A lot of XTC fans (not I) feel that Skylarking is the band’s album. There are many stories of Andy Partridge‘s frustrations with the heavy hand of producer Todd Rundgren. This interview with Todd on working with Laura Nyro is telling. Man, it’s got to be hard to put your work in the hands of an equally driven, iconoclastic producer. Good stuff all around!
Remember teen-hearthrob Shaun Cassidy‘s play for musical credibility, an album called Wasp? On this 1980, Todd Rundgren-produced album the younger half-brother of David (and star of The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries TV series),covered songs by David Bowie, The Who, The Animals, Ian Hunter, Talking Heads, and more. Cool songs. Rundgren and Utopia back young Shaun.
As mind-blowing as the thought of this album was when it came out, I never heard a lick of it…until now. Have you ever heard the entire album? Check out the following tracks and let me know if Shaun Cassidy belated deserves credit where credit is due.
Andy Partridge himself brought this video to my attention today, via his Twitter account. (Yes, I agree; it’s a little confusing that the former frontman of XTC uses a Twitter account called “xtcfans.”) I actually remember watching this as a RealPlayer file when it came out around 1999. Anyway, it’s one of the more unique entries of the Apple Venus media blitz. See if you can detect any evidence of the looming Partridge and Moudling split. Enjoy!
I’d forgotten about this little hit song of Dave Edmunds, “Slipping Away.” It’s got a lot in common with one of ELO’s last hit songs, “Don’t Bring Me Down.” That song and this Edmunds production by ELO’s Jeff Lynne set the stage for a decade of constipated production jobs by Lynne for already established tight-ass artists Edmunds, George Harrison, and Tom Petty. I don’t necessarily dislike the records Lynne produced for these artists, man, get these guys some bran muffins!
“Guess I’m a lone rhinoceros no more,” says Adrian.
The same goes for you!
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Ah, The Beach Boys‘—or should I say Brian Wilson‘s—aborted Smile…the stuff on which Rock Town Hill was constructed!
I went to see an old friend’s band last week and ended up staying through the end of the night to see not only my friend’s band but the stylishly suited opener and the final band on the bill, a young Brooklyn outfit called Apollo Run. No offense to the first two bands, who delivered the kind of fine, traditionally rocking sets I’ve come to expect of them, but I want to focus on Apollo Run.
As they started their set with some mellow songs along the lines of the first YouTube clip here, loaded with rug harmonies, I was both impressed by the band members’ ability to harmonize on nonsense syllables and a bit bugged by the fact that some of the songs reminded me of that Fleet Foxes appearance on Saturday Night Live last fall. As with Fleet Foxes, I was impressed by how deftly and specifically Apollo Run bugged me that way I was bugged by rug pioneers like Crosby, Stills & Nash. I thought there was a point when I would live long enough to never have to hear a certain type of music again, but I was wrong. Rug harmonies are back.
Then the band began to loosen up a bit. Their opening song’s promise of some Police-like dynamics resurfaced along with more rocking dramatics along the lines of Queen and poppier late-period prog bands, like Asia or something (super-cute, engaging singer/keyboardist/guitarist/trumpeter John McGrew would have killed leading a progressive arena band from the late-’70s). More modern influences, surely, came to the fore, influences I could not identify if my life depended on it. They were so anthemic and “1980s,” at times, that I had visions of young, buzz-cutted Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer high-fiving over their soaring harmonies. It was terrifying, but it made me regret some of what I might have missed out on during my too-cool-for-school youth.