Sonic Gems: XTC – Skylarking

Formed in 1972, XTC is an English rock band that was active until 2006.  Led by songwriters Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding, this band emerged from the punk and new wave movements and ranged in style from angular guitar riffs to elaborate pop.  For the main part, their music attracted a cult following and not mainstream popularity. Interestingly, the band developed a second band, the Dukes of Stratosphear, as an outlet meant to explore psychedelic music such as had been popular in the 1960s.

The 1986 album, Skylarking, is generally seen as among their best efforts.  This album was released in October, 1986, and was produced by Todd Rundgren.  A loose concept album based on life’s many cycles the title served as a double entendre referring to both the bird species as well as the Navy term for ‘fooling around’.

Traces of new wave/post-punk sound is retained but the psychedelic era influences come out heavily influenced no doubt by Rundgren’s Utopia Sound Studio.  There was a great deal of tension between Rundgren and Partidge and as well as the positive influences Rundgren possibly sought his revenge with his usual layer of passive aggression.  The album had a thin mix due to a reversed sound polarity.  Such is life with a displeased Rundgren.

Despite all of this or maybe because of all of this mish mosh of good and bad Aloha Promises Forever rates this album a seven out of 10.  The Beatles Abby Road meets Rundren and has a collision with post punk cynicism.  Musical life doesn’t get much better than this.. unless you’re into shred (I ruminate heading toward a guitar to play).

XTC’s Skylarking may be listened to in its entirety here:



About alohapromisesforever

Writer, poet, musician, surfer, father of two princesses.
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