MD Listening Club #2.

Selecter: Slade the Leveller
Listeners: Reformed Republican, Glyph, krogerfoot, Chris

Slade: Right now in Chicago it’s 77° and the light has entered what photographers call the golden hour. After a springtime where it seemed as though winter just would not loosen it’s grip on the city, the weather has finally (hopefully) taken a permanent turn for the better.

It’s been the custom around the Slade household to cue up XTC’s Skylarking whenever that first day of temperate weather come after winter. It involves throwing open the windows and turning the amp up to 11 and basking in all of this album’s bucolic glory. Andy Partridge joins lyrically in the fun with “Season Cycle”:

Season cycle moving round and round
Pushing life up from a cold dead ground
It’s growing green

He also hints at his well known atheism in the same song:

I really get confused on who would make all this
is there a God in Heaven
Everybody says join our religion get to Heaven
I say no thanks why bless my soul
I’m already there!

Later on the album, more famously, and certainly more explicitly, Partridge asks in “Dear God”, “Did you make mankind after we made you?” Naturally, this caused a minor firestorm in some parts of the good ‘ol U.S. of A. This song wasn’t even included in the original track order, but it’s notoriety gave the public notice of the album, and, some say, saved the band’s career.

A couple of bits of minor Skylarking trivia to enjoy whilst listening:

1.The relationship between the band and producer Todd Rundgren is notorious amongst fans of the band for being strained. Eventually, the band took to playing the Munsters theme some when he would walk into the studio to start the day. Look up a picture of Rundgren to get in on the joke.

2.Following Skylarking, each subsequent album took its title from a lyric on the previous record. XTC’s next record was called Oranges and Lemons.

I can’t begin to express on the page how much I like this record, and this band. I hope you’ll share some of that sentiment once you’ve heard it.

GBV – Hardcore UFO's

Selecter: Glyph
Listeners: Reformed Republican, Slade the Leveller, krogerfoot, Chris

This is the album that made me want to do listening parties.

Bee Thousand is a bona fide outsider-pop classic; fragmented and ultra-compact (20 songs in 36 minutes), it nonetheless feels like an epic journey. An “album” in the best sense of the word, it needs to be taken in at a single sitting for maximum impact.

Selecter: krogerfoot
Listeners: Glyph, Slade the Leveller

krogerfoot: Kowloon Walled City’s Hobbsean new record is perfect for those of us who like our metal like we like our weight rooms: Sweaty, loud, clanking, male, and shot through with anguished bellowing.

Selecter: Slade the Leveller
Listeners: Glyph, krogerfoot

Slade: Nate Ruess before he became famous with the awful fun. The first time I heard it, I immediately thought of Queen. It was a grower for me, but now it’s indispensable.



In case you are wondering, it really didn’t make much more sense at the time.

Reformed Republican 8:15 PM
this reminds me a lot of Pet Sounds
Slade the Leveller 8:16 PM
Hmmm. That’s a comparison I’ve never heard.
I will say this is my favorite album of all time.
Slade the Leveller 8:17 PM
I’ve been waiting a whole month to play this!
Krogerfoot 8:20 PM
Other Texans here, or people who pronounce the first two words of “Are our comments . . .” identically?
Reformed Republican 8:20 PM
I am a recent transplant to Texas
Krogerfoot 8:21 PM
What part, RR?
Chris 8:21 PM
I’ll be in Houston tomorrow
Krogerfoot 8:22 PM
I went to high school in Houston. Or “in Houston.” Suburbs, Klein, home of Lyle Lovett
Chris 8:24 PM
hmm… Police meet Talking Heads?
Krogerfoot 8:24 PM
I don’t have any fond memories of Klein, but that’s entirely due to me. It’s a good enough place.
Slade the Leveller 8:24 PM
Toured with both. XTC underwent quite a radical change in sound after a couple of records.
Reformed Republican 8:25 PM
I also thought of Talking Heads with the first song
Slade the Leveller 8:26 PM
The sad thing is, they quit touring before I became fully aware of them.
Chris 8:27 PM
I remember XTC, but like most 80s bands, my memories are somewhat vague
Reformed Republican 8:27 PM
I am currently drinking a Black IPA, and I am trying to figure out how that makes any sense.
My memories of 80s music are limited, but that was before I really discovered music.
Glyph 8:28 PM
and it was more awesome than you think
Chris 8:28 PM
You’re an old fuck, though.
Glyph 8:28 PM
Yes. Yes, I am.
Chris 8:29 PM
I have been rediscovering 80s music over the last 3 or 4 years. So this will fit perfectly.
Glyph 8:29 PM
wouldn’t’a pegged you for a PSB fan.
Krogerfoot 8:30 PM
How can the 80s be so long ago? They just happened.
Glyph 8:30 PM
they seemed so modern at the time
Chris 8:30 PM
I am not, but one of my best friends in high school was a HUGE fan. And he had the best car.
Glyph 8:30 PM
Rowan’s Creek bourbon is…really good
Reformed Republican 8:30 PM
The 80s were futuristic, until the 90s happened.
Glyph 8:30 PM
Have you guys heard about the looming bourbon shortage? Damn trendies
Krogerfoot 8:31 PM
“Getting Ready for the 80s” is The Village People’s most underrated single, I think
Slade the Leveller 8:31 PM
Chris 8:31 PM
I lived in Kentucky for 5 years. The bourbon shortage is creating a mild panic up there.
Glyph 8:31 PM
It’s causing a mild panic here in my chair
Slade the Leveller 8:31 PM
15 year old Glenlivet just poured.
Krogerfoot 8:31 PM
I’m drinking coffee, yet I seem to be the most obnoxious participant
Glyph 8:32 PM
hey, you take that back. I’m easily the League’s most irritating commenter
Chris 8:32 PM
I have about a dozen bottles of various whiskeys, so I’m already stocking up.
Slade the Leveller 8:32 PM
Give the booze some time.
Reformed Republican 8:32 PM
I still need to get acquainted with whiskey. I thought about getting some for tonight, but had no idea what to get.
Krogerfoot 8:33 PM
Whiskey turns me into Jerry Lewis
Chris 8:33 PM
I grew up in Tennessee, then went to college in Kentucky, so my entire youth was an education in whiskey
Krogerfoot 8:33 PM
I say that like it’s a bad thing
Chris 8:33 PM
I’m trying to imagine what being turned into Jerry Lewis is like
Reformed Republican 8:33 PM
You balloon up and host telethons?
Glyph 8:33 PM
Chris 8:33 PM
Slade the Leveller 8:33 PM
beat me to it
Krogerfoot 8:34 PM
Comedy is not pretty
Chris 8:34 PM
unless you’re Aisha Tyler. Just sayin’
Slade the Leveller 8:35 PM
One of my favorite Jerry Lewis stories has him introducing Lynyrd Skynyrd on the telethon, and pronouncing it with long e’s.
Chris 8:35 PM
which is how people in the mountains pronounce it anyway
Reformed Republican 8:36 PM
I thought they just pronounced it Freebird
Chris 8:36 PM
now that’s some 80s guitar
if that even is a guitar. it’s the 80s, so you can’t always tell.
Krogerfoot 8:37 PM
“Jolly ‘Fats’ Weehawken to London” has been a codeword for a cheap, miserable plane trip in my family for a long time. I recently realized a lot of people used that reference from a Jerry Lewis movie. I looked up a clip and it was incredibly unfunny
Slade the Leveller 8:37 PM
This one is about Andy Partridge trying to fend off the attentions of the woman who would eventually become his second wife.
Glyph 8:38 PM
See, negging works! ;-)
Chris 8:38 PM
Clearly he was a miserable failure.
Krogerfoot 8:38 PM
Funny women are totally desirable. The meme that says women can’t be funny makes not the slightest sense to me
I am now precisely four comments behind everyone else
Glyph 8:38 PM
One of the funniest people I know is a woman. And a Jerry Lewis fan.
Krogerfoot 8:39 PM
Please introduce her to me
Glyph 8:39 PM
She has a boyfriend. He’s AWFUL
Krogerfoot 8:39 PM
Perfect conditions for me to work my magic
Slade the Leveller 8:40 PM
Looks like the coffee is beginning to work its magic!
Chris 8:40 PM
I am enjoying this.
Krogerfoot 8:40 PM
Seriously, I am very very lonely
Glyph 8:41 PM
Not tonight/thisAM!
Chris 8:41 PM
You sure there’s no whiskey in your coffee?
Krogerfoot 8:41 PM
Of course, I say that to a bunch of guys watching YouTube on a Friday night
Glyph 8:41 PM
This is really nice, Slade
Slade the Leveller 8:41 PM
The only way to make this better would be to be outdoors, but I can’t get wifi out there.
Krogerfoot 8:42 PM
I read “wifi” as “wife”
Reformed Republican 8:43 PM
Just run a LAN cable through a window
Chris 8:43 PM
you really are lonely!
Slade the Leveller 8:43 PM
Can’t get her anywhere.
Krogerfoot 8:43 PM
Glyph 8:43 PM
A friend of mine was looking and the local alt-weekly and saw Divine Fits were coming, and got excited
Glyph 8:43 PM
then he realized it said “Diseased Fetus”
Glyph 8:43 PM
so, probably not going to that
also, getting eyes checked
Krogerfoot 8:45 PM
I left a not-terribly-admiring comment about XTC in the comments, but I wish to retract it
Glyph 8:45 PM
no take backsies
Krogerfoot 8:45 PM
This is better than I remember from dorm rooms in the late 80s
Chris 8:46 PM
This song has surprised me a bit.
Krogerfoot 8:46 PM
Although I will never forgive the horrible people who were listening to it back then
Slade the Leveller 8:46 PM
There’s a cool Prisoner style video for it.
Chris 8:47 PM
ah, this is the song [“Dear God”] you mentioned in the intro
Slade the Leveller 8:47 PM
Yep, this one put this record on the map.
Glyph 8:47 PM
yep, this was the hit
Never noticed the Peter Hookish bass in the back before there
Slade the Leveller 8:48 PM
Another reference I’ve never heard. Moulding is my bass hero.
Glyph 8:49 PM
You know Peter Hook
Slade the Leveller 8:49 PM
Oh yeah.
Glyph 8:49 PM
Joy Division/New Order
Amazing bassist, terrible human being
Slade the Leveller 8:49 PM
I saw NO on the Low Life tour back in ’85, stoned out of my mind.
Worse than Exene seems to have become?
Glyph 8:50 PM
Live they can be….variable. VERY variable
Slade the Leveller 8:50 PM
Didn’t really matter in the state I was in.
Glyph 8:50 PM
Hook has admitted to forging Curtis’ signature on memorabilia and selling it on the net
And he’s just generally a dick
Slade the Leveller 8:50 PM
DAMN, that is low.
Krogerfoot 8:51 PM
Chris 8:51 PM
Glyph 8:51 PM
Still, I think of him as the Roger McGuinn of bass. Invented a new style
Slade the Leveller 8:51 PM
Yep, probably the first lead bassist.
Krogerfoot 8:51 PM
It can’t be emphasized enough, you do not need to be a good or nice person to create great art
Chris 8:52 PM
Definitely, because I’m going to have to have Substance with me when I finally get stranded on that desert island.
Krogerfoot 8:52 PM
John Entwhistle may want to have a word with you about that
However you spell that
Glyph 8:52 PM
Entwhistle is the better bassist. But Hook is more original. IMO.
Krogerfoot 8:53 PM
Hmm. That statement is going to be very hard to square with the historical record
Slade the Leveller 8:53 PM
This record, which I’ve listened to a million times, is sounding very pastoral tonight.
Glyph 8:53 PM
Or maybe not the first lead bassist. Entwhistle basically played lead too. ALL the Who did.
But Hook did that high, melodic thing you never really heard before him (and heard all over the place after)
Chris 8:54 PM
which is weird, ’cause dude sounds a bit like Daltrey on this
Krogerfoot 8:54 PM
Not to diminish PH. I think he did something very weird and original with the idea
Slade the Leveller 8:55 PM
Hope my XTC nerdity didn’t show too much
Glyph 8:56 PM
no, this was nice
Krogerfoot 8:56 PM
Yes, nice choice
Chris 8:56 PM
I enjoyed it.
Reformed Republican 8:56 PM
I enjoyed it. Something I would not have heard otherwise
Slade the Leveller 8:58 PM
More Scotch!
Chris 8:58 PM
Wait, GBV? I totally DID NOT see that coming ;)
Slade the Leveller 9:00 PM
BTW, I did not read that comment on the League in a bad way.
Slade the Leveller 9:00 PM
Power pop!
Krogerfoot 9:01 PM
OK, I paused it. Of course, I have about 800 GBV albums, so I can play them whenever I want
Slade the Leveller 9:03 PM
Yeah, Pollard is the Stephen King of rock and roll, so 800 is probably not far off the mark.
Krogerfoot 9:03 PM
I read a review of Tobin Sprout that referred to him as the George Harrison to Pollard’s Lennon/McCartney
Krogerfoot 9:06 PM
This was the first GBV record I got, after reading the review in Rolling Stone
Glyph 9:07 PM
It’s not your connection, Slade :-)
It’s SUPPOSED to sound this way
Chris 9:07 PM
Reformed Republican 9:09 PM
are the tracks for this album normally seamless?
Glyph 9:09 PM
well, sort of
it’s a collage
Glyph 9:10 PM
it was recorded to consumer-grade 4-track
and possibly a boombox
Krogerfoot 9:10 PM
It was during this song that I realized that I was going to love this band
Glyph 9:10 PM
a seemingly nonsense lyric, yet it accurately describes a failing relationship – what is a “Tractor Rape Chain” anyway? Something that drags us down, pulls us apart, takes without giving back, wrecks us? ‘Parallel lines on a slow decline’, indeed.
Krogerfoot 9:11 PM
Lots of evocative lines on this
“A necklace of fifty eyes”
Reformed Republican 9:13 PM
And You Will Know Us By The Trail of the Dead cover this song.
Did anyone listen to All Things Considered tonight?
Chris 9:14 PM
They talked about a book of poetry by Afghan women, and it had the line, “Your eyes aren’t eyes. They’re bees. I can find no cure for their sting. ”
it is now in my head forever.
Chris 9:16 PM
I used to use him saying “Hot Freaks” as a ring tone for text messages
it got me weird looks on the bus
Glyph 9:17 PM
I will be eternally hateful
kroger, do you have the B1000 book?
They talk about how “Hardcore UFO’s” basically inverts the melody of “Carrie Anne”
and now I can’t not hear it
Krogerfoot 9:18 PM
Chris, I just decided I wasn’t perhaps the world’s biggest fan of GBV after all
Glyph, I don’t. Carrie Annie?
Glyph 9:19 PM
Chris 9:19 PM
I am a GBV fan, but not like Glyph, so probably not like you either. I just like to find moments in songs and turn them into hilarious ring tones.
Glyph 9:19 PM
Hey Carrie Anne, what’s your game now can anybody play?
Krogerfoot 9:19 PM
That’s a blind spot for me
Chris 9:19 PM
Right now, mine is “Whatever!” from “The United States of Whatever”
Glyph 9:20 PM
OK, so here’s something I’d like to do with GBV fans
A costume party where you come as a Pollard character or concept
Slade the Leveller 9:20 PM
I know of them but I think that’s going to change. This is good stuff.
Glyph 9:20 PM
We could be “The Textbook Committee”
Glyph 9:20 PM
Or “The Popular Mechanics”
Krogerfoot 9:20 PM
Chris, I just imperceptibly nodded and tilted my drink in your direction
Glyph 9:22 PM
And I love the way “Yours to Keep” normally crashes straight into the stellar harmonies and effortless cool of “Echos Myron” – ‘Most of us are quite pleased with the same old song’ – but not GbV – we’re a very heavy load, but they have come to lift us up with a new song – ‘If it’s right you can tell’.
Krogerfoot 9:22 PM
My former girlfriend painted Death Cock and
Slade the Leveller 9:23 PM
Krogerfoot 9:23 PM
Sorry, “Deathtrot and Warlock Riding a Rooster” [a GbV song title]
Glyph 9:23 PM
See, THERE’S a good costume
Chris 9:23 PM
damn you autocorrect
Slade the Leveller 9:23 PM
Thank you, Dr. Freud.
Chris 9:23 PM
That’s going to look awesome in the post ;)
Krogerfoot 9:23 PM
Painted it on a dining room table. She was later a Pulitzer finalist. True story. Correlation
Chris 9:23 PM
I’m going to bold it
Slade the Leveller 9:24 PM
Man, I love jangle pop.
Glyph 9:24 PM
I’ll be Taco, you be Buffalo, he can be Birddog and Jesus will play Himself
Chris 9:24 PM
It’s definitely great drinking music
Glyph 9:24 PM
@ Slade – they are BIG R.E.M. fans
Slade the Leveller 9:25 PM
Definitely hear some Murmur here.
Krogerfoot 9:25 PM
I wanna be a Dumbcharger
Glyph 9:26 PM
A necklace of fifty eyes would get some looks. And possibly the police called.
Chris 9:27 PM
This album can give you whiplash
Reformed Republican 9:27 PM
We had a guy that used to work night shift. He had a thing for eyes. He would cut them out of magazine pictures. I do not remember what got him fired, but people were glad that he was gone.
Glyph 9:27 PM
Wow. That is odd.
Krogerfoot 9:27 PM
Slade the Leveller 9:27 PM
3rd shift will do that
Glyph 9:27 PM
time for refill
The Popular Mechanics are at it again
The Soft Rock Renegades
God is all good, ex post facto
Chris 9:34 PM
is Pollard a Modern Lovers fan?
Glyph 9:34 PM
He’s an EVERYTHING fan. He’s like an encyclopedia
This sounds like Wire/Devo to me
She is having the time of my life
Krogerfoot 9:37 PM
Coming up on “I Am a Scientist,” arguably GBV’s greatest song. And I am totally willing to argue about it
Reformed Republican 9:37 PM
This [“Kicker of Elves”] is in the running for favorite song titles
Chris 9:37 PM
it is definitely my favorite song on this album
Glyph 9:38 PM
Is this the saddest song ever?
Wings of films that never seem to see the screen
Chris 9:38 PM
the last one is, if you’re an elf
Krogerfoot 9:38 PM
Shit yeah
“Peep Hole” kind of gets me verklempt
Glyph 9:38 PM
A flying car that seems to whisper in an ear, ‘Let’s just go, get out of here’
Krogerfoot 9:39 PM
How does one weigh a ghost?
Reformed Republican 9:40 PM
Fill a glass with water. Place it on a scale. Get ghost to fly into glass of water.
Krogerfoot 9:40 PM
I’ll try that
Chris 9:40 PM
Yeah, this is my favorite on this album
Glyph 9:40 PM
‘I am a lost soul, I shoot myself with rock and roll/ The hole I dig is bottomless, but nothing else can set me free’.
Krogerfoot 9:40 PM
Potions pills and medicines to ease your painful lives
Chris 9:41 PM
I need to make “I am a scientist” into a ringtone
Reformed Republican 9:41 PM
am I the only one who has never heard this album before? I feel so unhip.
Krogerfoot 9:41 PM
(Looks away, embarrassed)
Chris 9:41 PM
Leave, now.
Glyph 9:41 PM
It’s an acquired taste, but if you catch it, you will be addicted
Reformed Republican 9:42 PM
It seems like it would scratch a similar itch to early Yo La Tengo
Glyph 9:42 PM
that’s not wrong
Chris 9:42 PM
“Everywhere with Helicopter” is still my favorite song of theirs, however.
Slade the Leveller 9:42 PM
Same club, but it’s really good.
I think I’m way behind you guys, however.
Glyph 9:43 PM
Rusty and divided steel, the race is yet to come
Reformed Republican 9:43 PM
I will definitely have to check this out as a cohesive unit without the breaks
Chris 9:43 PM
[After starting, losing, and starting Kowloon Walled City about three times]
Glyph 9:49 PM
I was DIGGING that, get it back
Chris 9:49 PM
yeah, it was nice
Chris 9:51 PM
this is a band i do not know, but I like them already
Krogerfoot 9:53 PM
If you, like me, are a fan of bands that scream incessantly, Kowloon Walled City is going to really hit the spot
Slade the Leveller 9:55 PM
That is a great band name, and the cover art is one of the bleakest since Pink Floyd’s Animals.
Krogerfoot 9:55 PM
I believe, in fact, the vocals were recorded without microphones. The guy just screamed directly into the mixing console
Glyph 9:57 PM

{transcript ends}

Please do be so kind as to share this post.

8 thoughts on “Revolutions!

  1. I firmly believe that it’s unfair to hold XTC responsible for the influence they’ve had on less talented/more obnoxious musicians. They made a lot of perfectly good records.

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  2. Slade, check out a Canadian band called Elephant Stone. They have a sitar player (used to be in the High Dials) and they do psych-pop that reminds me at times of Rain Parade, Cornershop, Macha, XTC, and Stone Roses.

    Here’s a more psychedelic track (they call it “Hindie Rock”):

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  3. With regard to The Format’s Dog Problems, once you’ve heard it, and liked no doubt for its infectious pop sensibility, you’ll be able to boast to your friends that your a big fan of the band Nate Ruess was in before he was in fun. And isn’t that what indie rock is all about? Cf. Zumpano and The New Pornographers.

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  4. Well, in some ways last night was more technologically challenging that the first round, but we did learn two valuable things:

    1. My presence is not required for these parties to go off. So I’ll just set them up as standing/recurring events without worrying about whether I will always be able to attend. Just don’t foment the violent overthrow of the government while I’m not there please, lest I get a visit from the NSA and/or the Google Police.

    2. Assembling albums from individual tracks is a bit of a pain. I *think* what was happening was some people were getting ads between each track, and this made playback appear to be “hanging” for those with AdBlockers, causing the people with AdBlockers to mess with the player buttons to “fix” playback (which then affects everyone). So I’d probably stick with people picking/playing one “track” (which of course may be a whole album) at a time in future.

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  5. Thanks so much for putting these together. It’s been a source of some very interesting music, and I’m looking forward to our monthly meetups.

    Checking out Elephant Stone right now, and I like what I hear. They’ll never replace my favorite Canadian band, Sloan, however. They rock!

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    • Thanks for copying the chat. I just threw up an edited version of it on the OP.

      And I think “threw up” is a good way to put it, even with you fixing the names and me trimming out a lot of the “is this thing on?”‘s, it’s sort of hard to follow. Not sure if it’s worth saving for posterity, but it was a blast.

      Thanks for coming all!

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