Jul 062010

This news courtesy of Townsman cherguevara:

XTC Skylarking Better Than You’ve Ever Heard It Date:

In the course of world renowned mastering engineer John Dents [sic] work on preparing the new double vinyl set of XTC’s Skylarking for release, an interesting and wonderful thing has been discovered. John has informed us that that somewhere in the chain from Todd Rundgrens [sic] Utopia sound studio and Londons Master room studio, way back in 1986, a fault has occurred that means all of the versions of Skylarking you’ve ever heard, on CD or vinyl, have sounded…how shall we put this?… wrong. Read complete story here.

I usually cringe when I read about any significantly “restored-to-the-creators’-intent” reissue, but I’m a longtime XTC fan who’s always found Skylarking to sound a bit thin and cold. I always blamed it on a combination of Rundgren’s tight ass constricting Partridge’s increasingly tight ass, with an assist to Todd’s boy and former Tubes drummer, Prairie Prince. I’m curious whether any amount of added warmth and low tones will spark up some of the codified songwriting that has set in by that late date in the band’s career.

[NOTE: cher may have a different take on this and, most likely, can assess the veracity of the supposed technical glitch.]

UPDATE: cherguevara has called…

…this story!


  4 Responses to “XTC…As Its Music Was Meant to Sound!”

  1. This whole thing seems more dubious than Mod’s attempts to hijack the World Cup. They could just say that “we remixed the record and we like it better this way…” That makes more sense than this story. It’s plausible, but unlikely. Polaroty can screw with you, but someone would have spoken up long before now. Most of you Townsfolk who have spent one second in a studio knows this. This is why we spend 20 minutes with a mic placement on a bass drum. I call BULLSHIT on this XTC ploy.


  2. Ahem, yes, let me adjust my tweed jacket with the leather patches on the elbows, Sherlock Holmes pipe in place, reading glasses on. Alright, now I can proceed….

    What latelydavid says above is true – if you set up more than one mic, you have to check the phase relationship of them. Especially with drums, making sure the kick is “in phase” with overheads. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

    We’re talking about the overall polarity of the entire album. In other words, if you were to disconnect the wires from your speakers, flip them around and reconnect the wires to the opposite terminals, then you would be flipping the polarity. Where the speaker used to push out, now it pulls in.

    It has nothing to do with the phase relationship of elements in the mix of Skylarking – we’re talking about taking the waveform of the entire album and inverting it. This is virtually inaudible. The systems most likely to make this change audible have cheap speakers that distort in an uneven way (ie only when the speaker is pushing out, or pulling back in).

    Even if this polarity error was audible, it would be extremely, extremely subtle. To write it up as a revelation, a vast improvement to the mix, means that Andy Partridge either doesn’t understand what he’s talking about, there is more to the story, or they think we are idiots.

    Why not say they are just making a nice new vinyl master? It’s not a hi-fi kind of album anyway so who cares? I love it, don’t get me wrong, but the above post is right.

    This is bullshit.

  3. BigSteve

    I can’t help but think of Memphis power pop legend Tommy Hoehn’s song Hey Polarity. You can get a taste of it here:


    I had no idea until I tried to find an mp3 of this track, but Hoehn apparently died just last week. R.I.P.

  4. Speaking of Hoehn, we’re auditioning a drummer this weekend who was working with him before his passing. I’m a little sad Tommy couldn’t be at the Big Star/Chilton tribute as was planned.


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