December 31, 2008 Playlist

"Skylarking" by XTC (1986)
XTC  "Skylarking"  1986 (UK)
For the final CAOTW of 2008, here's a timeless slice of psychedelicized art-pop from one of England's most celebrated cult bands of the last few decades.  XTC came up with the punk crowd in the late 1970's, though soon revealed a talent for writing catchy songs with a 60's vibe (their debut LP had even included a spastic arrangement of the Dylan/Hendrix classic "All Along The Watchtower".)  By the mid-1980's the band had stopped touring and become a drummerless trio, and seemed to be running on fumes with few hits and little notice at home or abroad.  Then for a lark, in 1985 they recorded the blatantly retro psychedelic EP 25 O'Clock under the name Dukes of Stratosphear.  Going back to their groovy roots seems to have re-energized their muse, and though their 1986 sessions with superproducer Todd Rundgren were fraught with tension, the resulting album is now widely heralded as a pop masterpiece.  Not only does Skylarking feature a variety of lovely tunes and brilliant production, it's also a song cycle about the hours of the day, and metaphorically about "life itself."  Sort of like Dark Side of the Moon
There are a few clips of XTC performing live in their early days, but for the most part they are a band of the "music video age", so here are a few of their promotional clips: "Dear God" was originally a non-album B-side, but proved popular on American college radio and so it was added to the US release of the album.  The song "Grass" from this album was written by the band's bassist and "unsung second song writer" Colin Moulding, and is a rare example of a song from the 1980's with an obvious drug entendre lyric.  And here's XTC as Dukes of Stratosphear, doing their best Magical Mystery Tour impression for the trippy "The Mole From The Ministry".  Finally, here are two more mildly psychedelic XTC numbers, their earlier hit "Senses Working Overtime" from 1982, and "Mayor Of Simpleton" which was a hit in 1989.
(N) = New Release
Artist Song Album Year Country
Jimi Hendrix / Band of Gypsys Auld Lang Syne
   / Who Knows (live)
Live At The Fillmore East rec. 1969-70 USA
Royal Trux Another Year Accelerator
1998 USA
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks No More Shoes Face The Truth
2005 USA
Emerson Lake & Palmer I Believe In Father Christmas Works Volume 2 1977 UK
Emerson Lake & Palmer The Only Way (Hymn)
   / Infinite Space (Conclusion)
Tarkus 1971 UK
Crosby Stills & Nash Cathedral CSN 1977 USA/UK
XTC Dear God Skylarking
1986 UK
XTC Dying Skylarking
1986 UK
XTC Sacrificial Bonfire Skylarking
1986 UK
Neil Young (with Crazy Horse) Look Out For My Love Comes A Time 1978 Canada
Arrington de Dionyso
(from Old Time Relijun)
Pluto In Capricorn (I See Beyond The Black Sun) I See Beyond The Black Sun (N) 2008 (K records) USA
Apollo Stars
(produced by L. Ron Hubbard!)
The Power Of Source The Power Of Source 1974 USA
Tony Williams Lifetime Emergency! Emergency! 1969 USA
King Crimson I Talk To The Wind In The Court Of The Crimson King 1969 UK
Scott Walker Plastic Palace People Scott 2 1968 USA/UK
Arzachel (Steve Hillage with Egg) Azathoth Arzachel 1969 UK
Egg I Will Be Absorbed Egg 1970 UK
Rahsaan Roland Kirk Lovellevelliloqui The Inflated Tear 1967 USA
Antrilon a. Captured . . . Voices From The Sky
b. Waiting
c. Mind Erase
Mind Erase (N) 2008 (Dead Earnest) USA
Taj Mahal Travellers IV August 1974 1974 Japan
Archie Shepp The Original Mr. Sonny Boy Williamson On This Night 1966 USA
The Who However Much I Booze The Who By Numbers 1975 UK
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