XTC – ” Mummer “

Posted: December 9, 2022 in MUSIC

If you were ever a follower of the band XTC, you’ll know that they continually got the short end of the stick business-wise. Under Virgin, the band’s earnings were so bad that they eventually went on strike just to get out of their contract. So when you saw a flurry of XTC reissues after their disbandment, you could tell it was mostly to create the payday that they deserved but never received. Like their 1986 masterwork “Skylarking”, XTC’s initial idea for the cover art to 1983’s “Mummer” was shot down by their label.

Mummer” is the eleventh in a series of XTC classics to be issued on 200g vinyl.  Unavailable for decades on LP and with its original, but never used, sleeve art restored, the album has been mastered by Jason Mitchell at Loud Mastering with input from Andy Partridge. Unavailable for decades on Vinyl and with its original, but never used, sleeve art restored.

XTC’s sixth album, “Mummer” was another turning point for the band as it marked their first release as a studio only band. evolving from the brash, post-punk/pop of their first two albums “White Music” and “Go2” into one of the most highly regarded of british bands of the era via a trio of essential albums – “Drums and Wires”, “Black Sea”, “English Settlement” – which showcased the increasing versatility of both band and the twin songwriters, Andy Partridge & Colin Moulding. but even the comparatively quieter/more considered “English Settlement” was very much an album of songs written with one ear for the studio and another for how they would work live.

“Mummer” was different. freed from the constraints of ‘the road’ this was XTC in widescreen – experimenting with songs, arrangements and the expanded sonic palette that studios can provide when there is no afterthought as to how to reproduce the material in a variety of theatres, university halls and other venues few, if any, of which were built with rock groups in mind. and, just as the mummers’ plays involve people travelling from place to place in a village enacting tales of the cycle of life (albeit in disguise), XTC travelled the best of the uk’s studios recording, mixing and re-mixing their songs cycle to exacting standards. released as the follow-up to their most successful uk album to date and with a new record label in America, band and record company hopes were high – three of the album’s first four songs were issued as singles – but were to remain unfulfilled.

Fans loved it, the press was positive but radio was changing, especially in the UK, and with no touring it failed, as sometimes happens with bands adopting a new approach, to cross over to that wider audience. as also happens with such records, its reputation (and sales) have, over the years, grown far greater than its initial reception indicated and it can now be seen, in retrospect, to have been an important first step towards the sort of expansive approach to writing and recording that would yield much greater commercial results later in the same decade with “Skylarking” and the albums that followed.

Still for me the best track off the vastly underrated “Mummer” album from 1983 & this has always fascinated me & I never liked the wild ending for years but of late I sounds strangely satisfying!! The Dukes were definitely on the horizon…. Colin’s bass & vocal is outstanding here.

Featuring the sublime “Love On A Farmboy’s Wages“, Mummer represented another turning point for XTC as it marked the first release as a studio only band. Andy Partridge’s vision of having the members of the band pose as actors in a mummers’ play on the cover of their most pastoral album has become a reality. Although this reissue of “Mummer” does not come with the six bonus tracks like the 1990s Geffen edition on CD, this 200G vinyl remaster coaxes the nuances out of the mix, helping “Mummer” take its rightful place among XTC’s finest works.

The singles “Love on a Farmboy’s Wages”, “Wonderland”, and “Great Fire” are still worthy of any greatest hits collections, but it’s the deep cuts on “Mummer” that truly demonstrates the band’s majesty, like “Ladybird”, “Deliver Us from the Elements”, and “Funk Pop a Roll”

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