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Subject: Chalkhills Digest #5-21


          Chalkhills Digest, Volume 5, Number 21

                Saturday, 21 November 1998

Today's Topics:

              Oh no! He mentioned Bob Dylan!
                      Hellish Copter
                    oranges and lemons
                    Drummer Kill Again
 Trying to taste the difference between lemons and orange
                      A small query
                       live orgasms
                      song longevity
                   Re: The Big Express
                Honey Swat Key Mallypants
                   Much maligned music
                     Shades of grey.
      Great British drummers / O&L / Phil / Wanking
   Over-produced, Sold Out, Orange, White and That Wave
                        my dilemma
                  O&L and other musings
                      O&L/BE/Nonsvch

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

Message-ID: <000901be1475$2f2c15a0$1700000a@andy-pii>
From: "Andy Miller" <andymiller@4thestate.co.uk>
Subject: Oh no! He mentioned Bob Dylan!
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 11:01:54 -0000

Hello all,

Re the whole O & L-sparked, what-went-wrong-after-ES? debate:

I've always thought that there is a clear gap between the first five albums
and all subsequent efforts, which is simply this:

Prior to Andy's breakdown and Terry's departure you have a band constantly
working, touring, promoting, pushing themselves, defining and developing
their sound from album to album - (god help me) modernist;

After 1982 they take their foot off the gas, stop touring, become more
playful in their recording approach, indulge more in pastiche and parody
(eg. Dukes, O & L) - post modern.

After all, as has been discussed here before, what _is_ a band that doesn't
tour, have an image etc.? What does being in a group mean when you don't do
any of things that groups do, except make records? For the last 15 years XTC
has been more of a concept (Idea?) than a functioning unit, as the music
industry would understand it - hence many of our heroes' woes when dealing
with the music industry.

In other words, the first 5 albums are the sound of a pop group trying to
sound like themselves; after 1982, Andy, Colin and Dave's music is an
attempt by three individuals calling themselves XTC (or the Dukes, or the
Three Wise Men, or whatever) to sound like other people (most notably The
Beatles).

In this respect, Andy's breakdown was not dissimilar in its effect on XTC's
music as Dylan's motorcycle crash was on his music - an enforced period of
rest and recuperation after five years on the treadmill, leading to a period
of retrenchment and a quieter, more contemplative sound (Mummer = John
Wesley Harding); or a contentment in just playing in somebody else's style
(country on Nashville Skyline, psychedelia on 25'o'Clock).

NB. I'm not saying that some great records didn't come out of this - The Big
Express _is_ wonderful, and there are great things on every XTC album (and
Psonic Psunspot is a masterpiece; and remember, no Psonic Psunspot, no Stone
Roses, but that's another story...).

But (and I suppose this applies to Dylan too, and the Beatles) the music
from those first five years is new and shiny and _exciting_; everything
thereafter is, at its worst, merely clever - the point where they stop being
a pop group and start being A Clever Idea.

For the record: English Settlement is my favourite, and Skylarking my least
favourite (by a long chalk - a horrible-sounding, neutered dog of an album;
Andy sounds scared to sing!). At least O & L, while being "overproduced", is
full of ideas and stuff going on.

Yes, whoever you are, The Minders album is great; and Nick Riddle is right -
after the promise of God Give Me Strength, the Costello/Bacharach album is a
half-assed excuse of a record.

Best
Andy

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

Message-Id: <199811201339.NAA27121@uks447>
Date: 20 Nov 98 13:30:50 +0000
From: "CTSWEENE.UK.ORACLE.COM" <CTSWEENE@UK.oracle.com>
Subject: Hellish Copter

I've been revisiting olde XTC albumes lately as well.  You have to do it
every once in a while. Anyway I revisited D&W, God Bless it, and I uncovered
this of the song "Helicopter".

For me, the thing that leaped out and hit me full across the face was the
exposition of puberty which I'd missed in "Helicopter".  The fantastic and
magical thing about this was the fact that it was about the female of the
species.  So there was no solipsistic contradiction here.  Just a simple
juxtaposition between what I felt as a girl and what Andy was able to
describe as a man.

When I purchased Drums and Wires with my pocket money all those years ago, I
was a mere 12/13 year old, bursting with hormonal activity, a brain
trammelled up by the lack of knowledge I have now so fortunately resolved
through my subsequent experiences as an adult.  Life was there only to dance
away in self conscious joy.  Helicopter was a foot thumping mother of a
song. For me, that was all it was.

But now I look back and realise so much more.  The squirly, squirty sound
effects at the beginning, so resonant of the internal mechanics of my soon
to blossom body, start the whole joyous experience.  Jumping up and down in
punk style, so popular at the time, was not an option.  At that age, the
about-to-be-woman feels embarassed and blushingly modest about her petalled
breasts.  But Andy solves it - 'she's standing on the ground, she's like a
helicopter'.  Released from the constraint of having to jump, he lets us be
ourselves, allowing us to stand, waving our arms, or simply swaying our
hips, to this lovely, whooshy, fertile sound.  Women on the threshold of
replicating mankind, enjoying their final moments of joyous sensibility.

In keeping with the whole west country pagan element which pervades XTC's
music (Sacrifical Bonfire, Season Cycle, Green Man to name but three), one
is also struck by the fact that Andy uses the imagery of the pagan cycle of
womanhood.  First, the virgin, then the mother, then the old woman.  All the
"airmail" that this girl is getting is caused by the forces of nature
speaking through her heightened sexual perceptions.  Air mail.  Air Male.
She is becoming susceptible to the drug like effect of the male pheromone.
Drug-like, because we all know that first love can leave you feeling stoned.
And by using the pagan cycle as an image here, Andy introduces the idea of
something cyclical and rotational, like a helicopter. Rebirth is central to
pagan philosophy, and it pervades the atmosphere down in Wiltshire so
strongly that it's almost a tangible thing.  Andy probably breathes it
through every pore without even realising.

Even more amazing is the line 'she's grown from a nice young lady to a
child'.  This, for me, contains all the wonders of the world.  For in
reality the teenager wishes to do the opposite - diametrically opposed to
Andy's philosophy - to grow from child, to woman.  But later, as the first
blush of youth fades, the desire to regress and return to childhood becomes
as compelling as the desire to reproduce.  The imagery of youth takes on an
almost mystical cloak, and shrouds our rememberance of how vulnerable we
were, constantly desiring at the time to become the person we now wish to
reject. Thus the wheel turns full circle, rotating, like the rotary blades
of the helicopter.

Fortunately, I now realise I was pissed out of my head when I first thought
all this up.  So when I played it again last night, I just boogied my arse
off to a foot thumping mother of a song, with by now fully formed knockers
bouncing with gay abandon - and thank God for that.

D&W.  What a stonkingly good album.

* ------------------------------------------------------------------

Sadly, these are my opinions and I have no excuses.

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

Message-ID: <3655A07C.3977@realtime.com>
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 09:01:48 -0800
From: chris vreeland <vreecave@realtime.com>
Organization: Vreeland Graphics
Subject: oranges and lemons

Great Debate?

Heck, what's to debate? In the end, all The SONGS are as good on O & L
as any other album, with mostly the production left as debateable. No,
it's not my favorite XTC album, but then, I'm an old-schooler who still
favors Terry's drumming. Production wise, I believe that English
Settlement was a pinnacle of achievement that in no small way launched
the further career of Hugh Padgham, moving on to Synchronicity (best
album of the decade?) and more recently, Melissa Etheridge, which should
bear a listen just for the sound, even if you don't like her
personally.

There are perhaps too many bells and whistles on O & L, but the album
contains three of my all time favorite songs- Scarecrow People, Across
This Antheap, and Chalkhills and Children; all containing Andy's best
lyrics. Was also pretty happy when Mayor of Simpleton got some pretty
heavy rotation on KGSR here in Austin, the first time I'd heard XTC on
the radio since Making Plans for Nigel initailly alerted me to their
existence in 1979.

The Big Express at points is weak in my opinion, but largely due to the
misguided use of drum machines on the majority of the album. Still
packed full of good songs, with Wake Up one of my faves, as well.

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

Message-ID: <0143041F00B7D011B7C500A0C90051511D2D78@IMA_NT1>
From: "BOB O'BANNON" <BOBANNON@IMAweb.com>
Subject: Drummer Kill Again
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 10:25:34 -0500

>>>my only gripe about the album is "president kill again", the only
song on the album that i use the 'skip' button on.<<<

We can debate for weeks about what is the best XTC song or what is the
best XTC album, but one thing's for sure - everybody agrees that
"President Kill Again" is a lousy song. Is there anybody out there who
actually likes this song?

>>Am I the only person on this newsgroup that feels that The Big Express
is one of the best albums crafted by mortal man?<<<

BE is my second favorite XTC album, clipping at the heels of Black Sea,
which has been firmly in first place since it initiated me into the
world of XTC shortly after its release. Remove the sentimental bias I
have toward Black Sea, and who knows, maybe BE would muscle its way into
the top spot. One thing's for sure -- "Train Running Low..."
"...Liarbird" and "You're the Wish..." would all make my list of top 15
XTC songs.

>> I believe Harrison asked what we're all meaning when we say it's
"overproduced", and I agree, we've all probably got different ideas of
the term/criticism.<<<

"Overproduced" means you prefer listening to the demos more than the
final CD versions. O&L certainly provides a collage of interesting
sounds, but the demos actually allow you to hear the song that is buried
underneath.

One of the biggest weaknesses of albums like O&L and Nonsuch is that
they simply had too many songs. Cut the fat off both of those albums and
you might have two excellent records. This is one reason I'm looking
forward to the new album - just 11 songs! That's perfect.

>>>Give the drummer some.  Suck it up, boys, and put yourself through
the necessary hell of teaching songs to a real drummer.<<<

I'd take this a step further and suggest that XTC should finally find a
permanent drummer. I remember reading in "Song Stories" that the band
hardly ever rehearses anymore, which is basically because they don't
have a real "band" anymore. The sterility of the group's sound in the
last several years can be traced directly to the absence of a regular
drummer, who by definition is the cohesive glue in any band.

Bob O'Bannon

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

Message-ID: <36559813.CF1F0677@tmn.com>
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 11:25:55 -0500
From: John Schoneboom <schone@tmn.com>
Subject: Trying to taste the difference between lemons and orange

I have been moved to express "not that I care" surprise that here among
presumably the most devoted fans of XTC in the world there are those who
can write disparagingly about Oranges and Lemons and Big Express.  I
hasten to be moved to add that I do not advocate the practice of "blind
followermanship" nor its corrolary "uncritical acceptancemanship" and
would be among the first (oh, twenty or so) to admit in a loud steady
voice that there are some songs on any given album that I forthrightly
like much less than any given others.

And next in my little string of sentences on the theme comes this one:
I can readily understand the disliking of Oranges and Lemons, Big
Express, or any other XTC album [imaginary italics invoked] if you think
the band is simply all wet anyway [italics dismissed].  [imaginary
footnote engaged:] My wife, for example, dislikes them rather intensely
because of the "Street Cred Problem," a stance that derives from an
"other" yet internally coherent philosophy that I have come to accept on
its own terms as Valid in its Own Way.[end footnote] [footnote
addendum]She's a Geordie [end addendum] [sorry, one more:] And I'm an
American. So there's a certain amount of ordinary culture gap shoulder
shrugging affecting (but certainly not wholly defining) the picture.
[let's move on.]

Less comprehensible to me is the uneasy coexistence e.g. between Liking
XTC Enough to be on Their Bloody Mailing List and Thinking O&L is
Overproduced Crap, as O&L (as the cognoscenti call it) seems to me to be
a perfectly full expression of XTC-ness.  Yet clearly the coexistence
occurs; clearly people have a right to their opinions; clearly the
problem is in my own poor comprehension; clearly the puzzle is mine to
solve or to lay aside in favor of amusing myself in some other way.  All
I can say is those of you in whom the coexistence resides must be
extremely intellectual.

I am now changing the subject and adding the following sentence: It is
rather amusing in a rather "would be annoying if I was the type to get
annoyed over this kind of thing" kind of way to read these "kindly in a
smug sort of way" British assertions that words like "wanker" and "arse"
are assuredly beyond the comprehension of the American Mind.  Please.
We may have short attention spans and shallow news programs, but we
would all do well to remember that when we caricature others, we
caricature ourselves (the old "ahh but that reveals as much about YOU"
gambit).  I believe the phrase is: Give me a break.  I even knew what
"fanny" meant, although I'll admit that I did have a secret sense of
"inside knowledge pride" on that score which ultimately indicates both
the relative arcanity of the term within my usual environs and my
personal and cultural separateness from it.

One last thing.  Phil Collins?  Crap.

your pal,
Johnny Ace

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

Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 18:17:22 +0000 (GMT)
From: Mandy Taylor <mandyt@central.susx.ac.uk>
Subject: A small query
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.3.96.981120181011.3241A-100000@sunx1.central.susx.ac.uk>

Has the Andy Partridge interview in the Guardian come out yet?
(ACROSS THIS ANTHEAP IS ONE OF THE BEST SONGS EVER)
I thank you,
Mandy xxx

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

Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 18:32:50 +0000 (GMT)
From: Mandy Taylor <mandyt@central.susx.ac.uk>
Subject: live orgasms
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.3.96.981120181729.3241B-100000@sunx1.central.susx.ac.uk>

Oh, actually, I still want to say something else: I don't have
Transistor Blast yet (I can just about afford.. I dunno - a banana) -
but I really can't contain my excitment on the prospect of hearing All
Along The Watchtower LIVE for goodness' sakes. How long is it? Is the
end improvised alot?
I can honestly say that I would pay 23 quid just to have that song live
alone if I had to. Which probably indicates why I'm so skint at the
moment when I think about it. mmm...
I'm off,
Mandy

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

Message-Id: <3.0.5.32.19981120190506.00814220@pop3.demon.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 19:05:06 +0000
From: The Larsons <MereBrian@larson4.demon.co.uk>
Subject: song longevity

Anybody else notice that in 5-18 Jim Slade wrote:
>  IMNSHO,
>next to Nonsuch, O&L is a masterpiece!  Very few records by my favorite
>artists have disappointed me like Nonsuch, which I sold back to a record
>store less than a week after buying it.

but then Harrison Sherwood pointed out:
>We often remark here that XTC songs tend to grow and mature for us over
>time.  For many folks, this is a vital characteristic that separates Our
>Farmboys' songs from the common herd and allows us to have a living
>relationship with them. As with the best art, each new visit with the songs
>brings fresh insight, fresh perspective.

I happen to agree with Jim's assessment of Nonsuch (only as it compares
to other XTC discs, mind you, it's still a great album) but sold it
back after a week???  Such foolishness.  It is indeed that beauty of XTC
that the greatness of their songs often only become apparent after many,
many listens - sometimes over a period of weeks or months.
* ------------------------------
Larson Family Web Page:
http://www.larson4.demon.co.uk
* ------------------------------

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

Message-ID: <3655D7BA.1437172E@aur.alcatel.com>
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 15:57:31 -0500
From: Dempsey Elks <elksdw@aur.alcatel.com>
Organization: Alcatel Network Systems, Inc Raleigh, NC
Subject: Re: The Big Express

Someone wrote:
>Am I the only person on this newsgroup that feels that The Big
>Express is one of the best albums crafted by mortal man?

I have been reading Song Stories this week and going through each album and
sort of reliving my past. This morning on the way to work I put the Big
Express CD in and fell in love again with this record. I still call them
records. Apart from the production the thing that strikes me about all of
the XTC albums are the songs.  It is not the production that captures my
attention and holds my interest.. Its the songs. Although I happen to like
the sound of this record.

--
Dempsey Elks

Alcatel USA
elksdw@aur.alcatel.com

"there is no language in our lungs
 there is no muscle in our tongues
 to tell the world what's in our hearts"

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

Message-ID: <3655EA67.C64D79F8@intermetrics.com>
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 18:17:20 -0400
From: Harrison Sherwood <sherwood@intermetrics.com>
Organization: Intermetrics, Inc.
Subject: Honey Swat Key Mallypants

Say what you like about this Oranges & Lemons dustup, it's made this digest
the liveliest it's been in months. There have been some signal-rich,
insightful and challenging thoughts posted on the topic, both pro and con,
and I thank everybody who's contributed. It also demonstrates pretty
convincingly just how falling-off-a-log *easy* it is to be simultaneously
provocative _and_ relevant.

From: Duncan Watt <kanuba@nh.ultranet.com>
Subject: Re: overproduced

> Poly-Esther: I was going to write: "You people would critic-size the way
> Jesus dressed during the Second Coming." or something half-witty like that,
> but then I decided it would be better Not To, as I'm Not A Christian.

I think I'm going to appear beneath Duncan Watt's window tonight with Pop's
jalopy and a ladder. Just in case you're wondering how to make me blow
coffee out my nose in an explosion of diabolical laughter, well, this'll do
it. The old triple-backflip switcheroo with a lemon twist.... The kid's got
some *chops*!

> From: nross <phoenixyellowrose@rocketmail.com>
> Subject: Harrison! You wordy mutha!
>
> This may be blasphemous, and seeing as I've not yet read THE book
> (bad fan, bad) I may be missing some vital information, but, do you
> really think Andy is THAT clever.

The colossal genius of Andy Partridge is that he can, in three short,
effortless, economic, elliptical verses, make me think something that it
took me several paragraphs of prose and a graphic image to express. That is
why I listen to his songs, it's why I read and post to Chalkhills, why I
unashamedly count him among the ever-dwindling list of people I admire
without reservation.

Do I think Andy had something resembling my post in mind while he was
writing "That Wave"? Of course not. As an artist he makes intuitive leaps
from one place to another, starting with raw material (a wave) and
fashioning something completely different and unexpected from it ("That
Wave"). Our job as diligent listeners is to plod clumsily along behind him,
plotting with dull crayons on grubby newsprint the effortless path he
followed from there to here. That's what my post was an attempt at. And I
happily and freely admit to projecting my own looney conjectures onto Andy's
structure--as a paid-up member of the human race, that's my privilege. You
can play too, if you want.

Like Sister Wendy before a Frangelico angel, I can only stand by in my
habit, sucking at my big buck teeth, groping for words. They're all I've
got.

Harrison "And that and fifty cents..." Sherwood

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

Message-ID: <3655F985.D1880007@mail.utexas.edu>
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 17:21:43 -0600
From: Please type your name here <mailbox-name@mail.utexas.edu>
Organization: University of Texas at Austin
Subject: Much maligned music

Oh, O&L, how we malign thee.

> Actually, the compression on O&L is, to my ears, one of the things that
> severely dulls the album. The overall sound is excessively processed.

Yep, I've been saying this for years.  It sounds like it's between two panes
of glass.  A very limited sound.  Definitely not the best sound of an XTC
album.  And come to think of it, it's also XTC at their most preachy.  These
days I only really find myself pulling it out for "Cynical Days", which I
think is one of Colin's best songs.

There are some good points though- I think the arrangement of something like
"Scarecrow People" is excellent and I have to admit that I like the
pseudo-African bit at the end of "Hold Me My Daddy", even though the band
and Neville Farmer didn't think it came off too well- it's still fun to play
bass to.

I've been missing out on this Phil Collins debate, but just to summarize my
opinion I'll have to quote Stephen Patrick Morrissey when he said, "I don't
understand Phil Collins, and I don't think I ever will."

Toodle-ooo,
Jason

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

Message-ID: <01BE14DD.A885C6E0@robert>
From: Robert Wood <wobbit@bigfoot.com>
Subject: Shades of grey.
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 23:28:59 -0000

People who think Oranges and Lemons is XTC's best album are right.

People who think Oranges and Lemons is XTC's worst album are right.

People who think it's somewhere in the middle are right.

For them, it is true.

What does it matter? We're all here because we're celebrating our passion
for one band. We like the music as a whole and certain songs, albums,
choruses, middle eights, whatever, excite us to a greater or lesser extent.
So accept that and enjoy it.

Postings like, "no he's wrong Skylarking's the best", or "Mummer's the best"
or "worst" or anything like that are *dull*. It's all totally subjective

Something that belongs to it, is "its", *NOT* "it's". That's not subjective,
that's a fact.

Bah.

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

Message-ID: <3656076D.5385@heraldonline.com>
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 19:21:04 -0500
From: BPeschel@heraldonline.com (Bill Peschel)
Organization: The Herald
Subject: Great British drummers / O&L / Phil / Wanking

Nah, Terry can't be a great British drummer.

He's not dead!

Seriously, I like O&L (second XTC album, behind Go2) and liked Phil's
pop work when he was popular (wasn't he great in "Who Killed Roger
Rabbit? No, wait . . . )

But what I really appreciate about XTC is their inventive use of words
and music. All right, I can understand why some may not like "Mayor of
Simpleton." Just another friggin' love song, right?

All right, but the way Andy expressed these feelings. Clever wordplay
wins me over quite a bit. "Please be upstanding for the Mayor of
Simpleton" may be a common phrase over in the UK (at least the first
half, which if I understand right, is simply a command to stand up. Over
here, it's poetry.

Same thing with the rest of O&L. I don't have the sharp ears or sharper
stereo, so the compression problem didn't bother me. But the energy on
some of the songs just blew me away! I'm thinking here of Across the
Antheap and Garden of Earthly Delights.

And there are songs I didn't like on it as well, such as President Kill.
Fast forward past that sucker.

And who would write a song like "Pink Thing?" Charming without being
crude? Mick? Jello Biafra? Barry Manilow?

All right, enough of that rot. Here's a stitch into the wanking thread.

"Tales from the Wank Factory" is not for the easily offended. Al Needham
worked for awhile in the British porno industry, editing magazines and
even hosting a TV show. He wrote several essays about his experiences in
a writing style that is uninhibited and raunchy.

He writes: "For two and a half years, man and boy, I suckled at the teat
of Old Mother Pornography, working for one of the UK's biggest
publishers of smut. At a rough estimate, I must have witnessed 3.7
million pictures of women's fannies, used the term 'pendulous breasts'
21,639 times, been looked at in a funny way by strangers 628 times, and
pretended to be an array of saucy housewifes and suburban nymphomaniacs
way too many times to want to think about. I worked for Penthouse, New
Talent, Real Wives, Electric Blue, Asian Babes, Big Ones, Readers Wives,
and other magazines you may have lost your mess over, and no doubt you
have already either envy me or want to plunge a steak knife into my
groin."

No dirty photos, but one weird one that you'll encounter when you click:

http://www.Geocities.com/TimesSquare/1959/wankfac.html

The Fano guitars looked interesting, but does anyone have an idea about
their cost? Or is it a case of, "if you gotta ask . . . "

-- Bill Peschel
Book page editor, Rock Hill (S.C.) Herald

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

Message-ID: <36560C74.E1028226@earthlink.net>
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 16:42:29 -0800
From: KenL <herne@earthlink.net>
Subject: Over-produced, Sold Out, Orange, White and That Wave

Greetings,

It looks as if the "sleeper has awakened" if you will.  All someone had
to do was trash O&L and suddenly the digest is a daily again.

Recent threads...

Phil Collins---"I could feel it coming in the air that night...OH
LORDY."  I can't begin to tell you how much I came to hate Phil Collins
back in the eightees.  Mostly because he was overplayed.  Especially the
song I just quoted.  My opinion on Genesis overall is that of
indifference.  When I was in college, my roommate took me to one of
those planetarium laser shows which are set to rock music.  And that
night it was Genesis.  Whoever put on the show was obviously a fan as
there were quite a few Gabriel numbers including Lamb Lies Down on
Broadway.  I really enjoyed the evening and was able to briefly set
aside my anti-Collins sentiments.  I have liked his work here and there.
such as his drumming on that old Robert Plant solo number In the Mood.
Mostly though, when I think of him, I think of how much he annoyed me
twelve years ago.  Mostly I don't think of him at all.  But I wonder,
and forgive me if this has already been discussed and confirmed, if the
reason he hired Hugh Padgham was because he liked the Terry Chambers
sound on BS and ES.  It's not that much of a drum sound leap from Ball
and Chain to In the Air tonight.

Harrison Sherwood's "That Wave"---My listening history has been very odd
with regards to Nonsuch.  The album was released, I was underwhelmed, I
set it aside.  I kept returning to it over the years because I would
suddenly become enamoured of one song or another.  that song would find
its way on to the latest mix tape I had made for my car.  First It was
Dear Madam Barnum and Humble Daisy.  Then it was Crocodile.  Then
towards the beginning of this year...yeah that's right 6 years after the
album came out...I got into That Wave.  I don't think I could come up
with such an epic essay to describe it as did Mr. S. though.  the best I
could probably do is "'Duh, I like the part where he says "I fell down
to the bottom of the sea'".  I felt like I was back in college reading
that thing.  I appreciate the passion behind it though.  I wish I could
get that worked up about something that I could write about it with such
ardor.  Maybe I should stop trying to make it in Hollywood and just
write a passionate defense of My Weapon.

Selling Out and Overproduction---To me someone sells out when they do
something that is totally the opposite of all they have claimed to be
about.  Kind of Like Hitler doing a public service announcement for the
Jewish Anti-Defamation League.  Most of the time however it's a little
more subtle than that.  Did REM sell out by leaving IRS to go to WB?  Or
had they already sold out when they released Document?  Or did they just
get tired of mumbling?  Who knows?  Most of the time when people refer
to "selling out", they mean "becoming popular".  There are those who
believe that if someone becomes famous or makes money, then they are
inherently a Sell out.  This is a belief that I despise.  To me someone
is a sellout if they try to deny or shun their own popularity.   Like
Eddie Vedder crying about being famous or REM refusing to be in their
videos for eight years.  Fortunately they both seem to have gotten over
that.   I remain convinced that this issue was what lead Kurt Cobain to
kill himself.  Well that and drugs.  But you could tell on some level it
REALLY bothered him that people called him a sellout.

As for XTC...As far as I could tell, up until Mummer, they were
commercial to some extent.  They were working with top or soon to be top
producers.  They had hit singles in England.  They were getting
significant college airplay in the US.  I really believe that if they
had managed to make it through the English Settlement tour they would
have been huge in the states.  That non-show in LA was at the Palladium,
which is a significant LA venue.  The next step up would have been the
Universal Ampitheater.  Senses Working Overtime and Ball and Chain were
in the MTV rotation.  They were making headway.  They were signed by
Geffen for Christ sakes.  That used to be a big f**king deal.  Anyway if
the Mummer/Big Express period is viewed as their commercial doldrums,
then they sprung back with Skylarking.  And lest we forget, Todd
Rundgren was/is a "commercial producer".  Psychdelic Furs' Love My Way
wasn't that distant a memory when Skylarking came along.
but nobody looks at Skylarking as  too slick or overproduced.

Over-production is in the ear of the beholder.  For me it's when
something is polished in the studio to the point where whatever edge I
SENSE it might have had is removed.  Or when there is just way too much
overdubbing and 76 million tracks and such.  The most overproduced album
I heard in recent years oddly enough was an Eddie Murphy solo album, the
name of which eludes me.  It was his wannabe Sgt. Pepper.  Everybody and
his R&B mother played on that Quincy Jones beast.  Yipes.

The only over-produced XTC album, based on my above stated definition of
what is overproduced, would have to be the Big Express.  Now I really
like the Big Express, let me make that  VERY clear, but it is a little
overdone production-wise.  Compare the Play at Home version of Train
Running Low...to the album version just to give you an idea.  I mean was
it really necessary to have all that shit going on all the time
throughout that whole album?  But hey that's why many people love it.
If someone sliced This World Over off of it it would be perfect. (Boy
I'm really asking for it)

Now to the album that brought all this up...

Oranges and Lemons---My first exposure was the Mayor of Simpleton single
b/w One of the Millions.  I really liked One of the Millions so I was
looking forward to the album.  Ultimately I think the album is not the
best of theirs simply because some of the tracks IMHO, are not that
classic.  Examples that come to mind are Pink Thing, Hold Me My Daddy,
King for a Day and my least favorite Here Comes President Kill Again.
Since there are no bad XTC albums...only lesser favorites, I would say
O&L is not their best as a whole but I don't see it as a sellout.

When I think of the album I think of a happy time when XTC was actually
on the radio, and on MTV and sort of touring  (again on the radio) and
even playing LIVE (gasp) on the David Letterman show.   I hope they make
something close to a similar effort, or as much as they can as a duo,
for the new stuff.

I don't see O&L as slickly produced.  I sort of see it more as somewhat
stripped down.  After a "pastoral record" and a psychadelic one, maybe
this is what the boys wanted.  But they couldn't resist a few flights of
sonic fancy.(Garden of Earthly..., Across this Antheap).

Boy I am starting to ramble.  I've been typing forever it seems like.  I
just wanted to chime in about O&L and I just got a bit lost in the fog.
Hope I sorta got my point across.

And ONE MORE THING...

Why is it that WHITE MUSIC is treated like a stepchild around here?  I'm
too tired to write a huge defense of it but COME ON people.  I would
really like to hear some discussion about why so many Chalkers see it as
their least favorite.  Hell one of us even traded it in!  Not that I
will complain about that as I once traded in THE LURE OF THE SAVAGE and
later had to go get it again.  Still found it
unlistenable...COMMERCIALITY my arse...Well maybe I'll feel different
now.  I haven't heard it in ten years.  Harrison, let's see you take
that one on.

Cheers,

KL

np---Belle and Sebastian---The Boy with the Arab Strap

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

Message-Id: <3.0.2.32.19981120225524.006ab464@mail.interlog.com>
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 22:55:24 -0500
From: David Oh <davidoh@interlog.com>
Subject: my dilemma

greetings fellow chalkhillians,

i'd like 2 get a copy of 'trans-blast', so i went 2 me local hmv (i know,
big mistake!). this is what i found out...

it won't b released in canada until december 1st. ok, i've waited 4 xtc
material  b4, so i can wait just a little longer. then i asked how much it
would cost...

now, i know the canadian peso has taken some big knocks this years, but
they want 2 charge me $85.00 + taxes (15%!). that's $97.75 total,
$24.44/disc! an outrageous sum, even 4 xtc! i mean, i really like the lads,
but i think that it's way 2 much 2 pay, any1 else agree?

i guarantee that i will b shopping around, but anyone in the toronto area
know where it can b bought @ a reasonable price?

also, is the box set really worth that much 4 material i already have? some
of the material seems 2 b on 'drums & wireless', r these the same
performances? is the live material any better than or the same as 'bbc1:
live' & 'drums & wireless'? have i missed, or am i missing anything? i'm so
contused... ouch, that hurt!

pee-ess: check out imagineradio.com, you can programme your own fave 2nz 2
listen 2 & the frequency (or not) that each artist will b played while
online, & yes, xtc are available.

thanx, yours in xtc,

davidoh
 \            \     _
  \  /\ \  /|  \   / \ |_|
/__\/ _\ \/ |/__\  \_/ | |

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

Message-ID: <19981121041158.19625.rocketmail@web4.rocketmail.com>
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 20:11:58 -0800 (PST)
From: Cheryl <cxtc@rocketmail.com>
Subject: O&L and other musings

Hey Chalkheads,

O&L a loser? Huh?  Although I do have to admit this
album contains one of my least liked songs, "The
Loving".  I do skip through more songs on this one
than on others.  On the other hand, it was the first
I thought of to test the sound on my new computer.
Why is this I wonder...I can be so lame to express
what I'm thinking but here goes anyway.

I guess what people are terming ( is that a word?)
Overproduction, that glossy BIG sound to my
uneducated musical ears, has a certain satifaction to
me.  The songs I like on this album sound so lush and
complete to me.  It certainly sounded great on my
computer.

I can't call this album a loser.  It certainly filled
a hunger at the time I discovered it.  Can't look
back at a great norishing meal and pick it
apart...pun intended. Yes, I know it was bad. : )

Paul Brantley oh so eloquently wrote:
>adsopfiuasdfopiuwerkjhkaj ghasdg[poiusdgkl;jhwe
>rthjasdfopiuasdkjhwetjkhaospidgaksjdhglksjdhg0
>ouerlkwerlkjglkahsdglkhsdfpoisdflwkjeht-weit;
>alsklxkchblkuwopeiuweoihaskljdhnzxkcjnvoasidjvpaosifwo>eihkhashjkdva;skjdh.
Took the words right out of my mouth.
You are a hoot, Paul!

The ever clever James Dignan chirped:
>I wonder if Americans think "pissed as a newt" means
>"angry as a the Speaker of the House"
Isn't that what it means? Hee! Hee!  That was funny.
Good one James, you get ten points for that one!

Hey Mister Petah Fitzpatrick, do you know if the band
plans to do any more of those nifty RIFF internet
chats for the promotion of the album?

Good lord I'm ill. Okay I'm going to stop blabbering
here and go nurse myself back to health.

Keep healthy everyone,
Cheryl

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

From: Stroo@aol.com
Message-ID: <570075c.3656549a@aol.com>
Date: Sat, 21 Nov 1998 00:50:18 EST
Subject: O&L/BE/Nonsvch

I must say I'm disturbed by the BE/O&L/Nonsvch bashings.  I think what these
criticisms do is further underscore the greatness of XTC.  To me, sorting
their releases from my favorite on down doesn't mean I don't enjoy the ones
near the bottom.

The truth is, they're all damn good.  For the record (no pun intended), BE
is also one of my faves.  O&E granted has a more mainstream sound but that
is NOT to be confused with selling out.  The Mayor of Simpleton is
beautifully written pop that deserved the generous airplay it received here
in the states.  The fact it is pop does not make it a sellout.  You want
proof?  How about "...I can't have been there when brains were handed out".
And Nonsvch, while not one of my faves, still burned a hole in my CD player
from excessive use.  The problem that I see with it is that there may be too
many songs that sound alike.  I mean, think how "Wrapped in Grey" might
sound placed in the middle of Skylarking or Mummer.  But the album's
similarities also create a reflective, middle-aged mood.

We simply need a new album to sing the praises of.  Please don't tell me
there's any truth to the "early spring release" rumor!

Bob

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

End of Chalkhills Digest #5-21
******************************

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