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Apple Venus Volume 1

179 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Because of record contract litigation, Apple Venus Volume One is XTC's first album of new material in nearly seven years. The now-duo of Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding sure seem to have been using their time off to smell the flowers, as their lyrics are ripe with fruit, nuts, dandelions, orchids, sunflowers, and harvest festivals. Billed as the "orchestral" album that precedes its "rock" bookend, Apple Venus is XTC's most obvious nod to the lush, intricate sounds of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper (those familiar with 1986's Skylarking know that's a bold statement). Cellos, flutes, and other highbrow instruments provide the backdrop for the flowery lyrics. The whimsical "I'd Like That" is the perfectly understated pop song that has always eluded Partridge. The album's lone touch of angst comes courtesy of "Your Dictionary," which is spiked with four-letter words, but Partridge, ever the genteel Englishman, merely spells them out. Essential? No. Innovative? Hardly. But Apple Venus is a solid, cohesive work by one of rock's most artistic artists. --Bill Crandall


The U.K. pop duo has retained a devoted following.... This time, the cult's loyalty is rewarded with a sumptuous banquet of symphonic and acoustic pop. -- USA Today

These venerable English pop artisans eschew rock electricity in favor of subtler acoustic and orchestral textures, with compelling results. -- Entertainment Weekly

1. River Of Orchids - XTC
2. I'd Like That - XTC
3. Easter Theatre
4. Knights In Shining Karma - XTC
5. Frivolous Tonight
6. Greenman
7. Your Dictionary - XTC
8. Fruit Nut
9. I Can't Own Her - XTC
10. Harvest Festival - XTC
11. The Last Balloon - XTC

Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 23, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: TVT Records
  • ASIN: B00000I4JT
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (179 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,084 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Nathan M DeHoff on January 12, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I think I became an XTC fan at just the right time. Right after I had completed the majority of my collection of their older albums, they made a comeback with this excellent release, which ranks among their best. The sound this time is lush and pastoral (somewhat reminiscent of the earlier Skylarking (Why doesn't this format allow italics?), with many full orchestral arrangements. The best tracks tend to be the ones that fit the basic theme of the record, such as "Green Man," "River Of Orchids," "Harvest Festival," and "Easter Theatre," although there are also some interesting diversions, such as Colin Moulding's pun-filled "Fruit Nut," and Andy Partridge's catchy love song, "I'd Like That." It's not a perfect record; "Knights In Shining Karma" is somewhat dull, "Your Dictionary" doesn't really work, and I haven't entirely grown into "I Can't Own Her." Overall, though, it's an excellent album, and a great comeback for XTC.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Marc Kloszewski on December 22, 1999
Format: Audio CD
We all get older, and our tastes change at least somewhat, whether you're a listener or a composer. I see most of the reviews of this CD are either glowing or frowning upon the laid-back atmosphere of this disc. Reportedly XTC recorded a whole bunch of songs in the long gap between this and Nonsuch, while they wrangled to get out of their contract with Virgin. Eventually it was decided that they would release two separate discs--budget problems?, and they are of two different camps. This one is the acoustic stuff, with the "harder" stuff to come in Volume 2. I agree with some of the reviewers that it does take some time to get into the album--but it is worth it, and there are some very good songs here. I especially like the opener "River of Orchids", with its expert layering of orchestral instruments and voices in round-style. It's like nothing they've ever done before--almost classical in nature--utterly beautiful. "I'd Like That" has fun with wordplay and a good chugging beat. "Easter Theatre" and "Harvest Festival" are wonderfully rich-sounding ballads, contemplative of the past, thoughtful. Same for Colin's songs ("Frivolous Tonight" and "Fruit Nut"), though they are more lighthearted. The one I don't really care for is "Your Dictionary," which I read Andy really didn't want on the CD because he wrote it in a fit of anger towards his ex-wife--but he was outvoted. It seems rather simplistic and obvious from what we've come to expect from one of the better lyricists of recent years. Still, this by no means should scare any fans away--and I always have hope that each new release will bring them more fans.Read more ›
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By ewomack VINE VOICE on July 20, 2004
Format: Audio CD
XTC have always written intelligent and edgy pop. What's really surprising is how long they've actually been around. When their song "Dear God" shocked the airwaves in the 1980s many thought "what a great new band!" Of course most of us virulent fans know that XTC has been around since the punk era. How they've logarthimically expanded musically is evident on Apple Venus Volume 1.

This was to be Andy Partridge's unplugged orchestra album. Sometime in the 1990s he admitted that he was miffed that Elvis Costello (i.e., his "Juliet Letters") beat him to his goal of an all orchestra album. Undaunted, and on strike from Virgin Records, the project stayed afloat, however tenuously (XTC did not have an active record label through most of the 1990s, which is astonishing). Miraculously, at the cusp of the new millenium, a new XTC album appeared sporting a new contract with a sparkly new label. It had been a long constipated wait since 1992's "Nonesuch", but the wait was ultimately worth it.

Volume 1 of the Apple Venus diptych is the mellower more beautiful of the two volumes. "Wasp Star" or Volume 2, is where the amplifiers and distortion come out to play with our auditory canals.

Strings and acoustic guitars abound here. "River of Orchids" - a lusty utopian dream of no cars no pavement walk on hands into town - begins the album with a single "plop". This plop segues into a rhythm which is joined by a trumpety sound which is joined by other instruments all accompanied by Partridge's self-harmonized vocals. "I'd Like That" - a lusty dream of a more salicious and delicious sort - bangs in the acoustic instruments and innuendos. These two songs set the tone for the album brilliantly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John Stodder on February 22, 2009
Format: Audio CD
I didn't know much about XTC when a family member talked me into buying this CD shortly after it came out. I knew they were a British new wave band, so in my mind they were part of the trend that gave us Elvis Costello, Squeeze and the Police, but they seemed more novelty-oriented -- a skinny-tie outfit that had a following that I wasn't part of.

So imagine my surprise upon hearing the first note of this album played by...a raindrop! Then, plucked strings, a whole orchestra's worth. As the song unfolded, all these pieces dropped in and took their place -- trumpets, overdubbed singing voices, coming from different directions as if they were part of some other piece of music, then coming together into a whole. A tour de force, to be sure, but a strange one! Then after the last raindrop, a new song, "I'd Like That," that was like a an airy chocolate truffle, a fluffy ode to love and kisses, except with an underlying rhythmic momentum coming from a heavily-strummed 12-string guitar.

There was nothing here to remind one of early hits like "Making Plans for Nigel." Instead, it was this highly sophisticated, lyrically precise, brilliantly orchestrated work of art, every song touched by genius and shimmering with beauty, even the ominous "Your Dictionary" which is as bitter lyrically as the other songs are sweet and fanciful. The album's last two tracks, "Harvest Festival" and "The Last Balloon" are literally transporting. "Harvest Festival" is almost indescribable; another song performed primarily by an orchestra but arranged with a strong beat, almost a march, evoking a bucolic moment of ritual but combining it with memories suffused with regret.
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