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Subject: Chalkhills Digest #6-63


          Chalkhills Digest, Volume 6, Number 63

                 Wednesday, 5 April 2000

Topics:

                      Stupidly Happy
          Waspish musings, and Records for Sale
                    The joy of jukebox
                      Suicide songs
                     Wasp Star Caveat
           Rita Mitsouko...and advanced copies
                      Re: Pet Sounds
                  Acoustic tour '89 cds?
                   Now playing.........
                          Kinks
            Brian Wilson/Pet Sounds "Clicking"
                  WASP STAR radio single
        I confess to the Knights in Shining Karma
              Fw: Rundgren/XTC Gear for sale
                    Little Drummer Boy
                    #12: The Bookworm
                     Mikey Likes It!
                   Wasp Star is a BUST
                   ....and sometimes Y
               I'm on my mountain preaching

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Well I stumbled / and I fell.

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

Date: Mon, 3 Apr 2000 22:54:05 EDT
From: WESnLES@aol.com
Subject: Stupidly Happy
Message-ID: <dc.23a6f34.261ab34d@aol.com>

Fellow XTCfreaks:

Short and sweet.  WASP STAR is fuckin' amazing.

With a bit of beer and three consecutive listenings you'll be attempting to
crown it king of XTC recordings, at least I am.

No long winded blah about each song, just this...possibly the best song on a
collection of fantastic material is the one song I did not want the band to
record.  I'm The Man Who Murdered Love is SO good.  It's the most laid back,
loose-ass thing that the lads have put together in a long, long time.  As the
song goes into its middle eight Andy screams "IT'S THE MIDDLE OF THE SONG!"
I, sitting half naked (hope no one is eating right now) in the middle of the
floor with headphones on, busted out laughing when I heard Andy say it,
looked up and saw my wife staring at me like I had an Asian infant growing
out of my forehead.

I'm stupidly happy and burning with:

Optimism's Flames
http://members.tripod.com/~The_Last_Balloon/index.html

wesLONG

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

Date: Mon, 03 Apr 2000 23:34:01 -0400
From: David Gershman <dagersh@pobox.com>
Subject: Waspish musings, and Records for Sale
Message-ID: <4.2.0.58.20000403232525.0096d9e0@chelmsford.com>

So, do you get the feeling that "Wasp Star" is going to be the big
breakthrough for XTC, the one that really gets them back on track for where
they were heading back around the time of O&L? The one that gets them back
in the public consciousness in a big way, maybe even back in the Top 40?

Me neither.

Which isn't to say that I don't have complete faith that it won't be a
fantastic album, sure to be in critical Top 10 lists at year end. Of course
it will!

And by the way, for those of you who didn't get to Ebay to check my Peter
Blegvad auction last week, he's back again at a discounted price, along
with 19 other varied (very!) albums. If you want to take a peek at what's
available, go here:

http://cgi6.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewListedItems&userid=dagersh

Waiting Amid Silent Peacocks, Stumbling Toward Apple2's Release,

Dave Gershman

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

Date: Mon, 3 Apr 2000 23:06:46 -0700 (PDT)
From: Ryan Anthony <hamsterranch@yahoo.com>
Subject: The joy of jukebox
Message-ID: <20000404060646.22580.qmail@web113.yahoomail.com>

Chalkhillians! Would you like to hand your entire
music collection to a deejay and have it played back
for you, in random order, so you can get reacquainted
with all the good stuff you own but don't play very
often because, for one thing, some artists (The
Artist, to name just one) are easier to swallow in
small doses?

I finally succumbed to temptation and purchased a
300-disc CD "jukebox." Two-thirds of my 450 discs made
the cut. (If I wanted to drive myself insane I could
contemplate the *real* CDs, as in certificates of
deposit, all that money could have bought.) I
instructed the machine to play all discs at random
and, voila (insert accent grave), my own radio station
is on the air.

By Quetzalcoatl's cummerbund! I have a lot of good
stuff I'd forgotten about: hard and soft; sacred and
damnable; chart-topping blockbusters and obscure
rarities; masterpieces and dreck; and my small stash
of stuff somebody somewhere wanted to throw on a
bonfire, including Eminem, 2 Live Crew, Holly Dunn's
feminist-irritating "Maybe I Mean Yes," the Residents'
"Third Reich 'n' Roll," and a certain "Dear God."

XTC content? Nacherly: 16 of the 300 slots, including
the Dukes, Martin Newell, and the Testimonial Dinner.
That's fewer than half of the slots which carry the
collective and solo works of the Messrs. Banks,
Collins, Gabriel, Hackett, Phillips, and Rutherford,
but 16 is still pretty generous. More than enough to
ensure that any listening session will include a dose
of the all-important vitamin X.

I'm having big fun listening and I'm sure you would,
too. But I made a mistake I think you should consider
avoiding. Instead of buying a 300-disc jukebox, I
should have bought a pair of 200-discers. There would
have been several advantages to the latter course.
First, the pair of 200s would have cost no more than
the single 300 (yes!); second, stacked, the pair would
have a smaller "footprint" (the 300-discer is a
biiiiig mutha); third, expressed mathematically, 200 x
2 > 300; fourth, twin players can be linked and
programmed to play alternately with no silence between
cuts, resulting in a Wall of Sound much like the mix
that unaffordable deejay would have produced.

Are those numbers, 400, 300, and 200, too high? Think
100 or 50. Jukeboxes are made to fit every collection
and budget.

I don't have any financial interest in this, but
strictly as a satisfied customer, I recommend checking
out http://www.mysimon.com, where prices charged by
several retailers may be compared.

Ryan Anthony, hamster-rancher and independent Internet
content provider

P.S.: Quite a few 'Hills ago, someone referred to Andy
Patridge as a notorious technophobe, or words to that
effect. Yet in the liner notes to *The Greatest Living
Englishman*, Martin Newell writes, "Andy spent hours
and hours doing very clever stuff with a computer."
(Yes, the context makes it definite that Mr. Newell is
referring to Mr. Partridge.) What is one to make of
this Luddite/Alpha Geek dichotomy?

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

Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 06:41:13 -0500
From: "Christopher R. Coolidge" <cauldron@together.net>
Subject: Suicide songs
Message-ID: <l03130301b50f826ac4c4@[208.13.202.211]>

>Life without the Kinks would not be worth living. Oddly enough, though, I am
>reminded of a news item I heard, many years ago, that claimed "Waterloo
>Sunset" ranked as the "favourite" piece of music for people commit suicide
>to.

  I can't see it. Such a beautiful song, one that would be more appropriate
to play at a wedding than a suicide(as evidenced by the gorgeous boy's
choir treatment at Saphy's wedding in Absolutely Fabulous.) More
appropriate "suicide music"
Suicide Song- Loudon Wainwright III
The End Of The Rainbow- Richard Thompson
Suicide Solution- Ozzy Ozbourne
Anything by Joy Division or Nirvana
No Presents For Vivian- yours truly

Sorry to be morbid; I've lost several friends to suicide over the years, so
consider this a sort of gallows humor and a dig at my so-called friends who
didn't have the courage to face their demons. Just feel free to pause and
reflect on how precious life is if you find this subject uncomfortable.

Christopher R. Coolidge

Homepage at
http://homepages.together.net/~cauldron/homepage.html

"A Great law protects me from the government. The Bill of rights has
10 GREAT laws.  A Good law protects me from you.  Laws against murder,
theft, assault and the like are good laws.  A Poor law attempts to
protect me from myself."  - Unknown

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

Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 12:10:25 -0400
From: christej@vrinet.com
Subject: Wasp Star Caveat
Message-ID: <OF65B3D9C3.714C4CE9-ON852568B7.0056B59C@VRINET.COM>

John Keel raved:

<<I've got to say in all honestly that every single track on the album is
great.  Andy is in perfect form and Colin's songs are all really solid.  As
always there are wonderful melodies, heavenly harmonies and - after a long,
long wait - some fantastic guitar >>

I'm SOOOOOO glad there are folks like John who will love this album,
because my initial reaction to hearing Wasp Star was something wholly
other... More like, "oh my god, Chalkies are going to be very
disappointed."  I'm not trying to squelch anyone's enthusiasm for the
upcoming release, just temper it a bit by warning "your mileage may vary."
Mine certainly did.

I won't air my wet blanket here... If anyone wants my specific concerns,
email me privately.

--Jasper

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

Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 20:11:43 +0200
From: fsolans@carat.fr
Subject: Rita Mitsouko...and advanced copies
Message-ID: <OFBC88B5AD.58AD0845-ON802568B7.00634A88@carat.fr>

Waaarg ! it smells new XTC arrival around here ! just two days without web
access, and at least ten digest to explore ! give me time, please ! ! With
the anti-pram system, I can't communicate off (I'm not subscriber, I prefer
visit everyday and see all the dailies change from John), sorry for the
potential no-interest :

William Loring wrote :  " In your "now playing" section, you mentioned Rita
Mitsouko... I have a very old vinyl LP from her and a backing band. I don't
recall the title off the top of my head, this would have been from around
1980... is she still recording ? I remember liking this album quite a bit,
but haven't listened to it in years "

Yes, William, THEY still recording because Rita Mitsouko is a band, it's "
Les Rita Mitsouko " in french. It's one of the most important rock-band in
France since the 80's, with a mainstream success as well as underground.
But rare albums, the new one comes these days after at least 7 years
without new songs. A couple (real couple) forms the band, Catherine Ringer,
an extraordinary singer and good writer too, and Fred Chichin, her friend,
an interesting guitarist and complete musician. I don't know where you come
from, so I can't be sure about the LP you had got. Their first and main
success was a song called " Marcia Baila ", others followed like " Les
histoires d'A ", " Andy " (yes !.. but no link with our Swindon Duke), "
C'est comme ca " or " Le petit train ".
Albums : 1983 " Les Rita Mitsouko " (included Marcia Baila), 1986 " The No
Comprendo " (very good),
1988 " Marc et Robert " (half good), 1990 " Remixes " (no interest), 1993
" Systeme D " (bof), 1996 " Live unplugged ", and the last, " Cool frenesie
" (good). They have a very specific and unique place in french minds, due
to their music as well as the sulfurous members reputation. Catherine don't
hide that she acted in porno films in her youth, and Fred is probably an
every-drugs good friend. At their begining, there was a TV show with an
hard (but oral) fight between Catherine and Serge Gainsbourg, a great
memory for all french audience.
More about them, William ?

And now ladies and gentlemen, I have to correct my last post (6-52). I
mixed demos and advanced copies in my POV. And I'm a lier. Because advanced
copies ARE the final form of the songs. And you know what ? I HAVE an
advanced copy in my mail box this morning !!!.
I can't believe it !!.
In one hour, I'M IN HEAVEN !!!
Gasp.

Fredo fat Bassman

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

Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 18:09:07 GMT
From: "Dominique Leone" <d_leone@hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: Pet Sounds
Message-ID: <20000404180908.53477.qmail@hotmail.com>

Wow:
>As for killing off sacred cows, IMO you can't do much better than "Pet
>Sounds." I bought it about two years ago because so many artists I like
>have cited it as an influence.
>
>I listened to it. A lot. I *tried* to like it -- really, I did. But I
>didn't. I ended up giving it to my brother, who's a fan.
>
>In fact, I've never really understood the whole Beach Boys/Brian
>Wilson-as-icon thing. Yeah, they've got good vocals and a defined style,
>but IMO none of their stuff Rocks. If I'm going to listen to the Beach
>Boys, I preferred them filtered through the genius of Andy Partridge.

I guess there aren't really any more sacred cows out there.  I would have
figured that this album would have been one of them, especially for XTC
fans.

I don't know.  Personally, I actually like the music.  That's certainly
the most subjective part of using a term like "genius" to describe a
person.  Do you *like* the music?  But it's hard to argue with the craft,
and this is the part that I think gets overlooked.  Brian Wilson not only
wrote all the music (though not the lyrics), but produced it, arranged,
and taught it to all the studio musicians.  Wilson doesn't notate music,
so he really did teach it to all the players (the top studio musicians
available at the time) and the rest of the BBoys one part at a time.  And,
he made this record ("Pet Sounds", by most accounts, his pinnacle) when he
was 24.  Without a producer (like, say George Martin).  In the face of
overt criticism from his bandmates.  Andy Partridge had only just written
most of "White Music" by 24 (by most accounts -- including his own -- his
least developed, sophisticated music).  Imagine what Wilson's pop
contemporaries must have thought, much less today's artists.

I think that despite his troubles after "Pet Sounds", it's very difficult
to argue that he isn't a pretty large figure in pop/rock music.  He may go
down as something more signicant, or perhaps he'll be forgotten and
considered overrated.  However, usually when someone is so revered by
others in his field, and claimed as an influence by many (if not *most*)
of his peers, history books don't call him overrated.

Dominique

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

Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 14:21:27 -0400
From: "Tom Paluzzi" <tmp@tmp.mv.com>
Subject: Acoustic tour '89 cds?
Message-ID: <001301bf9e62$97de5fe0$9606c90a@btrd.bostontechnology.com>

Does anybody have the '89 acoustic tour on cd(s) that
they'd like to trade for a copy??

I have lots to offer...

Thanks,
Tom

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

Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 15:02:14 EDT
From: OMBEAN1@aol.com
Subject: Now playing.........
Message-ID: <94.2951edb.261b9636@aol.com>

Theres only one CD in my player ......WASP STAR!!!!!
  Its fucking awesome. The music covers all styles. Playground & Stupidly
Happy are the best one/two punch since Nigel & Helicopter. I believe TVT is
pushing for I'm  The Man Who Murdered Love. The Wheel & the Maypole will have
you dancing in the aisles. Wounded Horse sounds like an alt/country tune from
Jason & the Scorchers.
 Get ready world!!!!
    Back to the headphones.     Roger

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

Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 21:06:34 +0100
From: Geoff Murrell <geoff.murrell@which.net>
Subject: Kinks
Message-ID: <38EA4B4A.86FE9281@which.net>

I find it amazing and very heartening that the Kinks are getting so much
exposure on an XTC site. I am a long time XTC fan and a very very VERY
long time Kinks fan (God, do I feel old!) and the music that some of you
guys are just discovering, is the soundtrack of my youth (corny but
true).

My recommended list of 'must have' Kinks albums is:

Something Else by The Kinks
The Kinks are The Village Green Preservation Society
Arthur
Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround
Muswell Hillbillies
Preservation Act 1
Schoolboys in Disgrace

...and then work backwards filling in the gaps. There is not much to
recommend after the mid 70's IMO, but there are a few gems to be found
on the later albums.

Sorry about the lack of XTC content in my only posting in months, but
trust me, you will not be disappointed!

Geoff...M

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

Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 17:03:54 EDT
From: TyphoonPro@aol.com
Subject: Brian Wilson/Pet Sounds "Clicking"
Message-ID: <33.34df8d9.261bb2ba@aol.com>

Although I am a working musician/composer, for years I tried to understand
what all the fuss was about with The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album. I loved
the band's hits, but this LP was such a radical departure, I just didn't get
what Brian Wilson was after! Moody, yearning music just didn't jibe with the
IMAGE of surfin' safari band!

What made it "click" with me (20 years after first hearing it) was listening
to the single disc STEREO mix. For the first time my ears caught the
subtleties of Brian's production and arrangements. Since then the Pet Sounds
Sessions box lives in the CD changer constantly.

All I needed was a new way to listen to it! Try the stereo/mono Pet Sounds
disc if you want to give the album another chance!

Tim Longfellow
Typhoon Productions

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

Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 17:24:11 -0400
From: "Tim Kendrick" <tim63@earthlink.net>
Subject: WASP STAR radio single
Message-ID: <003901bf9e7c$1f5d3a40$1f5a113f@tim63>

Just a quick note.  Got this direct from TVT guy.

    "There will not be a retail single released. "I'm The  Man Who
    Murdered Love" will be the radio single."

So I guess that's the song we should start bugging radio stations
in the US to play.

Later!

  Tim K.

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

Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 16:29:00 -0500
From: Jill Oleson <Jill_Oleson@kurion.com>
Subject: I confess to the Knights in Shining Karma
Message-ID: <81CC73FC2FACD311A2D200508B8B88AA0D6F74@KURION_EXCH>

I must confess.  Quick.  Before we move on to the gasping
enthusiasm that will no doubt accompany "Wasp Star, AV2."
After nearly a year of listening to AV1, "Knights in Shining Karma"
has become my favorite tune on the album.

It started one hopelessly late night, working after-hours chained to
my desk chair... alone in a concrete-and-glass office building with
only the FM radio to keep me company.  An hour-long block of
music came wafting up to my ears as I concentrated on typing my
way toward the deadline that meant my freedom.  And sleep.

The DJ had chosen several gentle, introspective songs -- none of
which I remember now.  Then I heard it... the familiar picking of
guitar strings that leads into the lyrics "Knights in shining karma,
tend your flame..."

My fingers left the keyboard.  Eyelids, heavy with exhaustion,
lowered as the tune filled my head and captured my imagination.
Although I had possessed the album for several months at that
point, I think I truly heard the song for the first time that night.
It stood out from the rest as a thing of beauty, a few minutes
of sublime perfection.  It washed over me and I reveled in the
bathing.

As it came to a close, I was haunted by the subtle ending of
the song.  Not an emphatic close, not a wimp-out fade, the end
seems to be posing a question to the listener.  A question to me.
It is a question that is never fully defined and never answered on
the album. As the next song comes on, the question is blown
away, but not forgotten.  I don't know why that appeals to me
so, but it does.  And, happily, I carry it with me, unanswered.

Jill Oleson
Austin, Texas

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

Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 15:43:27 -0700
From: "Drew MacDonald" <drewmacdonald@mediaone.net>
Subject: Fw: Rundgren/XTC Gear for sale
Message-ID: <001701bf9e87$314f08e0$ac841818@we.mediaone.net>

This message from musician/Rundgren associate Doug Powell was sent to the
Audities pop list. (Sorry if someone sent this already)

> Todd Rundgren is selling his Prophet 10 that he bought for XTC's
> Skylarking record.  That's all he ever used it for and they just found
> the thing in an unmarked case in his storage room.  It's on eBay at the
> following URL
>
> http://cgi.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=300730977
>
> The item number is:  300730977
>
> I swear I make no commission on this!
>
> dp

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

Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2000 00:57:01 +0200
From: "Mark Strijbos" <mmello@knoware.nl>
Subject: Little Drummer Boy
Message-ID: <20000404225311.BD811A6CF0@mail.knoware.nl>

Dear Chalkers,

The joke continues...

> Terry fronting XTC,
> the best I could say about that is that everybody would probably drink
> more beer and XTC would turn into The Faces.
and that's a bad thing? Rather the Faces than the Beach Bums !
The Faces' Tin Soldier ranks extremely high in my non-XTC Top Ten
Singles of all time - i reckon it's one of the best pop records ever
made.

Terry, please come back... all is forgiven; nobody even remembers
that chip shop incident anymore

yours in xtc,

Mark S. @ the Little Lighthouse  www.come.to/xtc

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

Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2000 00:32:55 +0200
From: "Mark Strijbos" <mmello@knoware.nl>
Subject: #12: The Bookworm
Message-ID: <20000404222928.4A615A6D08@mail.knoware.nl>

Dear Chalkers,

Those of you who are interested in XTC sheet music (and those of
you who can't wait for Wasp Star and are desperate for anything
XTC!) should check out the HTML version of the "Eleven Different
Animals" songbook that's now online at the Little Lighthouse

 http://www.knoware.nl/users/mmello/xtc.html

It's a very nice book with words and music to 11 pre-Settlement
singles, loads of unique pictures, amusing anecdotes and a great
introduction written by Dave Gregory - 52 fun packed pages in all !

Or, as D.G. put it so eloquently in his foreword:
THOSE OF YOU WITH ABSOLUTELY NO INTEREST IN PLAYING
GUITAR, BASS OR PIANO CAN READ THE WORDS OR HUM THE
TUNES. TONEDEAF READERS CAN LOOK AT THE PHOTOGRAPHS.
WHATEVER, WE HOPE YOU HAVE FUN WITH THIS BOOK.

PS: i have taken great care to transfer the original content to the Web
as published in the book, including all the typos and the blaringly
obvious errors.

yours in xtc,

Mark S. @ the Little Lighthouse  www.come.to/xtc

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

Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 18:19:20 CDT
From: "vee tube" <veetube@hotmail.com>
Subject: Mikey Likes It!
Message-ID: <20000404231920.48668.qmail@hotmail.com>

    My boss only listens to music in his Pick Up TRUCK!
Stuff like,Cake,Matchbox 20,3rd Eye,etc.It could be worse,
(this is Texas after all), So, on his way out to lunch today
I said "here,play this in that big-ass stump-jumper!" (I gave
him 'Wasp')

   He came back from lunch wid a Big-ol' grin on his face "That
  was REALLY GOOD!" said he. Said I "It's XTC". He says "doesn't
  sound like the other stuff" (Yes,I've tried before)

       You know what this means,don'cha kids?

            THIS MIGHT BE THE ONE!!!!

                BUBBA LIKES IT!!!!!

                    DAMN!

                   }---:)  <-- the pan dimensional finoid
                               formerly known as }--:)

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

Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 18:54:52 -0400
From: "Carl" <carl@laprack.com>
Subject: Wasp Star is a BUST
Message-ID: <NDBBKJBCELGEDOFJCKHGOEAFCAAA.carl@laprack.com>

WARNING: DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU WANT TO HEAR WASP STAR AND JUDGE FOR
YOURSELF

This is a sad day indeed. Someone out there put all of Wasp Star on Napster
last night, and I downloaded it all- I was so excited I almost wept.
                       Listening to it, a very sad horror grew in me,
building with each song.

                  Wasp Star is terrible. This album is NOT xtc.

I have listened to it five times now, and I can't believe our boys would put
this crap out. I am SURE that I will not be the only one with this opinion.
This disc is boring and bland.
The only song I truly like is 'Church Of Women', and even that has an
overall bland sound to it. I think the biggest problem with this album is
the production.It has put this sheen of dullness over the whole disc, brings
every song to it's knees, plodding along. I think Colin's songs are the
absolute worst of his career- and I'm really not saying that to be mean-
they are slow,with no direction, and virtually unlistenable.

C'mon- those of you who have advance copies of this album MUST HAVE HAD
THESE THOUGHTS AT SOME POINT.

             I am very, very sad.
               Carl

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

Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 19:51:33 +0000
From: Scott Barnard <gforsche@videotron.ca>
Subject: ....and sometimes Y
Message-ID: <"000901bf9e6f$2d98a480$736ac818"@oemcomputer.videotron.ca>

In #6-62 our dear friend "brown" takes a moment to remind us that:

>h-i-p-p-i-e is the preferred spelling, not h-i-p-p-y....  to call
>someone a hippy would imply that they have a rather expansive 'wrap
>around back porch'...in other words, broad in the beam if she's a
>she...and if the 'hippy' is a man then you may say that he's a
>cello-shaped fellow...

Well, duh. Have you ever *seen* Van Morrison?

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

Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 15:09:09 -1000
From: "Jim Smart" <jismart@ksbe.edu>
Subject: I'm on my mountain preaching
Message-ID: <38EA922F.BDD84B42@ksbe.edu>
Organization: 3Tripper

I've spent the last few days catching up on the last 10 episodes of As the
Chalk Hill Turns, so forgive me if some of my thoughts go back farther than
the last digest or three. Or donut.

Time to fess up. Not only have I had the demos to Apple Venus I and II, but
I have had in my possession a genuine copy of Wasp Star, the finished
product, for the last couple of weeks. Well, not a finished copy. No art
work or anything. But Holy Sheeeee-it! What a work of art the music is!

WARNING: This post is long, and it gives my first impressions of Wasp Star,
so there may be multiple reasons to skip it. Gihead, gihead. If you don't
like hearing impressions of albums before they come out, avoid this post at
all costs.

But before I get to that, let me chime in about the Kinks. Each of their
albums has a few gems that one can't live without and a few losers that
make you wonder what (or if) they were thinking. The worst albums (Think
Visual, anyone?) invariably contain a couple of tracks that knock me
dead. The only albums with no losers are Something Else, Village Green, and
Lola. Oh, and of course the Kinks Kronikles album which Mitch (and others)
mentioned is essential, though not a real album but more of a collection of
odd B sides and stuff. Even that one has a loser in the form of Willsden
Green, but it's charming in it's mock Elvis sort of way. Even the worst
Kinks song has something going for it, even if it's just its outright
bizarreness. Oh, and DO get your hands on the Great Lost Kinks Album if you
can. Now that's a classic, and a little bird once told me it is Andy's
favorite Kinks album.

Chris wrote: i shall
 >have a little time to frolic around Swindon itself - as such has anyone got
 >a list of must see xtc places for a neophyte-swindon bod? would like to see
 >as much of the town i can, but also stuff that will make this tragic
 >chalkhillers life worthwhile. any hints most appreciated

A fellow Kinks fan and I put together just such a site for the Kinks in
London called The Big Black Smoke. It is located at:
http://www.cguweb.com/bigblacksmoke/ I mention it here in hopes of
inspiring one of you to build a similar thing for XTC, noting that it
wouldn't be cool to put the guys' addresses on there, obviously, since, as
my wife often points out, people on line are all ax murderers.

Anyway, getting back to the wasp at hand, this is the most hook-filled XTC
album ever, as has been overly said already. There are none to turn off the
uninitiated, like Jason and the Args or Don't Need Another Satellite, which
are too weird for some (my wife again. Sorry honey). I'd say 6 of the 12
songs are completely radio friendly. My favorite demo was Playground (well,
my favorite demo was The Ship Trapped in the Ice, but that one's sunk,
hasn't it? And I'm still bitter), but on the final album I must say that
"We're All Light" is the song that has blown me the farthest away. I'd even
go so far as to say that it may replace The Mayor of Simpleton as the XTC
song I hold in the highest regard. Andy's voice has never sounded better,
his brilliantly weird word play is at its brightest, and the thing is as
catchy as all hell. Hip hop beat, chorus repeated lots of times, but not
irritating at all. Dang. It's beautiful.

The album sounds generally looser and less polished than Nonsuch, which is
great. I'm not sure why. But there seems to be a bit more spontaneity in
there.  It sounds as if they are having fun. The drums are all great. I
have no idea which drummer played on which track. I plan to buy the real
Wasp Star the day it is released and go over whatever notation there
is. Heck, I'm thinking of buying ten so I can give them to the guys in my
band, the babysitter, and the guy who brings the mail. It'll be a little
slice of intelligent sunshine to brighten their lives.

 The guitar playing is innovative and cool. I can't say that I miss D.
Gregory's playing, but then I'm probably not as aware of his contributions
as I should be. There's all manner of cool guitar moments on every
song. Andy's voice has never sounded better. Colin sounds good too, but I
can't say that this is his finest hour. His songs could have gone on either
AV I or II interchangeably, whereas Andy's more clearly fall into the two
categorizations...but then I suppose the whole orch-coustic/guitar pop
division was Andy's idea based on the songs he had written, and Colin's
meager offerings had to be slotted onto one or the other.

Now, before I get flamed by the Colin-lovers out there, let me say that I
am one of you. You wanna step outside and argue over who likes Colin more?
Give me any XTC album before the Apple Venus albums and ask me to pick 4
faves from each, and I'd pick at least 2 Colin songs every time. I think
I'm more pro-Colin than most, but I think he's not his usual self these
days. Or maybe it's just that Andy is sounding so damned good this time
out. And I'll stand up for the greatness of one of Colin's new ones,
Standing in For Joe, which isjust great. His voice sounds a little weak in
the quiet intro though...

Playground is great, but I miss Andy's bass, which just dominates the demo.
It slays me. Still, hearing this for the first time made my hair stand
straight up. When you pop this in, you're hair will be up there too, if you
have any.  It's the best opening to any XTC album. Of course, that last
sentence is probably over inflated by the newness of it all, the sheer
glory of possessing this precious thing before it is released, and the long
build up to owning it, but still, the thwacking of the drums is so
satisfying on this intro.  Unreal.  I like the way daughter Holly's vocals
sound, too. This song is just dripping with distorted guitar and lush vocal
harmonies. And the fact that I'm a first grade teacher and the song is
about school doesn't hurt either.

Radio ready:

>1. Playground (AP)
>2. Stupidly Happy (AP)
>6. The Man Who Murdered Love (AP)
>7. We're All Light (AP)
>8. Standing in for Joe (CM)
>10. You and the Clouds Will Still Be Beautiful (AP)

What can we do as a group to get one of these on the radio?

Stupidly Happy is wonderful. It has a partner on AV1, namely, River of
Orchids.  I propose this because they both have a droning never changing
background over which Andy sings all sorts of cool things in different
combinations. Any other Wasp Star songs have a partner on Apple Venus 1?

John wrote:
>The main character in "Standing in For Joe"  finds himself having an affair
>with his best friend's wife in another great song from Colin.  The melody in
>the first half of the verse reminds me so much of another song and for the
>life of me I can't think of what it is.

Could be "With a Little Help from My Friends". It's quite similar
musically.  Also, the rhythmic feel of this song is identical to Frivolous
from AV1. And the main riff is not unlike Carry On by CSN. Still, a great
Colin song, his best here.  but I kind of like the demo better. Probably
the Colin songs will grow on me, and I'll eat my words.

Church of Women didn't do much for me as a demo. The only thing I liked was
Andy's wild guitar lead. Well, the lead has been toned down, but the rest
of the song is awesome. The lyrics may be too weird for radio, but I am
loving this song more and more. Again, Andy's voice sounds better than I've
ever heard it. Yet, there is a flaw. There's this flugel horn or some other
sort of horn that really doesn't belong there, IMNSHO. It seems to wimpify
what is otherwise a powerful song....just a little. This song is going to
be a real fave with me for a long time, I think.

The album ends with the Wheel and the Maypole, which is way better than the
demo, especially the newly powerful "if the pot won't hold our love"
refrain, which absolutely rocks in a peculiarly English XTC sort of
way. Plus, this song is really two songs, and like the best in this
category, such as Band on the Run and Shangri La, it's the anticipation
between the parts that is the best.  When the first half is over, and the
big chords are sounding, and that kick drum beats 4 times, I just can't
wait for Andy to sing "Maypole". Very cool transition. The strings and horn
on "The Wheel and the Maypole" bring it all back together, reminding me
that this is AV 2 after all. They fit a lot better than the horn on Church
of Women. And they remind me that combining AV1 and Wasp Star into one
package off in the great wide someday might not be a bad idea.

So, that's that.

You guys and gals seem to have CD players that hold a lot more albums than
mine do. The grass is always greener when you're not keeping up with the
Joneses.  Mine only holds five. It has Wasp Star, Jason Faulkner's latest,
The new Eels CD, Catherine Wheel by David Byrne (What IS a Catherine Wheel,
anyway? All I know is that it's a title of an album, the name of a group,
and is mentioned in songs by Crowded House and XTC...but what IS it?), and
Neil Finn's solo ALBUM (I liked that discussion. Yes, CDs are albums! I'm
with you, brother and/or sister.)

And I love Kirsty MacColl's music. Is there a list for her? I'm really
looking forward to a new release by her. And just to bring it all together
(round goes the wheel), her Kite album has a great version of the Kinks
song "Days". Not to be missed.

Jim "sorry this post is so long" Smart

P.S. I wore my Chalkhills T shirt all over California last week, and not
ONE of you said hi to me. <sniff sniff>

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End of Chalkhills Digest #6-63
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