Four years after it was upgraded for vinyl, XTC's Skylarking will get the same sonic upgrade on CD next month.
XTC's ninth (and arguably best) album found them working an uneasy alliance with producer Todd Rundgren, with whom singer-songwriter Andy Partridge found himself frequently at odds with (despite Partridge's lasting respect for Rundgren's work on the album). But a spate of killer songs by Partridge ("Summer's Cauldron," "Earn Enough for Us") and vocalist/bassist Colin Moulding (singles "Grass" and "The Meeting Place") recalled The Beatles and The Kinks at their most pastoral, which greatly resonated with fans of all stripes.
What got them new fans, though, was a track that was initially left off the album. Partridge's "Dear God," a cutting demolition of theism, was relegated to the flipside of "Grass," but American DJs put the song in considerable rotation (within the Top 40 of Billboard's Mainstream Rock charts), enough for Geffen Records (the band's Stateside label) to repress the record with the track included.
Skylarking took on new weight in 2010, when Partridge's Ape House label remastered and reissued the album, making two significant tweaks: reinstating the originally intended artwork that Virgin Records refused to use (included after the jump, so as not to offend more sensitive readers), and, thanks to remastering engineer John Dent, correcting a strange, previously-undetected error from the original master. As explained in a statement:
Somewhere, possibly in the transfer from the multi-channel tape to the stereo master, a polarity had been reversed. This is not the same thing as a reversed left/right channel which puts a stereo picture out of phase & makes the sound unlistenable, but a much more difficult to pin down event that can be triggered by something as simple as a badly wired plug in the overall system which, nonetheless, removes some of the punch & presence from a finished recording.
This bright new master of Skylarking will finally make it to compact disc on April 14. The press release promises an eventual 5.1 surround mix by engineer Steven Wilson, who gave the band's Nonsuch the similar treatment last year - but with one caveat: "when & if the multi-track tapes can be found." While we wait for that to happen, pre-order the new CD after the jump.
- Summer's Cauldron
- The Meeting Place
- That's Really Super, Supergirl
- Ballad for a Rainy Day
- 1000 Umbrellas
- Season Cycle
- Earn Enough for Us
- Big Day
- Another Satellite
- Mermaid Smiled
- The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul
- Dear God
- Sacrificial Bonfire