This is a Random Album Generator.
One album a day.
From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Apple Venus Volume 1

XTC

1999

Apple Venus Volume 1
Album Summary

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. The album relies heavily on strings, acoustic guitars and keyboards, expanding upon the more orchestral approach developed on the group's previous LP Nonsuch (1992), whilst its lyrics tackle paganist themes, middle age, blossoming romance, and rebirth. Apple Venus Volume 1 was met with critical acclaim and moderate sales, peaking at number 42 on the UK Albums Chart and number 106 on the US Billboard 200. Bandleader Andy Partridge, who wrote most of Apple Venus, characterised the work as "orchustic", a portmanteau of "orchestral" and "acoustic". He meant the album title to refer to "a beautiful woman". The album effectively marked a comeback for XTC, who spent half the decade on strike against their former label Virgin Records. Apple Venus was originally planned as a double album, but because the group did not have enough money to record all the material they had stockpiled, they elected to split the more rock-oriented songs as "volume two" (released one year later as Wasp Star). The making of Volume 1 was fraught with personal conflicts, budgetary concerns and numerous false starts. Most of the orchestral portions were rush-recorded in one day with a 40-piece symphony at Abbey Road Studios, and had to be edited over a months-spanning period. It was the last album to include guitarist Dave Gregory, who departed XTC while in the middle of the sessions due to frustrations with Partridge. By the time of its release, Partridge no longer viewed XTC as a band, and preferred it to be known as a "brand" covering his and bassist Colin Moulding's music.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.81

Votes

8886
Genres
Rock
Pop

Reviews

Like a review? Give it a thumb up to help us display relevant reviews!
Sort by: Top Date
View Author
Mon Sep 18 2023
3

Interesting for sure. But *essential*? I'm not even certain that *Skylarking* and *English Settlement* will be included in my own list (*Drums And Wire* will be in it, of course). So selecting this late-career album by XTC sounds a little dubious on paper. On paper at least, I'll grant that to Dimery and co. The orchestral arrangements are top-notch on quite a few tracks, for instance. It was surprising to read that those arrangements were all recorded in Abbey Road in a single day, and that the original sessions were somewhat botched. That protools software can work wonders, can't it? Pretty useful when you don't have the ressources to record an orchestra for a whole week. At times, there are strings arrangements that reminded me of Dead Can Dance or Michael Nyman. Gorgeous, gorgeous work. Thanks to those orchestrations, great compositions such as "River of Orchids", "Easter Theatre", "I Can't Own Her" and "Harvest Festival" shine on this record--to which you could maybe add single "I'd Like That" and closer "The Last Balloon". To be honest, I find those highlights even more endearing than the ones of *Skylarking*, that mid-eighties LP that saw XTC take a radical left turn towards more artsy landscapes. Maybe one of the issues pestering *Apple Venus Volume 1* is that it was released long after that initial left-turn-into-art-rock-thing, and even longer after the band's commercial peak. Which might be an unfair way to dismiss *Apple Venus...*, once again. If those songs had appeared on *Skylarking*, chances are that they would have been praised just like the tunes on that album were. Maybe even more so. That being said, I think that all the other cuts in this record are far less effective, and even annoying to an extent. As often with this band, said cuts go from unobtrusive to twee--a trend that often rubs me the wrong way during XTC's later albums. That reliance on lush layerings, soft textures, and an overabundance of major chords started with *Skylarking*, once again. The thing is, as talented as he is, Alan Partridge is no John Lennon, no Paul McCartney, and no 60s-era Brian Wilson. His tunes always *sound* nice, I agree. But some of them are way too naive. And most of them are not that memorable compared to the ones routinely written by the genius songwriters XTC fans often compare Partridge with. On top of that, there's the issue of overall dynamics. If you take away the post-punk energy of the band's early career, you actually end up taking away a lot of the stuff that made their compositions so remarkable in the first place. I agree that when they age, composers and songwriters should find ways to make the sound of their youth evolve with them. But doing so doesn't necessarily mean you have to lose a sense of youthful enthusiasm, so to speak. And early-XTC had *a lot* of those thrilling, enthusiastic moments. I'm OK with the idea of intellectualizing things a little. It's just that there are ways to do so and still remain straightforward once in a while. You can do this through a soaring chorus, basic chords at key points of a song, or anything that would make it a little catchier, Abbey-Road-recording-sessions-of-a full-blown-orchestra notwithstanding. Because, let's face it, this LP is a little stingy when it comes to catchy moments, isn't it? And this, even for its highlights. I haven't yet listened to *Apple Venus Volume 2* (not in Dimery's list, if my memory serves), but it sounds reasonable to assume that if Partridge and Moulding had at least gathered the highlights from both volumes into a single package--and dismissed the rest for B-sides and whatnot--you would have a stronger entry here. It's a story everyone has heard before. The talented leader of a band is such a victim of his own hubris that he botches his own desire for success when he becomes unable to self-edit so as to separate the whiff from the chaff--and this even when his entourage advised him to do so. Reading stories about Alan Partridge and his occasional temper tantrums with other band members, it seems that he is a character that could fit those shoes. Human makes mistake, I imagine. Number of albums left to review: 437 Number of albums from the list I find relevant enough to be mandatory listens: 263 Albums from the list I *might* include in mine later on: 134 Albums from the list I will certainly *not* include in mine (many others are more essential to me): 170 (including this one)

👍
View Author
Sat Nov 04 2023
3

I've never heard any XTC before, and I'm not sure this was the best place to start; sounds like a bunch of middle-aged men in a shed in Shropshire doing a Beatles-prog crossover on the weekend. It's fine, but not great.

👍
View Author
Sat Oct 28 2023
2

This album is so essential that you can’t listen to it in America on a streaming service. Instead you get to hear it as the artist intended: broken up by commercials for reverse mortgages and carb-cutting diet fads on YouTube. Real talk though, this album’s alright. If you like the corniest of all the Beatles’ psychedelic pop experiments from the late sixties, you’ll love this record.

👍
View Author
Tue Oct 10 2023
3

Fun and quirky and melodic. I was going to go with 4 stars because this is very much my kind of music, but I need to drop 1 whole star for "Your Dictionary" which has some of the dumbest lyrics I have ever heard in my entire god-forsaken life.

👍
View Author
Mon Aug 28 2023
2

Second album by these guys here, their THIRTEENTH overall. English (ofc), mostly just an orchestra with the singer waxing lyrical over the top. Pompous and overblown, ambitious but directionless. etc etc. As a general rule, albums 30 years into a band's career just shouldn't be here. I'm sure there are some exceptions, but not today. Wikipedia says the album was plagued by "personal conflict", and to hazard a guess: the singer wrote the whole thing by himself and rest of the band told him to stick this vanity project nonsense up his arse. Eventually the singer had it released anyway. Wiki also says it was "praised by critics" - I'm not gonna go looking for reviews, but.... I bet it wasn't. lol. 2/5.

👍
View Author
Tue Sep 05 2023
5

What a phenomenal album. It deviates from earlier XTC not only because of the other instruments used and the use of The London Sessions Orchestra, but also the song structures. Don't expect the cynical wave rock from the 80's but great atmospheric arrangements, often in an orchestral guise, but never over the top or bombastic. Apparently the creation of this album and the songs on it took years. Years of exploration, of contention, of separation. And that is audible. And palpable. It's not a full 5* album though, because the 2 songs that Mouldin contributed to the album (Frivolous Tonight and Fruit Nut) are not up to the level of Andy Partridge's songs. It might not be an innovative album, but how much beauty do you want on an album? Standout tracks are Easter Theatre, Greenman, Your Dictionary and the absolute incredible ending of The Last Balloon. 4,5*.

👍
View Author
Wed Sep 27 2023
5

This is what The Beatles (and the Davies brothers and Brian Wilson) would sound like if they had been born a hundred years later. The same old pop motifs re-interpolated a thousands times into banality but also looping back into sensory overload and euphoria and surreal half truths. You can't really handle the tremendous weight of it whether you've heard the classics or not.

👍
View Author
Sun Oct 22 2023
5

I listened to an XTC album for the first time only a few months ago and was seriously impressed. I love the blend of rock music with orchestra, and it made for such a nice experience. Today’s album seems hard to find as it isn’t on Apple Music, so I’m having to resort to streaming it on YouTube. Not ideal, but still excited to hear it. Songs I already knew: none Favourites: Greenman, I’d Like That I’m happy to report that this album was just as lovely as the last one. Google and Wikipedia seem to indicate XTC are a post punk band, but this was much more folky than anything. Previous reviews of mine have expressed a joy for music that makes me want to run around naked in fairy circles, and this is no exception. The vocals and Melodie’s are very imaginative and creative, and it makes for a very lovely listening experience. I might have to add this to my record collection soon.

👍
View Author
Tue Aug 29 2023
4

Surprenant. En voyant le nom du band et le nom de l'album, je ne m'attendais pas à grand chose. Un genre d'album de Jazz expérimentale probablement. Mais ce n'est pas du tout cela. J'ai beaucoup aimé les arrangements. La voix aussi est en harmonie avec le reste et il y a beaucoup de substances et de différents styles pour les chansons. Une très bonne écoute. 4.5

👍
View Author
Thu Aug 31 2023
5

Infinitely better than their other entry on this list. Even the couple of tracks with corny lyrics sound incredible. Triumphant. Best track: Easter Theatre

👍
View Author
Fri Sep 01 2023
5

Beautiful Album. Highlights: River of Orchids, Easter Theatre, Your Dictionary, and Greenman

👍
View Author
Wed Oct 18 2023
5

10/17/23. Never listened to XTC before this album but wow was I blown away with what I heard. Did not expect such a vast, art like journey. Really surprised and had a pleasant listen, just wish this album was more accessible!

👍
View Author
Thu Oct 19 2023
5

Incredible from start to finish. "River of Orchids" sets the tone for an acoustic yet diverse and intense musical experience. "I Can't Own Her" was another highlight, although I think every song is worth listening to.

👍
View Author
Wed Nov 08 2023
5

Já fiquei puto que não tem no spotify... No começo fiquei "que porra é essa...", aí do nada gostei do que veio, as gotinhas de água, a música com ritmos diferenciado, gosto dessas paradas mais experimentais que fogem um pouco do padrão. Gostei. I'd Like That: Orra, to gostando da música, violãozinho da hora, baixo caminhando legal. Vibe massa, carai. Até fiquei triste que não dá pra adicionar no Spotify. Easter Theatre: mano, que porra é essa, eu realmente to curtindo essas músicas, tão me tocando, que interessante... não sei se lembra algumas músicas da época psicodélica dos Beatles, mas orras... Fui ler os comentários, as pessoas comentaram dos Beatles também huahuahua. Agora tá fazendo sentido... Knights In Shining Karma: cacete, mais uma música da hora, gosto dessa vibe, ainda tá lembrando um pouco de blackbird, com kansas, sound of silence, curto essa vibe. Frivolous Tonight: mais uma vibe Beatles, estilo Maxwell Silver Hammer, parece muito as músicas hippies psicodélicas felizes do Paul. Não teve uma música que não gostei até agora... Greenman: os caras são muito criativos, parece muito uma música de tribo feliz da Disney. Your Dictionary: que isso, começou "F U" pensei "ah não" HUAHUAUH, que musiquinha massa cara. I Can't Own Her: A voz do back vocal é muito vibe Paul mesmo, os caras devem ter uma inspiração forte nos Beatles, vou pesquisar. Pesquisei, a galera até comparou vários álbums dessa banda com os dos Beatles em diferentes épocas, me interessou pra ouvir depois. Esse foi o primeiro álbum desse rolê que me fez parar tudo pra ir pesquisar sobre a banda, era o que eu esperava desde o início. Que foda isso, e como eu to avaliando isso aqui por sentimento, vou dar 5 estrelas pelo que me fez sentir. Acho que nenhuma outra banda vai criar o sentimento que tive ouvindo toda a discografia dos Beatles na adolescência (The Who chegou muito perto), mas essa banda me fez lembrar daquele momento.

👍
View Author
Mon Dec 04 2023
5

Listened to this while playing Aeon's End with my partner against Magus of Cloaks. We lost twice. What an unexpected joy this album was! I had seen the groups name before, but had no idea what kind of music they performed. As an instrumentalist, I lived for all the creative orchestrations. There was an occasional cringe lyric here and there...but the dictionary song was super clever and had me laughing. I kept waiting for things to get less interesting, but each song was like a little auditory gem. I would absolutely come back to this for inspiration in my own compositions. Was not expecting to have a 5 album out of the blue...but I loved this!

👍
View Author
Thu Dec 14 2023
5

Very nice album. It's as if the Beatles got interested in progressive rock and weren't so upbeat. The vocals were great. Like most good music, it'll take me a few listens before I really understand the

👍
View Author
Fri Jan 05 2024
5

This album is not on Spotify and after reading comments on YouTube, this album is apparently really hard to find. Which is a shame because it's well crafted. This parallels The Beatles. This is my favorite albums off this list of albums I have not heard before. I wish this was so spotify for my convenience. I have added this album to the list of albums that I would like to add to my vinyl collection. I've heard it's difficult to find.. But I'm hopeful because it's a fantastic record. The song Your Dictionary was, to my surprise, really good. I'm a lyrics guy and the lyrics come off a bit cheesy.. But it's the first time I have heard a song with that style of lyrics - it was really well done. I listened to it 4 times before I moved on to the next song.... Which is one of my favourites off the album: Fruit Nut. To me, this sounds like it could have been written by one of my favourite artists, Ween. It's whimsical and almost goofy but done in a serious and purposeful. It's contrasting styles blended beautifully. I wonder if the brothers' Ween took inspiration from XTC? The final song has a slow trumpet build up that accompanies the rest of the instruments really well and it ends with a fantastic solo but the trumpet. Loved every second of that. What a gem. This record makes me want to explore XTC further. I will definitely listen to this again and again.

👍
View Author
Thu Feb 15 2024
5

This was a really great album. Shame it’s not on Spotify because there’s multiple songs I really enjoy. River of Orchids, Easter Theater, and Your Dictionary were all really solid listens. 10/10

👍
View Author
Sun Feb 18 2024
5

I was hugely surprised by just how great this album was. It has a shot at having the highest quality-to-popularity ratio on this list. The compositions and arrangements are little Beatlesque, or perhaps Brian-Wilsonian, especially in the slower, more string-oriented tracks. The strings are the album’s point of focus, along with the smooth, emotional vocals. Really, the only slightly weaker track is Your Dictionary, because of the horrendously goofy lyrics – but that can be overlooked. The rest of the album sounds really good, cementing its place as an obscure classic in the world of British baroque-pop. Key tracks: I Can’t Own Her – Beautiful shimmering strings and some sitar-like instrument in the back. Very cool. Takes a darker, more aggressive turn in the B-section halfway through the song. River of Orchids – Man, that orchestration is haunting. Cool, dark, nature-overgrown alleyway. A little haunting. Easter Theatre – Fun, poppy, well-produced. Greenman – Hard-to-place genre. Some quasi-medieval hints – possibly mode related? Again, great use of strings – adds so much colour. (This is a consistently strong theme throughout the album.)

👍
View Author
Wed Mar 06 2024
5

slet ikke hvad jeg havde regnet med. Chokerende godt imho! Brian Wilson med Peter Gabriel-vokal. Syntes Your Dictionary var ret fjollet men alle de andre numre var fantastiske

👍
View Author
Wed Apr 03 2024
5

Really great album. I had never heard a single song on it and it's not at all what I expected from XTC. A little bit mellower and more Beatles-y than what I'm used to, but it really hit the spot for me. I liked almost every song on first listen and the rest kind of grew on me after repeated listens. This was the first album that was not on Spotify that I wished was.

👍
View Author
Thu Aug 31 2023
4

Hard to find, easy to listen to. 4 stars/

👍
View Author
Mon Sep 18 2023
4

Dreamy and lush. Very beautiful.

👍
View Author
Mon Sep 25 2023
4

As an appreciator of a good portmanteau, I'm on board with the band's description of this as an 'orchoustic' record. The combination appeals, and this album delivers the promised sound, along with lush harmonies and themes of paganism and the seasons. Whimsical and beautifully recorded, I like this a lot. Rating: 4.5/5 Playlist track: Greenman Date listened: 24/09/23

👍
View Author
Tue Sep 26 2023
4

Album number: 1048 First listen for this album. I know XTC and have never really been a big fan - until now. This album is something really terrific. Even without a well-known hit single. Every song on the album is quite nice to listen to. Standouts: River of Orchids, I'd Like That, Your Dictionary, Others: Easter Theatre, Knights in Shining Karma, Frivolous Tonight, Greenman, Fruit Nut, I Can't Own Her, Harvest Festival, The Last Balloon. River of Orchids is simply fantastic. What a powerful way to start the album. Complex and beautifully arranged. It sets the tone for the rest of the album. 3.75/5

👍
View Author
Thu Oct 12 2023
4

I guess, that's how the Beatles sounded were they still making music. No real banger on the album but a creative and surprising variety of pop music with some Bachian elements.

👍
View Author
Mon Oct 16 2023
4

A lushly, orchestrated Beatlesesque album from UK favs, XTC. I am a huge fan of the band and there have at least a couple records that I would deem essential, but this isn't one of them. It is a very good record with several excellent songs, but I would hold off in calling it a classic. I like it a lot, but I wouldn't place it in XTC's top 5, but still better than most music from it's era.

👍
View Author
Wed Oct 18 2023
4

After undergoing the kind of record label hell that would extinguish most bands, XTC reconvene for the type of album only they could make. Even if they were now a brand as opposed to a band, they didn't fall for the grandiose bombast that characterizes most albums after a lengthy hiatus (that was self-imposed). Instead, they went for something a little orchestral and symphonic whilst keeping an eye on the pop scheme of things. It's largely a success, even if the whimsical nature of songs does induce a feeling of indifference. Overall, it's a stellar return for an outfit that was approaching a bittersweet end. https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzm-I9MllufIRZHTd8NFpjxPP3cGyFvvy&si=xfDhWQ0lJzeWSk7n Favorites: River of Orchids, I'd Like That, Knights in Shining Karma, Greenman, Your Dictionary, Fruit Nut, I Can't Own Her, Harvest Festival, The Last Balloon.

👍
View Author
Thu Oct 19 2023
4

This album was only my second exposure to XTC. I found the music very reminiscent of the Beach Boys, Burt Bacharach, and the Beatles in instrumentation, song structure, and singing style. The orchestral elements were incredibly well placed and elevated the album into something that reminded me of SMiLE, Brian Wilson's unfinished masterpiece. Lyrically, the album deals primarily with themes of paganism though personal matters as reflected on the song 'Dictionary' occasionally seep in. I would consider this album a triumph of symphonic pop and though not every song grabbed me, the ones that did more than make up for it.

👍
View Author
Fri Oct 27 2023
4

The was a creative art-y album that worked well. Orchestra elements, some middle eastern influence. Overall beautiful sounding.

👍
View Author
Sat Nov 04 2023
4

Alan Partridge works with the London Session Orchestra to produce a modern version of Pet Sounds-era Brian Wilson. From the chamber vocals, the triumphant atmospheric sound, and the whimsical instruments and effects, the arrangements are all lush, beautiful, and catchy pop tunes. I don't understand the hate; I thought it was all pretty good. There were a few tracks I didn't care for much (especially in the 2nd half), and the song structures are pretty simple, so I wouldn't put it up to par with Pet Sounds or even Skylarking, but it was hard for me to hate any of it. Favorites: River of Orchids, Easter Theatre, I Can't Own Her

👍
View Author
Sun Nov 05 2023
4

Rating: 7/10 Best songs: River of orchids, I’d like that

👍
View Author
Tue Nov 07 2023
4

c est plein de choses qui pourraient me deplaire mais jaime encore ?

👍
View Author
Wed Nov 08 2023
4

River of Orchids me deixou bem confuso do que seria esse álbum. Definitivamente diferenciado, isso é inegável. Só não entendi direito o que é isso. I'd Like That já foi algo bem mais compreensível, achei bem gostosinha, boa de ouvir. Adicionaria se fosse possível... Esse álbum é muito doido cara, essa Easter Theatre me fez perceber que essa banda tá me lembrando os beatles na época doidera LSD deles, do Sgt. Pepper e do Magical Mystery Tour. Com sons fora do comum, coisas meio tensas, bastante instrumentos de sopro, mas com melodias legais, interessantes e grudentas no meio disso tudo. Knights In Shining Karma começa bonita, profunda, calminha mas meio "pesada". As harmonias e melodias desse álbum são muito diferenciadas. Complexo de entender. Frivolous Tonight me lembrou um pouco música de natal, não sei porquê.. E foi antes dos chimes do final dela. Ah pronto, Greenman é a cota de George Harrison indiano da inspiração dos Beatles. E pior que ficou boa pra caralho kkkkkkk Your Dictionary é mó boa também. As músicas são muito distintas umas das outras. E é sempre uma surpresa agradável. Ah lá, foi só falar isso e do nada Fruit Nut começa com sonzinho estilo Donkey Kong uahseuasheuashuauhse I Can't Own Her e Harvest Festival baita músicas também, bonitas pra cacete. The Last Balloon fecha o álbum de forma mais darkzona. Esse álbum me chamou muito a atenção pela inspiração na época lá de 1967 dos Beatles, porém sem perder a própria personalidade. As músicas ainda se mantiveram características e únicas. Além disso, a diversidade ao longo do álbum, cada música era bem diferente uma da outra e tinha sua própria sensação. E a medida que fui ouvindo o álbum, eu ia ficando curioso pra saber qual a próxima coisa que viria, e nunca decepcionava. Fiquei positivamente surpreso. Músicas extremamente bem feitas, e muitas vezes meio complexas. Leva um tempinho pra digerir algumas. Acredito que esse álbum deve ficar ainda melhor com o tempo.

👍
View Author
Fri Nov 10 2023
4

Alternatief, maar vrolijk en melodieus.

👍
View Author
Fri Nov 10 2023
4

Weird & enjoyable. Will revisit.

👍
View Author
Thu Nov 16 2023
4

I like the mix of strings and 60s folk. It's sounds like XTC meets Pet Sounds. The Colin Moulding songs have more of a Scott Walker feel. It was brave to release such an ambitious and eclectic LP, that would not regiater on the commercila charts, since they were more or less broke. Andy Partridge's voice isn't at the same level as the arrangements.

👍
View Author
Thu Nov 16 2023
4

Bien meilleur que l'album moyen de Britney sorti au même moment.

👍
View Author
Tue Nov 21 2023
4

Didn't think this was worth being on the list as we already have two XTC albums worth enough praise, but the magnificence of Easter Theater is enough to make me believe in the beauty of sound. It is unfortunate that Colin Moulding's two songs (Frivolous Tonight and Fruit Nut) drag down the overall quality. Otherwise, what a spectacular final showing for a band that should have peaked in the 80's.

👍
View Author
Tue Nov 28 2023
4

Embarrassingly I don't think this is the first time I felt like I knew this band, got confused by what I was hearing, then realized I was thinking about INXS. This anyway was interestingly wierd and pretty unlike anything else. I enjoyed it.

👍
View Author
Tue Nov 28 2023
4

This list needs some Dukes of Stratosphere

👍
View Author
Sat Dec 02 2023
4

I was super impressed with this, and honestly only think that the CD era bloat typical among this era is what drags it down.

👍
View Author
Fri Dec 08 2023
4

Let's begin with the cliché surrounding this XTC album: shut your eyes, forget who you're listening to, and take in "River of Orchids" as it trickles into life. "Apple Venus Volume 1" could easily have been a hidden treasure of 1968, sitting neatly between The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Kinks. Instead, it came thirty years later, from a band about fifteen years past their prime. It's a real curio even by 1999 standards, begging the question why it ended up included in the 1001 canon. All I can say is that I'm thrilled it was: after a few listens, I've decided it's a modest triumph. This, along with Vol. 2 which was released as "Wasp Star", were XTC's final albums. Principal singer and songwriter Andy Partridge suffered from severe stage fright which meant the band never performed live, and spent the best part of a decade refining these tracks in studio. I'm casually familiar with "Skylarking" and have always liked it, but this is something else altogether. "Apple Venus Vol. 1" is their "orch-oustic" manifesto: a blend between pastoral, acoustic-guitar driven folk and bombastic, symphonic arrangements. "River of Orchids" begins this in a stirring, hypnotic way, with droplets of pizzicato strings slowly building up to a bubbling stream. Layers of brass and vocal ripple over each other until there's a whole river of sound laid out before us: an entrancing introduction. "I'd Like That" is more of a lightweight acoustic ditty, but charming in its way with a satisfying flamenco outro. And then "Easter Theatre" misdirects us through meandering verses to an absolutely knock-out chorus. The moment the backing "stage left" lyric comes in, it's like the sky explodes in green and gold, and XTC are here to carry us all home. Later, "Greenman" is a grand old giddy joy that makes me want to dress as a shrub and dance round a maypole. "Harvest Festival" harks back to children's assembly, complete with recorders. And I can't not mention "Frivolous Tonight" and "Fruit Nut", the two tracks penned by Colin Mould. A little divisive with critics at the time, I'm happy to report that their vaudeville stylings work perfectly for me: they're shuffling music hall ditties which perfectly suit the songs of innocence package. If anything threatens to sink the album, it's the constant tension between superb music and really quite embarrassing lyrics. The ultimate example is "Your Dictionary": the lyrics are trite, corny and absolutely should not work. But in the end, I'm charmed by its sparse, acoustic instrumentation and the sudden, charming baroque-pop outro. Elsewhere, there's the middle-8 of "I Can't Own Her" - "when I say I can't own her, I don't mean to buy her, it's nothing at all to do with money" - hopelessly clunky. But in context of the song, surrounded by multi-layered vocals and swirling harmonies, it becomes breathtaking. So there we have it: "Apple Venus Volume 1" is a near-masterpiece. I'm stopping slightly short of full marks ("The Last Balloon" is a little underwhelming as a closer) but this is one of the best 90's albums I've been introduced to in a long time. And for all the talk about its forebears, what hasn't been picked up on so much is the subsequent albums "Apple Venus" may have inspired. "River of Orchids" and "Easter Theatre" could be straight out of an Animal Collective record, and there are shades of Flaming Lips' more symphonic work (which, incidentally, was drawing from the same sources in the exact same year).

👍
View Author
Fri Dec 08 2023
4

At first I questioned why an album outside of their prime years of the late 70s and 80s was included, but the arrangements they crafted here really make this stick out in their catalog. Freed from major label scrutiny, they were able to tickle their own fancy to their hearts content. British eccentricity on full display.

👍
View Author
Sun Dec 10 2023
4

River of Orchids is pretty great. What a way to start the album! It's followed by the Beatle's-like "I'd Like That" and "Easter Theatre". Standouts: River of Orchids, I'd Like That, Easter Theatre.

👍
View Author
Wed Dec 13 2023
4

‘Apple Venus Volume 1’ doesn’t quite hit the same highs, and as consistently as ‘Skylarking’, but it’s still pretty great, even if it all sounds a bit familiar and Andy Partridge’s Beatles/PMac/Brian Wilson influences are more obvious than usual.

👍
View Author
Thu Dec 21 2023
4

Smooth and melodic. A bit sing songy at times but really enjoyed the listen.

👍
View Author
Tue Dec 26 2023
4

I would really like to give this a 5, because it contains some of my favourite XTC songs with some truly fantastic arrangements and melodies, but then it also has a slump in the middle with songs that don’t hit the mark. It’s like 65% excellent. Definitely worse ways to close off your career (although they still released volume 2 after this one) but there’s still a bit of lost potential felt. I also find it a little strange that this is the only other XTC album included here besides Skylarking. Albums like Drums & Wires, Black Sea, English Settlement or Nonsuch would’ve made better candidates, I feel. All that said, there’s still a lot of great songs on this one

👍
View Author
Thu Dec 28 2023
4

XTC turn their talents to acoustic-inflected pop and the result is predictably great. I simply and generally enjoy the band's output; Apple Venus starts with neither a hook nor a lyric, and that establishes the record's entire tone. All the band's stalwarts will return, less a pronounced rhythm section. Time figures, then, are up to the voice, resulting in a rather ancient mood.

👍
View Author
Sun Dec 31 2023
4

River of Orchids is an amazing opening track. Never heard it before, but it is incredible. The whole album gives me Beatles-vibes. Standouts: River of Orchids, I'd Like That, Your Dictionary 4.25

👍
View Author
Thu Jan 04 2024
4

Rating: 8.5/10 Great album, a lot of fun to listen to. The songwriting was consistently great throughout, loved the orchestral elements that were implemented. A lot of catchy vocal and instrumental melodies, the lush production really complemented the instrumentation. A lot of beautiful elements on this album as well, very pleasant and enjoyable to listen to. There was enough variety on here that it was interesting to listen to the entire time while having a consistent sound throughout. Favorite songs: River of Orchids, I'd Like That, Easter Theatre, Frivolous Thought, Greenman, Your Dictionary, I Can't Own Her, The Last Balloon. Least favorite song: Knights In Shining Karma.

👍
View Author
Sat Jan 13 2024
4

I wrote a long speel about the Beatles and Icarus but realised after Dictionary that it was nonsense. The album started a bit orchestral but then it was like they changed their mind or something and just gave up on that idea.. not sure if that was a good thing or not.. All that being said, it was an okay album which I'll probably never listen to again because its not on spotify. Thanks to Cheese Man. Favourite track - The Last Balloon - great outro song, trumpet?

👍
View Author
Wed Jan 17 2024
4

More people would sing this album's praises if it was more readily available. Trust me, it's worth searching out. This little band had a lot more cooking besides "Dear God" and "Senses Working Overtime". I'd like something different for the album cover though if I'm being completely honest.

👍
View Author
Fri Jan 19 2024
4

XTC is clever and fun. I wasn’t familiar with this album but I enjoyed it very much.

👍
View Author
Fri Jan 19 2024
4

Between 1979 and 1982, I loved XTC. They had a really great and unusual sound. But then I thought they fell off the planet. I presumed they were resting on their laurels in a farmhouse somewhere spending the royalties. Little did I know that 20 years later they were still making music. And it ain’t half bad. Andy Partridge has such a distinctive voice you can recognise it is XTC without being told. Interesting that the album cover as depicted here is the wrong way round. Don’t know what to infer from that. I can hear lots of Neil Innes and The Kinks and that notable English whimsy. It’s incredibly witty and I was so intrigued I listened to it twice. It touches a quirky spot in a way that I recognise and love. XTC spells great in my dictionary.

👍
View Author
Thu Jan 25 2024
4

Isch mega a shame isch Das album nid uf spotify. Bin drum nur chli dure gskippt aber finds eigentlich würklich no schön? Aso chent mehr bi paar songs echt vorstelle das da würklich mir mal so recht ahlose usserhalb vo dem 1001 album thing. Wird halt nid passiere wells nid uf spotify isch aber ich würd voll mitvibe wenns öpper würd laufe lah. 4/5

👍
View Author
Thu Jan 25 2024
4

Jammer dat die niet op Spotify stond, heb wel echt genoten

👍
View Author
Fri Jan 26 2024
4

Yes - enjoyed hearing XTC again.

👍
View Author
Fri Jan 26 2024
4

My first exposure XTC. Having a hard time classifying this one. Good vocals backed by orchestrated soft progressive I guess. I like it.

👍
View Author
Sat Jan 27 2024
4

XTC is one of those bands that I feel like I could have really gotten into at some point, but for whatever reason never did. Honestly probably just random chance that I never delved deep into their catalog. They seem like a really interesting band with a unique vision. I love the use of strings and other instruments on this album. I just with it was on Spotify, I would definitely put it in my rotation. 4 stars.

👍
View Author
Mon Jan 29 2024
4

Tough one to score. Some songs easily belong on a 5 star album but some songs have way too much Silly British flavour for my liking. Ultimately going to round up here on the strength of the good stuff, and add that I think XTC might be a sleeper Band For Me.

👍
View Author
Thu Feb 01 2024
4

Spotify didn't have it so i have to listen on youtube. River of Orchids is cool. This is a real solid musical outting. I get a Steely Dan vibe from it, but not in terms of sound. In terms of craftsmanship. Greenman undercuts it, because the soundscape is just so generically "Arabic inspired". After that, it loses that shimmering quality that the opening tracks have, but still a very nice time.

👍
View Author
Thu Feb 08 2024
4

For some reason this is a hard album to track down, but having finally heard it, I like it a lot. In places it is not dissimilar to peak era Squeeze and can also hear elements of Paul McCartney in the singing and the lyrics.

👍
View Author
Thu Feb 15 2024
4

T'was a bop, wasn't what i was expecting but i enjoyed it

👍
View Author
Thu Feb 22 2024
4

I can't rate this album higher than Skylarking and Drums & Wire. However, it is a very fine McCartney-esque pop album that deserves recognition.

👍
View Author
Wed Feb 28 2024
4

At first I thought it was too much effort to listen on YouTube. But I’m glad I persevered. I agree with the Beatles comments, but I think that adds to its charm. “I’d Like That” and “Your Dictionary” were particular highlights for me.

👍
View Author
Fri Mar 08 2024
4

This was very unique and I liked it but didn’t love it

👍
View Author
Sun Mar 10 2024
4

VERY FUN!!! I LOVED THIS. I was quite surprised that I enjoyed this!!! Great sound and overall a fun experience. Great lyrics too

👍
View Author
Fri Mar 22 2024
4

This album is definitely a mood. Atmospheric and interesting. There are a couple of head-scratching moments. For example, Easter Theatre's lyrics - "Chocolate nipple brown"? "Like the ground, your breast swell"? "Flowers climb erect"? Someone's horny, huh?? Also, the lyrics for Your Dictionary - such a pretty song for such bitter lyrics about divorce. I'm going with a 4 for the occasional weirdness, but it's a really good album that I would definitely revisit. Favorite tracks: River of Orchids (great opening. Very unusual styling - I like it. Makes me think a little of Sting), Frivolous Tonight (am I hearing a Beatles song? I like it), Greenman (caught my attention every time when I wasn't listening closely. Weird lyrics, but great music), Fruit Nut (very catchy, Beach Boys-esque), I Can't Own Her, Harvest Festival, The Last Balloon (great ending - love the transition from voice to trumpet at the end. Perfect).

👍
View Author
Fri Mar 22 2024
4

XTC is one of those bands that when you finally listen to them, you wonder why they don't get more love. They're so quirky but the songs have that Beatlesque feel. This album, however, is not my favorite of theirs. Although the acoustic feel is great, I longed for more songs of old from them. But there are still good songs here, but just not things like "The Mayor of Simpleton" or "Senses Working Overtime". It feels like an album you have when you're having a Sunday brunch, and I'm not sure if that was the aim or not. So it's good and I definitely like it, but XTC definitely has better. Top tracks: "Harvest Festival," "Easter Theater," "Your Dictionary"

👍
View Author
Fri Mar 22 2024
4

Mostly enjoyable — and quite Beatley in parts.

👍
View Author
Sun Apr 07 2024
4

I fully expected to shit on this album in my review, what with it being a late career XTC album that I'd never heard anything about, and here I am happily eating my shoe on this one. Well composed, well produced, clever and quirky Beatles-esque art pop that has me wanting to spend more time in the post 80s XTC catalog

👍
View Author
Tue Aug 29 2023
3

This was fine, no idea who this group is and listened to this retroactively as it's not on apple/spotify. Enjoyed the song "I'd like that" since it mentioned sunflowers and I like sunflowers

👍
View Author
Thu Sep 07 2023
3

Clearly some beatles influences here but not really doing it for me.

👍
View Author
Fri Sep 29 2023
3

Interesting! Whiny voice but a good vibe??? 3.5

👍
View Author
Fri Oct 13 2023
3

Not bad, not great. Started off quite energetic and become more chill as it progressed.

👍
View Author
Fri Oct 13 2023
3

Rock pop alternativo. Ecléctico. Sinfónico.

👍
View Author
Sun Oct 15 2023
3

3.4 - The first two tracks got my hopes up but the record takes a sharp nosedive after that, and the quirky arrangements mostly sound annoying in a try-hard-y way (see "Greenman"). By the end, I struggle to understand why Dimery chose to include this record as it doesn't fall into his common "record-out-of-left-field" tropes (e.g. a late artist's "return to form", a genre-defining work, a record with a cult-like following, etc.).

👍
View Author
Mon Oct 16 2023
3

There were parts of this album that I really liked, but I also often felt like there was too much going on. There were a few songs where it felt like they just kept adding layers until there was too much to keep track of. It's not a bad album, and it's crazy that a band that formed in the 70s was still producing innovative music in 1999 3/5

👍
View Author
Wed Oct 18 2023
3

Partridge's term for it "orchustic", sums it up well in feel, vibing like animated-movie music at times and feel-good flows other times. Good lyrics, with a paganism twist across a number of the scores.

👍
View Author
Thu Oct 19 2023
3

Faves: River of Orchids, Easter Theatre

👍
View Author
Sat Oct 21 2023
3

Musically ambitious and mostly lovely on the ears, although the vocals are a little hit and miss. Lyrically odd and eloquent at the same time, which is fun. The not so good part: This comes off as music by someone who has listened to the Beatles way too much, but fails to understand what made the Beatles great in the first place. The skill is there, the songcraft is (mostly) there, the heart is not. Unavailable on Spotify, but easy to find on YouTube. Fave Songs: I'd Like That, Knights in Shining Karma, River of Orchids, Easter Theatre

👍
View Author
Wed Oct 25 2023
3

Not my style of music. I can see that other might like it.

👍
View Author
Mon Oct 30 2023
3

Listened to a couple songs I only liked the first one because it sounded like a rain forest or a jungle

👍
View Author
Tue Oct 31 2023
3

Molt notable que després de tants anys la banda continués mantenint el puls per la melodia i l'experimentació dins del que ha de ser una bona cançó pop. Preciosisme en les seves melodies i una voluntat de seguir recargolant l'habitual estructura de la cançó; a mi em recorden més al power pop suau de Jellyfish que a The Beach Boys, amb qui comparen a la guia de la llista de referència

👍
View Author
Thu Nov 02 2023
3

I like: River of Orchids Easter Theatre Greenman

👍
View Author
Fri Nov 03 2023
3

Periaatteessa aika väsynyt valinta listalle, kun bändillä on jo kulta-ajoiltaan niin monta hyvää levyä. Mutta oli tääkin yllättävän jees. Eittämättä kova bändi.

👍
View Author
Sun Nov 05 2023
3

Can't stream it. Putting the stars at the to average it out

👍
Load more reviews