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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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VINE VOICEon 23 April 2014
...this is better, lots better. Back in the day I didnt have a lovely super duper hi fi, and whilst my adoration of all things XTC was 'up there' my appreciation of the nuances of sound wasn't quite so 'up there', both faults have been subsequently rectified.

My first impression is how gorgeous this sounds, lush, full, broad, deep, expansive........aw its just delicious....sorry, Im listening as I type.

So, expanded version with all the tracks on it including the one they thought might offend ( dear God), the cover in all its unadorned shamelessness ( how the heck this was considred risque back in the day ...ah well).

Many reviews will comment on the music, suffice to say I really do consider this album a classic, its an oft over used hyperbole, but it happens to be true, this album has stood the test of time.

Its no mistake that this album represents the psychedelic( esque) pinnacle of XTC, and, given the releases either side of it were Dukes Of Sratotsfear albums kinda confirms it.

I still dont fully understand the 'polarity' issue, but all I do know is that this album sounds utterly stunning......it is part of a body of work that it still largely underepresented in a lot of music collections of my friends( and probably generally too); but they are all gonna be forced to listen to this little beaut.

edit....it was 28 years ago!!! old!
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on 23 April 2014
This is one of the greatest albums ever released, that much is indisputable. However, I am completely blown away by the new brightness and punch of this new version - it is definitely NOT a marketing ploy to get you to buy the same album twice. Obviously, you do buy it twice, but it is worth every penny; I have been listening to this album for over twenty years and I have heard things on it this week I have never heard before. I even approve of the new tracklisting, it just sounds a fuller, more complete musical journey now, and the segue between Dear God and Dying doesn't bother me at all.
Obviously, there will always be those who still aren't completely satisfied, but as a former (average) musician I tend to glaze over when I hear studio nerds banging on about 'compression' etc. and try to listen as a fan of great music and assess its emotional impact, not nit pick the audio quality. That being said, I am very glad it's been 'corrected' and it is still an album with an impact - emotional and musical - few others have.
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on 10 July 2014
I love Any Partridge, and rate Todd Rundgren as one of the best musicians/producers ever, so when this album came out it was a moment of excitement. The album is fantastic, probably my favourite XTC album, and I never really gave the production too much thought as the quality of songs is superb however, having heard this 'Corrected Polarity' version the album has taken on a new life. It is clearer. sharper and there are sounds that I have never heard before. Love the inclusion of Dear God which has always been one of my favourite tracks. This is a brilliant album. BUY IT!
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on 9 September 2014
The 5 stars are for the music. Great album. Let's be careful here. Does it sound better? Yes, it does, but there's no getting away from the fact that it doesn't sound great because the production doesn't sound great. It's an 80s album and that still shows. Although it is warmer, there is a distinctively lack of warmth. Difficult to describe (plasticky???), but it still sounds harsh. There is NO eureka moment when you play this, even when you A/B it against the original album. I don't want to say you can't polish a turd, but you can't polish it turd, (although this is no turd).
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on 12 August 2014
Knowing this record almost note by note I hit play with keen anticipation... and as soon as the crickets and bees flew around in the space between my AKGs I knew this was something special. On the very first play, previously muddled instruments were revealed. Much as been mentioned of the improved bass, this is none more apparent than on "Summers Cauldron" where the almost dub-like bass lines drive the song beautifully (having become so familiar with the tinnier version it initially seems almost too heavy). There's a guitar following the melody line in Grass, there's a vaguely honky-tonk piano in "The Meeting Place" and again virtuoso bass playing in "Ballet For A Rainy Day".. I concentrate here on the revealing sound, but audiophile quality counts for nothing if the music doesn't stir the soul. No doubts on this record, it is one of the most complete cycle of melodic, insightful and wonderfully arranged songs ever. I guess you can tell I like it... I recommend playing while sitting under a tree, looking up through the leaves to a cloud flecked blue sky..
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on 26 May 2014
This album always sounded a bit thin like all the middle had been turned up and the lows and highs turned down.
Now it sounds lush and as it probably did in the control room.
I'm not sure it's quite the classic XTC album everyone says it is but there are some absolute gems here such as Season Cycle, Dear God and the opener Summers Cauldron which previously wasn't a gem but now sounds gorgeous!
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on 1 September 2014
Blimey....! It's like getting a new XTC album. Fuller, richer..What can I say that doesn't repeat what's been said elsewhere? I don't think you have to be an audiophile to immediately notice the difference. I always wondered why the original didn't really grab the feet as well...and it all comes from the ears of John Dent the engineer who spotted the fault decades after it was originally mastered. If there was a god, then bless Mr Dent...The low end is there now, the deep thud and punch of Colin's bass doubling with the kick drum, especially on Summer's Cauldron and Man Who Sailed.., Wow..not only that, the differentiation of instruments and vocals is much clearer and well defined. I imagine Andy is finally happy, He should be, such a wonderfully rounded album, the cycle of life..one of their best and it sounds brilliant.now we can actually hear the whole band...:)
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on 8 April 2015
Easily one of the best albums of the 1980's and possibly XTC's best work. Every song is stupidly catchy, the lyrics are fantastic, Partridge & Moulding both sound great and the corrected polarity makes everything 10 times warmer. To me this is very much a summer album, frequently conjuring up imagery of green fields and sunlit rivers.

From the recorded sounds of 'Summers Cauldron' to catchy stomp of 'Earn Enough For Us' to the acoustic shimmer of 'Mermaid Smiled', there is not one track that isn't brilliant. There is plenty of variety too. It moves from foot-tapping pop (the wonderful superman referencing 'That's Really Super, Supergirl' and 'Season Cycle) to reflective and somber ('Dying' and 'Sacrifcial Bonfire') without losing any flow. The vocals always sound passionate and the more upfront bass gives a great backbone to most of the songs.

Skylarking was XTC showing their brilliance once again. Along with Black Sea and English Settlement, this is another superb piece of work. There's plenty on offer here and this is a perfect gateway into the band due to its pop sensibility. It's a shame that XTC aren't usually mentioned as one of the great British bands of the their time, because albums like this show that when on form they were as good as anyone.
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on 12 February 2016
Vast improvement over the original CD. Not only is 'Dear Mr. God' included. The "Corrected Polarity" is a vast sonic improvement over the anemic original CD. The punch of the Bass up to the lower mids is way bigger without being bloated. The sound and with it the music itself gains so much power, it is hard to believe that just a wrongly connected cable could do that. If you do not mind pubes on your sleeve, you gotta have this, if you are a lover of things XTC.
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on 23 August 2015
I at first thought there was very little difference from the original re mastered version but now listening to them back to back there is a world of difference..just listen to the depth and bass from the drums in Summers Cauldron..and so it goes on ...how its taken so long to spot that something wasn't right with the original..and why we need to pay out again for the music companys botching is another story...so great cd now even better Summers Cauldron one of Andy Partridges best songs. Big Day also. this is one of the best now much improved so buy it ...and of course Black Sea..which is arguably the best of the lot.
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