XTC Reel by Real: XTC: Skylarking
Last update: 20 April 2014
Skylarking Skylarking
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. . . the serious business of the next XTC album beckoned, and they were packed off to Woodstock to work with producer Todd Rundgren. Dave: "Todd and Andy were like chalk and cheese as personalities, they didn't hit it off from the start. Things just went from bad to worse. Andy was saying how much he hated the album, and when we returned home, he was very depressed about it. My only misgiving was that it was badly recorded. Perhaps Todd was trying to recreate a Sixties sound to capitalise on our Beatles fixation: but having said that, Skylarking is probably my favourite XTC album. Personally, I like what Todd did with the songs."

The first single to be issued from the Woodstock sessions was Grass. . . Two months later saw the release of the Skylarking album . . . with the overall 60s pop sound showing a definite Dukes of Stratosphear influence. A U.S. promo-only interview disc, Skylarking With Andy Partridge, spiced with added comment from Rundgren, was circulated to radio stations. . .

The next 45, The Meeting Place, spawned a clear vinyl edition. . . Most notable, though, was the surprise U.S. hit the band scored with "Dear God", which had appeared on a four-track promo 12" and was previously only available as a U.K. B-side. Virgin/Geffen decided to add the song to future editions of the Skylarking album, where it replaced "Mermaid Smiled", and it was also revived for the home market. The 12" edition boasted a rare live outing (their first since 1982), with a version of "Another Satellite" taped for a BBC radio performance. . .

Record Collector, November 1990



Lyrics, Charts and More

The original UK LP included the following songs:

  1. Summer's Cauldron
  2. Grass
  3. The Meeting Place
  4. That's Really Super, Supergirl
  5. Ballet for a Rainy Day
  6. 1000 Umbrellas
  7. Season Cycle
  8. Earn Enough for Us
  9. Big Day
  10. Another Satellite
  11. Mermaid Smiled
  12. The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul
  13. Dying
  14. Sacrificial Bonfire

In the U.S.A. (and elsewhere) the track list was altered thusly:

  1. Summer's Cauldron
  2. Grass
  3. The Meeting Place
  4. That's Really Super, Supergirl
  5. Ballet for a Rainy Day
  6. 1000 Umbrellas
  7. Season Cycle
  8. Earn Enough for Us
  9. Big Day
  10. Another Satellite
  11. The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul
  12. Dear God
  13. Dying
  14. Sacrificial Bonfire

Recent CD reissues restore the original U.K. track order and include "Dear God" as a bonus track at the end.

The Ape House UK remasters mash the two original track lists togther thusly:

  1. Summer's Cauldron
  2. Grass
  3. The Meeting Place
  4. That's Really Super, Supergirl
  5. Ballet for a Rainy Day
  6. 1000 Umbrellas
  7. Season Cycle
  8. Earn Enough for Us
  9. Big Day
  10. Another Satellite
  11. Mermaid Smiled
  12. The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul
  13. Dear God
  14. Dying
  15. Sacrificial Bonfire

Recording Information

Recorded at Utopia Sound Studios, Woodstock, New York, U.S.A., and at Cavum Soni (Sound Hole), San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
Produced by Todd Rundgren for Alchemedia Productions.
Assistant engineers Kim Foscato and George Cowan.
Originally released on 27 October 1986 in the U.K.
Reached No. 79 on the U.K. album chart.
Reached No. 70 on the Billboard album chart in the U.S.A on 6 June 1997.
Reached No. 48 on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Albums Of The 80s" survey in November 1989.

Backing vocals by the Beech Avenue Boys.
Drums by Prairie Prince.
Percussion by Mingo Lewis.
John Tenney - Leader, first violin
Emily Van Valkenburgh - Second violin
Rebecca Sebring - Viola
Teresa Adams - Cello
Charlie McCarthy - Alto and tenor saxophone, flute
Bob Ferriera - Tenor saxophone, piccolo, bass clarinet
Dave Bendigkeit - Trumpet
Dean Hubbard - Trombone
Orchestral arrangements and computer programming by Todd Rundgren.

One working title for this album was Day Passes.

Andy: “Musician and producer Todd Rundgren squeezed the XTC clay into its most complete/connected/cyclical record ever. Not an easy album to make for various ego reasons but time has humbled me into admitting that Todd conjured up some of the most magical production and arranging conceivable. A summer's day cooked into one cake.”
Andy: “The initial sleeve opened at the top: there were then two fronts, or two backs. On one side, pubic hairs of a woman photographed very closely, with meadow flowers tangled, on the other one, pubic hairs of a man with flowers tangled. You then could choose the side you wanted to see. But we had problems with our record company and the record shops. Yet, one could see almost nothing, all was in the imagination. . . I found that it nicely summarized the time, the place and the feeling of the album, and there was a Lady Chatterley's Lover side, mischievous outdoor sex.”
Andy: “When we delivered Skylarking, they told us it didn't have any singles on it and we should go a write something in the style of ZZ Top.”

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What is ‘Corrected Polarity’?

During the mastering session at Loud Studios for the Skylarking vinyl release, mastering engineer John Dent discovered a law in the original stereo mix tapes of the album. He found that there must have been a wiring error somewhere between the multitrack machine and the stereo mix machine resulting in the stereo mix having a reversed polarity. This would not have been aurally evident until the tapes left Todd Rundgren's studio. Sadly, at the time, nobody in any of either the UK or US mastering rooms picked up this problem. All XTC thought was that it sounded “thin and distant”.

After a relatively simple procedure John was able to put things right, and suddenly the album sounded so much better. Bass was warm, highs clear and the mids thick and near. In short, how it should have sounded originally.


Singles

#\#a href="http://www.majhost.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?i=2907782" target="churl"#/##\#i#/#Grass#\#/i#/##\#/a#/#

Grass

#\#i#/#Earn Enough for Us#\#/i#/#

Earn Enough for Us

(Canada and Australia only)
#\#i#/#The Meeting Place#\#/i#/#

The Meeting Place

#\#i#/#Dear God#\#/i#/#

Dear God

   

Art

cover of the #\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/# LP

cover of the Skylarking LP

cover of the reissued #\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/# double LP on Ape House Records UK

cover of the reissued Skylarking double LP on Ape House Records UK

cover of Geffen US #\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/# cassette (Mark I)

cover of Geffen US Skylarking cassette (Mark I)

cover Geffen US #\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/# cassette (Mark II)

cover Geffen US Skylarking cassette (Mark II)

#\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/# illustration (thin lines)

Skylarking illustration (thin lines)

#\#a href="http://www.majhost.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?i=2206960" target="churl"#/#detail from the cover of the #\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/# LP#\#/a#/#

detail from the cover of the Skylarking LP

#\#a href="http://www.majhost.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?i=3290132" target="churl"#/#Obi from Japanese LP of #\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/##\#/a#/#

Obi from Japanese LP of Skylarking

Skylark from booklet of remastered #\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/# CD

Skylark from booklet of remastered Skylarking CD

liner notes to Geffen US #\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/# cassette

liner notes to Geffen US Skylarking cassette

#\#i#/#The Warner Bros Music Show: Skylarking Interview with Andy Partridge#\#/i#/#, 1986

The Warner Bros Music Show: Skylarking Interview with Andy Partridge, 1986

a #\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/# T-shirt

a Skylarking T-shirt

back of a #\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/# T-shirt

back of a Skylarking T-shirt

another #\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/# T-shirt

another Skylarking T-shirt

US #\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/# with “Dear God” promo poster

US Skylarking with “Dear God” promo poster

trade ad for #\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/#

trade ad for Skylarking

Virgin UK advert for #\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/#

Virgin UK advert for Skylarking

alternate #\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/# promotional photo

alternate Skylarking promotional photo

autographed #\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/#

autographed Skylarking

#\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/# nymph with tank treads

Skylarking nymph with tank treads

#\#a href="fanart/../../articles/Skylarking.html#h04" target="churl"#/#hand-painted front cover of #\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/##\#/a#/#

hand-painted front cover of Skylarking

#\#a href="fanart/../../articles/Skylarking.html#h04" target="churl"#/#hand-painted #\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/# CD#\#/a#/#

hand-painted Skylarking CD

#\#a href="fanart/../../articles/Skylarking.html#h04" target="churl"#/#hand-painted back cover for #\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/##\#/a#/#

hand-painted back cover for Skylarking

#\#a href="fanart/../../articles/Skylarking.html#h04" target="churl"#/#hand-painted track listing for #\#i#/#Skylarking#\#/i#/##\#/a#/#

hand-painted track listing for Skylarking

 

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