Wednesday, December 14, 2011

You And The Clouds Will Still Be Beautiful

Yes it that's time. It seems like once a year, I shut off all incoming except for the Partridge Portal.  This is a time where I not only listen to XTC exclusively, but I marvel with mouth agape at the genius of not only Mr. Andy Partridge, but co-horts Colin Moulding and Dave Gregory.

Unlike all other favorite music, I listen to XTC the same way I watch "The Simpsons" or "The Godfather." Just as Coppola's masterpiece rises above all other films, and "The Simpsons," after 20 years still leaves me wondering how actual people can write such brilliant brilliant, I sometimes don't laugh, I just say out loud to no one, "Oh my God!" XTC song can be layered so precisely, that humming along is not even in the cards. I just hear things, like a lyric or bass line, or one of Andy or Dave's underappreciated guitar solos, and I just smile, or say out loud to no one, "Oh my God."

That said, this is the one that's been leaving round the clock goosebumps this holiday season.

And every morning before I'm awake
I walk around the world
To make sure she's alright
And every evening, 'fore I bolt the door
I give the stars a stir
To make sure they will spin all night

For I see people who will scratch
And spit and kick and fight
And I see nations war about whether
Right is left and whether wrong is right
And I know storms inside your head
Can amplify the plight
But no matter what the weather
You and the clouds will still be beautiful
No matter what the weather
You and the clouds will still be beautiful

And every Troy with wooden horse
I take to peaceful waters
But can't make him drown
And every Bastille
that gets storm troopered
Hail to the chief comes raining raining
Raining down
And I've seen people conduct lightning
Down to a summer's day
And I see nations playfully hurl
Snowballs packed with stones and clay
And I know rain inside your head
Can seriously put a stop to play

But no matter what the weather
You and the clouds will still be beautiful
No matter what the weather
You and the clouds will still be beautiful
So let it rain!

And we see flying saucers
Flying cups and flying plates
And as we trip down lovers lane
We sometimes bump into the gate
And I know thunder in your head
Can still reverberate
But no matter what the weather
You and the clouds will still be beautiful
No matter what the weather
You and the clouds will still be beautiful
No matter what the weather

So let it rain
Just let it rain!


Jeff Matthews said...

An endlessly inventive catalog of work. I was lucky enough to see them live a few times, before the stage fright set in, first on the Go 2 tour at the Paradise in Boston. At first I was attracted to their twitchy, agitated energy and humor (This is Pop, Statue of Liberty, etc). But it's the later "pastoral" work that leaves me breathless and awestruck. Last I heard they were unlikely to ever record together again -- is that your understanding too? Hard to imagine we've heard the last from Andy.

buzzbabyjesus said...

They lend themselves to hermetic listening, as they are a world unto themselves. I like "Skylarking" best, but am rather fond of "Apple Venus" and "Wasp Star". "The Big Express" not so much. I loathe "Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her, Kiss Her".

Anonymous said...

Sal, you nailed it. What a great album. Only XTC could produce a bare-bone song like 'Boarded Up' that can stick in my head for hours. 'Stupidly Happy' can't be beat for bouncy pop goodness. Andy's overdue for some new tunes, wouldn't you say? Oh, by the way, I've been searching for years for 'Waspstrumentals' the instrumental version of 'Wasp Star' - any leads?

Shriner said...

I find it hard (and somewhat sad) that somebody as fairly prolific as Mr. Partridge is (was?) has not released any new material in so long.

Colin -- sure -- it was well known that digging songs out of him was tough.

When do musicians announce (or do they?) that they've officially retired from creating music. Sidemen (Bill Wyman jumps to mind) do this, but not so much songwriters...

cmealha said...

Couldn't agree with you more. Both musically and lyrically they are one of those groups that just get it perfectly so many times that you wonder how it's possible. Certainly one of the most underrated bands of all time.

FD13NYC said...

Yes indeed. After all theses years and all the music I have by them, which I too play quite frequently in pleasure, they never cease to amaze me. Great, great band, others should know.

Sal Nunziato said...


All I've heard is that Andy wants no part of Colin and Dave. I'm not sure he's given up writing.

Anything Should Happen said...

He is still writing songs, he's just not happy with the results reckoning it's all been done before by him and that's an accusation he levels at Wasp Star (and for me the back half stands up with anything they've ever done.

He still reckons there will be a solo album at some stage.

I was fortunate to see quite a few gigs on the ill fated final European Tour, coming home two days before the Paris show.

I'm so pleased to have seen them play English Settlement stuff and witnessing the morphing into what they are most noted for.

Dave Gregory was the biggest fall out although he has played on some stuff with him recently I think.

The fall out with Colin seems unbridgeable but it does seem on Colin's side who had just had enough of AP.

Skylarking is an easy choice for most, for me Oranges And Lemons is the best album and Big Express is a truly wonderful album.

I'm a Mummer fan though, it's an easy target because of it's darkness.

I have the waspstrumentals, I'll find them and get them to Sal.

Anything Should Happen said...

Just as an explanation on Big Express.

There are many XTC comparisons in fact it becomes lazy journalism to say sounds like XTC (Jellyfish are another example.

Many bands can have a stab at XTC type material, some getting pretty close, Dogs Die In Hot Cars being the most notable.

I defy anyone to make an albim as English and original as Big Express.

XTC have made better albums, but none as original.

Who else could produce an album with a save the world ballad, a sing along sea shanty and produce the sheer violence of Reign Of Blows?

Plus it's got the magnificent Train Running Low On Soul Coal as a closer.

If in doubt, listen again.

A walk in the woods said...

Oh HELL yes! I love this song. Very underrated album too. Really, really strong.

A.S.H., I wish I coulda caught 'em live too! But, I'm a late-period XTC fan, almost exclusively... I like everything that came after they stopped touring. Nonsuch is my favorite, but Wasp Star is right up there. (you sound similar in this regard buzz)

And how about Andy's "Fuzzy Warbles" collections? They're a bit spotty, but I found #7 at a used CD store the other day for $5 and its' innnncredible...

Sal Nunziato said...

I agree that "Skylarking" is an "easy choice," but I guess that brings me to Irving Berlin's quote, "Popular music is popular because people like it." "Skylarking" hit all the marks: accessible for those unacquainted with the band, a bit off for long time followers, and the Rundgren magic touch for lunatics like myself.

I need to revisit "Big Express." I like what I like from it, but I don't recall liking much else. I look forward trying again.

As for the back half---"English Settlement" is a work of art, but for me, nothing comes close to being as lyrically brilliant as the last 5 records. "Skylarking" through "Wasp Star" sealed the genius for me.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I'll have to revisit "The Big Express". All I really remember about it is hating the sound.
Particularly the drums.

Albert said... picked a real good'un for your current obsession...only someone as masterful a writer as Partridge can pull off world-weary and downright romantic in the same damn song with such aplomb....let's not forget,in a band catalogue with a nearly 1.000 batting average, my favorite...Oranges and Lemons...hits every mark dead-on,an amazing job by Paul Fox and(drum roll please)Chalkhills and, what I meant to say was WOW!!!

Albert said...

...and to FD13NYC...hope I remembered correctly...happy birthday plus one, brother....

Albert said... bad...just noticed where Anything Should Happen is down with O and L as their best...I concur, ASH, I concur....

cmealha said...

! agree with you Sal. Their earlier stuff was just them getting ready for the magnificence of the last 5.

Albert said...

Almost agree with Carl totally...some of that older stuff is pretty damn magnificent too...but they absolutely blew up later...gotta praise Runt for teaching them a few things about being melodic,non-conformist,and absolutely focused in their art...PITC RULES!!!! that in ....

Anonymous said...

Thanks. These guys were so great Live & in the studio. Glad so many other people have so many positive memories too. Saw them twice, at the Ritz on the Black Sea tour, and on the last full tour at the Palladium, both in NYC. Always liked Drums&Wires, Eng Settlement, Big Express, Black Sea, and really liked Nonsuch & the last album, too. The Fuzzy Warbles are fun to hear and to read Andy's liner notes! Hope there is more to come from them in some form.