Let's All Take a Quick Moment To Adore Skylarking.

God, how I anticipated this record. '86? Remember how big the 60's were coming back? I heard "Dear God" and "Grass" because I sprang for one of those 12" singles and also "Extrovert" was on there I think. Man, I was deep into that shit. I think my favorite band at the time was The Byrds. I'd gone from postpunk to the Beau Brummels and The Beatles and that.

And Andy was about to introduce me to a certain Mr. Wilson.

When these guys were recording this in Woodstock in summer '86 I must have been about an hour and a half away. I remember that summer, too. It was a good, workmanlike summer. On the hideous charts was Madonna with "Live To Tell" and Howard Jones' "No One Is To Blame". Did REM put out "Pageant"? No, I think that was '87. The Malarians were starting to fly. I gradiated collidge. We had put out "In The Cool Room" (vinyl!!) in the spring and we were top of the heap. Pretty soon we'd start recording at Fort Apache in Boston with Sean Slade producing and we'd mine that 60's brainpop vein pretty deep. And get the Rhino deal and start getting college radio.

I had sort of been feeling like music was dying a death in the mid-80's. I guess it sort of was. What didn't suck in the mid- to late- 80's? That was Michael Bolton time. That was Guns 'n' Roses Time. All those 70's wankers came back and did crappy "make it sound 80's" albums. It was endless. Skylarking! that was the heat, man. "Season Cycle". "Ballet For A Rainy Day". "Summer's Cauldron".

It made me really want to get to work. Maybe it was part of the reason I quit the Malarians a couple years on. The fact that music that ambitious was commercially viable made me want into the ambitiosweepstakes badly. I was recently degreed in the stuff, too, which gave me something to prove. I had such a lovely two years after that, sorting myself out and writing and writing and writing. Very likely my most artistically pure time. Then I did the Mr. Sherwood band which was all jangle and 4-part harmonies. Great. Ambitious. "Busy". We did "Scarecrow People" from O&L. And the other cover was that Who song, oh, um..."The Kids Are Alright".

Then we heard "Teen Spirit" and broke up.

Norhing against "Teen Spirit". But you couldn't hear that stuff and not realize the groundswell would be moving well away from string sections and big harmonies and song cycles. 'Course, it killed hair metal dead and that was important. That was an interesting time for me because it was identical to the Rubicon of 1977. Every one of my heroes from then had made the decision to act like they were punks for a few years so they could have careers. It was interesting to me to note that I wasn't up for that, but I think grunge was so much more of a cash cow in '91 than punk ever was.


Anonymous kevin wolf said...

I bought the same 12" singles. Loved "Extrovert." These guys threw shit on b-sides that other bands would die for - if they weren't so stupid as to not recognize Great when it sat on their laps. This album alone got me through an ugly winter working retail. Dead of winter and I could listen to "Summer's Cauldron/Grass" and feel warm. All hail XTC!

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like when great things sit on my lap.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Bobby Lightfoot said...

Like Catherine the Great?

7:31 PM  
Blogger Employee of the Month said...

I remember listening to 1000 Umbrellas/Ballet for a Rainy Day on WDET, when the abum (still a word?) was just out, whilst driving in a blinding snowstorm across the thumb of Michigan travelling from one county courthouse to the county courthouse four counties over for the semi-crappy research job I once had.

Dave Dixon was the "Record Host". Dave is dead now.

Dear God I do adore Skylarking.

10:41 PM  
Blogger Employee of the Month said...


10:41 PM  
Blogger Employee of the Month said...


10:41 PM  
Blogger Employee of the Month said...


10:41 PM  
Blogger Bobby Lightfoot said...


11:16 PM  
Blogger Simon said...

I'm 15... all the great music of my youth is vanishing and i'm noticing there's less and less music on the radio or television that's interesting. By the end of the 80's things were reaching a putrified state.

Our government sponsored channel's midnight til 10am music show decides to celebrate the release of the 'Grass' single by playing every XTC video clip up until that time, and the final song, 'Grass' knocks me over completely. Which is how I became an XTC fan... a late starter.

Funnily enough the single down here was 'Earn Enough For Us'.

As bad as the late 80's were the early 90's were dire. Madchester? M C Hammer? Grunge? *Shudders*

7:54 AM  
Blogger FreeThinker said...

Dear God, I love "Skylarking!"

2:02 AM  

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