One song from XTC's 1986 Skylarking LP has fingers that reach not only deep into the music of the 1960s, but back again to a trend-setting band that touched the '90s! Follow the thread!
Great article. For me, personally, the best XTC song by far is ‘Making Plans For Nigel’ from 1979, video is also very cool https://youtu.be/n-X3Wy-svIY
The Rundgren / Partridge / Utopia Sound photo is no ordinary knob-twiddlin’ - I think (not 100% certain) that’s a Mellotron, a pre-sampling age sampling keyboard, it worked using individual tape loops per key.So you could customise it by making your own tape loops. I think that’s what they’re doing, changing tape loops. Pretty advanced knob-twiddlin’!
This is fantastic, Brad. The sonic tentacles that extend from the Beatles/Beach Boys through XTC to Jellyfish are fun to trace. There are very few songwriters who are even capable of paying homage to Lennon/McCartney and Brian Wilson with songs that are legitimately comparable in quality and sophistication. XTC and Jellyfish are certainly among them.
Oh, where to start? I'm such an XTC fanboy, and Dukes of Stratosphear is as great as any of the XTC catalog. I might play 25 O'Clock more than any other song from them. What I love about them is that every album has its own distinct flavor. No two albums sound alike.
In terms of Brian Wilson love, Skylarking is when his influence came to the surface, musically, and though can be heard on Oranges and Lemons too, really took shape on Nonsuch (1992). I'm thinking in particular of the song "Rook," which I hear more in the arrangement every time I listen to it.
I love every single album XTC ever made, but as much as I adore Skylarking, it is the one I probably play the least. There's gotta be one! I try to be sure to give the album a season's cycle every year, though!
Thanks for this, it's always a treat to read something new about one of my favorite bands.
Great article - I never knew that Ted Templeman was involved with Harpers Bizarre!
I'm back with another sharp turn tangent that has nothing to do specifically with the article. When I read Skylarking, it made me think of my first car- a 1981 Buick Skylark that I bought for $300 in 1995. That thing had a tape deck and I listened to so much good music driving around in that thing back in high school. Not any of the music mentioned in this article, but that only makes me wish Front Row & Backstage was around back then- if only I'd had your help, Brad, I could have listened to even more great music!
Like Mike mentioned, the connections are fun. I imagine you with a wall of a link chart (those walls that TV detectives use to link people, places, often crime families together, and joined by strings, LOL).
Of course I've heard of some of the bands mentioned, but not all. Good post, Brad!
Love how you connected all the threads, it’s truly a journey in itself!