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Skylarking Original recording reissued

204 customer reviews

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Skylarking + Oranges & Lemons + English Settlement
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Editorial Reviews

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XTC's frothily Beatle-esque concept album about birth, death, and the passing of the seasons is hardly soft-headed: Its melodic inventiveness and lush orchestrations support bitterness ("That's Really Super, Supergirl"), displacement ("The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul"), and agnostic tirade ("Dear God") as often as it does the pleasures of sun and shower. The greatest achievement of XTC's post-Drums and Wires career, Skylarking is a must-have for the first days of spring. --Rickey Wright

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

Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 20, 1989)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued
  • Label: Dgc/Geffen/Reunion
  • ASIN: B000000OQ3
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (204 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,612 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 58 people found the following review helpful By J. Stinson on May 3, 2011
Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
I've loved this album since its first release. I bought the first US vinyl pressing (with "Mermaid Smiled" but without "Dear God") and then the second US pressing (with "Dear God" but without "Mermaid Smiled.") Over the years, I then bought the CD and then the Mobile Fidelity gold CD and the Japanese "mini LP" CD. Like I said -- I've loved it a long time!

From a sound quality perspective, this sounds phenomenal. There are definitely slight differences here and there, but I can't honestly say it sounds markedly different from the Mobile Fidelity CD or the original vinyl releases. Still, I don't see how anyone could be disappointed in the sound quality here at all -- it is warm, dynamic, and engaging. From a packaging and presentation perspective, though, this is definitely my FAVORITE release so far! I bought my Deluxe Hardcover set from Amazon (not a 3rd party seller) and it arrived in GREAT condition (no split seams, dinged corners, etc.) The two 45 RPM LPs were perfectly flat, gorgeous, noise-free pressings. The packaging on this deluxe set is pretty ornate so I was glad to see it so carefully packed and shipped by Amazon!

The real point of my review, though, is to let people know that there are two distinct versions of this set for sale -- and the Amazon item description is a little vague.

If you want the DELUXE VERSION in the hardcover packaging, you should order the one with the ASIN #B0044E9M2U or UPC #5038622124717 in the Product Details.

If you want the less ornate, gatefold packaging, you should order the one with the ASIN #B0044E9M2K or UPC #5038622124618 in the Product Details.

I had a difficult time being confident I was ordering the set I really wanted, so I hope that info helps another XTC fan!
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Intergalatic Purveyor on May 13, 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The album is spectacular, this is not a comment about the music at all. I did an A/B comparison with the MFSL Gold disc version against this new corrected polarity version. I bought this version in the 90s because it had such better sound than the original Geffen release issued in the States. There is no comparison between the two. They both are mastered at a nice level, not hot or compressed, in fact the levels are so close to identical I couldn't tell the difference. But that is the only way in which they are the same. The new version has a much better stereo field, more detail with the instruments, better highs, lows and midrange, voices, instruments all sound better. The MFSL disc sounds murky compared to this version. I never bought the 2002 remaster so I can't say how different they might be, but in my case, I am very happy with this release.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Eric J. Anderson on June 16, 2009
Format: Audio CD
I compared the new remaster to the earlier Geffen CD release, which revealed some interesting differences.

The peak levels on both versions are the same. The new remaster (Caroline Records CAR50690) sounds louder, so average levels are bumped up. This means a compression of dynamic range between soft and loud, i.e. the loudest sounds stay the same, but the softer sounds are increased in volume. I generally prefer less compression, but this album was somewhat compressed to begin with.

The remaster is more forward -- the vocals and guitars and keyboards stand out more. The sound is generally cleaner and the timbre is more natural in the midrange and high frequencies. Vocals, cymbals, guitar strums, and tinkly things sound more real.

On the other hand, the bass and drums have more impact on the original Geffen release, while the midrange and high frequencies are less prominent, and the detail is a little smeared. This is a disappointment, because I love Colin Moulding's bass work, and I don't think the remastered version does it justice.

Colin Moulding also wrote five songs on Skylarking, better than the two or three he'd get to do on some other XTC records. I think it lends more balance to the album, with less domination of Andy Partridge's sometimes strident vocals and Partridge's generally weirder -- but still fun -- songs.

Skylarking is a great pop album. I love what Todd Rundgren did with these songs, except that he tends to mix things to sound good on the radio, and that means his recordings may sound a little bland on better equipment. Oranges and Lemons, XTC's follow-up to Skylarking, is quirkier and more to my liking, but the songs and arrangements on Skylarking are top-drawer XTC.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Gavin B. on May 24, 2002
Format: Audio CD
XTC has always forged an idosyncratic career path which has delighted their fans and left others puzzled. There is a perception that the band is essentially a studio creation of a group of gifted reclusive musicians who refuse to tour because they can't cut it as a live band. In the early 90s I saw Aimee Mann coax the nortoriously stage phobic Andy Partridge out to play a few songs and he turned out to be a riveting performer as he blazed through a half a dozen XTC songs and blew the roof off the joint. Still XTC refuses to tour in support of their releases and leaving them with a hand full of devotees who count their XTC albums among their most precious possessions. "Skylarking" is the Holy Grail of lost treasures of 1980s music. I've heard a lot of comparisons to "Sgt. Peppers", but folks, this is better than the Beatles tour de force. "Skylarking" is as close to high art as pop music will ever get.
"Skylarking" is a song cycle which depicts a young man's rite of passage through the seasons of love into heartbreak and eventually disillusionment. Todd Rundgren is the cement that keeps "Skylarking" from imploding under the weight of it's big ideas. Todd's studio brilliance begs the question of why he was never able to jump start his own career. The remastering has added even more clarity to what was a "crisp as an autumn morning" original master. Todd's separtion of the vocal tracking rivals some of Brian Wilson's most inspired harmony mixes of the "Pet Sounds/Smiley Smile" era. There are charming locaction sounds like chirping crickets and singing birds that capture the esessence of XTC's eccentric pantheistic vision. If you are reading this review, you are probably among the converted. If there was any justice in this world, "Skylarking" would be grounds enough for XTC to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I have a feeling Andy and Colin could care less, but I do.
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