Posts Tagged ‘XTC’

 

XTC / Oranges and Lemons 2LP vinyl

XTC‘s 1989 album Oranges and Lemons is being made available on vinyl next month. The album, which features the singles ‘King For A Day’, ‘The Mayor of Simpleton’ and ‘The Loving’ is the eighth in a series of XTC Classics to be issued on a 200g vinyl edition. It has been mastered by Jason Mitchell at Loud Mastering with input from Andy Partridge and is fully approved by XTC.

This is the first time the record has been available on vinyl since the original release and a few improvements have been made, including reworking the sleeve to present the front cover image in all its psychedelic glory and making this a gatefold with song lyrics (the original was a single sleeve). Why the Mayor of Simpleton was not a bigger hit has always flummoxed me. Superbly catchy and Moulding’s bassline alone is a solid classic (apparently he was asked to join Pink Floyd around this time).

The single “Dear God” knocked loudly on the door of commercial acceptance in America, and after over a decade of making some of the best records of the era, it seemed that bigger success was just within reach as they released ‘Oranges & Lemons’ in 1989. The first single from the album, “The Mayor of Simpleton,” actually made the Billboard Hot 100 and checked in at No. 1 on the Modern Rock chart. The bright and buoyant track was but one gem among two LPs worth of great tunes. The only fault of the LP was its somewhat glossy ’90s production values. Fortunately, the songs are able to cut through the glare, for the most part.

Extract from Oranges & Lemons Blu-ray 5.1 Surround, Filmed by West-One Television ,London ,16 January 1989
UK version directed by Nick Jones (as Ian Absentia)
Oranges And Lemons is the third in a series of expanded XTC album reissues, including 5.1 Surround mixes, new stereo mixes and High-Resolution stereo mixes by Steven Wilson, along with a wealth of extra audio and visual material.
Steven Wilson produced the mixes with the input of founder band member Andy Partridge and the full approval of the band. This cd/blu-ray edition is presented in special packaging with an expanded booklet and sleeve-notes by Andy Partridge, Colin Moulding and Dave Gregory.

“Oranges & Lemons” is the third in a series of remixed & expanded XTC classics. The album has been mixed from the original studio masters by Steven Wilson with input from Andy Partridge, and is fully approved by XTC. The CD features a completely new stereo album mix, while the Blu-Ray features a wealth of content, continuing the “virtual box set on a single disc” concept of the first two releases in the series:

  • 5.1 Surround album mix in 24bit/96khz available in LPCM and DTS HD MA
  • a new stereo album mix in 24bit/96khz LPCM audio
  • instrumental versions of all new stereo mixes in 24bit/96khz LPCM audio
  • a flat transfer of the original stereo album mix in 24bit/96khz LPCM audio
  • 2 separate sets of demo & work tape sessions showing the evolution of the album and associated recordings
  • 1 set of pre-recording rehearsals, promos & ID links for radio stations & record companies
  • a collection of single mixes & XTC’s version of Captain Beefheart’s “Ella Guru”
  • promo films for “The Mayor of Simpleton” (3 versions), “King for a Day” and “The Road to Oranges & Lemons’, a rarely seen home-made film by the band explaining the album (and themselves!) to Geffen Records USA.

Presented in special packaging with expanded booklet and sleeve-notes by Andy Partridge, Colin Moulding & Dave Gregory.

See the source image

The story goes that when Bob Dylan heard Jimi Hendrix’s swirling cover of ‘All Along The Watchtower’ he said that the track no longer belonged to him, that Jimi had provided the essential version of the song. He clearly hadn’t heard XTC’s fresh take of the track on the TV show ‘So It Goes’.

While punk rock was sweeping the globe and the need to destroy the past to create a new future was an ethos that many bands latched on to, a rejection of rock ‘n’ roll’s past was a fashionable thing and most punks spent their time describing the acts that came before them with a snotty snort of derision. However, one band was happy to take a look back to the sixties and find themselves a gem, that band was XTC.

The group formed in Swindon in 1972 and quickly merged into an impressive unit. Fronted by Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding, they were creating avant-garde rock before punk was a murmur in the streets of London. But with the rise of punk, the band found themselves a home on Virgin Records and released their debut album, White Music.

The album was full of fresh new sounds and, in a 2009 interview, Partridge said of the record which began with their song ‘Radios in Motion’: “We couldn’t think of any better way to start off our first album than with the ‘kick the door in’, breezy opener we used in our live set… the lyrics are very silly, picked for their sonic effect rather than meaning. The first refuge of an inexperienced songwriter, forgive me, but they do have a youthful scattergun energy.”

While the record was brimming with youthful exuberance, one moment on the album stands out among the rest though with their cover of Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’. The idea for a cover was a toss-up between the Dylan song and The Rolling Stones’ ‘Citadel’, as he explained: “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to cover one of these songs, because they’re both from people who represent the Old Guard,” remembered Partridge. “I think it would be mischievous to do either of these songs in a radically different way, and to show that we’re not in awe of the Old Guard, and that we can take something that they’ve done, smash it all up, and put it back together in our way.”

There was no better place to show of this newly smashed and glued back together track than Anthony Wilson’s ‘So It Goes’. The TV show was quickly becoming known for giving new punk talent a shot at a television spot, a coveted thing in the late seventies. XTC knew they had an opportunity to take and they certainly grabbed it with both hands.  That moment as XTC smash it all up and put it back together again with a smirk and a dubby rhythm which is truly intoxicating. It may not be Dylan’s favourite cover version but it’s right up there as the most unique seen on independent TV.

skylarking_cdblu

Following the identity detour of the Dukes of Stratosphear, XTC hunkered down to make their next “proper” album with producer Todd Rundgren. On paper the match made in heaven became the stuff of legendary head-butting between artist and producer Rundgren’s appointment secured the savvy pairing of two brilliant and doomed minds. Between the anglophile producer and songsmith Andy Partridge were a thousand common interests and one great chasm that would subsume egos and tear up the studio floorboards. The rift did not concern taste or etiquette so much as In one corner, the shaggy-haired, acid-frazzled Philadelphian whose passive-aggression belies a loose, honky-tonk approach to life; in the other, a three-piece reputed for 1) turning down their record label’s cocaine and 2) crafting technically brilliant pop. It was a match made in some 5-star hotel-lobby hell, and the calamity of it all enriches every second of Skylarking.. The masterful chamber-pop of XTC’s 1986 album Skylarking was one of the band’s finest hours. ‘Skylarking’ is loaded with classic songs like “The Meeting Place,” “Earn Enough For Us,” “Big Day” and “Dear God,” a song left off the original LP but issued as a b-side. It was later added to the lineup when it became a surprise rock radio hit.

Rundgren was optimistic about working with XTC. A few years earlier, he had caught the Swindon group in their element, twisting from off-brand punk toward whip-smart new wave. Soon after, in 1982, Partridge suddenly quit touring, suffering from valium withdrawal and on-stage panic attacks. He announced XTC would join the ranks as a studio outfit, a commercial disaster, to nobody’s surprise. Singles flopped, fans lost faith, and before the year was up, the group shrank to a trio when drummer Terry Chambers stormed out for good during a rehearsal.

Virgin Records had hoped an American producer would collar the firebrand and hammer the new album into the transatlantic mold of U2 and Simple Minds—a notion that, like almost everything involving the label, Partridge found this laughable. Consider the demos: Back-garden symphonies like “Summer’s Cauldron” and “Season Cycle,” among his ripest compositions to date. Fellow songwriter Colin Moulding, inspired by his move to the ancient Celtic settlement of Marlborough Downs, was clomping down the same path, composing pastorals like “Grass” and “The Meeting Place” from sampled lathes and thrums of pagan folk. Hatching a plan, he accepted Virgin’s $150,000 fee and quickly discarded dozens of the band’s demos, assembling a tracklist around a concept of his own. The song cycle would plot a lifetime over the course of a day: daybreak in “Summer’s Cauldron,” then a suite of infatuation, heartbreak, marriage, temptation, and existential reckoning that concludes—on “Dying” and “Sacrificial Bonfire”—in the dead of night. Guitarist Dave Gregory, a Rundgren superfan, was thrilled, and the docile Moulding—by now immune to Partridge’s arm-twisting—sided with Virgin, reasoning they all had mouths to feed.

As war raged, the sessions remained a spring of wonder. Moulding, a psych-pop reformist, came into his own with songs like “The Meeting Place,” reflecting Swindon’s rituals and industry in gorgeous stained glass. Partridge specialized in the melodic trapdoor, establishing awkward patterns and flooding your serotonin receptors at unexpected moments. The lyrics are just chewy enough to distract from each incoming sugar rush, creating endless replay value. (“Who’s pushing the pedals on the season cycle?” he quips wonderfully in “Season Cycle.”) Themes and images trespass between songs, from the vaudevillian pomp of “Ballet for a Rainy Day” into the melodramatic “1000 Umbrellas,” whose Dave Gregory string arrangement makes heartbreak seem an ancient, noble fate.

It’s been a busy few years for XTC‘s 1986 album “Skylarking” wth the vinyl reissue back in 2010, the ‘corrected polarity’ CD of 2014, this year’s boxed deluxe vinyl version and now – thanks to the discovery of the multi-tracks – a double-disc 30th anniversary definitive edition which delivers a Steven Wilson 5.1 surround mix on blu-ray audio, along with a wealth of other bonus material.

This new edition eschews the pubes (not a phrase I’ll write too often) and restores the original sleeve (“it was agreed that more people recognised this as the sleeve now” Andy Partridge replied on twitter, when quizzed about it) and offers a new stereo mix of the album on CD

XTC studio recording ‘ Little Lighthouse’ from the Todd Rundgren produced “Skylarking” sessions, newly mixed by Steven Wilson. Track taken from “Skylarking 30th Anniversary Definitive Edition CD + Blu ray” .
“This was destined for the ‘Dukes’ from the outset really. It was sent to Todd along with all the other “Skylarking” demos and even though we tried recording it in San Francisco (its spiritual home!), it was never going to fit with all of its pastoral playmates.”

Lead single “Grass” bombed in the UK, and the album sales stalled. A death sentence even by their commercial standards, albeit grim vindication for Partridge. But in America, a one-time single contender demoted to a B-side was making itself known especially on college radio, “Dear God” had sparked a moral panic: its narrator, griping with an absent god, appalled Bible Belt Christians and prompted a bomb threat to a Florida radio station. Everyone else seemed to love it. In a sheepish U-turn, the band’s American label, Geffen, smuggled the track onto the U.S. release of Skylarking. Over six months, the album outsold XTC’s entire prior catalogue three times over.

Moulding, who stepped back from XTC in 2006, effectively ending the group.) Among his arsenal of guitars, Partridge now keeps company with a legion of toy soldiers,

If you’ve bought any of the previous XTC CD+blu-ray reissues, you’ll know how good they are and what to expect… The blu-ray here offers the 5.1 mix, the new stereo mix in 24bit/96kHz, four additional songs from the album sessions in stereo and 5.1, the very original (uncorrected polarity) album mix in hi-res stereo, along with the same for the corrected polarity version, instrumental mixes, a complete alternate album in demo form (following producer Todd Rundgren’s original suggested running order), numerous demo and work tape sessions showing the evolution of the album and the promo films for Dear God and Grass! All that for less than £20 – amazing, as usual.

This definitive edition (for once the title lives up to the content) comes with an expanded booklet featuring sleeve-notes by Andy Partridge, Colin Moulding & Dave Gregory and will be released on 14th October 2016. the original was Released 27th October 1986.

October 17th, 2016: It’s here, the one you’ve been hankering for. Steven Wilson produced these mixes with the input of founder band member Andy Partridge and the full approval of the band. This CD/Blu-ray edition is presented in special packaging with an expanded booklet and sleeve-notes by Andy Partridge, Colin Moulding and Dave Gregory.

  • CD features the 2016 Steven Wilson stereo album mix plus four bonus tracks mixed by Steven Wilson.

Blu-ray features:

  • A 5.1 Surround mix in 24bit/96khz mixed from the original multi-track tapes available in LPCM and DTS HD MA.
  • The 2016 stereo album mix in 24bit/96khz LPCM audio.
  • Four additional songs from the album sessions in stereo and 5.1 mixed by Steven Wilson.
  • The original (uncorrected polarity) stereo album mix in hi-res stereo, plus 1 non-album track.
  • The original (corrected polarity) stereo album mix in hi-res stereo.
  • Instrumental versions (mixed by Steven Wilson) of all 2016 mixes in 24bit/96khz LPCM audio.
  • A complete alternate album in demo form (as per Todd Rundgren’s original suggested running order based on the demo recordings).
  • Numerous additional demo and work tape sessions showing the evolution of the album and associated recordings.
  • Promo films for Dear God and Grass.

Thanks to http://www.superdeluxeedition.com/

TC&I - Naked Flames.jpg

For anyone who ever was an XTC fan, I have some great news for you. Colin Moulding and Terry Chambers will be presenting a live album under their TC&I moniker, following up their ‘Great Aspirations’ debut EP released a year and a half ago. ‘Naked Flames: Live at Swindon Arts Centre’ will be released via Burning Shed on August 9th.

The track ‘Wonderland’ is available now,

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Naked Flames collects the best from TC&I’s six momentous and stupendous shows at the Swindon Arts Centre in October and November 2018. These were the first live shows together for Moulding and Chambers in 36 years.This follows up their debut ‘Great Aspirations’ EP, released in late 2017.

They played a selection of the songs from the XTC catalogue written by Colin, many of which had never been played live as the band stopped touring in 1982, not long before Chambers‘ departure. They also played material from TC&I’s debut EP, where Moulding and Chambers offer some truly original music. ‘Scatter Me’ and the other three resulting recordings showcase Colin’s English pop vision – the first new material from Moulding in many years, featuring XTC’s trademark qualities of melody, rhythm, variety, and idiosyncratic subject matter, mixed in with nostalgia fuelled by an understated political anger.

“I’d never heard a lot of these tunes in any concert hall and I felt I deserved a chance to put that right….yes a bit of TC&I too, but my songs have been stuck in the closet too long, and I wanted to dry clean them and give them an evening out, or six,” says Colin Moulding.

“I was as excited about these gigs as I was in 1973 playing our first gig at the Arts Centre Swindon as a 17 year Helium Kid, and the first time to be playing with Colin together on stage since San Diego,” says Terry Chambers.

For this mini-residency in Swindon, XTC’s long-standing rhythm section was joined by music veterans Steve Tilling on guitar and Gary Bamford on keyboards and guitar.

Who knows whether there’s more to come… these artists do not even know… Here TC&I intend to release a momento of last autumn’s live shows in Swindon. For the fans who went… and for those who wished they had went, this is a time capsule for all concerned…..enjoy this total eclipse.

2018 marked the 40-year anniversary of XTC’s first studio album ‘White Music’. Founded in 1972, XTC only had their first UK charting single in 1979. Moulding wrote the first three charting singles (‘Life Begins at the Hop’‘Making Plans for Nigel’, and ‘Generals and Majors’). Chambers left XTC in the 1980s, while Moulding continued with frontman Andy Partridge through the group’s dissolution in 2006.

There is new fervour over XTC, in part due to the eye-opening documentary ‘This Is Pop’ about the band’s legacy, exploring their journey from mercurial pop outsiders to full blown national treasures and one of Britain’s most influential yet unsung bands.

‘Naked Flames: Live at Swindon Arts Centre’ will be released on Friday, August 9th A bundle order is also available, including two CDs from TC&I – the ‘Naked Flames’ album and their debut ‘Great Aspirations’ EP. Both options Include signed postcards (while stocks last).

The Band:
Colin Moulding – Bass guitar and lead vocals
Terry Chambers – Drums
Gary Bamford – Keyboards, guitar and vocals
Steve Tilling – Lead Guitar and vocals
Lee Moulding – Percussion and vocals
Susannah Bevington – Soprano voice on Scatter Me

All songs written by Colin Moulding except ‘Statue of Liberty’ (written by Andy Partridge)

 

Promo image

One of the more unexpected and pleasant surprises in the music world this year was the announcement of a new EP recorded by former XTC members Colin Moulding and Terry Chambers... the four-song release nestles in comfortably with the many songs that Moulding contributed to XTC over the years.

What Colin and Terry have created here is something tasteful, deftly wrought, restrained and wonderfully English, West Country…. lyrically funny, emotive and poignant and falls into a sort of alternative pop territory that seems to be done so well in this country. Triumph and hopefully merely the first chapter of a new musical novel

A Formidable rhythm section… ‘Great Aspirations’ harkens a bit back to the early glory days of XTC, but how could it not with this pedigree… the EP is a delight to listen to… includes adult themes about things like conservation and happily facing mortality

Ahead of a string of live shows scheduled this autumn for XTC co-frontman Colin Moulding and original XTC drummer Terry Chambers, Moulding has announced the vinyl release of their ‘Great Aspirations’ EP. Previously only CDs (both signed and unsigned copies) were available.

The duo has also announced that, in their live sets,  “we will go for the more idiosyncratic songs that I wrote for the band, songs that were tucked away in corners. We seem to have gone where the tribute bands never go”.

These are the first live shows in 36 years for Chambers and Moulding, who just celebrated his 63rd birthday. After the first four dates sold out quickly, Swindon Arts Centre has extended their exclusive mini-residency with two new dates – on November 18th and 20th.

Moulding and Chambers recently released their debut ‘Great Aspirations’ EP under the moniker TC&I. In addition to this new material, they plan to play a selection of the songs from the XTC catalogue written by Colin, several of which have never been played live due to the fact that the band stopped touring in 1982, not long before Chambers‘ departure.

“These dates are probably commensurate with our output thus far. We’re not going to do the usual promoters’ circuit. Besides it’s kind of special this way. Like a stationary west end show or something,” says Colin Moulding.

The ‘Great Aspirations’ EP presents four new original recordings that showcase Colin’s English pop vision. This is the first new material from Moulding in many years with lead track ‘Scatter Me’, featuring XTC’s trademark qualities of melody, rhythm, variety, and idiosyncratic subject matter, mixed in with nostalgia fuelled by an understated political anger. Here, Moulding shows an appreciation of the good things, such as friendship, landscape and longing. Here he again reminds us of what we stand to lose in the name of progress, looking at the rapidly changing world around him.

TRACK LIST

1. Scatter Me  (4:32)
2. Greatness (The Aspiration Song)  (3:53)
3. Kenny  (4:33)
4. Comrades of Pop  (2:23)
“Exciting times. 18 months ago couldn’t see this happening – I’m as excited about these gigs as I was in 1973 playing our first gig at the Arts Centre Swindon as a 17 year Helium Kid, and the first time to be playing with Colin together on stage since San Diego,” says Terry Chambers.
XTC’s long-standing rhythm section will be joined by music veterans Steve Tilling on guitar and Gary Bamford on keyboards and guitar. This is not the first XTC encounter for multi-instrumentalist and session musician Tilling, the man behind Circu5, whose debut album ‘The Amazing Monstrous Grady’ featured a guest appearance from XTC guitarist Dave Gregory.

Swindon musician Bamford has an extensive history of music writing, orchestrating, teaching and collaborating, including working with The Beautiful South to orchestrate 25 songs for the musical ‘The Slide’ and as bandleader for the show at their premiere performances. His debut album ‘Jadj‘ was co-produced with Jim Barr (Portishead).

2018 marks the 40-year anniversary of XTC’s first studio album ‘White Music’. While XTC was founded in 1972, it wasn’t until 1979 that XTC had their first UK charting single. Moulding had written the first three charting singles (‘Life Begins at the Hop’‘Making Plans for Nigel’, and ‘Generals and Majors’). Chambers left the lineup in the 1980s, while Moulding continued his partnership with frontman Andy Partridge through the group’s dissolution in 2006.

Lately there has been renewed interest in XTC, in part due to the release of eye-opening XTC documentary ‘This Is Pop’ about the band’s history and legacy, which looks at XTC and their journey from mercurial pop outsiders to full blown national treasures and one of Britain’s most influential yet unsung bands.

Drums, percussions and backing vocals: Terry Chambers
Guitars, basses, keyboards and lead vocals: Colin Moulding
Saxophone and trumpet on ‘Kenny’ and ‘Scatter Me’: Alan Bateman
Farfisa organ and ornate tinkling on ‘Scatter Me’: Mikey Rowe
Soprano voice on ‘Scatter Me’: Susannah Bevington
All songs written by Colin Moulding. Arrangements by TC&I.
Produced by TC&I. Mixed by Stuart Rowe. Recorded and engineered by TC&I.

xtc_white_music

XTC detractors would often accuse the band of being “too quirky.” While they definitely had that side, their debut, ‘White Music,’ showed that they were not going to be some cookie-cutter new wave or punk rock band. The opening frantic surge of “Radios in Motion” gets things rolling and it’s all forward drive from there. “Statue of Liberty” and “This Is Pop?” are among the many treasures here as they sounded like none of the punk era brethren, but rather like some holy merging of ‘Trout Mask Replica’ and ‘With the Beatles’ on an amphetamine bender. While they would rapidly move forward with each release, ‘White Music’ was a hell of a place to start.

This one is a bit uneven, I think mainly due to the band attempting to find its voice. Overall, the album has all that quirkiness that defined the band in their early years, which works most of the time. It seems Colin Moulding is trying a little too hard to be quirky on two of the three songs he wrote, but I’ll Set Myself On Fire is a good early effort. Radios In Motion is a fantastic opening track and Andy Partridge also scores well with Into The Atom Age, New Town Animal, and This Is Pop? (I do agree with that other list-maker that the later single version of this song is much better). However, their cover of Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower really does fall flat.

They’re one of the best groups that Britain ever produced. I don’t know why everyone goes on about someone like Morrissey making the best British pop when in fact XTC did it better that anyone else. I remember when they did ‘This Is Pop’, and I just thought, ‘Yeah this is pop. This is pop.’ It seemed like such a brilliant thing for them to say. Pop is what they were doing and they were writing all these great songs, going on about the whole punk thing and not being embarrassed about writing great pop songs.”

An album that was more influential than successful, White Music was the first album by the much-loved English new wave popsters around whom an obsessive cult following has grown over the years. The album includes one of Andy Partridge’s most enduring song “This Is Pop”, and was produced by John Leckie, who subsequently has gone on to work with the Stone Roses, Radiohead and others.

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Hardcore fans of XTC may already know this, but for those who don’t, I’m pleased to announce the release of the latest musical output from ex-XTC members Colin Moulding and Terry Chambers under the tongue-in-cheek moniker TC&I. This is “one of the more unexpected and pleasant surprises in the music world… the four-song release nestles in comfortably with the many songs that Moulding contributed to XTC over the years”.
The rhythmic powerhouse behind the Swindon-based legends have reunited to release this debut ‘Great Aspirations’ EP, featuring four new original recordings that allow us to fully appreciate Colin’s English pop vision. The first new material from Moulding in many years, he and Chambers put their XTC history behind them to create some truly original music – a new start and something apart from their musical past.

On this debut offering as TC&I, Moulding and Chambers put their XTC history behind them to create some truly original music. Not only is this a new start, but also a thing apart from their musical past. This is also the first new material from Moulding in many years.

“I thought I’ve got to do something, you can’t just sit around and eat chocolate cake and then you get the inkling that you should start writing again and you start meddling and the next thing you know Terry’s on the door step,” says Colin Moulding.

Terry Chambers adds, “You’re only here once in your life and this felt a bit like unfinished business. When I left XTC it wasn’t the greatest set of circumstances and you can’t go through your life thinking ‘what if?’ so when Colin offered the opportunity I thought, yes lets do this again.”

The EP delivers XTC’s trademark qualities of melody, rhythm, variety, and idiosyncratic subject matter, mixed in with nostalgia fuelled by an understated political anger. In following with his songwriting history to date, Moulding shows an appreciation of the good things, such as friendship, landscape and longing. Here he again reminds us of what we stand to lose in the name of progress, looking at the rapidly changing world around him.
TRACK LIST

1. Scatter Me  (4:32)
2. Greatness (The Aspiration Song)  (3:53)
3. Kenny  (4:33)
4. Comrades of Pop  (2:23)

XTC This is POP

One of the most prolific and influential bands to emerge from the U.K punk explosion of the late ’70s was XTC. A new documentary on the band titled This Is Pop is due soon and, much like the band itself, is not your traditional rockumentary.

This Is Pop presents the story of the band without going the traditional, linear story route. Instead, the XTC tale is told through the use of animation, archive and specially-shot sequences along with brand-new interviews with members Andy Partridge, Colin Moulding, Terry Chambers and Dave Gregory. Although band leader Partridge is on board for the film, he has more than a few reservations about the whole process.

“What don’t I like about about music documentaries?”, he asks himself in the trailer embedded above. “I don’t like all of it. I don’t like the bald old bloke talking about the ‘good old days.’ I hate all that stuff. … The whole rockumentary thing bores the very buttocks off me.”

Though XTC officially broke up in 2006, their reputation has continued to grow in their absence, thanks to songs such as “Senses Working Overtime,” “Making Plans for Nigel,” and “Dear God.” Along with the band members, the trailer features interviews with Stewart Copeland of the Police and actor Harry Shearer.

“I think the word is out,” said Colin Moulding. “It’s taken a bloody long time, but I think people are catching up and appreciating what we did.” Partridge, ever the elusive genius, shows a bit or bravado in his assessment of the band, linking XTC to the Beatles. “Occasionally, once in a very rare while, you get a band that starts pretty good, gets better and better and better. And that’s rare. And I think, and I have to say, I have to be immodest… We are the other band that did that.”

We Will Rock You: The Twenty Best XTC Songs

XTC have one of the most fascinating career progressions in music. From their highly-energetic, eclectic, punkish new wave of their first album, to the pastoral, acoustic-driven songs found on “English Settlement,” XTC seem to have something for everybody. Let us not forget XTC’s psychedelic pop masterpiece “Skylarking,” the incredibly authentic-sounding ‘60’s psychedelic rock as The Dukes of Stratosphear, and the orchestral arrangements on “Apple Venus, Pt. 1.” Andy Partridge’s lyrics also warrant a shout out, truly intelligent, thought-provoking lyrics.

Primary songwriter and lead singer Andy Partridge expertly balanced his experimental side — angular guitar parts mixed with jittery rhythms — with strong sensibilities for pop melodies and hooks, and his partner-in-crime, Colin Moulding, was capable of contributing a few gems of his own on every record.

This may seem like high praise, but the only band that XTC are second to in terms of melodic sensibility is The Beatles, which will certainly be an understandable position to reach after listening through their discography. How so many songs sound like they can be hits, but were not, is unfortunate, but XTC does maintain a sizable and highly passionate fan base, as indicated by numerous active online fan clubs, groups, and cover bands. XTC’s music contains a ton of variety, so to get the best picture of the band as a whole, all of their era’s should be sampled.

Though their final album of new material was released in 2000, interest in their music and legacy has continued to grow over the years. Over the span of around 30 years total, XTC delivered 14 proper albums, dozens of classic singles, and several collections of demos, dubs and remixes along the way. Taken as a whole, their catalog shows how they evolved from one of the many arty English post-punk bands to retro-psychedelia and beyond.

Essential Albums: “Skylarking” (1986), “English Settlement” (1982), “Chips from the Chocolate Fireball” (as The Dukes of Stratosphear) (1987), “Apple Venus, Pt. 1” (1999), “White Music” (1978)

Bookended by label standoffs, “Nonsuch” found the band XTC trying new things. There was a new producer, a new drummer, and a newfound interest orchestral settings.  XTC’s relationship with Virgin Records had also declined due to lack of success in America, which then completely fell apart after Nonsuch arrived on April 27th, 1992.

They’d struggled mightily to even get the project underway. “Basically, we were (messed) around a lot by various people,” Colin Moulding said in 1992. “A guy at the record company did his darndest to stop us making a record – why, I don’t know. Every time we came up with songs, he’d say, ‘Oh, there are no singles here, fellas. Go back and write some more.’ He did that too many times, and we said, ‘Look, take him off the case.’”

There followed a lengthy search for a producer. “Hugh Padgham and Steve Lillywhite, whom we had worked at the beginning with, had in mind to produce the album – but finally, Lillywhite had no time for it,” Andy Partridge in 1992. “We contacted John Paul Jones, but he was too expensive. Then Bill Bottrell, the engineer of Bad, was ready to come in our homes with his studio. But the deal did not work.”

The arrival of former drummer of Fairport Convention Dave Mattacks, , led XTC to producer Gus Dudgeon. Mattacks had heard that Dudgeon – most famous for his collaborations with Elton John wanted to work with XTC. That opened up new creative vistas: The sessions found Partridge adding dollops of strings, even as the band tightened their focus on introspective pop.

“We hadn’t messed much with the orchestral thing [until Nonsuch], said Partridge “At least now I got to, if not exorcise a huge ghost from me, I certainly got to give the beast a name. Should I wish to kill it, it certainly would be easier for me to kill it now. But for the time being, I certainly got something out of my system that has been bugging me for a long time – which is non-rock-and-rock-flavored meal.”

The results, typically quite lush and measured, fit somewhere between the pastoral quirks of 1986’s “Skylarking”  with the sleek modernity of 1989’s Oranges and Lemons, though Nonsuch was often far more reflective than either. Andy Partridge was gaining an ever-growing appreciation for accompaniment, and song construction and it showed.

‘Oranges & Lemons’ was XTC’s biggest album and the three-year gap for the follow-up was the longest in the band’s history to that point. ‘Nonsuch’ appeared in 1992 and was well worth the wait. It still stands as one of the band’s strongest all-around albums. From the joyous opener, “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” to the closer “Books Are Burning,” ‘Nonsuch’ is packed with gems.

“There was no full conscious decision to make it wildly different from the last,” Moulding  “But it was a different studio, different musicians a different drummer, different producer. It’s going to come out a little different.”

Not that this 17-song set couldn’t rock, as evidenced by the quirky “Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead.” XTC’s softer, detailed musings on “The Disappointed,” “ My Bird Performs” and “Holly Up On Poppy” however, were far more representative of Nonsuch.

Partridge and Moulding constructed the songs separately, as per usual, then worked things out live with long-time multi-instrumentalist Dave Gregory and the newly arrived Mattacks. “We never collaborate,” said Moulding “Each person puts his little prints on them, but we don’t write together. There’s a lot of freedom to do what each of us likes with the other’s songs, however.”

Despite it all, they ended up – once again – coming away with something that was quintessentially XTC. Fans back home seemed to get that. “The Disappointed,” like Nonsuch, crept into the U.K. Top 40. Unfortunately, “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” stalled at No. 71, just before the next conflict opened up with Virgin Records.

Andy Partridge wanted to release “Wrapped In Grey” as the third single from Nonsuch, and even shot a video for the song. XTC’s label, however, vetoed the idea. Before it was over, XTC had called a strike against Virgin, hoping to extricate themselves once and for all from a relationship that dated back to 1977. As the standoff dragged on, they remained inactive for most of the ’90s. In fact, XTC didn’t emerge again until 1999’s similarly orchestral Apple Venus Vol. 1 – and, by then, Dave Gregory was being eased out the door.

Even back in 1992, Gregory seemed resigned to sitting by as pitched disagreements unfolded. “If push comes to shove, it must be done Andy’s way,” Gregory  “I’ve learned to live with it, and it usually bears fruit. Andy always knows what he wants; there are never any grey areas. But occasionally the fur does fly.”

Andy Partridge – Vocals, electric guitars & percussion
Colin Moulding – Bass guitar
Dave Gregory – Electric 6- & 12-string guitars & synthesizer
Dave Mattacks – Drums, percussion & sitar sample

1. The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead 0:00
2. My Bird Performs 5:02
3. Dear Madam Barnum 8:53
4. Humble Daisy 11:42
5. The Smartest Monkeys 15:19
6. The Disappointed 19:37
7. Holly Up on Poppy 23:00
8. Crocodile 26:05
9. Rook 30:02
10. Omnibus 33:49
11. That Wave 37:10
12. Then She Appeared 40:44
13. War Dance 44:36
14. Wrapped In Grey 47:58
15. The Ugly Underneath 51:45
16. Bungalow 55:36
17. Books Are Burning 58:25