Wednesday, March 4, 2009
XTC - Apple Venus Vol 1 - There has been a lot of chatter about the "15 albums that changed your life" meme from the folks that were there with me at the time, and a fair percentage of it was about XTC. We are all pretty much in agreement about the greatness of Skylarking, though it didn't make my list because I can't really say it changed my life as much as added color to it. I took the meme to be records that altered the course of things, and Skylarking just confirmed certain trajectories.
Add to that the fact that I just received the Dukes of Stratosphear (XTC psychedelic novelty side-project) reissues in the mail and they sound as hilariously potent as they did twenty years ago, when they were crafted to sound like they were twenty years old already, XTC is front and center in my thinking. I am nursing the idea of turning 20+20 myself this month and looking at how my 20th anniversary reissue of my 20's novelty act is holding up, and I think it's improved with age.
And somehow, this is the first time I've ever listened to Apple Venus Vol 1. It is XTC with all the frenetic spasms wrung out, leaving perfectly tended fields of harmony and seamless songcraft. It's probably well I didn't hear this back in 1999 - I wouldn't have liked it. I was on the cusp of the Christ age and spent entirely too much time thinking about The True Christ Iggy Pop and the rounded edges and sometimes cloying lyrics of Apple Venus would have bounced right off me like a beach ball glancing a cactus, it's taut shiny skin unfazed by my needles.
The Kinks - Muswell Hillbillies - Now this, I would have loved in 1999, because my non-Iggy moments were focused on the Really Realism of alt.country and this great Kinks moment from the 70s would have wedged in perfectly with my jam of '99, Wilco's Being There (even though it was 3 years old by then. I got into Wilco through the Mermaid Avenue record) which resembles it in a number of ways. In fact, I'm surprised this hasn't come up more as one of the foundation documents of the whole alt.country thing - it's a lot closer to the actual practice than Gram Parsons ever was. All that pointlessness aside, this is a great, great record, like practically every Kinks record is by the time you get around to listening to it.
Elton John - Honky Chateau (lala) Elton John has little to do with discussion except that I have never listened to this record in its entirety until now either, and Rhapsody suggested Honky Chateau after the Kinks. Elton John during my life of sonic cognition has been largely terrible, "Who Wears These Shoes" being what I immediately and unfortunately think when I think "Elton John." Had my stepbrother known this and not been too busy grinding down to darker 40s of his own that ended in 1999 (which also has nothing really to do with this either) he might have sat me down at some point and corrected my thinking, for he was a massive Elton John fan. And my baby sister had a baby at 4AM this morning, and both are doing fine and that probably is incidental to the discussion too (or rather this discussion is incidental to that), but like everything else in this, needs to be said.
Luna - Bewitched (lala) Welcome to the world, Luna Elizabeth Cook. This is one of your uncle's favorite records.