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Reading Writing & Arithmetic

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Audio CD, April 4, 1990
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$1.77 $0.01
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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Skin & Bones 4:17$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Here's Where The Story Ends 3:54$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Can't Be Sure 3:22$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. I Won 4:22$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Hideous Towns 3:45$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. You're Not The Only One I Know 3:50$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. A Certain Someone 4:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. I Kicked A Boy 2:16$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. My Finest Hour 3:59$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Joy 4:10$0.99  Buy MP3 

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Reading Writing & Arithmetic + Blind + Static & Silence
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 4, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Geffen Records
  • ASIN: B000003TA0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,760 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description


Like the album's title, this music is about the basics. This seminal release from 1990 rerouted pop music for several years, and for the better. This simple guitar/bass/drum/vocal affair cut like a searchlight through the fog of tortuously overproduced music of the time, as The Sundays proved that more is often merely more. Harriet Wheeler's lilting, swooningly sweet voice is clearly the strong driving factor behind this debut's appeal, fore-grounded through spare arrangements and an almost timid rhythm section, though the timbre of Wheeler's voice is perfectly matched to David Gavurin's terrific 12-string guitar. Taken as a whole, the album bears repeated listening, even though some of the songs tend to blur together. The hit single "Here's Where the Story Ends" is rivaled by, if not equal to, "You're Not the Only One I Know," "I Kicked a Boy," and "Joy." --Alan E. Rapp

Customer Reviews

Harriet Wheeler has an absolutely beautiful voice.
Swing King
Probably the best Sundays song, and for that matter one of my favorite songs ever, all these years later.
Paul Kendall
I love the Sundays, and this CD is one that you will listen to over & over.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 5, 2004
Format: Audio CD
In the effort to overcompensate for lack of talent and inspiration, a lot of bands overproduce their music until the chaos makes you dizzy just listening to it. Not so in the Sundays' sweet, serene "Reading, Writing and Arithmetic," one of the best albums of the 1990s.
Alt-pop doesn't get much better than that. Without sacrificing a catchiness that most bands would kill for, the Sundays sprinkle this debut with angst (the shimmering "Can't Be Sure"), laments (the pleasantly thoughtful "Here's Where the Story Ends"), and lonely contemplation (the steady, soft "You're Not The Only One I Know"). Despite these, "Reading. Writing And Arithmetic" retains a certain wistful, innocent hope.
"Reading, Writing And Arithmetic" has that dreamily haunted clarity that few albums do; the catchy "Here's Where The Story Ends" has a certain lamenting quality ("People I see, weary of me showing my good side"). It's the album that will leave you dreaming of cloudy days in London, Piccadilly Circus and cold grey British seashores.
Harriet Wheeler's voice suits the jangly musical backdrop she's set against. Her voice is a bit like a teenage girl's: high, clear, and heartfelt. David Gavurin's guitars shimmer and strum and occasionally seem to be jingling; the sound switches between acoustic guitars and smoother, colder electric guitars. And while the lyrics aren't the most complex, they evoke a mood as they are meant to. If this doesn't make you feel like sitting in a cafe and discussing the latest French art-flicks, nothing will.
Sweet and dreamy, "Reading, Writing and Arithmetic" is a soft, pure-sounding experience that helps redeem the label "pop." Melodious and highly memorable.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Ricardo Cardoso on May 27, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I remember hearing the song "Here is where the story ends" since it was released back in 1990.
I'm Mexican, and in that time I didn't speak any English (I was eight), I just remember how beautiful and sad the voice of that girl sounded to me.

As time went by, I became English teacher and listened to the song played in the radio.
Still I couldn't understand her singing, so I phoned the station and asked who the artist was. The answer: "The Sundays".
Weeks later I was spending my time in the record store, when I found a strange cover, the cover of this album and didn't hesitate in buying it.

I spent the whole day listening to "This is where the story ends", trying to find out what the lyrics say without success. Anyway, I loved the music. I loved the mood, a really sad mood, just a little depressing. Sad, yet lovely.

The entire week, my ears were full of this song until I gave up and read the lyrics. I was amazed to find how marvellous this song was.
I really didn't care a lot about the rest of the album, for I was only interested in the track number two.
Months later, I decided to take a chance on the album, and played it while commuting to work. To my surprise, the other songs were as interesting as my beloved one.
I played that night the album while I was on my bed trying to get some sleep, and as soon as I closed my eyes I found myself walking in a forest, watching the sun on the horizon, after a rainy afternoon somewhere in England.

Next day I woke up in love with that music. I wanted to get back to that forest, to remember old memories, to long for people I met in the past, wondering what happened to them.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Chris on February 14, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I was a college student in the summer of 1990 when I bought this on a whim after hearing "Here's Where the Story Ends" just once, when I stumbled onto the video at a friend's house while watching an MTV alternative music program. This CD is a fantastic, top-notch production that anyone who appreciates music can enjoy. Harriet's voice is heavenly, David's guitar work is masterful, and the rhythm section provides the ideal backing. (I am surprised that most of the reviewers overlook the song "I Won", which is one of my favorite tracks along with "Joy" and HWTSE.)
With this CD and their equally beautiful follow-up release "Blind" in 1992, the Sundays provided a glimpse of how 1990s music could have progressed -- had it not been for the promotion of the grunge scene beginning in autumn 1991, which then proceeded to drown out everything else before mutating into its present nihilistic rap-metal form. Sadly, the remainder of the decade would prove to be a total loss musically; it got so bad that I abandoned modern rock music for good around 1997 (around the time that "Static and Silence" was released), in favor of classical music. Even there I have to give the Sundays credit; their work comes across as a logical development of a great musical tradition. I hope there will be more coming soon.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Helena Kilander on May 5, 2003
Format: Audio CD
When I was an angst ridden, clumsy and shy teenager and hailed Morrissey as God, this album hardly ever left my CD player. It was the ultimate soundtrack to my unrequited schoolgirl crushes and dreams of being Somewhere Else (which in this case meant London). Years later, I am still haunted by Harriet Wheeler's unearthly beautiful vocals, the jangly, Johnny Marr-esque guitars and the wonderful melodies. My Finest Hour remains my favourite song due to its almost surreal beauty and catchiness, although there isn't one bad track on this one. Other favourites include Here's Where The Story Ends (I was devastated to find out that Sixpence None the Richer covered this one a few years ago. Wasn't slaughtering another impeccable pop song of the early 90's, The La's Here She Goes Again, enough?), I Kicked A Boy, You're Not the Only One I Know and You Can't Be Sure.
If you're into The Smiths, English culture, bittersweet lyrics and hauntingly beautiful vocals you can't go wrong with this one. Truly an essential album.
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