Skylarking (XTC) – Album Review (Part 2)

As you have just read, “Skylarking” was recorded under a guillotine-sharp atmosphere. Todd Rundgren was determined to produce, and Andy was determined to have his way as usual. You look up “falling out” in Wikipedia and you will probably come across this drawing of Todd that Andy made during the sessions:

Todd Rundgren

In hindsight, the right thing to say is that Todd saved XTC’s career. Andy readily admits it now. He infused the songs on offer (songs that were already very strong to begin with) with a sheen that was commercial without sacrificing any of the band’s trademark wit and whimsicality. This is evident the moment “Summer’s Cauldron” begins playing. A song that describes the inertia which characterizes these summer days when the whole world seems to be put on hold and life resembles an eternal vacation, it was a daring way to start the album made instantly approachable by the production. Continue reading

Skylarking (XTC) – Album Review (Part 1)

The Front Cover. A Risque One Andy Had Drawn Was Rejected.

The Front Cover. A Risque One Andy Had Drawn Was Rejected.

Skylarking was the album that managed to revive XTC’s career, a career that was at an all-time low ever since they had quitted touring. The two preceding albums (“Mummer” and “The Big Express”) had vanished without trace, and the predominant sentiment regarding the Swindon outfit was one of apathy.

Virgin was concerned about that, and proposed pairing the band with a producer whose ideas could complement XTC’s very own and redound to a creative goldrush. The choice of producer fell on Todd Rundgren, the American musician and producer known then for his work with Utopia. Todd was a no-nonsense person, and the relationship with Andy was to prove nightmarish from start to finish. This was to take an eventual toll on the band, and Colin actually decided to leave XTC as the sessions were climaxing. Continue reading