Apple Venus Volume 1

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Apple Venus Volume 1
Apple Venus.jpg
Studio album by XTC
Released 17 February 1999
Recorded January–August 1998
Genre
Length 50:09
Label Cooking Vinyl
Producer Haydn Bendall, Nick Davis
XTC chronology
Nonsuch
(1992)Nonsuch1992
Apple Venus Volume 1
(1999)
Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2)
(2000)Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2)2000
Singles from Apple Venus Volume 1
  1. "Easter Theatre"
    Released: April 1999
  2. "I'd Like That"
    Released: June 1999

Apple Venus Volume 1 is the thirteenth studio album by the English rock band XTC, released in February 1999. It was the first on the band's own Idea Records label through Cooking Vinyl and distributed in the United States by TVT Records. Peaking at #42 in the UK,[5] the album features self-described "orchustic" (orchestral and acoustic) arrangements. It came seven years after the group's previous LP Nonsuch (1992), in which time songwriters Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding had amassed a large stockpile of material.[6]

The album was the last to include Dave Gregory as a member of the band. He departed during the recording sessions — as did producer Haydn Bendall.[7] In late 1999, XTC released Homespun, which contains demos from Apple Venus. This was followed in 2002 with Instruvenus, containing the backing tracks of Apple Venus.

In 2003, Mojo ranked Apple Venus at number 47 in its list of the "Top 50 Eccentric Albums".[8] The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[9]

Background[edit]

As with the two previous albums, the album's title appears to have been taken from the lyrics of a song on the previous album, in this case "Then She Appeared" from Nonsuch: "Then she appeared / Apple Venus on a half open shell".[original research?]

The album was the first time the band had released anything since going "on strike" against their label, Virgin Records.[10] Apple Venus Volume 1 was originally supposed to be a double album, but Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding were convinced to break the album up into two, with the orchestral material on Apple Venus Volume 1 and the other material released on Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2). The material for both albums was largely written in the aftermath of Nonsuch. While Partridge continued to write new material, all of Moulding's material was older songs that were submitted for earlier projects and rejected.[11]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Entertainment Weekly A−[12]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[13]
Los Angeles Times 3.5/4 stars[14]
NME 7/10[15]
Pitchfork Media 8.2/10[16]
Q 4/5 stars[17]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[7]
Spin 8/10[18]
The Village Voice B+[19]

PopMatters' Sarah Zupko called the album "more than worth the wait. Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding used their time off well, lavishing extra care and attention on this set of tunes that rank among the best music they have ever produced. ... this record is a shoo-in for one of 1999’s best records".[10] Scott Schinder gave the album an A- for Entertainment Weekly, writing: "The gorgeous yet vaguely unsettling arrangements are well suited to the exquisitely flawed humanism of Andy Partridge’s and Colin Moulding’s compositions, lending an appropriately uneasy edge to bittersweet tunes like 'I Can’t Own Her,' 'Greenman,' and 'The Last Balloon.'"[12]

In comparing the album to the group's earlier work, Pitchfork's Zach Hooker said: "Apple Venus finds them picking up pretty much where they left off. Or maybe even a little bit before they left off: this record bridges the gap between the ambitiously poppy Oranges and Lemons and the pastoral Skylarking. ... The music is built on simple phrases, but the relationships between those phrases becomes tremendously complex."[16] Rolling Stone's Barry Walters wrote: "Apple Venus Volume 1 packs the wit and nerve that made their rock snap but does it with brass, acoustic guitars, violins, woodwinds and minimal percussion. ... instead of evoking the Sixties, Partridge and Moulding suggest a timeless pastoral past rich with melody and subtlety."[7] AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine notes: "Although there are similarities with the pastoral Skylarking or parts of Nonsuch, there is really no comparable record in XTC's canon, given its sustained mood, experimentalism, and glimpses of confession ... [it] easily ranks as one of XTC's greatest works".[1]

The Chicago Tribune's Greg Kot warned that "it may strike some longtime fans as a perhaps too radical departure. The rhythms are decidedly muted, with delicate vocals cushioned by lavish string and horn arrangements".[20] The Daily Telegraph's Alexis Petridis surmised: "Their worst excess may be whimsy - I'd Like That and Fruit Nut err on the cloying - but with songs as lusciously string- and harmony-laden as Green Man and the vocal charm of Partridge's unreconstructed Swindon twang, it's a minor quibble."[21]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Andy Partridge, except where noted.

UK CD: COOKCD 172
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "River of Orchids"   5:53
2. "I'd Like That"   3:50
3. "Easter Theatre"   4:37
4. "Knights in Shining Karma"   3:39
5. "Frivolous Tonight" Colin Moulding 3:10
6. "Greenman"   6:17
7. "Your Dictionary"   3:14
8. "Fruit Nut" Moulding 3:01
9. "I Can't Own Her"   5:26
10. "Harvest Festival"   4:15
11. "The Last Balloon"   6:40

Personnel[edit]

Additional musicians[edit]

Production[edit]

  • Haydn Bendall – original production, engineering
  • Nick Davis – additional production, engineering, mix
  • Simon Dawson – mix assistance
  • Alan Douglas – recording engineer
  • Barry Hammond – recording engineer
  • Tim Young – mastering
  • Leonard B. Johnson - A&R Coordination

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Apple Venus, Vol. 1 – XTC". AllMusic. Retrieved 16 June 2011. 
  2. ^ Guarino, Mark (31 December 1999). "Apple Venus Vol 1". Chicago Daily Herald. 
  3. ^ "Apple Venus Volume 1". Uncut. January 2000. 
  4. ^ Pachter, Richard (2 March 1999). "XTC finds an alternative". Sun-Sentinel. 
  5. ^ "Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound". Routledge. 2004-12-12. Retrieved 2016-07-29. 
  6. ^ Morrish, John (20 February 1999). "Arts: The agony and the XTC". The Independent. 
  7. ^ a b c Walters, Barry (18 March 1999). "XTC: Apple Venus Volume One". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 11 April 2009. Retrieved 16 June 2011. 
  8. ^ Mojo - 100 greatest singles of all time
  9. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (7 February 2006). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 0-7893-1371-5. 
  10. ^ a b c Zupko, Sarah (1999). "XTC, Apple Venus Volume 1 / Transistor Blast". PopMatters. 
  11. ^ Farmer, Neville XTC Song Stories, Hyperion, September 1998
  12. ^ a b Schinder, Simon (5 March 1999). "Apple Venus, Volume 1". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  13. ^ Cox, Tom (26 February 1999). "XTC: Apple Venus Volume 1 (Cooking Vinyl)". The Guardian. 
  14. ^ Nichols, Natalie (18 February 1999). "XTC: Apple Venus Volume 1 (TVT)". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 June 2011. 
  15. ^ Wirth, Jim (18 February 1999). "XTC – Apple Venus Volume 1". NME. Archived from the original on 14 November 1999. Retrieved 16 June 2011. 
  16. ^ a b Hooker, Zach (23 February 1999). "XTC: Apple Venus, Volume One". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 16 June 2011. 
  17. ^ Maconie, Stuart (April 1999). "XTC: Apple Venus Volume 1". Q (151): 107. Archived from the original on 19 May 2011. Retrieved 16 June 2011. 
  18. ^ Hunter, James (April 1999). "Blondie: No Exit / XTC: Apple Venus Volume One". Spin. 15 (4): 162–64. Retrieved 16 June 2011. 
  19. ^ Christgau, Robert (7 March 2000). "Consumer Guide: Cleanup Time". The Village Voice. Retrieved 16 June 2011. 
  20. ^ Kot, Greg (19 February 1999). "ALBUM ALERT NEW DISCS FROM BLONDIE, SEBADOH, XTC AND OTHERS". Chicago Tribune. 
  21. ^ Petridis, Alexis (20 February 1999). "Apple Venus Volume One (Cooking Vinyl)". The Daily Telegraph.