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Subject: Chalkhills Digest #6-89


          Chalkhills Digest, Volume 6, Number 89

                 Thursday, 27 April 2000

Topics:

                      Ultimate Fan?
                          Albums
                     Kubrick and XTC
            Listening Nonsuch from Apple Venus
                  midwestern pornography
      I won't be around to do the Listening Parties
        Men have gargoyles 'round their hearts....
                        Dunks=Dork
                    The Ecstacy Police
                Napster & hbsherwood et al
                 Re: XTC - It's All Good
                Please do this one thing.
                   A glass of lemonade?
                         Re: Weak
                  re: you choose poorly
           My opinion can beat up your opinion
                    Chalkhills posting

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There might be flying pigs.

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

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000 13:29:29 -0400
From: "Lieman, Ira" <ilieman@lernerny.com>
Subject: Ultimate Fan?
Message-ID: <D0980C8EF8F1D311979200508B950CCC1B6331@lny-d-exchange.ltd.com>

Chalkaholics,
I'm delurking for a moment because the Ultimate Fan Test from #6-87 caught
my attention. Thomas, you get the gold star. Let's make it a special Wasp
Star for you.
By my calculations I score 137 1/2, which I know is a lot less than a lot of
diehards here (but my first post was some time in early '95, so there.
Nyaah.). The "37 1/2" is because my son's middle name is Andrew. Technically
it's for my wife's grandfather, and there's no way we were going to name him
Amos.
We need a "Six Degrees of Separation from XTC" here though. I was on one of
the Chalkhills' Children compilations, so presumably Andy, Colin, and maybe
even Dave have heard my vocally-challenged minor variation of Dear Madam
Barnum. Would that make me 1 1/2 degrees away? I mean, I think Richard was
the one in touch with 'em so they never met me but they heard me sing (if
that's what you want to call it).
<soapbox> My two cents on Napster: It's a classic example of catch-22.
Although I found the book annoying and unreadable, the gist of it is that
the musicians want people to listen to them, but a lot of people don't want
to pay for something they don't know from yet. I believe Napster is a good
thing for everyone. If you get turned on to, say, XTC for instance, there's
a good chance you'll buy the album with the songs you like to listen to more
often. And you might then buy the greatest hits compilations, and then maybe
a live album, and maybe the back catalog or something -- I think the sky's
the limit, and Napster is just the catalyst for that. The music industry is
NOT wondering where they're getting their next meal. If Napster becomes the
"grand Internet music convention" then so be it, and I think in the end the
artists are the beneficiaries. </soapbox>
That, and I think Elian Gonzalez would make a great major league pitcher.
Just keep him in Cuba until he can defect on his own free will at age 18 or
something...
Vaya con huevos,
-ira

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

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000 19:51:49 +0100
From: "David Seddon" <D.Seddon@btinternet.com>
Subject: Albums
Message-ID: <00ba01bfafb0$7b9f3700$d89c01d5@default>

Brian asked about fav XTC.  Here's my take on it:

1) Nonsuch ... it has the more songs that are up to Lennon/McCartney
standard than any other XTC album.  I love it.  Passionately.  I'd marry it
if I could.
2) English Settlement... a classic (especially on vinyl) with great rhythmic
songs and the best drumming on any album I've ever heard.  Sod the
neighbours, crank it up!
3) Black Sea ... the best of the early albums (ie 70s).  Full of verve, it
really rocks.  They were at their best live around this time, too.  I saw
the tour at Liverpool.
4) Drums and Wires ... a close second to the above.  Some great dance and
trance grooves.
5) AV1 ... the awesome Harvest Festival is worth the admission on its own.
Some gorgeous ones and one or two I can skim over.
6) Oranges & Lemons  ... always seems very 60's sounding to me.  Parts of it
could almost be the Dukes.  Some great tracks, but some right lemons, too.
7) The Big Express ... I enjoy this one, esp the lyrics and some of the song
titles.
8) Mummer ... has its moments.
9) Go2 ... has some good early stuff.
10) Skylarking ...doesn't sound much like XTC. Sanitised/overproduced? (an
unpopular opinion that correspondence says maybe 10-20 per cent of
Chalkhills agree with)
11) White Music ... not so keen on this in hindsight, but it still has a few
good ones.

I suppose some of this relative, but i expect E.S. would come out top if we
all voted.

"When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour,
    it seems like a minute.
    But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute--
    and it's longer than any hour.
    That's relativity."

Einstein

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

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000 11:56:03 +0000
From: David Schneider <dnschneider@earthlink.net>
Subject: Kubrick and XTC
Message-ID: <B52C898F.139C%dnschneider@earthlink.net>

> Okay, now the theatrical trailer for Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" starts
> playing and I'm like "Huh?" and it keeps going and I figure out quickly that
> that's the catch - you have to watch an advertisement before the segment and
> this must have come out when the Stanley Kubrick boxed set was released last
> year which I bought the very first day at Best Buy for $99 which saved me
> $50 off the price later.  Anyhoo . . .

Wow, I had my own "The Shining"/XTC moment a few months back. I'd bought the
Kubrick box set for my friend for x-mas, and of course promptly borrowed
several of the DVDs.  I popped "The Shining" in, and must've accidently hit
the play button on my stereos cassette player along with the DVD play
button, because simultaneously to the film starting, the soundtrack is
"Vanishing Girl". Now, of course, I know "Vanishing Girl" is not played over
the opening credits of "The Shining".  But still, there was that split
second of "What the --?"  It'd probably been fifteen years since I'd seen
the film, before I'd even heard of XTC, so there was that moment of "My god,
I didn't know this song was in the film! How cool!".  Then of course,
neurons started to fire, and the realization that the film was made years
before the Dukes recorded set it. Oh well. Still, I let it play as Jack and
the family made their way up the mountain, and it worked pretty well.
Anyway, it was an odd moment I'd probably never have mentioned here if
someone else hadn't had a Kubrick/XTC connection.

Oh, and I for one didn't know about the XTC dvd you mentioned. Thanks for
the info! I'll head out and find it...

Dave

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

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000 16:47:12 -0300
From: "=?iso-8859-1?B?U2ViYXN0aeFuIEFk+nJpeg==?=" <sebasaduriz@movi.com.ar>
Subject: Listening Nonsuch from Apple Venus
Message-ID: <009201bfafb8$8f8a1de0$d5750ac8@sebasaduriz>

Hi:

My little bit to the "overrated" Nonsuch debate.
I think the key word here is transitional. Coming from Oranges & Lemons as
the obliged last reference, my first impression when listening to Nonsuch,
was that of a soft and a bit unfocused album.

Although it had some great songs in it -The Disappointed, for example,
continues since then to dispute the first places in my personal top five of
the whole XTC catalogue - , couldn't put Bungalow and Omnibus in the same
bag and expected, also, more of those punching and aggressive guitar based
pop songs, that made XTC unique.

Listening to Apple Venus (and getting older perhaps) gave me a much better
perspective to pieces like Rook, Humble Daisy and even Wrapped in Grey ( I
continue, eventhough, experiencing difficulties with Bungalow and it's
weeping chorus).

To sum up, dividing waters as it was done with AV I and Wasp Star, has made
things a lot easier for me ( and this perhaps has nothing to do with
transitions and aging but with a square sensibilty).

Again from Buenos Aires,

Sebastian

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

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000 15:51:31 -0400 (EDT)
From: "May O'Mahoney" <may5272@gte.net>
Subject: midwestern pornography
Message-ID: <387701614.956778692392.JavaMail.root@web25.pub01>

In response to Harrison's previous posting,
I propose the following for bands sinking in a turbulent financial sea:

Start pornographic websites!!!

****** Yesiree Bob - just $19.99 a month will get you all the smut and songs
you could possibly wish for!!
If insipid Midwestern wives can do it!  So can you! ***********
(Did I hear correctly when it was announced "Porno For Dummies Version 2.8"
will be out this summer?)

Noooo.........I'm just kidding.  I haven't a clue what the solution is to
this troubling subject.

I do have a clue about  one thing.  I'm glad that I haven't heard Wasp Star
yet.  Yes, truly glad.  I can stay out of all the arguments, all the
spoilers and just sit back and wait.

It's like when I was a kid and I'd get loads of Christmas candy.  I'd watch
my little sister inhale it and get sick
and I would stash mine away for a later date.  Ah yes, that chocolate
buttercream sure was tastier when I savored it.

Spoil away Chalkies, spoil away......!!!
Yours Truly,
May

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

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000 13:20:59 -0700 (PDT)
From: Molly Fanton <mfanton99@yahoo.com>
Subject: I won't be around to do the Listening Parties
Message-ID: <20000426202059.11472.qmail@web1304.mail.yahoo.com>

I won't be at the listening parties anymore for now,
because I had an accident and broke my ankle.  I'm at
my parents' house right now recovering.  But if you
feel like it you can still have the parties.  So just
a reminder of tonight's party is Rag and Bone Buffet,
and next week's will be Nonsuch.  I hope I'll be
around to do a Wasp Star listening party after I get
back on my feet.  I hope you guys have a great time,
and I'll be thinking of you tonight at 10pm EST.

Molly

=====

Molly's Pages
http://www.angelfire.com/mn/mollyfa99/index.html

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

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000 16:50:57 -0500
From: "Robert Kulick" <kulicro@auburn.edu>
Subject: Men have gargoyles 'round their hearts....
Message-ID: <s9071e7f.016@groupwise1.duc.auburn.edu>

Ok...its trite, but could I get a poll started of your favorite XTC
album, and the reason why....

"I like XTC" is not a valid response.....I'm looking for a technically
specific reason why, such as...."the way Ballet for a Rainy Day folds
neatly into 1000 Umbrellas makes Skylarking my favorite...."

respond if you care to...I've got a major XTC woodie since hearing some
new songs, so I thought it might be idle fun....

Rob

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

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000 17:52:21 EDT
From: Robeach11@aol.com
Subject: Dunks=Dork
Message-ID: <44.317d48d.2638bf15@aol.com>

Dearest Dunks,

I'd like to address this comment about me in #6-86;

<< I wouldn't waste the rope, you ungrateful wretch.  I thought about using it
 on "Robbeach" or whatever his name is. But on further consideration, I
 realised that anyone who has the temerity to criticise "English Settlement"
 deserves a death far crueller and more lingering than mere hanging could
 provide. >>

Look in the mirror. Now THAT'S a wretch.

Exactly what was it that I said about ES that kept you tossing and turning
and losing sleep? I thought I made it clear that I enjoy "English
Settlement".  Just because "Melt the Guns" -and a few other tracks- are a
little lengthier than I would like, doesn't take away from the overall
brilliance of the CD. Didn't I say that only XTC could produce a piece of art
like that? So what if it's not in my personal top 5 XTC albums. So frickin'
what!!! Don't like opinions that don't match yours? Call your mommy.

What gives? Haven't gotten laid in a while? Feelin' down? Can't push anybody
around face-to-face so you have to fire off "safe" rude e-mails to XTC fans?
How sad.

You know, I've always respected other's opinions here. I've treated
Chalkhills with class. I put in my two-cents when I feel I have something
worthwhile. I've had many great e-mails from Chalkers... indeed some even
suggested songs for my January wedding. Then, there's you....

Dunks, I am a very low-key kinda guy. But as soon as I stopped laughing at
your latest missive, I knew a reply would be in order.

If you have a problem with me, e-mail me personally. Threaten me with a
hanging then you bastard.

The thing is, I AGREE with you that from "Drums & Wires" on, XTC have been
unbelievably consistent. For 21 (!) years now. Fabulous. What is not to like,
indeed! (BTW, my least fave XTC CD is "White Music" and then "Go2"). Yet your
anger and attempted sarcasm towards me and others is below weak.

I wish we all could be as "insightful" and "brilliant" as you!!! Tell us all
your secrets! You're King Chalkhill in my book!

In the meantime, I hope you don't lose anymore sleep because of what I wrote.
Maybe you need to find Jesus, Buddha or the Wizard Of Oz. I'll leave you now
to the care of your parents. Nighty-night.

Rob
Carson, Ca

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

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000 14:22:31 PDT
From: "Edward Sizzorhends" <skylar_king@hotmail.com>
Subject: The Ecstacy Police
Message-ID: <20000426212231.44440.qmail@hotmail.com>

Dear Chalkhillions, ones of the millions,

I don't think it's a compliment when people mistake XTC for Sting.

What it means is that anything sappy, watered down and english sounding must
be our man Sting.

Now before you click those little things that spark the blowtorches you are
going to flame me with, listen. I DON'T think that some of the new XTC stuff
is sappy. The non-initiated might.

We are fans, we'll smilingly eat whatever is put on our plates. We may not
always think it's the best tasting meal, but our plates will be clean.

I am sorry to have the feeling that this album (Wasp Star), just as the
other one (AVI), won't be the dinner bell that makes the strangers come to
eat.

But as a fan, can I just say "*Burp*" (insert lip smacking, tummy rubbing
and button popping sounds here).

But back to the Sting thing---

He sucks.

The straw that broke this camel's back was the one-two punch of seeing
"Stink" singing with Puff Diddly-Daddy and singing with The Backstreet
N'Sync Boyz (I can't tell the difference).

Granted it wasn't completely broken with the release of
"The Soul Cages" but that's when the load (of crap) started getting too
heavy to handle. ANd that was QUITE a few albums ago.

If the last Great Album Stink put out was "Nothing Like The Sun," does that
mean that he can only make great albums when he has awesome musicians
playing for him?
Does that mean the musicians he has now suck? Or does it mean that he has
just lost any of the spark and beauty he once held?

Oh well, there are those who are now whining "This is an XTC list, not a
Stink list."

Well it's related - is this what's going to happen to XTC?

Discuss.

The Skylar King

"I would have made this instrumental but - D' Doo Doo Doo, D' Dah Dah Dah is
all I've got to say to you" - The Ecstacy Police

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

Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2000 00:02:17 +0100 (BST)
From: Rory Wilsher <rory_wilsher@yahoo.co.uk>
Subject: Napster & hbsherwood et al
Message-ID: <20000426230217.12954.qmail@web1504.mail.yahoo.com>

Hello Chalkies

Right, time to have my tuppenceworth on this. Check
out amazon.com. You may have heard of them. In this
wonderland of digital downloads they still manage to
sell thousands and thousands of good, old-fashioned
BOOKS (very few - and I'm guessing here - for burning)
EVERY SINGLE DAY. So, I fear, the days of the total
abolition of the record company are a long way away.

Btw, I work for a financial institution with a big
wwww presence - and yet, our customers still want to
go into branches. What can you do, eh? I think people
are going to be buying musical product, for whatever
reason (cf people who still buy vinyl - no disrespect,
that's just what you do).

Also btw, anyone got details of UK ITMWML release?
Cooking Vinyl's site is notoriously bad for giving UTD
info.

Thanks for listening.

Rory "A bad quote in the middle of your name is worse
than silence" Wilsher

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

Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2000 00:25:25 +0100 (BST)
From: Rory Wilsher <rory_wilsher@yahoo.co.uk>
Subject: Re: XTC - It's All Good
Message-ID: <20000426232525.2024.qmail@web1506.mail.yahoo.com>

Hello Again Chalkmen

Sorry, getting very frivolous tonight. I've been a fan
of XTC since the 70's - since Making Plans For Nigel,
to be precise. And I'm sorry, but I still don't get
White Music, Go2 or Drums and Wires (previously
mentioned track excepted - the high (indeed only)
point of the album as far as I'm concerned. Can
someone please explain them to me? please?
Incidentally, I have similar problems with other bands
that I like - frequently their so-called "early work"
- is really development that happened to get a
recording contract before they found their (allegedly)
real sound.

Everything that they have done since (including the
vastly underrated Mummer, and frequently slagged Big
Express) is absolutely top drawer. Nonsuch was a
refreshing "Back To Basics" return to "Good
Old-Fashioned XTC Values" after the pure exuberance of
O&L. And I love them both.

OK, you can shoot me down in flames now.

Rory "No, I can't think of a quote right now" Wilsher

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

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000 19:32:20 CDT
From: "vee tube" <veetube@hotmail.com>
Subject: Please do this one thing.
Message-ID: <20000427003220.3415.qmail@hotmail.com>

                   Go To...

         http://www.alternatech.net/jh3/xtc

      Look around,have fun, and then download...

                    XTsCheme

    What happens if you install this? (you may ask)

  Well,bunches of stuff but, my favorite(s) are (is) the sounds
you get when you empty the trash,use norton,hit a dead link,etc.

        They're all XTC sound samples! Cool,eh?

                   }---:)

P.S. BEWARE THE SCREEN SAVER!  Remember last year? They (?)
   ran a Pokemon in Japan and a bunch of kids spazed out!
   Same here! You may want to adjust the speed.

                  Maybe not!

                  TROUT!OUT!

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

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000 20:27:51 +0000
From: Scott Barnard <gforsche@videotron.ca>
Subject: A glass of lemonade?
Message-ID: <"000801bfafbd$e4f367a0$736ac818"@oemcomputer.videotron.ca>

Oh, poor, pitiful, put-upon Nonsuch. What have you done to deserve this?

Still, I can't resist an opportunity to regale you all with my
ill-considered opinions on this, XTC's very own "Metal Machine Music". I
tend to agree with F.A. (6-87) that this is an inconsistent album with some
spectacular "highs".  However, we manage to disagree on exactly what these
highs are. As for some of the choices made by F.A. (and many others, I'm
sure).....

"Pumpkinhead": Overlong and a little obvious, but most of all forever
tainted by that fucking basso-profundo/over-medicated-chick Dummies cover.

"The Disappointed": Like "Dear Madam Barnum" (and "I'd Like That"), this is
a song that AP could have written in his sleep. The (over?) production
brings to mind the radio-ready-but-substandard "King for a Day". It also has
a tendency to plod, a problem which would become manifest on AV1.

"Books are Burning": Ace guitar, but not quite the epic it would like to be.
And that "not unlike human hair" line....

But I wouldn't want to give anybody the impression that I dislike this album
(heavens, no). "My Bird Perfoms" (Colin's best since he was Red), "Humble
Daisy", "That Wave", "Then She Appeared" and "Wrapped in Grey" are all quite
brilliant, really. But for me the key songs are:

"Holly up on Poppy": Two minutes of sheer idiot bliss, IMHO one of AP's two
or three finest moments. And I hate kids.

"Crocodile":  I suspect that this is a bonus track which only I have, such
is the lack of commentary on the 'hills. Makes me pine for Gregsy in not
entirely healthy ways. This could be on "Black Sea" (there is no higher
compliment).

"The Ugly Underneath": Probably missed by many people who mistakenly believe
that they're skipping over "Bungalow".  Great lyrics and a rather nifty
Lennon/Wilson splice, I think.

All in all, then, not a perfect album (it'll come) but "Skylarking" and
"O&L" also suffer from "White Album Syndrome", n'est-ce pas?

S.

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

Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2000 00:18:13 EDT
From: Nudeants@aol.com
Subject: Re: Weak
Message-ID: <a4.38f538a.26391985@aol.com>

Liarbird and Reign of Blows weak songs?  Reign of Blows is one of his most
majestic, strange songs, and the end of Liarbird always tugs at the
heartstrings...

Black Sea and English Settlement are NOT perfect.  A good number of songs on
English Settlement do go a bit long, lets be honest, folks.  What's more,
Living Through Another Cuba and Sgt. Rock are not songs that would be on any
perfect album in my book.

Whatever

matt mitchell

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

Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2000 01:07:24 EDT
From: Powerpop10@aol.com
Subject: re: you choose poorly
Message-ID: <46.48c6493.2639250c@aol.com>

In chalkhills digest 6 - 88

Lovely Mr Wes Long wrote:

< SHUT YOUR WRETCHED PIE TRAP YOU RIDICULOUS PRICK>

I do apologise  Mr Long for my thoughts on xtc and for upsetting you so. What
was I thinking of? After your incisive criticism (see above) I have learnt
that XTC are the best band in the world ever ever. They are really great,
ace, wizz, brill, super duper, out of this world man, excellent really
excellent. I mean like wow, man wow.
And every single track they have ever ever deigned to record is a work of
genius.
And it was bad of me, ( im a bad person) to even dare to suggest otherwise.
Thankyou Wes for making see the error of my ways. I am now on a 12 point "See
the XTC light" programme. I suggest that others of you out there who have the
temerity to not like the amazing "War Dance" or the gob smackingly stupendous
"Smartest Monkeys" should follow suit and book yourself in.

Im am healed

Mr Power de poop poop

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

Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2000 15:30:54 +1000 (EST)
From: Mud Shark <mudshark1944@yahoo.com.au>
Subject: My opinion can beat up your opinion
Message-ID: <20000427053054.8868.qmail@web1704.mail.yahoo.com>

>>From : "Christopher R. Coolidge"
>><cauldron@together.net>
>>
>>Different strokes for different folks. Can't argue
>>with personal taste.

>>From : "Smith, David" <David.Smith@tfeurope.com>
>>
>>...beauty is very definitely in the eye (or in this
>>case the ear) of the beholder.

>>From : WESnLES@aol.com
>>
>>SHUT YOUR WRETCHED PIE TRAP YOU RIDICULOUS PRICK!

Which of these things is not like the others?

MS

=====
"I rail against God because I was told to stop eating paste in Sunday
school" - P.J.O'Rourke

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

Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2000 02:11:38 EDT
From: KINGSTUNES@aol.com
Subject: Chalkhills posting
Message-ID: <b4.485d85d.2639341a@aol.com>

Happy hunting, Chalkhillers!

I have been subscribing to Chalkhills for over a year now (right about when
AV1 came out and I went on line).  I've generally been to busy or tired to
join in (I check my mail late, and I have 2 jobs).  I felt compelled to do
so now only because I'm taking personal time and, of course, I'm getting
geared up for the release of Wasp Star (please!  That name!  What was he
thinking?  Damn eccentric artist!)  This is my first posting, so exuse me
if I'm nervous while trying to be pompous and arrogant.

First, I want to say that It is thrilling to see so much intelligence and
heart felt opinion in one place!  Figures it would be like that with XTC
fans.  XTC (Xcuse me while I waX poetic) is like a multi-faceted gem,
everyone seeing something differently shine, and being impelled to listen
and talk about it.  The postings on this list are clear proof.  They are
indeed special and rare!  I feel thankful to have known their music and to
have lived long enough to hear more!

Enough being maudlin.  Being new to this, I would like to introduce myself
as a musician and a music lover who has spanned a few years.  Born in '56,
I am as old as Rock 'N Roll.  As a toddler, I grew up listening to big band
& Bing Crosby (my father), Eddy Arnold and show music (my mother), and
Elvis, Ray Charles, the Beach Boys and later British Invasion (my older
brother).  When I was 8 I watch the Beatles first performance on Ed
Sullivan.  My first record purchase was the Monkees 'Headquaters' (I highly
reccomend to all of you, by the way.  It has survived nicely!), followed by
everything then available by Simon & Garfunkel.  S & G hit me as hard at
the age of twelve as hard, if not harder than Metallica or NIN does to
first timer teenage headbangers.  I now own over 1500 vinyl recordings,
over 2000 CDs & countless tapes, tapes, tapes.  (Now I own a CD burner, God
help me!)  I went on to learn to play (guitar, of course), performing in
numerous rock, pop & show groups as well as earning a degree in classical
guitar.  I currently play middle age yuppie bars and occasional folk fests
as an acoustic solo.  Andy Partridge is only 2 years older than me.  XTC
are my peers, my age group.  They arrived in what could be the most
important year of the 70s (as far as rock / pop), 1977.  Important in that
was the year that the aesthetic of the punk revolution was finally
commandeered by the songwriters.  (Fashion didn't always stop a good song!)
Think about it.  Elvis Costello.  Talking Heads.  Graham Parker.  Devo.
The Cars.  The Police.  Souixsie & the Banshees.  Blondie.  Joe Jackson.
The Pretenders.  The B52s (cut them a break!  they made great records!)
The Clash.  Patti Smith.  The Squeeze.  Peter Gabriel going solo.  The
re-re-invention of David Bowie.  The death of disco.  I could go on.
Scary, isn't it?  The last great blossoming of Rock.  Not even Seatlle
could compete with this tremor (it's interesting to note that Nirvana would
have fit right in!)  This is the background for XTCs arrival and formative
days.

I was there.  The first song I heard by them was 'Millions', from D & W.  A
friend turned me on to them by including this in a birthday mix tape.  It
was all over.  I was hooked.

I have played 'Ten Feet Tall', 'Towers of London', 'Senses Working
Overtime, 'All of a Sudden', 'Burning With Optimisms Flame', and 'No Thugs
in Our House' in various bands.  I have performed an acoutic arrangement of
'Rook' at a Unitarian service.

Now that I have given my credentials, let me offer some brief opinions.

XTC is the greatest underrated rock band in history.  Ever.  Period.

As for this Nonsuch nonsense, lighten up, all of you!  Nonsuch is a
brilliant album, no matter how it flows.  For me, the low side of the album
is that it showed the deepest downward spiral in Colin's writing.  'War
Dance' is a cringer, most especially because of the subject matter.
Protest songs suffer the most when they lapse into stridency tied to
specific events.  (Same problem with 'Here Comes President Kill', which is
brilliant musically, but suffers for the subject).  Dylan sidestepped this
problem by keeping unspecific, allowing him to be universal and open to
poetic metaphor.  Hence, 'Blowin' in the Wind', a timeless classic.  But
National Service?  Bringing Churchill back?  I don't think so.  Nontheless,
Nonsuch naysayers, Nonsuch is filled with great music.  Don't forget 'Dear
Madam Barnum', you song listers!  And 'Rook' is the most incredible lyric
Andy has written.  I was in pieces when I first heard it: "If I die and I
find that I have a soul inside, promise me that you'll take it up on it's
final ride".  Ohhhhh, Man!

All of the albums are great, to some degree.  None of them are perfect,
although I think that Black Sea and Skylarking are the closest to being so.
Don't forget that Skylarking was released originally without 'Dear God' and
with 'Mermaid Smiles'.  I bought it like that as soon as it came out.  I
think the inclusion of 'Dear God' ruins what otherwise was just about a
perfect album.  But whatever perfect is or isn't is irrelevant.  Their
entire body of work is a must!  I find that astounding.  Very few other
artists are like that.  So if you are a true fan, stop making a mountain
out of a molehill and just enjoy them!

I detest the placement of the extraneous material in the middle of the CD
reisssues. It should be at the end.  That's probably an ancient issue here,
but I had to get that off my chest.

Penultimately - I refuse to download or otherwise beat the gun to hear Wasp
Star.  Maybe I'm older and not as crazy, but I prefer to be patient.
Besides, our local Philly Station (WXPN - University of Penn) will air
ITMWML at least a week before release.  They are quite hip.

Finally, I wish to add that I procured a copy of Andy's demos about a year
ago.  This is the first time that I have gone into a new album knowing most
of the songs.  I guess I'll find out whether it was a good idea or not
after I've heard the final release.  I find it fascinating to see other
peoples descriptions who have heard it.  Very strange.  I am most
disappionted that 'I Don't Wanna Be Here' was exlcuded - it's just an
astounding song!  I hope Andy eventually goes to the studio with it.  I did
do one interesting thing, though.  Not knowing which ones were going to
make the cut, I made for myself a tape of all the non - AV1 demos
(contenders for AV2) and put them on tape.  The great thing was I nailed
the opener and closer!  I started it with 'Playground' and finished with
'The Wheel and the Maypole' (although it seems an obvious choice).  I'll
post the play list for that tape, just for fun, on a later entry. I did
something similar with the Beatles a long time ago, where I took different
early solo stuff and made a tape I called 'The Beatles Last Album'

Anyway, thanks for your patience.  I promise to be much more concise in the
future.
I lift my glass to XTC, those incredible middle age screwballs!

Later, Tom

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End of Chalkhills Digest #6-89
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