|Produced by Todd Rundgren|
|Released on October 27, 1986|
|UK CHART POSITION #90 . . . US CHART POSITION #70|
|Find it at GEMM|
[high resolution scan]
O n the heels of producing a truly horrible Tubes album (Love Bomb), Todd Rundgren somehow coaxed XTC into his studio to record a truly great XTC album, Skylarking. Legend, that cryptic mumbler, has spoken of dissension in the ranks, egos colliding, tyranny and the trashing of a serviceable first draft; all of it irrelevant after the last synthesized cricket chirps up on “Grass.” Rundgren, credited with “continuity,” creates a sustainable world for the first two tracks on Skylarking, honoring the importance that XTC has always put on track placement. In this context, “Summer’s Cauldron” becomes an invitation into the world of Skylarking, where psychedelic psensibilities (psunpot’s motes made manifest) are seen for the first time (so it seems) in clear detail. Skylarking isn’t a different direction in style so much as execution; those who recall Rundgren’s faithful reproductions of The Beach Boys and The Beatles will be delighted to find the same unerring ear for detail applied to “Season Cycle” and “1000 Umbrellas.” XTC had their roots in punk and Rundgren replanted them in the poppy soil of Pet Sounds and Revolver. Colin Moulding especially flourishes in the new environment, contributing five tracks that are essential to setting the stage (“Grass,” “The Meeting Place”) and closing the (red) curtain (“Dying,” “Sacrificial Bonfire”). In between is his sour, psychedelic look at marriage, “Big Day,” complete with satiric sitars. Andy’s contributions are appreciably clever and, in some cases, emotionally rich: “That’s Really Super, Supergirl” would fit the former, “Another Satellite” the latter. And then there’s the irrepressible shouldabeen hit, “Earn Enough For Us.” Unfortunately, it was “Dear God,” unwisely appended to the American release of Skylarking in lieu of the darting and difficult “Mermaid Smiled,” that gained the most attention. Its hackneyed sentiments notwithstanding, the song became something of a lightning rod for an album whose pretensions already made it a target of critics (not so much actual critics, who tend to admire XTC’s intelligence after swimming in sewage for most of the day). It’s true that Skylarking swoons a bit on the second side, yet XTC fans will rush to its rescue and find that a sort of intimacy occurs in the act. I enjoy this more than any album since English Settlement because of that directness. There’s no talk of nuclear holocausts or racial tension, simply artful meditations on universal problems: marriage, work, God, death. And from such common building blocks are built chain stores and churches.
DAVE GREGORY -- vocal, guitar, piano, synthesizer, chamberlin, and the odd tiple, string arrangement (6)
COLIN MOULDING -- vocal, bass guitar and bonfire
ANDY PARTRIDGE -- vocal, guitar
The Beech Avenue Boys -- all backing vocals
Prarie Prince -- time bomb (i.e., drums)
Todd Rundgren -- orchestral arrangements, computer programming, engineer, continuity concept
Dave Dragon/The Design Clinic -- sleeve drawings
Ken Ansell/The Design Clinic -- typography
Cindy Palmano -- photography
return to XTC discography
|REGION||RELEASE DATE||LABEL||MEDIA||ID NUMBER||FEATURES|
|UK||October 27, 1986||Virgin||LP||V2339||lyric sleeve|
|US||October 27, 1986||Geffen||LP/CS/CD||GHS/M5G-24117/-2||lyric sleeve|
|US||1996||Mobile Fidelity||CD||UDCD-615||Ultradisc II remaster|
|JPN||2001||Virgin||CDX||TOCP-65718||digital remaster w. bonus track|
|JPN||2005||EMI Toshiba||CDX||TOCP-67808||digital remaster w. bonus track|
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