with the XTC "sound"?...... What about "Chemical World" by Blur, which
>is off "Modern Life is Rubbish", the album Partridge nearly produced. It
>sounds very much like Braniac's Daughter.

Yes it does, XTC was the first band I thought of when I heard that
track.  Andy's comment in "Song Stories" that Blur thought he was making
them "sound too much like XTC" shows that they wanted to break away from
that comparison.  They still sound a lot like XTC on about 1/3 of their
songs, though (and they are my favorite band next to XTC, so this is not
a knock).

>From: Dan Phipps <>
>BTW, on a somewhat more indirect non-XTC note:
>Thank you, my good friend Oleh, for the special
>effort you put forward to successfully get me
>Peter Blegvad's autograph from the PA gig!!!
>A pure treasure if there ever was one!!  :-)

Peter Blevad put on a wonderful show in Maryland a couple of weeks ago!
A very nice chap.  It was a little surprising to me to read in "Song
Stories" that his friendship with Andy has blown up.  I hadn't read the
book before seeing him, but I wouldn't have asked him about it anyway.
I just suggested that the Trio should make a live album, as I thought
they sounded great.  Blegvad said, "Yeah, it was getting pretty good,
wasn't it?  If we could play together enough to get good, maybe we
could."  I took my signed CD and left, thinking what an unassuming
person he is.

-Bob Crain


Message-ID: <>
From: "k. siegel" <>
Subject: RE: What are your thoughts on Todd Rundgren?
Date: Wed, 23 Sep 1998 05:03:58 PDT

Jill Oleson wrote:

>>But as a producer, I'd have to give him mixed marks. Toddhas a way
>>of stripping the life and soul out of a group as he obliterates
>>their sound with HIS brand, HIS intentions.  ThePsychedelic Furs and
>>Bougeoise Tagg come to mind as examples.Perhaps not so coincidently,
>>each of those bands essentially diedafter working with Todd.

I have, in the past, interviewed two former members of Bourgeois Tagg.
I was told the breakup of BT came from troubles within the group
itself and did not necessarily stem from anything Rundgren did.

Just my 2 cents...


Message-Id: <>>
From: Jonathan Monnickendam <>
Date: Wed, 23 Sep 1998 16:35:35 +0000
Subject: Chalkhills get together in London shock

Do any of the chalkhillers living/working in the London area fancy a
get-together sometime in October to talk about, well you know, the usual
topics only face to face ?  This could be accompanied by the intake of
London Pride or whatever suits.

A happy new year and a happy new volume ; a good start to the year.


* ---------------------------------------------------------------
The views expressed are of the individual, and do not
necessarily reflect the views of The United Bank of Kuwait PLC.
* ---------------------------------------------------------------


Date: Wed, 23 Sep 1998 18:59:54 -0500 (CDT)
Message-Id: <>
From: Dave Hughes <>
Subject: Yazbek on NPR's All Things Considered

Delurking here, I just heard a Yazbek tune about Autumn on NPR's All Things
Considered today.  Did I read correctly once or twice on this list that Andy
Partridge helped out on Yazbek's latest release?  Did AP sing or play on
this cut as well as others (it kind of sounded like XTC a bit).

* --------------------------------------------
Dave Hughes
Host of "Late in the Evening"
Nebraska Public Radio
* --------------------------------------------


Message-ID: <>
Date: Wed, 23 Sep 1998 22:36:02 EDT
Subject: My XTC audio experiment

Dear Chalkhillites (which kind of sounds like "chocolates")

During the "Oranges and Lemons" sessions, XTC recorded the backing tracks
for the song "Everything," which ended up in demo form on Andy's "The Bull
With The Golden Guts."  Somehow, I ended up with an Nth generation copy of
the studio version of the song, and since the demo version has mostly vocals
in the right channel, I thought it might be fun to meld the two together.
And so I did, dropping the vocals in phrase by phrase in my Turtle Beach
audio editing software.  You can hear the results for yourself if you have a
RealAudio player.  If you have a 28.8K or 33.6K connection, go to  If you have a faster
connection, go to

Note that this will take you directly to the RealAudio files.  I'm not
including links to these songs on my regular web page.  This is a little
gift just for the folks at Chalkhills.


J. D. Mack


Message-Id: <>
Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 12:09:16 -0500
Subject: Two-fold Merchandising Poll (AKA Building your whimsy)

Calling all Chalkhillians!!

Now that the new album is in progress, we're all hoping that the
merchandise will follow.  I thought it would be a good idea to get some
info from everyone concerning what XTC products they'd be most interested
in purchasing.  This will give XTC some idea of what we'd like and what (we
think) will sell, and hopefully their money won't go to waste creating
things no one will buy.

SO, what I'd like all interested parties to do, is to e-mail me with two
sets of information:

     Send me a list of no more than 10 XTC things you'd most likely buy.
This can be anything from T-shirts to toilet paper, but it has to be
something you'd pay money for.  Ideally they would appeal to the masses,
but don't let that thought limit your imagination.  Sorry, but "Song
Stories" does not count here.
     Please state what country you're from as well- this will help us get a
general idea of where you are & what potential demand in a
country/continent might be.

     Seeing as merchandising=advertising, I'd also like to get everyone's
ideas on CHEAP and EASY ways to get the word out about the new album.  This
could include doing the obvious- like requesting that your fave music store
stock it- or the not-so-obvious.  Send me as many ideas as you'd like.

Please do not send generic messages saying "I'd buy anything with their
name on it!" or "I'll do whatever needs to be done to spread the word!".
Most of us probably feel the same way.  This will also work out the best if
a large number of people respond, as you tend to get better data.  But, no
stuffing of the ballot box- only one response per person is allowed!!

Send your responses to me at  Please put something like
"Merchandise" or "XTC Products" in the subject.  DO NOT MAIL THE LIST!!

I am putting a deadline on this of 3 weeks.  Please have all responses
e-mailed to me by October 15th, 1998.  I will post comprehensive results on
the list by the end of October.

Kate Burda

****This information will be forwarded to Andy and Colin (thanks, Mitch!!),
so I'd like to get everything as accurate as possible.  Send in your
responses today!***


Message-ID: <>
Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 19:36:26 +0200
From: Imanol Ugarte <>
Subject: TVP

Two issues ago,someone asked XTClike songs,mmm,mmm

This is one of my favorites:
"Sometimes I think You know me Better than I know Myself"
The band? Television Personalities in "Privilege"
and there are more goodies :-))



Message-ID: <>
Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 19:38:27 +0200
From: Imanol Ugarte <>
Subject: Thoughts on Todd Rundgren

Jill Oleson asked us about Todd Rundgren's work .I agree
with you Jill.

I discovered T.Rundgren's work in the early eighties,then I
was really astonished by records like "A wizard/A True Star"
and "Something/Anything", IMHO these are masterpieces .There
is a lot of beautiful ( some very short) tunes, harder
numbers,wide variety of genres,nice vocals,without
forgetting the incredible solo work in the studio.I also
like "Runt" and "The Ballad of T.R."

But I consider the next records  quite standard. As a
producer,barring Skylarking, I only listened to a New York
Dolls LP long time ago, I do like Skylarking, but I'm afraid
Jill  goes right  when he say

Todd has a way of stripping the life and soul out of a group
as he obliterates their sound with HIS brand, HIS



Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 14:57:37 -0400 (EDT)
Message-Id: <v0300780cb22ff8d4e5fb@[]>
From: Mitch Friedman <>
Subject: The Partridge/Moulding/Gregory Report: 9-24-98

Get yourselves a comfortable chair because this could be a long one . . .

Well folks last night I returned from a 10 day jaunt to merry olde England.
Part of the reason I went was to visit with a few friends that I haven't
seen since I spent a week with them during the Ray Davies songwriting course
I took this past March.  In addition they had arranged two solo acoustic
gigs for me to play so I had my fancy new Yamaha guitar with me for just
those occasions. I had a great time with them (even getting to do a short
performance in London's famous Hope and Anchor venue!) and then last Friday
it was off to Rockfield Studios in Monmouth,South Wales to spend some time
with Andy and Colin as they mixed the new orchoustic album.

Situated in a beautiful farmland setting in the secluded hills of Wales is a
very old country home and nearby bungalow type living quarters for its
guests. On first attempt I missed the cleverly hidden entrance and was
forced to drive a bit further on before I could turn around. During this
brief overshoot I passed a very longhaird, tall genteman strolling on the
side of the road with an umbrella.  Our Colin. Eventually I turned around
and entered the gates and pulled up in my puny rented car, still not quite
having gotten over driving on the other side of the road and a series of
mostly successful right turns and walked into the bungalow to find Andy
sitting at the kitchen table enjoying a bowl of porridge and the first of
what surely added up to several thousand cups of tea while I was there. He
gave me a salute and shook my hand as my three day stay commenced. We sat
and chatted a while as he took out the famous lyric book you've heard about
and seen samples of in Song Stories and then commenced to take a trip down
memory lane occassionally singing me songs that were never finished and
showing me endless drawings of toy soldiers and long lists of possible song
and album titles, etc. We were waiting for Colin to return from his stroll
before we headed down the walk to the studio where the very friendly and
talented Nick Davis and his assistant Simon were busy at work mixing Colin's
"Frivolous Tonight". Prior to my arrival they had finished mixing "I'd Like
That"and "Harvest Festival". While we awaited Colin, Andy brought me out a
copy of Song Stories which he presented to me as a birthday present being as
I share the same birthday with Dave Gregory, i.e.  September 21st (Clinton
video day). Then it was down to the studio to listen!

All I can say is WOW!!! Folks there is no other band doing anything even
remotely similar or as great as what I heard while I was there. We listened
and they worked on "Frivolous Tonight" for a while with both Colin and Andy
providing suggestions to Nick about things to slightly change or
redo. Although I must have heard "Frivolous Tonight" at least 50 times while
I was there, I am not in the least bit tired of it. It's the classic olde
tyme Noel Cowardish/Ray Daviesesque song that Song Stories hints at. Colin's
vocal and lyrics sound great as do the brass and piano work that Dave
Gregory was present for. This song has quite a bit of Dave's background
vocal work too. It's a beauty. You'll all love it. Possibly Colin's best
effort yet.

Then Andy sat me down between the speakers and they played me "I'd Like
That" and "Harvest Festival". Stunning stuff. "I'd Like That" is actually a
bit more stripped down than the demo but somewhat different too in
structure. You'll see when you hear it. They've done a fantastic job with
it. Lots of great percussion and handslaps and acoustic guitar
playing. "Harvest Festival" is quite moving and regal and full and
orchestral with great singing. Andy's vocals sound truly superb this time

Then next day work was started on the epic and incredible "Green Man". You
will be bowled over by how amazing this one turned out. The rolling and
bombastic tympani rolls and tons of little percussion accents and the
orchestral arrangement are incredible. This is by far the most epic sounding
XTC track ever. Nick Davis is a truly inspired mixer and Andy was thrilled
with how this track ended up.  On Sunday they got to work on "Your
Dictionary" and were just about to finish it on Monday morning when I
left. This one sounds better than the demo, especially due to Colin's bass
line. So essentially I got to hear half of the album and believe me it will
have been worth the wait. This could be a landmark recording for any band
ladies and gentleman. As is the case with past albums and songs, Andy has
taken the liberty of changing a lyric here and there from what appears on
the demos.  Don't ask me which ones. You should just be surprised when you
hear them.

In the periods where Nick would be working his own or during breaks, all
would head upstairs and play some ping pong. Nick was the best one there and
Colin the least successful . . . that is until I showed up. Suffice it to
say but Colin wanted to play quite a bit of ping pong with me. (I let him
win a few times.  Shhh.) The lovely and talented Erica Wexler* was up for
the weekend too so she and Andy spent some time private time together which
allowed me to enjoy Colin's company.  He is very laid back and very funny
and I'm really glad I got to get to know him better. He and Andy have a
great rapport and have a lot of fun together.  One day the three of us took
a drive into a nearby town called Ross on Wye where Andy and Colin spent
about an hour browsing through just about every book in a second hand book
store. They like words. Colin also told me about his stained glass making
hobby which he seems to really enjoy.

(*Erica has written and recorded a very funny song called "I Hate Models" to
which Andy has done the backing track. It's a dance song and we were trying
to come up with a strategy for getting it heard on the internet. Does anyone
know of websites on which unsigned artists can make their music available?
Please write to me privately if you do. Thanks.)

Andy was busy going over the final packaging for "Transistor Blast" (which
is the BBC box set). All four discs will be surrounded by an 1960's looking
plastic radio. Each separate disc will be in a see-through case of some very
bright and flourescent color with each one having a certain image of some
little weird toy that would be found in a Cracker Jack box covering the cd
underneath. Each one is meant to represent one of the band members. You'll
see what I mean in a few weeks. It looks really 1977! Both he and Colin have
written some excellent liner notes too. Andy revealed to me that he would
like to call the album(s) "Apple Venus" but hasn't yet told Colin. Yes, this
time it was intentional to use a lyric from a song on their last album
whereas the other times it was purely by coincidence. I suggested that he
might get flak for using another piece of fruit in an album title and to
which he replied that "Snapple Penis" wasn't much better.

There was enormous amounts of food and tea consumed (including the best
mushroom soup I've ever tasted which looked like a bowl of grey flannel) as
well as almost equal amounts of "gaseous clay" released (you can guess what
I'm getting at here I'm sure.) Andy is crazy about Popeye and Ren and Stimpy
and both he and Colin enjoy nothing more than a good tv documentary about
Nazis to finish off a night. I had my acoustic guitar with me and Andy
requested a strum or two which turned into his playing my guitar for over an
hour and serenading me with such unlikely things as "Blackbird", "Rock
Lobster", "Last Train to Clarksville" and the theme from "The Munsters". He
also showed me some secret XTC chords which are really easy to play but
really difficult to figure out unless he shows you how simple they are. Mark
Cuevas had given me a few copies of "Awaken You Dreamers" to give to both
Andy and Colin so whomever is on that tape will be happy to know that they
promised to listen soon and let me know what they thought.

As you can guess I had a fantastic time and am truly touched by just how
generous and "normal" the guys continue to be. On Monday morning (mine and
Dave's birthday) I asked Andy and Colin to practice for an upcoming book
signing and autograph my copy of Song Stories which prompted Andy to draw a
great caricature of he and Colin on my copy. It was added to later that day
by Dave . . .

I drove to Swindon and got to hang out at Dave's nice little house for two
days.  He's as funny and generous and genuine as Andy and Colin were and was
genuinely interested in hearing how the mixing was going. He does remain
very fond of Andy and Colin and told me lots of hilarious and sometimes
scandalous stories from over the years. I got to see Dave's guitar
collection and several hours of stuff from his very enormous and completely
catalogued and organized video library including a great Joe Meek
documentary, another Capt. Beefheart one, and XTC doing a lip sync to "The
Man Who Sailed Around His Soul" from a special episode of The Tube in which
they parodied "The Prisoner". Has anyone seen this?

As it says in the book, Dave is a superb cook and brews even more tea than
Andy or Colin! We went for a delicious curry at Curry Garden and a pint at a
pub right nearby just to add to the Swindon experience. Dave also expressed
interest in playing my acoustic (I've got pictures to prove it as well as
several from the mixing sessions too which I'll post sometime soonish). He
dazzled me with all kinds of complicated riffs on Led Zeppelin covers, one
of my favorite Kinks songs "Big Black Smoke", as well as "Blackbird". So now
I've got one acoustic guitar that has been played by both Andy and Dave and
another one that Ray Davies has played. I feel like I should lock them away
for safe keeping before my grubby paws wipe away the magic that's locked
into them. I also asked Dave is he would be so inclined to do some electric
guitar solos on a song of mine called "Simplification" which he did and
played for me and I'm completely speechless and in awe with his
contribution. He too signed my Song Stories book, on the same page as the
caricature that Andy did of he and Colin. Dave drew a sketch of himself
hanging off the side of the page, waving his arm in anger and saying "I'm
outta here!".

Well people of the hills, thus ends my very long post. I hope you've enjoyed
the news. Mixing will go on for another week at least and then it's home to
start building Idea Studios in Colin's garage. The album will be
fantastic. You can take my thousands of words for it.


p.s. I have two authentic Partridge handwritten items next to me which I may
be persuaded to part with. One is the complete lyrics to "Harvest Festival"
with numeric mix notes along the left side and the other is a list of mix
suggestions for "Harvest Festival" that Andy wrote out for Nick Davis at one
point. Anyone have anything worthy of a trade? : )


End of Chalkhills Digest #5-2

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