Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills Digest #6-13

          Chalkhills Digest, Volume 6, Number 13

                Thursday, 20 January 2000

Today's Topics:

                    Awards..for what ?
                     related artists
              It's fabuliciously poptastic!
                 Rheostatics VS. Adam Ant
                 VH1 And other trite shit
                 XTC in Back To The Beach
                   This Is A True Story
                       Mass Debate
                       Re: Cobblers
                     Respectable Road
                     Andy on the Web
                 Virgin Can Kiss My......


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Kiss goodbye to my hopes.


Message-ID: <>
From: "Andrew Gowans" <>
Subject: Awards..for what ?
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 11:05:03 EST


Catching the bitches about the Grammy's and other awards that seem to
ignore most music of quality in favour of pap and I agree. I must,
however, admit to total ignorance of how the selections for these awards
and the winners are arrived at. With the Oscar's I believe the nominees
are from lists tendered by the studios (how this works for the "Foriegn"
films I don't know) and the members of the Academy make their selections
and vote on these - something like that.

I don't know if this process makes it any more representative of the
relative quality/worthiness of the films, but it does avoid awards based
upon success at the box-office alone. It is ironic to note that a few
years ago it was reported in the US that the main target demographic for
films was pre/early-teen females from Hispanic backgrounds...similar to
what Dom observes holds for music in the UK, except for the Hispanic
bit. Similar reasons too, they spent more money than other groups in

I wonder whether A & C would accept a Grammy, or similar, if it was
offered ? REM did.

Lastly, before the annual engorging season I posted details of a very
tasty Garrard (made in Swindon) record turntable manual (printed in
Swindon). This is still available for collectors, vintage Hi-Fi buffs,
retentives etc. Free to a good home ! Mail me off-list.

Andrew Gowans
"An award is not worth the paper it's printed on"
-A.Gowans (With apologies to Samuel Goldwyn {dec.})


Message-ID: <>
From: "garret harkawik" <>
Subject: related artists
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2000 20:51:43 EST

According to the related artists section on CDNow for XTC, XTC once
collaberated with Andy Partridge.

Who ever would have guessed?


Message-ID: <>
From: "Duncan Kimball" <>
Subject: It's fabuliciously poptastic!
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2000 20:22:04 PST

Dom ... could it be that ... you are showing your age?

>Subject: Whey-Faced Muppets
>David Seddon wrote...
>>If they are a barometer of public taste then it seems that it's only
>> >>12-15 year old girls who are buying singles.  That can't be so, so
>> >>what's happened to mass >>taste?
>I'm afraid it IS so, and I'm surprised you hadn't spotted it
> >earlier.....the UK singles market is now aimed almost entirely at >12-15
>year old girls,

With a sense of deja-vu, I'll venture this opinion again:

Wasn't the singles market ALWAYS aimed at that age group? I don't see many
middle-aged men in films of Beatles concerts, do you? It has been ever thus,
pretty much since Frank Sinatra began rocking the bobby-soxers, methinks?
Problem being .... what, exactly?

>with occasional exceptions like Cliff Richard (grannies, lunatics,
> >perverts) and various floor-fillers from the UK club scene (grannies,
> >lunatics, students....much the same really). No wonder XTC do so >badly
>in the UK!

Well, I think Cliff is a old bore but, like Ozzy, if he did not exist it
would have been necessary to invent him - and of course Rik Mayall's lines
in The Young Ones would have been substantially reduced had there not been a
Cliff at all. But I must admit I was gleeful at hearing that Cliff's
(admittedly repulsive) "Millennium Prayer" (which Australia was thankfully
spared) became a massive UK Xmas hit in spite  of the churlish refusal of UK
pop radio to play it, because Cliff ain't "cool". It was a nice pie in the
face for those snotty programmers who *think* they know what public taste is
all about.

>I suspect you've made the classic juvenile school boy error of >assuming
>that the charts are any kind of representation of "mass >taste" in the
>first place. They're not.

Well what ARE they, Dom? OK, I know the charts are manipulated, I know a lot
of worthy artists, like our beloved Swindonians, are excluded because they
are deemed (shock! horror!) uncommercial, and I know this is largely an
irrational process, guided as it is by bullshit marketing techniques like
audience sampling, focus groups etc, and corrupted as it undoubtedly always
has been. (Why, for instance, is the professional misery-mongering of groups
like Live and Korn deemed worthy of airplay, when XTC are to my ears,
exceptionally more radio friendly? Answer? It's about marketing fads and
fashion, not promoting "good taste".) But the charts do represent and
reflect something about "mass taste", however restricted the choices might
be, as Cliff proves.

>The "mainstream", if we can refer to the charts in such a way, is >followed
>and perpetuated by a minority of people. The vast majority >of people
>(something like 58 million in this country) buy far fewer
>than one record per month, and therefore it's silly to suggest that
> >Westlife are supported by the masses, when in fact they are sold to >and
>bought by shrieking mid-pubescents with no interest in a broader >culture
>and even less in anything outside the perceived >cutting-edge-ness of boy
>bands, dance acts and Shitney cocking >Spears. These are the "people" with
>disposable income
>and, arguably, the only target audience willing to piss money away on
>singles, when anyone with half a brain saw through that particular >scam
>years ago. Most people don't buy Westlife records, which I >personally find
>rather comforting.

Hmmmm ... pretty bloody large minority, old chap. How many million units
have 5ive sold in the last twelve months? OK they may not sell to people my
age, but is it any less valid because of that? Why get so wound up about it?
After all, if it wasn't for the cash flow provided by all those million
sellers, less "commercial" groups - like XTC - would never have emerged in
the first place, let alone survived. I think attacking the charts on the
basis of personal taste is a risky enterprise at best. And I think attacking
"shrieking mid-pubescents" is kind of silly, and I have to say, smacks of
both  ageism and sexism.

(And let me tell you - I was shrieking with the best of 'em when Prince
toured Australia, and I was into my 30s and married by then.)

Some of these "shrieking mid-pubescents" perhaps do become dull adults who,
admittedly, buy less than one one record per month (presumably Celine Dion),
listen to boring commercial radio, watch daytime TV and become suburban
vegetables. But many of them grow from this intial interest in one band to
develop wide-ranging tastes in music and culture at large. Many of the
people who introduced me to rock music in my mid-late teens (in the 70s)
were teenage girls who had been through that very phase - the compulsory
crushes on Marc Bolan, Slade, David Bowie, Sherbet, The Bay City Rollers or
whoever. These 'girls' grew up to be smart, capable, wise women with very
broad tastes in music, who introduced me to stuff like Roxy Music, Lou Reed,
Yes, Iggy Pop, Eno, Split Enz and much more.

>A spineless media, toothless music papers and witless TV executives
>certainly haven't helped to discourage the rampant beast of >boy-bandery,

Nor - thankfully - did they discourage the rampant beast of girl-bandery in
the early-mid 1960s (Martha & The Vandellas, The Supremes, The Ronettes) -
music every bit as "manufactured" as today's boy-band pop. Great as they
are, I defy you to listen to four or five Supremes singles back to back and
tell me Motown were not coasting on a successful formula. I don't much care
for Britney Spears, but I have to admit that her first single was a great
piece of pop music and a pretty damn good production too.

>and I share your revulsion at the apparently rock-bottom >expectations of
>most kids these days, but frankly, fuck 'em. The >majority, a much-maligned
>group of people continually blamed for >things for which they are in no way
>responsible, listen to a vast and >varied menu of different types of music
>(some being bland & MOR and >some being Atari Teenage Riot), buy albums in
>preference to singles >(because that's what adulthood does to you) and
>blink with confusion >at the likes of Westlife and (the admittedly
>splendid) Steps....but >don't worry, as one such majority-member I can
>state unequivocally >that it doesn't matter, because contrary to what many
>seem to
>believe, there is a world which exists outside the coke-fuelled >stupidity
>of the media (it's called the Real World, although I >suspect MTV has the
>copyright on that particular title) and >fortunately those of us who live
>there don't need Jayne Middlemiss to >tell us what's happening in music
>today. Let's be honest, we know so >much more about it than she does!

Hmmm - bit of a logical flip-flop there matey. Are you anywhere near
Westminster, perchance? I question your egregious generalisation about the
expectations of "most kids", though I do think that "the majority" probably
do listen to a pretty limited range of music, as you alluded to earlier. But
whose fault is that? Radio and TV, of course. It could be a LOT better and I
have always said so, but it's really part of the inherent structural problem
of capitalism, isn't it? The only way to make it work on a large scale is to
restrict variety and competition to ensure that mass-products can be made,
advertised and sold in suffucient quantities to ensure a healthy profit. You
can't blame people for taking what the system offers.

I don't entirely like it, but on the plus side, it has to be said that all
the Madonnas and Michael Jacksons and Boyzone go at least some way to
subsidising all the jazz and classical and world music records that sell
only in the thousands, hundreds, or dozens. Without that chart-generated
cash flow, a lot of that music would probably never have been recorded or
had wide release through major labels. I don't know what the actual ratio of
"hits" to "misses" is, but it would have to be in the realm of thousands to
one, surely?

With all due respect, I think your whole argument is a bit elitist, Dom. I
don't see what's wrong with letting kids have some fun and get involved in
the pop scene of the period they're growing up in. It doesn't have to be
rocket science for Ozzy's sake - it's just ENTERTAINMENT. Wherever did this
bizarre notion come from that popular music has to "mean" something or "say"
something? The hippy rock press, I suspect. Pop music is and should be a
happy, uncomplicated experience for kids, and indeed many of us "old folks"
who had favourite bands in our youth look back to those days in our own
lives with warmth and affection.

A nice example from Oz is our biggest local pop success of the 70s, a band
called Sherbet (who had a UK hit with "Howzat" ca. 1976). They were a wee
bit naff, admittedly, but they were marketed ruthlessly as teeny idols, etc
etc. In later years it became fashionable for the rock press to knock them,
especially once New Wave took hold. But behind all the hype was a great band
of very professional musicians who worked their guts out year after year,
always gave 100% for the fans, were genuinely very nice blokes, and were
justly adored for it. They got back together at the start of last year for
one-off TV performance, 15 years after they split, and it was a quite
heartwarming experience to revisit  those days and realise that they were
actually a bloody good group who wrote terrific pop songs - nothing taxing,
but good none the less - and played them very well indeed. It's a tribute to
them that in 15 years on the road they Sherbet only ever missed ONE gig. I
don't know if Boyzone will elicit the same response from today's teens in
2030, but who knows?

Turn the argument on its head Dom. I might (and in fact do) think that a lot
of what might loosely be termed "metal" music is dull, formulaic, riddled
with cliches, emotionally stunted and profoundly silly. I imagine that your
once the expletives had died down, your next response to such a statement
would probably be to say "Oh, you don't understand the genre ... that's only
the mainstream acts ... you need to listen to Such-and-such ... " Get my
drift? It depends on how you look at things, as Pooh says. Are you doing
anything different in your attitude to pop?

>>There really does seem to be a dearth of talent around.
>With all due respect, cobblers! The music industry is not currently
>interested in talent, so instead we get Adam Ricketts and countless >other
>pointy-nippled, bound-to-be-gay, whey-faced muppets gyrating >and gurning
>on the's a shitter for sure, but the off-switch >beckons and no
>one's forcing you to accept the Top 40 as any >indication of how creatively
>healthy the music scene is. Damn it, >these bands have nothing to do with
>the music scene as I'm sure you are aware.

Also with all due respect - bollocks yerself! Current pop music may not be
"cool" or "deep" or very meaningful (was it ever?) but dismissing it out of
hand like that is ridiculous. Your definition of "talent" is also rather
selective. I might not like what a lot of these bands do, but I'm hardly
likely to believe that they can sell that many records and do sell-out
concert tours without having at least a basic talent for performing. I never
really liked Take That, and found them pretty lightweight, to say the least
- but I will happily concede that they were all extremely good singers, and
fine performers. And if nothing else, these bands are giving the "real"
musicians - songwriters, engineers, producers, session players and singers -
a lot of very lucrative work. I am a big advocate of live music performance,
and these big pop bands also mount big expensive tours which provide lots of
work for lots of people and provide a bit of glamour and spectacle in
people's hundrum lives. What's wrong with that?

As I've said before - even the fluffiest pop of the 60s, like The Monkees or
Sonny & Cher or Petula Clark - was composed and played by the very best
musos in the business. The Monkees were bagged relentlessly when it was
revealed that they (gasp!) did not play on their own records. Ironic, when
you consider how many session players The Beatles were using at that very
time on their own records. Doubly ironic, because as soon as the Prefab Four
started writing and performing their own stuff, their career took an
irretrievable nosedive. And now such records - so disdained by "serious"
critics of the day - are being rehabilitated. Look at the rebirth of Burt
Bacharach. Ten years ago NOBODY would have dared to say his music was cool.
Now he's as hip as they come. Even The Ultimate Northern Lad,  Noel
Gallagher, likes him.

What IS the problem with pop? It's just one facet of the industry. Not
liking it is, of course, your right, but you can't just toss it aside
because it doesn't meet your high-falutin' criteria for what is or isn't
cool or important.

>Just don't spend too much time bemoaning the existence of the >kiddie-pop

Erm ... wasn't that what you've just done, at some length?

Well, I've run out of hot air. Time to relax with a nice soothing cup Dr
Depravo's Wonder Brain Tonic and put on a nice Mrs Mills record.

Evenin' all ...


Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2000 21:22:28 -0800 (PST)
From: Tyler Hewitt <>
Subject: Rheostatics VS. Adam Ant

I got sent the following  in an e-mail from a former
Chalkhiller and thought I'd pass it on.

at the end of the rheostatics album 'the blue
hysteria' there is one of those trick songs that comes
on after about six minutes of silence called 'my first
rock concert'. its a live in the studio throw away
tune, real simple acoustic strumming and singing, and
he's talking about his personal history of rock n
roll. his first concert was ELO and then rush i think,
and then it gets into how he discovered punk and new
wave... anyway the lyric goes like this:

>The Specials, Gang of Four, and all the new wave.
>I saw the Birthday Party play with Nick Cave.
>I saw XTC twice, I thought Paul Weller was Christ.
>I even met Michael Stipe, he was distant, but he was nice.

This makes, what-three songs that XTC are mentioned
in? SOmeone should stark keeping track of them.
Someone else, I mean. Not me.


Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2000 21:34:20 -0800 (PST)
From: Tyler Hewitt <>
Subject: VH1 And other trite shit

What's most right
and most wrong with the VH1 list?

Basically, what's wrong with it is that i could give
two shits what some panel of experts or the voting
public or whomever considers to be the 100 best songs
of all time. I've come to the conclusion that these
lists are not only useless, but also bloated with

I don't mind individual's best of lists (although I
was getting pretty weary of reading them in
Chalkhills), individual lists say something about the
person who made it. I do mind being told that one song
is better/more important than another by A bunch of
people I don't know. Some songs ARE better than
others. Most  are obvious-Hey Jude is better than
Disco Duck. Why we need a list to tell us that Respect
is better than Sittin on the Dock of the Bay is beyond
me. Prove it! I read the #1 song on the VH1 list,
realized that the whole list was pointless and full of
shit and stopped reading immediately.

Wow- I just used the work shit four times in one post!
Is that a record?


Message-ID: <000a01bf625f$51fccb40$7c5791d2@johnboud>
From: "John Boudreau" <>
Subject: XTC in Back To The Beach
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 17:29:00 +0900

Re-reading Kingsley Abbot's " Back To The Beach : A Brian Wilson and The
Beach Boys Reader " , and came across this mention of XTC in regards to
Brian and Van Dyke's collaboration on the * Smile " project :

 ... a great deal of people have been affected strongly by their unreleased
work from the 60's . When confronted with the reality that diggers like XTC
have produced amazing , contemporary music directly influenced by * Smile *
, and alternative bands such as Velvet Crush can lovingly title their most
recent LP * Teenage Symphonies To God * ( a reference to Wilson's simple
explanation of the * Smile * music in 1966 ) , both parks and Wilson seem
able to somewhat overcome the pain of what they consider a lost opportunity
. " Yeah . I just have this to say " , pontificates Wilson about this fine
musical hour , " I say that , like , if ... if what Van Dyke and I did in
the 60's means a lot to people , then I'm proud that I did it . Proud that
we did it , if it helped out , meaning spiritually , or anything . We did
some heavy shit there . "

Just thought I would share that with you all ...

Sushiman John


Message-Id: <>
From: "Clinton, Martin" <>
Subject: sez:
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 11:09:07 +0100

Apple Venus Vol.2
Our Price: #11.89

This item will be released on 3 April, 2000. You may order it now and we
will ship it to you when it arrives.

Audio CD ( 3 April, 2000)
Label: Cooking Vinyl;
Catalogue Number: COOKCD194

Anyone know if this is the official date??



Date: 19 Jan 2000 04:40:25 -0800
Message-ID: <>
Subject: This Is A True Story

A few Sundays ago, at about 3 minutes of noon, I pushed "play" on song
1 of Nonsuch. Everything was flowing as normal until "had him nailed
to a" and the accompanying glockenspiel. The bell had such an echo
that I must have looked like a dog trying to locate the sound. I
paused the CD and the bell kept going! It was noon and the church on
the corner was tolling the start of the service! Same note! Same
rhythm! BUT THERE'S MORE! After the church bell sounded twelve times,
without missing a beat a crow started mimicking the bell! Same note!
Same rhythm! This is true! It really happened! You could have heard
the pop-fizz as my mind actually blew!

Oh yeah!


Message-ID: <007a01bf627e$c5821060$23b801d5@default>
From: "David Seddon" <>
Subject: Mass Debate
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 12:51:49 -0000

Dom said:

>I suspect you've made the classic juvenile school boy error of assuming that
>the charts are any kind of representation of "mass taste" in the first
>place. They're not.

Three points:

1."Mass taste" a way yes: they are the media's taste in the same way
that popular acts of the past were.  Sometimes the media's taste and wider
fashion tastes coincide.  Not at the moment.  Pop music has been reflected
by the media and public fashion for decades.  The Beatles, mods, rockers,
teddy boys, glams, punks etc etc . They affected the way we viewed society.
In some ways they even changed parts of society.  Often this was by force of
personality or talent.

>>The "mainstream", if we can refer to the charts in such
>a way, is followed and perpetuated by a minority of people. The vast
>majority of people (something like 58 million in this country) buy far fewer
>than one record per month, and therefore it's silly to suggest that Westlife
>are supported by the masses

A small minority of the British public bought punk records,  but the punk
phenomenon changed what you saw on the high streets of Britain. I don't see
any of the boy/girl bands changing anything.  They have neither talent nor
the interest of anyone over 15.  Frankly they have nothing to say.
Unfortunately they are ubiquitous despite being incredibly dull and
formularised.   It's not a question of being supported by a majority since
no music apart from singing "Happy Birthday" and nursery rhymes to your kids
is.  Being a "mass" interest does not necessitate the involvement of the

There's a dumbing down of media pop darlings and those acts appearing to
make the news, which reflects the pop charts.  Posh Spice is never off the
front page, Westlife seem to be on loads of chat shows and tv shows. Part of
this is down to Jarvis Cocker, Blur and Oasis disappearing for a year,
perhaps.  If you look at the album charts, they're healthier but not by a

So, I would argue that there is a connection between the charts and wider
mass taste, and that at the moment it is a weaker one than at many moments
in the past (by no means all!).

2.With due respect, you're missing one of my points, or at least dancing
around it.  I made a point about time.  What is a weak genre to start with
is getting weaker due to repetition and lack of originality.  The pop charts
have been dominated by a long succession of boy and girl bands, (including
the deplorable Steps!), for some years now!!  It was partly the longevity of
this tosh as the base (in more ways than one) unit of the charts that
worried me in my last mailing.  At times in the past the charts have been
dominated by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Slade, glamour rock (Queen
etc), Abba, punk, new romantics, Elvis Presley and stuff from Grease and
S.N.Fever.  These were mostly people performing original songs not rehashes,
and largely they were not designer-created acts.  Perhaps, they all ran out
of fizz at the end, but there was some musicianship in there.   We have now
had non-musicianship dominating proceedings for (let's be conservative) 5
years.  If you believe, as I argued above, that the charts have been
important, then the boy band/girl band genre could be viewed as a cancerous
growth that is killing them off.  If so, then it is a growth that no new
movement of music has managed to remove.  Perhaps this is partly because of
record company execs counting their money.  It has to be easier to create a
new band in a test-tube by mixing together a few good-looking kids than
going out trying to unearth some genuine talent.  To me, the smell of
stagnation is overwhelming.

As for club/dance music...that would require a different set of arguments
that I can't be bothered to make right now.  Suffice to say that that is
also formulaic, repetitive and uninspiring outside of a night club.

3. The argument about singles being a waste of space is superflous.  Yes
they are, and they always have been.  That's a constant.  Quality of music
in the charts isn't.


Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 08:45:03 -0500
Subject: Re: Cobblers
From: "Duncan Watt" <>

Lawson Dominic <> expurged:

>With all due respect, cobblers!

Being a 'Merken and all, and having a penchant for strange swear-y things
from other countries(hehe... he said...), I'd like to know exactly where on
the Scale Of Cuntness "cobblers" comes(hehe... he said...)in, as I'd like to
begin saying it whenever I disagree with anything from here on in("One Of
The Millions"? Cobblers!), but(hehe) I'd want to know if it has any Teeth.

Big Ol' Duncan Watt

ps Could it be modified? As in ""You Can Call Me Al"? Fucking cobblers!"

Kanuba Music


Message-ID: <002f01bf62a6$884241c0$929cbc3e@debraedm>
From: "Debra Edmonds" <>
Subject: Respectable Road
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 17:53:30 -0000

Hi Chalkies

Have any of you ever thought about moving here to Swindon?  Nah, I thought
not - nothing much to tempt you here I guess, except for the odd sighting!!

Well, maybe this will do it?  The house one door away from Andy's has just
come up for sale!  It is a very nice Victorian end-terrace house in a
tree-lined road in Old Town, Swindon.  (Yes, Andy officially lives down a
"road" rather than a street or avenue).  Just think, you could have a room
with a "shed" view from your back bedroom windows!

Now I know Mark Strijbos was thinking about possibly moving to Swindon one
day, but I reckon this might just get him packing    :)

Bye for now.



Message-Id: <v03007804b4abc88c0f73@[]>
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 15:04:59 -0500
From: Mitch Friedman <>
Subject: Andy on the Web

Yes, you heard me right . . . sort of. Andy admitted that he and Colin and
Nick have been laughing themselves silly with the humor found at recently. It's a parody of a British tv listings page,
updated every fortnight. The material is offensive, disturbed, surreal,
crazy, i.e. funny. Believe it or not but Andy as contributed about 13
pieces of his own, some of which will be featured in upcoming editions
. . . but no credits are given to contributors so you'll have to guess
which are his. One clue I can give you . . . think 'nazis' for one of them.


Message-ID: <>
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 13:14:34 -0800 (PST)
From: Molly Fanton <>
Subject: Virgin Can Kiss My......

Mitch wrote:

<<Fuzzy Warbles is still being worked on but recently Virgin has called to
say that they are making a definitive XTC box set and would Andy have any
demos around? He said no and expects there might be some dispute over Fuzzy
Warbles because of this. I was incorrect with the earlier news that it will
only contain unreleased songs. In fact it will be half unreleased and half
demos of songs from earlier XTC albums.>>

IMHO Virgin can bite me.  They really screwed with the fellas, and I'm now
mad that they want to put out an XTC boxed set.  I won't buy it, even if
it's XTC.  I'll pray that Fuzzy Warbles comes out.  Let's all keep our
fingers crossed.


Molly's Pages


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