hat tip m.po, whose screenshots of paradigmatic Yelp reviews led to these sprinkles-which-change-the-way-we-henceforth-look-at-sprinkles
XTC's Skylarking (1986) was an attempt by musician-producer Todd Rundgren to craft a Sgt Pepper or Pet Sounds for XTC -- a cohesive concept LP instead of just the latest group of tunes. He succeeded, it's a "tight" album, considered by many pundits to be the UK band's best.
At the time of the release XTC's Andy Partridge complained that the mix was thin.
Re-listening to the original vinyl version after several years, he's right, but it wasn't important at the time because the overall brilliance of the songs, the concept, and Rundgren's quirky, George Martin-like contributions (orchestrations, sound collage, pacing) made you not notice the lack of bass and warmth so much.
Partridge now has control of all the tapes and a few years ago discovered that an electronic error was made when the multitrack mix was mixed down to stereo, prior to vinyl mastering. The polarity was reversed, says Partridge's engineer. How or why that distorts the signal is a question for a future blog post, but, in 2014 Partridge released a re-reversed polarity version on CD that is supposedly warmer and "how the LP was meant to be heard."
Am kind of curious to hear it but not necessarily own it, since it would mean having the song "Dear God" in the tracklist. My version of the LP came out before "Dear God" became an unexpected radio hit -- all subsequent issues have included that overwrought and obvious tune.
Robert Nickas, from his essay on the Affidavit website titled "A 12-Step Program for 'Collectors'":
To collect is to draw things towards ourselves over time, to study and learn from them, to see what they elicit, one from another, not to engage in a continuous and expedient dispersal.
Well said. The essay is a collection of Benjamin Franklin wisdom or Tom Paine common sense aimed at flippers of artwork. None of it should need to be said except this is the era of a $2.9 million Peter Doig (a terrible painter) and a $110.5 million Basquiat that, according to Nickas, "may not be among Basquiat’s very best."