5.0 out of 5 stars Lush, beautiful pop
I stumbled upon this album at, of all places, the local Humane Society Thrift Store. I had and enjoyed Skylarking and English Settlement, and I had heard Apple Venus referenced by a particular music critic I respect as one of his favorite records of the 90s. So, I decided to go for it- it was only $2.50- and at that price, I can say that it was one of the best...
Published on Jan. 25 2004 by Andres J. Restrepo
3.0 out of 5 stars Not their best album by far
While this CD will grow on you with repeated listening, it is far from the bands' best work. It's all very pleasant, well produced, often lyrical, but none of the tracks really make you sit up and take notice. That being said, it's better than 90 percent of the dreck released as "rock" these days and you'd do far worse than picking this album up. But if you want...
Published on April 28 2003 by Christian Schock
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lush, beautiful pop,
This review is from: V1 Apple Venus (Audio CD)I stumbled upon this album at, of all places, the local Humane Society Thrift Store. I had and enjoyed Skylarking and English Settlement, and I had heard Apple Venus referenced by a particular music critic I respect as one of his favorite records of the 90s. So, I decided to go for it- it was only $2.50- and at that price, I can say that it was one of the best quality-to-price ratios I've ever scored. Draped in gorgeous orchestration, Partridge's songwriting discover a whole new world of light and magic. The trumpet solo during the slow fade-out at the end of the album, for instance, is unexpected and achingly beautiful, lending an already lovely song a poignance that combines the languages of pop, orchestral, and jazz music. I can hardly praise this record enough. It certainly ranks as one of the most successful orchestral projects undertaken in the last decade.
4.0 out of 5 stars I don't believe it! - A gem,
This review is from: V1 Apple Venus (Audio CD)Andy and Colin have produced a wonderful collection of songs with capitaving melodies and spine tingling chord changes. My personal favourite "Harvest Festival" (complete with recorders), is a beautiful story of yearning for "that girl" across the school assembly hall, with lyrics that paint a picture so vivid that I can imagine I am back at primary school taking in my tin of peaches!
Whilst this is perhaps a little out of the mold for an XTC album, its a refreshing change and illustrates another step of sopistication in their song-writing and arrangements. (I am convinced that the song-writing talents of Andy Partridge have been seriously been over-looked by all in the record industry).
If you're an XTC fan then you will probably have this album already. However if your shopping around and you liked tracks like: "Making Plans for Nigel", "Sgt. Rock" and "Generals and Majors" then you will need an open mind to really appreciate this. Nevertheless it is a fine work work indeed and one that as one review said illustrates genius at work.
2.0 out of 5 stars Sleepy.,
This review is from: V1 Apple Venus (Audio CD)After several spins of this release, I finally reached the conclusion that not everything these guys do is awesome. Which is okay, too. Their mediocre songs are still pretty damn good.
Fortunately, they had the good sense to release Volume 2 at about the same time, and it's an amazing, joyful aural wonder. That one, along with Skylarking, all but guarantees Andy, et al, pop genius status for another billion years.
This one, try to find used for about five bucks, and you'll be happy.
3.0 out of 5 stars Not their best album by far,
This review is from: V1 Apple Venus (Audio CD)While this CD will grow on you with repeated listening, it is far from the bands' best work. It's all very pleasant, well produced, often lyrical, but none of the tracks really make you sit up and take notice. That being said, it's better than 90 percent of the dreck released as "rock" these days and you'd do far worse than picking this album up. But if you want to take a taste of XTC, other choices would be preferable: the sublime English Settlement, the sometimes hard edged "Drums and Wires", the wonderfully pastoral "Skylarking" or the unjustly overlooked "Oranges and Lemons."
3.0 out of 5 stars Seven Years for This?,
By A Customer
This review is from: V1 Apple Venus (Audio CD)This is clearly XTC's most over-rated album. Most crtics gave it very positive reviews, but I suspect that they had prejudged this album positively, considering that XTC hadn't released anything since 1992. Despite some solid work (the weird but outstanding opener "River of Orchids" and "Greenman"), much of the other stuff on it relies too much on production. I don't intend to suggest that I have a prodblem with the thorough production of most XTC albums, but on this one, the production covers up for the sometimes-lousy material. And XTC has no excuse for including "Your Dictionary," perhaps the worst song that ever made it onto one of their albums. I suppose the silver lining is that the best songs on this album and its follow-up at least showed that Partridge and Moulding aren't washed up yet.
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Incredible,
This review is from: V1 Apple Venus (Audio CD)Quick name one other band that can 22 years into thier career make thier most spectacular and brilliant album to date? No one I have ever come across but that is exactly what XTC did. From the opening water drops of "River of Orchids" to the fade of "The Last Baloon" just incredible. Not a weak cut and the music flows together so well. I was really wondering if this would be any good as I had heard it was an "orchestral" record but do not worry. Strings, keyboards and horns combine with heartfelt lyrics to create a passionate record that will stir your soul. For those willing to seek out recordings with real artistry and musicianship rather than the no-talent, over-hyped records made for mass consumption today, you have found it here.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best albums of our time,
This review is from: V1 Apple Venus (Audio CD)Stop reading all of these reviews. Just get out there and buy XTC's Apple Venus Volume One.
But if you must read on, this has got to be one of the most adventurous, beautiful, and rewarding albums that anyone has created in the 20th century. I own many CDs, and Apple Venus Volume One ranks in my top five.
A seemless blend of orchestral sounds with bare-bones acoustic guitars will make you weak in the knees. I'd Like That is Andy Partridge doing what he does best: Beatle-esque whimsy perfectly summed up in four minutes. It has got to be one of the most perfect pop songs to be made. And there are no drums! Just a guitar, a bass, some effects here and there, and knee-slapping.
But you wanna know what will make you grin like an idiot and slump with your chin on your fist? The grandiose numbers like Easter Theatre and Greenman. The former is an incredible song that seems to be derivative of nothing! Greenman sounds like Aaron Copeland at times, no kidding.
River of Orchids will make you scratch your head in wonder. How do all of these notes fit? How is it written out for the orchestra? How on earth did Partridge make this up from his own head?
Another very touching moment is Harvest Festival. An ode to school boy daze of an Englishman, Partridge sings with a longing that does not make you sad, but rather nostalgic for a memory that isn't even yours. Harvest Festival is to Apple Venus Volume One as Nightswmming is to REM's Automatic for the People.
Colin Moulding has two songs here, Fruit Nut and Frivolous Tonight. Both seem to be less than serious, but strangely enough do not stray from the context. I love the trumpet lead on Frivolous Tonight. Who arranged that part? Divinely appropriate.
Not only is Apple Venus Volume One a high point in XTC's career, but it is music that will last for ages. Partridge and Moulding (and the now departed Dave Gregory) suffered through many hardships to get this album released. Divorce, illness, contract disputes, misappropriated royalties, changes in managment, a change in label, and running out of funds to pay the orchestra dogged XTC the whole way. But it was all worth it, because Apple Venus Volume One is to die for.
5.0 out of 5 stars This album...,
This review is from: V1 Apple Venus (Audio CD)...is a work of unsung maturity and mastery. The critics and fans who argue against their use of orchestral timbres should leave well enough alone. I wish XTC would do more stuff like this. Hell, I wish ANYONE would. This is music for people who are tired of the same old 4-piece pop routine, and want to listen for more than just chords and lyrics (which, in this case, and all cases concerning XTC, are brilliant). And this is no use of these sounds for novelty effect, as say, the strings and timpani on that tune by the Smashing Pumpkins (I like the distorted-guitar version better); XTC can use these sounds to create the music, rather than fitting the new timbres around the songs. It's a grand achievment as it is, before the redux. This is a band that is growing better with age, as Giuseppe Verdi did in the 19th Century. I wish Elton John had aged so well. Or Paul McCartney. 1,000 words isn't much to describe the impact this album had on me. It's a faith thing, really. Someone did this. Someone made this music. Thank God. Gush gush gush, etc. etc.
4.0 out of 5 stars But seriously folks...,
This review is from: V1 Apple Venus (Audio CD)XTC first blessed the UK pop scene with their unique, sophisticated brand of punkpop in 1977. With New Wave on the ascendancy, Partridge, Moulding & co delivered a string of wired but precociously catchy singles, notably This is Pop, Statue of Liberty an d Making Plans for Nigel and a handful of albums oozing songwriting talent and inventiveness (now available in remastered form for added freshness!). The XTC powerpop machine went into a kind of go-slow in the late 80s/early 90s, and emerged post-Virgin-split in 1999 with this record. Apple Venus is a largely acoustic album that revisits the pastoral territory of Skylarking but is even more philosophical and contemplative. Although boasting some strong songs, Apple Venus suffers from the same disease as late 80s offerings Oranges & Lemons and Nonsuch, i.e. it lacks cohesiveness and is therefore difficult for pop-pickers like myself to digest in one listen. Compare this with English Settlement, for example, which although races through a whole bunch of different styles, manages to retain a distinctive sound all the way through.
Apple Venus is notable for two things: Colin Moulding contributes his finest XTC song to date, the album-stealing Frivolous Tonight, a touching tribute to small-talk over a pint of beer down the local pub, while Andy Partridge delivers a handful of songs, some of which are breathtaking in their scope and depth. The richly orchestrated Easter Theatre, the Arabesque Green Man', the darkly philosophical, Beach Boys-inspired I Dont Own Her, metaphysical explorations of Harvest Festival and the bleak end-of-the-world-scenario Last Balloon are proof that Andy Partridges songwriting is soaring to new creative heights (River of Orchids is a shining example of songwriting genius to be sure). There is, however, a greyness that pervades parts of this record that seems to suggest that XTC may no longer the shiny pop combo it once was.
3.0 out of 5 stars A Small Step Forward for XTC,
This review is from: V1 Apple Venus (Audio CD)XTC has always been a Beatles-influenced pop band, relying on vocal harmonies and hooks. Their first breakthrough song "For Nigel" sounded like a Wings song. This isn't a bad thing, but it is (in my view) a limitation.
Apple Venus starts out beautifully, with "River of Orchids" full of lush strings and effects. The opening creates the impression that perhaps XTC are moving in a completely new direction. The album contains few moments that equal the opening song, but generally it relaxes into a Sargent Pepper sound, with some guitars, harmonies, hooks, and a finish with some horns or strings. A nice sound certainly, but not a huge departure from their Beatles roots.
The lyrics leave something to be desired - they certainly contain no great insight, and sometimes are extremely simple and weak. XTC is a very easy to listen to, catchy band, and certainly this is far better than most of the pop available over the last few years. I'm glad they're still around, but the rumour that they had made a great breakthrough simply isn't true.
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