Tuesday, November 23, 2010

XTC's 'Skylarking' Gets Old Treatment

I have been waiting for this one since XTC's Andy Partridge announced it this past June. The 1986 classic 'Skylarking' is out today as a double LP played at 45rpm. Even if you already own 'Skylarking' on CD, this is one of those rare reissues when you should purchase it again. Partrige's own Ape Records is in charge of the clean up, and here is what they had to say about why you need this new version:

In the course of world renowned mastering engineer John Dents work on preparing the new double vinyl set of XTC's Skylarking for release, an interesting and wonderful thing has been discovered. John has informed us that that somewhere in the chain from Todd Rundgren's Utopia sound studio and London's Master room studio, way back in 1986, a fault has occurred that means all of the versions of Skylarking you've ever heard, on CD or vinyl, have sounded...how shall we put this?... wrong.

How can this be I hear you think, sounds fine to me?

The band themselves always had a nagging doubt that the album sounded a little too thin and bass light, not like they remembered it sounding from the recording process. Well, what John has identified is that the previous vinyl and CD's {including the flashy US Fidelity version unfortunately} have been manufactured with their sound polarity reversed. In laymans terms this mix up means that sound waves that should be pushing out from your speakers are actually pulling them back and projecting from the rear. Something as simple as a wrongly wired XLR plug in Todd's studio or the Master room would have resulted in this sound mishap. Making the record sound distant and thinner. He has identified that the original tapes appear in very good condition and with this problem now rectified APE will be able to present to you shortly a splendid double deep vinyl cut of this classic XTC album as it was intended to sound, but never has done due to human error.

On top of correcting the audio gaffe, the original artwork (see above) banned by the label will finally see the light of day. Ape also says for the first time the tracks lost in the shuffle between the British and American versions will be reunited, meaning both "Dear God" and "Mermaid Smiled" are "in their proper places at last." So, let's get to the bottom line. There are no extra bells or whistles. There are no bonus tracks, demos, etc. This is simply 'Skylarking' as it always should have been. It's retailing for about $45. That's a bit steep, to be sure. Sounds like a good Christmas present to me.


David said...

So Andy Partridge finally gets his nerd's revenge on Todd. Sad that it took him nearly 25 years to think of it.

Brian said...

Hey David. Funny, Andy seems to have softened his stance on Todd a bit in the last year of so. I have read a quote or two. Now I think it's because Andy learned about the glich and felt pretty smug about having that info. Thanks for checking in!