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Subject: Chalkhills Digest #8-14


          Chalkhills Digest, Volume 8, Number 14

                Thursday, 14 February 2002

Topics:

          Can you please speak more clearly ...?
                 NP new york counterpoint
                         J files
                    RE: Fool Britannia
             Byrne-ing with optimism's flames
                      OGWS DVD, etc.
              Where did the Nines come from?
                  Sing a song of Swindon
                  Casting Stones at LOTR
                   Singing and Beating
            I'll fight you for a pint of beer
                     My fill of Phil
                     Windy Churchill
                        Residents
                  re: everything really
                 www.optimismsflames.com
                XTC unpopular in England?
         Tonight, on a Very Special Episode of ED
                      Re: Residents

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Am I asleep / Or am I fast / You every race / You first, you last.

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

Date: Sat, 09 Feb 2002 02:58:39
From: "Duncan Kimball" <dunks58@hotmail.com>
Subject: Can you please speak more clearly ...?
Message-ID: <F994S0xlAMbmF6rRtAE000121a8@hotmail.com>

>From: "Richard" <rjpa1@attbi.com>
>Subject: I simply don't understand!

>I bet instrumental songs REALLY get you flummoxed!!

Errr ... no. (Pauses to listen to "Trespass" soundtrack by Ry Cooder)

>...and that Dylan Thomas guy!  What is HE going on about?!
>
>Outlaw double entendres!

>Smart money says that there is no foreign language CDs in DK's collection.

Smart money? Oh I get it  - it's an oxymoron, right? Actually the smart
money loses there Rich, old son. Now if we're talking about rock/pop music,
well no I don't have any foreign language CDs (unless you count the bit of
Franch and Italian Bryan Ferry drops into "Song For Europe". I'm one of
those weirdos who thinks that somehow rock music being sung in Greek or
Spanish doesn't quite sound right, somehow. And I'm sorry but IMO the French
CANNOT rock. Plastique Bertrand was about the nearest tey ever got (and
anyway he was Belgian wasn't he?).

Oh wait - I do have a couple of Nina Hagen CDs - does that count? How about
Kraftwerk?

In fact I have quite a few things in other languages -- lots of world music,
baroque and renaissance vocal music and some early opera. Am I allowed to
have an opinion now? :P

I think you missed my point, Richard. What I meant (hence the allusion to
Yes) was that while I don't have a problem with *obscure* lyrics, I do have
a bit of a problem with singers whose diction is simply not comprehensible.
Unfortunately Thom York is one of those singers, for mine.

That being said, I always loved The Pretenders, even though to this day I
still have NO idea what half the lyrics to "Brass In Pocket" are.

Dunks

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

Date: Fri, 08 Feb 2002 20:28:44 -0800
From: quetzal <holm-oak@postoffice.pacbell.net>
Subject: NP new york counterpoint
Message-ID: <006d01c1b122$4344a0a0$0c51cc3f@holmoak>

Like a largemouth bass on a topwater plug, I just had to delurk to coment on
Gil Lamont's posting on playing Steve Reich's New York counterpoint. when
I'm not listening to XTC, Cocteau Twins or Wire; I have  Steve Reich's
Triple Quartet in _heavy_ rotation. Tokyo/Vermont Counterpoint, Electronic
Counterpoint, Different Trains and Six Marimbas are personal faves. nice to
read about another fan of this music. back to the deep water.
Mike
PS: XTC content- I happily waited in line for over four hours to get Andy
Partridge's Autograph at the san Francisco Virgin megastore a few years
back.

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

Date: Sat, 09 Feb 2002 17:03:43 +1100
From: "*SUPER SPANGER*" <superspanger@hotmail.com>
Subject: J files
Message-ID: <F160OJhKPc99ir3wSim00000601@hotmail.com>

Hi everybody.

  I don't know who else heard this but "Dear God" was placed number one on
the top 30 B-sides "J files" the oter day,  It beat the Beatles so that was
kinda cool :-)

Lyndy

"Don't cry because it's over...  Smile because it happened"

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

Date: Sat, 9 Feb 2002 02:33:52 -0000
From: "David Smith" <David.Smith50@virgin.net>
Subject: RE: Fool Britannia
Message-ID: <LPBBJEPFIGBHBJHFDMILAEMOCCAA.David.Smith50@virgin.net>

This debate about XTC being too cool for us Brits. Interesting
stuff.

I don't think it was a "London cool vs hinterlands yokels" thing.
I remember having no idea where they came from. I just think they
came along right in the middle of the punk/new wave "thang" and
didn't really fit into any category - like so many great groups
who never get the recognition they deserve.

They weren't angry (or dangerous) enough to be punks (they were
also obviously too talented as musicians); they weren't weird
enough to be new wave. In fact, now I think about it, their real
problem is the same one that has bugged them in this country for
years: their songs require the listener to THINK.

Now, while we're not TOTALLY a race of dunces (ahem . . .)
the majority of Brits do like their pop to be either:

1. Fluffy
2. Background
3. Explosive
4. Dancy
5. Aimed a twelve year olds

What they (that bloody majority) don't like, is songs you may have
to work at before you "get it". Get it?

Furthermore, in the late 70's (just as today), like it or not you
still had to LOOK LIKE A STAR. Andy doesn't. Andy looks like the
bloke in the pub. Andy would not walk into a roomful of strangers
and have everyone staring within a minute because of his natural
charisma. Unless he started singing.

Even the ugly pop stars (and boy, were there some UGLY pop stars
in the late 70s) had "presence". Those with no natural charisma
made their own by spitting into the audience, living the rock'n'roll
excess lifestyle or stabbing their girlfriends to death etc.

Who're conspicuous by their lack of falling into those categories?
Why yes, that'll be our boys.

Mary contributed:

> In an Italian interview published in Mucchio Selvaggio,
> written by Christophe Conti, and available in at least Italian, maybe even
> in English, I don't know, on www.10ft.it , AP says that the English never
> liked them for a character flaw of the English themselves, that they were
> cranky, prone to bickering and that they had no interest in much
> other than getting drunk and fighting.

Unfortunately, especially in the late 70s, it's hard to argue with
that.

It's small wonder that the late 70s saw the rise of both punk and
Maggie Thatcher. Both - in their own unique way - were backlashes
against the mainly dim and dismal mid-70s. The current 70s retro
stuff leaves me cold. Who can really get excited about spending your
early teenage years dressed in Doctor Martens boots, flowery
shirts with huge collars, tank tops, kipper ties and parkas.

Here's what I remember of the mid 70s. It was always raining, every
other football match was stopped 'cos the hooligans were fighting,
EVERYONE went on strike, we had 3-day weeks (a whole winter of going
to bed by candle-light 'cos the power was turned off at 6pm every
evening), huge numbers of people out of work, petrol shortages,
crap TV, crap fashions, crap years.

Oh, and I had to go to school during it all.

Mary continued (of Andy)

> This was his theory about the lack of interest
> in things that were not handed to them on a plate.

I seem to remember a distinct lack of interest in just about
ANYTHING around that time.

You youngsters out there - the seventies were NOT cool. Don't do
the 70s - just say NO!

Personally I'm rather glad the UK as a majority never really "got"
XTC. It means I get to be the one in my group of friends who has an
"enigmatic taste". Hey, maybe *I'M* cool. Mayne I'm just clutching
at straws now?

****

Mike Stone said:
>
> On the subject of singers improving with age:
> I went to see Earth Wind & Fire at the Fox Theatre
> in Detroit back in September.  The opening band
> was Rufus w/ Chaka Khan.

I thought Rufus was a bloke. I also thought he was dead. Is it me?

> And then EW&F came on and Phillip Bailey
> refused to be upstaged by Ms. Khan. He was also
> amazing. I never thought a man in his 50's(?) could
> sing that high.

Hey - didn't he do a record with Phil Coll . . . no, I'd better not.

****

Kerry Kompost elaborated:
>
> Everyone here, Andy included (contractual xTc content
> obligation fulfilled), knows that ELP had at least 7 or 8 really
> good songs over their 30-year career. [Maybe even 10 - ed.]

Funnily enough, my sister's best friend is Keith Emerson's cousin
(stay with me here . . .) and, in his more level-headed moments,
he apparently has a pretty similar opinion of his own group's work!

****

Gil Lamont on Churchill:
>
> Which reminds me of one of my favorite Churchill anecdotes:
>
> The woman who said to him:
>
> "If you were my husband, sir, I'd poison you!"
>
> To which Churchill replied:
>
> "If I were your husband, Madam, I'd drink it!"

I assume you've all heard his other great put-down (well, one
of many)?

Oh, all right then, I'll share.

Churchill liked a bit of a tipple and could be a little, let's
say, garrolous, when he'd been partaking. One night he managed
to offend Lady Astor (I believe) giving rise to the following
exchange:

Lady Astor: Mr Churchill you are quite horribly drunk!

Churchill: And you are ugly madam. However, in the morning,
I shall be sober . . .

****
Oh, and put me down as another vote for "Then She Appeared" as the
great lost single.

Time for bed. Boooooiiiiiiing!

Smudge (did I mention I hated the 70s?) Boy

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

Date: Sat, 9 Feb 2002 09:49:43 -0800 (PST)
From: Jim Smart <jimsmart1@yahoo.com>
Subject: Byrne-ing with optimism's flames
Message-ID: <20020209174943.53689.qmail@web13501.mail.yahoo.com>

Hi folks:

Last night I saw David Byrne solo, and he was truly
fabulous. His small 4 piece did battle with a 6 piece
string section. There's an interview with him at

http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2002/Feb/08/en/en01a.html

which some of you might enjoy

It includes the following exchange:

Q: What can we expect from you this year as far as
projects you're working on?

"There might be one of those in between things like a
soundtrack or something like that, which I've already
started working on. There probably won't be another
record. My record company (Virgin) is kind of in a
state of extreme turmoil. All the heads of the company
over the last few months have gotten their heads cut
off."

Q: Well ... so did Mariah Carey.

"Yeah, (there's) that, of course. And I think they
probably got rid of a lot of  lesser bands as well.
Some of which were probably a lot more worthwhile than
Mariah Carey."

Jim "Well, there's one that I can think of" Smart

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

Date: Sat, 9 Feb 2002 12:36:39 -0800
From: "John Keel" <jbkxtc@ev1.net>
Subject: OGWS DVD, etc.
Message-ID: <000f01c1b1a9$7d0fa050$59525d3f@xtc>

Hello and a very belated Happy New Year to everyone.

I was just at Amoeba Records here in Hollywood and saw a 2-disc DVD set of
performances from The Old Grey Whistle Test (apologies in advance if this
has already been covered here - I'm SO behind in reading my digests).  There
wasn't any listing on the case of who all was on it, so I came home and
searched it out on the internet and voila!  Disc Two/Track 2 is XTC
performing "Statue of Liberty", sandwiched in between Talking Heads &
Blondie.

The DVD is a region 2, so it's no good in the USA unless you have an Apex or
similar DVD player that will play any disc from around the world.  I don't
have one, but my best friend does and so I'll be going back to pick it up
and have him dub it VHS or maybe even DVD for me - if he can figure out how.

Other artists of interest on the DVD include early Alice Cooper, John
Martyn, Roxy Music, New York Dolls, Tim Buckley, Tom Waits, REM and The
Sensational Alex Harvey Band.  It also includes interviews with John Lennon,
Mick & Keith and Bruce Springsteen.

So, there you are.  I also recently found the "School Guide to XTC" at
Amoeba.  If you live in the Los Angeles area and haven't been there yet -
which I doubt - you should definitely check it out.

That's it.  Anxiously awaiting the new box sets and the t-shirts from the
official website so I can finally replace my original "English Settlement"
shirt I lost - and grew out of - so many years ago.

Stupidly Happily yours,

JK

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

Date: Sat, 09 Feb 2002 23:46:43 +0000
From: "bob tate" <bobtate70@hotmail.com>
Subject: Where did the Nines come from?
Message-ID: <F131ymKceZOl1qbwNOI0000b15c@hotmail.com>

After checking out John Relph's recommendations page, I decided finally to
purchase the The Nines' album "Properties of Sound". Man what an album. The
singer sounds like a cross between Mccartney and Andy Partridge. What songs!
Not one dud. John's write up is pretty accurate it's got a lot of Nonsuch
and Oranges and Lemons feel to it with a kind of Mccartney/beatles/beachboys
mix. Not Lame.com has been out of stock for a while so I finally found it on
it on cdbaby.com. I can't tell you how strongly I recommend it.
Does anyone know if these guys have any other albums outside of the two John
recommended?
Bob

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

Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2002 08:48:02 EST
From: Jxnsmom@aol.com
Subject: Sing a song of Swindon
Message-ID: <130.920dd32.2997d412@aol.com>

Edward said:

> Whoever cited Elvis C as a singer needs their ears de-tinning.

Um, that was me.

> The man can't sing.  Well, he used to be able to, more or less, up until
> around the
> time of "The Juliet Letters" or so, until the time he began to take himself
> just a teeny weeny bit seriously as a "composer" (what used sneeringly to be
> referred to as a "muso"), at which point, I collect, he started having
> singing lessons, and learned the classical technique of vibrato (what Sophie
> von Otter calls a "schooled" voice), which has ruined his singing.  It
> works, Elvis, if you have a voice worth schooling in the first place.  You
> don't.  Revert to a less ostentatious delivery, please.  Listen to "My Aim
> is True" if you can't remember how.

Actually, you've made my point for me. I was supporting vocal character over
vocal quality, and I was basing my love for Elvis on his early stuff. I must
confess, I haven't heard his post-singing-lessons voice (I stopped buying at
"King of America"). I can fully understand how a vibrato and learning how to
sing from his diaphragm would destroy the vocal character of his that I
love(d) so well.

One person for whom I think vocal lessons was a good thing is Madonna. I've
never been a fan of hers, but I know she took more than a year of
professional vocal instruction before tackling Evita, and her more annoying
vocal qualities (um, let's see, there was just that little point of pitch)
have been improved quite a bit.

I was also thinking, about my character surpasses quality argument, about
Alannis Morissette. Here is a women who started out before her recording
career with a straight-ahead, sounds-like-everybody-else female voice. Then
she decided to be America's answer to Sinead and came up with a ridiculously
put-on vocal "character." In my book, it doesn't count if it isn't natural.
Her singing annoys me more than almost anyone on the planet (OK, maybe just a
little less than Yoko Ono) just because I know she's having to consciously
think about singing in such an affected way.

Now really, I should love Yoko, because she's presenting her natural voice,
which definitely emphasizes character over quality. Except in using that
argument, quality can't be lacking entirely...

What's so wonderful about Andy is that his warbles and cracks come from the
energy he puts into his singing, not his attempt to sound cool. Depending on
the song, I can hear the anger, joy, frustration coming right through, and
that is what's so charming.

In other news, Mike recommended the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack,
which is indeed deserving of MUCH praise. I also highly recommend "Down from
the Mountain," a live concert featuring many of the "O Brother" musicians
(and others) performing mostly songs that were not in the movie. These are
stunning performances. You won't believe it's live.

Amy

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

Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2002 08:22:24 -0600
From: "Steve Oleson" <Steve.Oleson@oag.state.tx.us>
Subject: Casting Stones at LOTR
Message-ID: <sc677f50.086@oag_mail.oag.state.tx.us>

Keith Richards as Wormtongue.

Phil Collins as Gimli the Dwarf.

AP as Tom Bombadil (perfect!)

Ringo as Saruman

Courtney Love as Legolas? ...nah, too macho!

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

Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2002 10:35:13 -0700
From: Kirk.Gill@equifax.com
Subject: Singing and Beating
Message-ID: <OF1927C5EE.55E39025-ON87256B5D.005F6CD6@fin.equifax.com>

On this Best Singing Drummers thread - my buddy Greg and I used to do a
two-man acoustic rock and roll thang (we were called the Ham Hoc War Lox),
and opened for a number of local punk shows. We had a little bit we would
do honoring drummers who were dead. Since we were always opening for bands
that had already set up their instruments on stage, we could usually have
the house shine a spotlight on the empty drum kit behind us as we'd play
our tribute. Well, on one particular night we were opening for a local band
called The Fluid, and we had a real haircut crowd - colors, mohawks,
piercings, etc. This was probably around 1986 or so.

We finished our Bonham tribute tune (yes, an acoustic reggae version of
"Immigrant's Song"), and before we started our next song, Greg says "While
John Bonham and many other drummers have died of excess, we like to think
that Karen Carpenter went the other way," before ripping into a
speedacousticmetal version of the Carpenters' "Close to You." When we
finished, one of the haircuts in the crowd said "Man, you guys are sick."

That's still one of my proudest musical moments.

So my vote goes for Karen Carpenter. She had a gorgeous voice, and her
singing is a great childhood memory.

And for the Best XTC Single that Wasn't Released as a Single, My vote goes
for "Extrovert."

k?

"There's nothing in the world like a green-skinned girl....."

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

Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2002 21:06:22 -0000
From: "Adrian Ransome" <adrian.ransome@instinct.freeuk.com>
Subject: I'll fight you for a pint of beer
Message-ID: <002001c1b33f$f729ae20$aa927ed4@atidy>

Why were Xtc never embraced in Britain as they were elsewhere?

It's hard to say. Perhaps they've been too unfashionable, or even
non-fashionable. Perhaps they're too clever for your average British
singles-buying punter. Perhaps they haven't had the record company support
post Andy's breakdown. Perhaps (as with Mummer) they've been wilfully
uncommercial. Perhaps they've been musically out of time with their
contemporaries. Perhaps your average British singles-buying punter preferred
to hear someone sing "I'm a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride. I'm wanted -
dead or alive" or "Born in the USA." Perhaps they are an acquired taste.

I'm not sure that their geographical location has anything to do with it
(sorry Steve). Although it might explain why they're accepted in the US.

Mary (quoting Andy) says - amongst other things - that it might be "More to
do with just being disinterested in other English people." Which doesn't
fully explain why the equally 'English' Kinks, Pulp, Beautiful South and
Parklife-era Blur have been successful/accepted/embraced in Britain.

Mary does say one thing (not sure whether they are her words or Andy's)
"This was his theory about the lack of interest in things that were not
handed to them [the English] on a plate" which could ring true. Xtc's music
requires listening to, thinking about; there are musical and lyrical ideas
that are bombarding you from every direction in each song. Compare and
contrast 20 years of Xtc's music with anything from the Stock, Aitken,
Waterman back catalogue of the same time period to see what the Great
British singles-buying public prefer. They prefer being whacked around the
head with a simple lyric and simple melody at 125 bpm for three minutes.

In summary then; bags, lots of things in brown paper bags.

adrian

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

Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2002 13:25:41 -0800 (PST)
From: Aaron Pastula <pastula12@yahoo.com>
Subject: My fill of Phil
Message-ID: <20020211212541.57986.qmail@web20205.mail.yahoo.com>

I'm too lazy to snip from other postings, but I'm also
too lazy to get back to work, so...

Re: XTC's lack of acceptance in England, my impression
(which is based on the limited time I've spent there,
so feel free to challenge/squash/amend) is that
British radio is extremely limited in its range of
programming, and that it caters to very specific types
of pop music.  If a group isn't in one of a select
number of musical categories, they won't get any
exposure...and, of course, that cuts XTC right out,
and probably always has given their inability to be
pigeonholed (in any country).

Also, I think I can see how their Englishness might be
off-putting to the natives.  Take a song like English
Roundabout -- it's brilliant in every way, but as a
Yankee, how would you react to a song called American
Intersection?  XTC prides themselves on displaying
their Englishness, and rightfully so.  But I think
their music caters to the kind people who are looking
to discover something new; many of their songs (Towers
of London, Smalltown, etc.) and certainly their
overall style "feel" English to an American, and are
therefore slightly exotic and maybe even a bit
adventuresome.  Andy and Colin's perspectives are very
distinct and specific (unlike, say, someone like
Sting), and when you listen to XTC you are, in a way,
"discovering" a country and a lifestyle through their
eyes.  But if you're English, what's interesting about
discovering the nuances of your country and lifestyle
when you already know them?  I think of it in terms of
being a tourist: you might go to a small town in
Wiltshire and be amazed at how quiet, comforting,
historical, unique, etc. a particular place is, but
mention this to a local, and they'll probably say
there's nothing so great about where they live.

Did that make any sense?

And I know this is a dying or dead subject, but re:
Phil...Banks and Rutherford wrote most of the music
anyway, didn't they?  When Gabriel left, the fans
thought he was the creative force behind Genesis, and
that it couldn't exist without him...of course, they
were all proven wrong.  With several different writers
in the band, who's to say they wouldn't have gone in a
more mainstream direction if Gabriel had really wanted
to stay?  Can Phil really take all the blame for
making Genesis a pop juggernaut?  I don't think
so...if anything, I think the remaining members all
wanted to do what they were doing, so I see no reason
why Phil should be demonized alone...

...and besides, the guy was in *Genesis*.  With *Peter
Gabriel*.  And Trick of the Tail is a masterpiece,
even if Sus-sus-usu-suss-uss-suss-sudio is marshmallow
fluff.

Aaron.

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

Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2002 18:01:59 -0500
From: "Christopher R. Coolidge" <cauldron@together.net>
Subject: Windy Churchill
Message-ID: <B88DB797.259A%cauldron@together.net>

on 2/8/02 6:51 PM, Gil wrote:

> Which reminds me of one of my favorite Churchill anecdotes:
>
> The woman who said to him:
>
> "If you were my husband, sir, I'd poison you!"
>
> To which Churchill replied:
>
> "If I were your husband, Madam, I'd drink it!"

  The more complete version was that Churchill had shown up drunk at the
House of Commons and a certain Lady of the House(reputedly Lady Astor,
except I hear she was actually quite attractive) said to him indignantly
"Windy, you're drunk!"
"Madam," Churchill replied, "You're ugly. And madam, when I wake up
tomorrow, I'll be sober; but when you wake up tomorrow, you'll still be
ugly."
  To which Lady Astor shoots back, "Windy, if I were your wife, I'd put
poison in your soup."
  To which Churchill deftly replied, "Madam, if I were your husband, I'd
drink it."
  I heard that one at an AA meeting many years ago, the speaker was a
Scottish Catholic monk with a wicked sense of humor, especially about
himself, and a thick Scottish accent to rival Scotty from Star Trek.

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

Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2002 18:11:23 -0500
From: "Christopher R. Coolidge" <cauldron@together.net>
Subject: Residents
Message-ID: <B88DB9CB.259B%cauldron@together.net>

on 2/8/02 6:51 PM, someone residential wrote:

> There is an XTC connection:
> Andy sings on the Residents Commercial Album. If you
> read the credits, you'll see a credit for Extra Secret
> Guest Appearences, followed by a blank space. I know
> of three of them:
> Andy sings on the track "Margaret Freeman"
> Lene Lovich sings on "Picnic Boy"
> Debbie Harry sings on one track (I think it's "Amber"
> but I'm not sure).

  Debbie Harry sings on "Nice Old Man." In addition, Barry Andrews' psycho
organ sounds can be heard on at least one track, Robert Fripp can also be
found on the album somewhere, and Fred Frith is a prominently featured guest
musician who plays on multiple tracks.

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

Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002 16:00:14 +1100
From: "Crawford, Jeff" <crawfordj@mng.newsltd.com.au>
Subject: re: everything really
Message-ID: <17B04C523C3ED31195410000F8753548CA4BDC@mngxchange.mng.newsltd.com.au>

Dearest ....
I guess debating and light-hearted squabbling is what Chalkhills is all
about, and it's always interesting, amusing and sometimes irritating to read
other people's opinions, but the bottom line is no two of us will ever
agree, not even those who live in XTC.
I won't launch into any vitriol against Ed K. for comments on "Exile", let's
just agree to disagree (although I can't understand anyone hating "Tumbling
Dice" that much, but there you go). James describes "Goat's Head Soup" as
"Turd Soup" - it happens to be an album I'm very fond of, possibly because
it was the first Stones album I bought. I reckon "Winter" is one of the
finest Stones ballads (and so do some of the musos and writers who voted in
the "Uncut" poll), but to James it's a turd. Oh well.
Edward loves Radiohead and reckons Elvis C. can't sing. I've got nothing
against Thom and Co, but give me Mr MacManus any day of the week and twice
on Sunday (one of the most exhilirating  concerts I've ever witnessed was EC
and Steve Neive during the tour for "Painted From Memory", which is
well-and-truly after Elvis forgot how to sing, apparently).
Most interestingly, Gregory S. interpreted "The Big Express" as a concept
album about the death of a railroad town. I don't get it, but it got me
thinking (there seems to be more seaside imagery to me). I've only known the
vinyl version until recently, but it just goes to show how subjective these
things are. And I always skip the bonus tracks in the middle of "Mummer", to
me they don't belong.
On the subject of nonsensical lyrics, where would pop be without them? Marc
Bolan made a career out of it, after all. Not quite understanding lyrics
and/or mis-hearing them is half the fun, otherwise we'd all be listening to
Peter, Paul & Mary (by the way, have you heard the "Puff the Magic Dragon"
theory?).
And don't get me started on voices (Caruso vs Bob? Zimmie wins hands down).
I'd rather listen to nails on a blackboard than Mariah, Celine or Destiny's
Child, but they sell trillions of records, so I guess I must be wrong.
Has anyone out there read "Fargo Rock City"? Very funny book by a guy who
absolutely loves '80s poodle hair rock. It didn't make me want to listen to
a note of Motley Crue, but I enjoyed his passion for that (deservedly)
much-maligned genre. Smart guy, witty book, yet I hate almost every '80s
band he worships.
Don't know what I'm trying to say, but I guess I just said it.
Greetings from the deep south (Orstralia)
Jeff

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

Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002 13:27:30 -0800 (PST)
From: Wes Long <optimismsflames@yahoo.com>
Subject: www.optimismsflames.com
Message-ID: <20020212212730.65081.qmail@web14912.mail.yahoo.com>

Optimism's Flames launched Jan 6 ... thanks to all of
you who've checked it out (75,000+ page views in the
first month) and special thanks to those of you who
took the time to comment and/or contribute.

Content is being added daily... so here are a few
high-points.

New this month:

The next three installments of Todd Bernhardt's chat
with Ian Gregory, the drummer for the Dukes of
Stratosphear, Dave's bro... in FREE MP3 format.

Images of Andy Partridge's original, handmade cover
art for Nonsuch (with different track listing) and
Upsy Daisy Assortment (as chocolate box of all
things... neat idea)

New posters/fliers/interactive Wasp Star hat/links to
6 full XTC videos/original Andy art/Dukes
images/guestbook... and more.

Lot's coming soon: Todd Bernhardt's Dukes inspired
chat with EIEI; Shigemasa Fujimoto discography... MUCH
nicer than the one currently on the site; Jon
Rosenberger's detailed vinyl section; some exclusive
news and chats; detials on some of the vids; an
altered design and an interactive, playable, Nonsuch
promo cardgame.  -nuf said-

Thanks again to all of you, you've been a great
help... and to John Relph for this forum.  XTC fans
are just the greatest!

Set your screen res to 1024x768 and get burning with
Optimism's Flames.

wesLONG
www.optimismsflames.com

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

Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002 22:41:37 -0000
From: "David Edwards" <david@onetel.net.uk>
Subject: XTC unpopular in England?
Message-ID: <016a01c1b416$708921c0$9c434ed5@oemcomputer>

Dear Chalklings

Why weren't XTC popular in England? But they were. Around the time of Drums
& Wires, Black Sea and English Settlement, they were very highly rated, as I
remember. Those albums were buzzing with cocky energy and inventiveness;
they couldn't be ignored. I don't think the 'yokel' argument sticks - Manic
Street Preachers are from Wales, and you can't get much less cool than that
if you're the alleged snooty Londoner with a long, upturned nose (with
sneering nostrils by Kenneth Williams). Part of Blur is from Bournemouth,
where I live - even 25% of the band being afflicted by that outrageous lack
of coolness should have been terminal from the snooty Londoner's point of
view, according to the 'yokel' argument. I think XTC were able to be written
off when Andy collapsed and then emerged to produce Mummer, which I love but
which did not represent a gravity-busting extension of the spectacular,
rising arc of brilliance plotted by the three preceding albums. Many people
thought XTC had stalled, crashed and burned, and that that was likely to be
it.

But there were two other factors, I think. 1) XTC were smart, and you'll
notice that the pop industry is not full of smartness, nor even
smart-casualness. You see you can't have people thinking, that was never the
idea of industrial pop. What you need is cake, not bread. Kids who think
obviously don't deck themselves in corporate logos as a symbol of rebellious
cool, nor do they smoke to signify their devil-may-care independence. So
thinking won't work at all: What the citizen needs is "bread [cake in
XTC-speak] and circuses": horny chicks with torsos designed by Mesmer,
Robbie celebrating Frank, Kylie celebrating her thirtieth. 2) Connected to
this, XTC were unforgivably sincere. What industrial pop needs is cynicism
(or meaninglessness, that'll do nicely). 'Cool' has got to be cynical,
indifferent, selfish, self-obsessed, self-destructive, resigned, passive,
pleasure-seeking, booze/drugs-addled. You can't have people talking with
unapologetic passion and sparkling wit about things that don't directly
concern them: towers of London built on tears, gun pressure groups
apologising to God, hatred of foreigners being dumb, presidents slaughtering
Third World people with poison pens. Anger is fine: 'Mindless punk fury?'
'Give me a hundredweight!' But inspirational thought and compassion... No,
no, these are the mortal enemies of the system served so beautifully by
advertiser-friendly Funk Pop A Roll Muzak.

Sincerely (oops!)

David "I bet you're a big fan of Lee Marvin. Me too, I love that guy!"
Edwards

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

Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002 20:35:52 -0500
From: "Scott Barnard" <brainiacsdaughter@hotmail.com>
Subject: Tonight, on a Very Special Episode of ED
Message-ID: <F271uVZ7152mFqF7Psg00020703@hotmail.com>

After a long and lamentable absence, Chalkhills #8-13 heralds the return of
West Coast Ed, just in time to wind me up with his annual (bi-monthly?)
lambasting of Exile on Main Street! Not only that, he rises to the defense
of post-Arthur Kinks using, among others, the example of UK Jive, of all
things. And Kid A just didn't do it for him. Hmm, imagine that. Yes, he's
back to his old tricks, unknowingly acting as my evil twin at every turn.

But suddenly, what's this? An endorsement of the Super Furry Animals' Rings
Around the World, the only reasonable candidate for album of the year? And
the spot-on ELO reference to boot? Then he hits the nail on the head once
again, singling out "Do It All Over Again" as the glorious standout on the
otherwise underwhelming Let It Come Down.

Perhaps now, finally, the tide has turned and I won't have to disagree with
every last thing that he has to say. Oh, happy day!

And then he fucks it all up by bringing Les Claypool into it.

Welcome back, Ed ;)

S.

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

Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002 09:34:41 -0800 (PST)
From: The Colonel <captainextraneous@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: Residents
Message-ID: <20020213173441.79008.qmail@web12102.mail.yahoo.com>

> Anyone here into The Residents?  I have liked them
> for years, can't say love, but I find them
> interesting.  I remember hearing they
> were XTC fans years ago, can anyone substantiate
> this? I know they are an extremely hard listen
> for any ear, but they are neat.  Wormwood was one of
> their most dulcet records, in my opinion.  But I
> remember hearing an XTC connection years
> ago.

I think the Residents are great (well, it terms of
stuff that kinda sucks, I guess...). But seriously,
they're great at what they do, and no one else sounds
like them.

It's funny to see your entry in Chalkhills b/c I
posted a theory that XTC WERE the Residents a while
back, listing a bunch of coincidental points.

As for the 'Commercial Album,' that one's always been
one of my faves. I recently got a friend into the
Residents. At first listen, he hated them, but I told
him to borrow a couple discs and give 'em a chance...
Well, about a week later, he's a genuine
foaming-at-the-mouth die hard Residents fan. Funny how
that happens. I'd bet a lot of XTC fans started the
same way...

The Colonel

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

End of Chalkhills Digest #8-14
******************************

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