The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Big Day: XTC’s “Skylarking,” with Improved Sound, to Get CD Reissue

with 7 comments

XTCFour 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.

Booklet · T0002Skylarking (Corrected Polarity Edition) (originally released as Virgin V-2399, 1986 – reissued Ape House APECD044, 2014)

Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

  1. Summer’s Cauldron
  2. Grass
  3. The Meeting Place
  4. That’s Really Super, Supergirl
  5. Ballad for a Rainy Day
  6. 1000 Umbrellas
  7. Season Cycle
  8. Earn Enough for Us
  9. Big Day
  10. Another Satellite
  11. Mermaid Smiled
  12. The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul
  13. Dear God
  14. Dying
  15. Sacrificial Bonfire

Written by Mike Duquette

March 17, 2014 at 09:53

Posted in News, Reissues, XTC

7 Responses

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  1. Glad to see they added back Mermaid Smiled, which was removed from the album to make room for Dear God. But that “original” cover – oy.

    Jeremy Shatan

    March 17, 2014 at 10:01

    • You should see it in all it’s glory on the vinyl version. Wait til you see the male on the back.

      Dean Davenport

      March 17, 2014 at 14:18

    • don’t like it? don’t buy it.

      drew pfafflin

      March 18, 2014 at 15:06

  2. A story about “Partridge Family Reissues” somehow ended up under “Related” for this story, which is ironic, given that Andy Partridge is presumably not “related” to the TV Partridges.

    Steve Bruun

    March 17, 2014 at 11:24

    • Presumably…

      Marsh Gooch

      March 19, 2014 at 13:50

  3. This album has been one of my top 10 favorites for many years. Although I’ve stopped buying “remastered” stuff due to lack of discretionary funds as of late, I must say that this new version was absolutely worth the expense…I hear many details (percussion, strings, harmonies, etc) that I never heard clearly before and of course Colin’s masterful bass work is much more clear and punchy in this mix. Thanks Andy and everyone involved for making sure this made its way to the fans so we could hear a masterpiece in full HD/3D whatever you want to call it!

    Brian Kassan

    April 28, 2014 at 00:25

  4. Is there anything updated about this issue other than appearing in the CD format? I purchased the ApeHouse vinyl in 2010, and was wonedring if it’s necessary to invest again. Any significant upgrades in those four years?

    Eric M. Vaughnes

    May 16, 2014 at 14:05

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