Song of the day: XTC – "Playground"

March 10, 2013

Here’s XTC with a mighty fine guitar riff:

XTC – “Playground (2000)


I chose that XTC song because of a video I stumbled acoss on YouTube. It’s a two-part interview with Andy Partridge around 2000 or 2001, when Wasp Star (the album that “Playground” is on) was released.

In the videos Andy talked about his guitar playing and songwriting. I found them fascinating.

Part 1 is about his guitar playing:

And Part 2 is about his songwriting (and he demonstrates how he plays “Playground”):

Mighty fine.

Song of the day: What,Really? – "Ophelia (Among The Flowers)"

March 9, 2013

I received an email from a chap called Matteo (Hi, Matteo!) who is a member of an Italian band called What,Really?.

Mattheo pointed me in the direction of an EP containing four songs the band recorded. These four songs:

What,Really?What,Really? (2013)

I didn’t mind them at all. (Except for the galloping hi-hats in tracks 3, “Ninja Expert“. I wasn’t especially fond of those cymbals going “ts-ts-ts-ts-ts-ts…” at breakneck speed.)

Coincidences The Band May Not Want Me To Mention

I don’t know how the band feels about this, but when I listened to the first two songs I found myself thinking of a couple of other songs not by them.

For example, this part of “Ophelia (Among The Flowers)“…

What,Really? – “Ophelia (Among The Flowers) (2013) (excerpt)


…reminded me of this:

Modern English – “I Melt With You (1982) (edited excerpt)


And a little guitar part in “Dandy Hobo”…

What,Really? – “Dandy Hobo (2013) (excerpt)


…reminded me of a similar guitar part in XTC‘s “Generals And Majors”:

XTC – “Generals And Majors” (1980) (excerpt)


(I won’t present you with the full versions of those non-What,Really? songs – this is a post about Matteo’s band after all – but if you want to hear them, they’re over at YouTube: Modern English here; and XTC here.)

Thanks, Matteo, for letting me know about yer band.


Musical coincidences # 365

February 19, 2013

I spotted a coincidence involving background vocals in a new-ish Australian song. (It was released in 2011, but I only heard it couple of days ago. So to me it’s a very new song.)

As you listen to the new-ish Australian song, I’d like to draw your attention to the falsetto background vocals going “Ooh oo-oo”…

Dune Rats – “Pogo (2011) (excerpt)


…just as Andy Partridge does in XTC‘s Making Plans For Nigel“:

XTC – “Making Plans For Nigel (1979) (excerpt)


Here are the full versions:

Dune Rats – “Pogo (2011)

XTC – “Making Plans For Nigel (1979) (excerpt)


Educating Peter # 27

December 23, 2012

This week, in honour of it being a Christmassy time of year, Michael has suggested “Thanks For Christmas”, the Christmas song by XTC under the guise of The Three Wise Men.

I’m in a bit of a quandary about this post, because it’s going to be short. One of the reasons for its brevity is that I like the song, and can’t think of anything critical to say about it.

Actually, there’s one thing I don’t like about it: the sound of the snare drum at the start of the song.

And that’s it.

Ah well. Here we go…

The Three Wise Men – “Thanks For Christmas” (1983)


0:00-3:50 – Very nice.


By the way, “Thanks For Christmas” was released on the Virgin Records label. Here’s Virgin’s press release for it so I can help make this post appear longer than it really is:


Three Wise Men turn up on Virgin, not Mary, but Records

“On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me a partridge in a pear tree … “

Yes, Virgin enters into the festive spirit with this seasonal offering, ‘Thanks for Christmas’ by The Three Wise Men. The song was penned by well-known writing team Kaspar/Melchior/Balthazar, the Far East’s answer to Holland/Dozier/Holland. Production was by The Three Wise Men and the Good Lord himself. (released Nov 21st Virgin VS642)

Not surprisingly, the release hits the decks shrouded in mystery, intrigue and much speculation. The ‘What’s On In Bethlehem’-style sleeve may well proclaim ‘The Three Wise Men’, but this non-de-plume cunningly conceals the identity of one of Virgin’s top pop groups! Not that we’re telling you which band. Could it be Culture Club, Human League, Heaven 17, China Crisis or even Slapp Happy? Over to you! Just good clean Virgin fun to keep you guessing right into the New Year. It’s certainly countdown to Christmas party time. Cheers!

November 10th 1983

(Pinched from the Chalkhills and Children website.)

Musical coincidences # 269

June 28, 2012

My friend Steve (Hi, Steve!) suggested this coincidence, but expressed some doubt as to the strength of the similarities the two songs possess.

(Sorry about the second half of that previous sentence. It looks way too pretentious to me.)

Well, I’m here to tell Steve and you that because this coincidence contains one of my all-time favourite XTC songs I have no absolutely hesitation whatsoever in puttin’ this coincidence on the blog.

Steve noticed a few little things (things the guitars were doing, the backing vocals), but for me there is one major, unmistakeable coincidence: both songs have the same chord progression in the verses. Although they’re in different keys, it’s the same progression. (Santigold‘s chord progression is C sharp major / B flat minor / F minor, whereas XTC’s is G major / E minor / B minor – but they’re the same progression.) In the case of the non-XTC song, its chord progression is also used for the chorus. Unfortunately, like every other dance track I’ve heard in the last few years, the same chord progression is used throughout the entire song.

Update: It looks like Blogger didn’t appreciate me putting the Santigold song on this here blog, because it just sent me a Blogger Takedown Notice, whereby they converted this post into you-can’t-see-it mode (“you” being the reader) and left it up to me to decide which of the tracks I’ve posted here is a no-no to post. Blogger told me that if I don’t removing the offending content – and I’m guessing it’s the newish Santigold track that is doing the offending – you’ll keep on not seeing this post. So I’ll remove the Santigold thing and leave you with the video for it. (That seems to have no problem being on the Internet, being as it’s on YouTube an all.)

If you still don’t see this post, then you’ll know it’s the XTC song that’s causing conniptions.

Typing-fingers crossed…

Santigold – “Disparate Youth” (2012)

XTC – “Making Plans For Nigel (1979)


Thanks, Steve, for letting me know about that coincidence. I don’t listen to dance music, so it’s extremely likely I would never have known about Santigolid’s apparent fondness for “Making Plans For Nigel”.

Musical coincidences # 152

November 29, 2011

According to Australia’s recent ARIA Awards (something I didn’t watch when it was televised last weekend), a chappy called Gotye (someone I don’t listen to) was awarded Best Male Artist. Mr. Gotye also won Single of the Year and Best Pop Release for his song “Somebody That I Used To Know“.

Having not heard the song before, I thought I might see what the chart-topping fuss was about and listen to the little beastie. When it started, I was reminded me of another song.


Gotye – “Somebody That I Used To Know (2011) (excerpt)


…reminded me of this:

XTC – “Senses Working Overtime (1982) (excerpt)


Here are the full versions:

Gotye – “Somebody That I Used To Know (2011)


XTC – “Senses Working Overtime (1982)


Song of the day: George Harrison – "Crackerbox Palace"

January 6, 2010

I don’t usually post songs by non-Australian artistes two days in a row, but the New Year’s Day appearance by George Harrison prompted commenter AuroraSkye (Hi!) to ask for some more George (and to mention how cute George was).

Well, AuroraSkye, it doesn’t take much to get me to play more George Harrison.

Here’s GH with “Crackerbox Palace” (1976):


Video (embedding disabled. Grrr.)

When I was a wee bairn, “Crackerbox Palace” was one of the oddest film clips (that’s what we called music videos back then) I’d ever seen. As a 15-year-old, I found it extra weird compared to the other film clips being played on the TV music programs.

I was going to mention how Andy Partridge in the “Making Plans For Nigel” film clip always reminded me of one of the characters in the “Crackerbox Palace” film clip (the one sitting on a chair in the palace) but thought that might be way too trivial.

But then I thought: “Why not?” So…

And thanks to the wonders of YouTube, here’s a little making-of “Crackerbox Palace” video:

Musical coincidences # 8

June 25, 2009

It is my melancholy duty* to inform you of a musical coincidence involving the wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful (I can’t tell you how wonderful I think she is) Kate Bush and “Sat In Your Lap“. Here’s how it starts:


“Sat In Your Lap” was recorded and released as a single in 1981 and was used as the opening track on her 1982 album, The Dreaming.

A year earlier, XTC had released the Black Sea album which contained the track “Paper And Iron (Notes And Coins”). The main rhythm of the song starts at the 26-second mark, like so:


And I’d always thought that Kate Bush was utterly original…

Nevertheless, I want to think that Kate had never heard of XTC, and that it’s all a horrible coincidence. I really, really want to think that.

All of the above doesn’t stop me from marvelling at how amazing “Sat In Your Lap” is, though. It is amazing – as is all of The Dreaming, which I still think is one of the best albums of the 80’s. (I also think it’s Kate best album, although most critics tend to proclaim Hounds Of Love to be her pièce de resistence.)

Anyway, enough with the sadness. Enjoy some marvellousness from both Kate and XTC:

Kate Bush – “Sat In Your Lap (1982)


XTC – “Paper And Iron (Notes And Coins)” (1980)


Oh, and speaking of XTC, I chanced upon a little guitar bit in their first single “Science Friction” (1978) at the 1:55 mark here:


That reminded me of a little guitar bit in Billy Swan‘s hit from 1973, the Ringo-esque “I Can Help” (at 1:42):


Pure coincidence.

Here are the full tracks – and as a bonus (yep, there’s more) I’ve included two versions of “I Can Help”:

XTC – “Science Friction” (1978)

Video (embedding disabled)

Billy Swan – “I Can Help (single version) (1974)


Billy Swan – “I Can Help (album version) (1974)


(*Anyone over 80 will know that phrase also means something far more important than a musical coincidence.)

Song of the day: XTC – "The Mayor Of Simpleton"

June 20, 2009

Now, this is how you write a pop song:

The Mayor Of Simpleton“: Great tunes, lots and lots of jangly guitars, a fantastic bass line, and an irresistibly insistent drum beat. Unbeatable.

Also from the same album (1989’s Oranges and Lemons), “The Loving”:

“All around the world, every boy and every girl, need the loving.
The humble and the great, even those we think we hate, need the loving.

Sailors on the seas, or the clergy on their knees, need the loving.
All the rich and poor, even those we fight at war, need the loving.

All around the world, every boy and every girl, need the loving.
Cold-hearted or warm, every single person born, needs the loving.”

You can’t argue with that.