Not sure how many days/parts this is going to entail, I have a BUNCH of material, I'll try not to overlap TOO much and also try to avoid some of the lesser (IMO) opinion material, I really haven't prepared for this post the way I generally do on these BIG ones (I also wouldn't be surprised if Dave Sez checked in with some surprises, UK new wave/punk of the late 70's early 80's rarities, he is the ABSOLUTE man!!!!), I just got the idea of doing an XTC post this morning and then looked at the sheer volume of material I have from them.... but still, I'm in an XTC frame of mind.
From Swindon, England, ca. 1975, XTC began as guitarist/vocalist Andy Partridge, bassist/vocalist Colin Moulding, dummer Terry Chambers, and keyboardist Barry Andrews. Like so many others, with me, personally,thier most well known works are not necessarily the most enjoyable, they did have some successful singles ("Dear God", "Senses Working Overtime") that, to me, are not anywhere near the quality of some of the earlier work, but to each his/her own.
OK, I guess I will sort this stuff out as follows, a "proper" discography, followed by some comps and EP's and stuff, followed by a bunch of live shows from thier prime years, and we'll see what else I can come up with.... I'm thinking 4-5 days, let's consider today a "primer" for the novice, the more rare stuff (and there is quite a slew) will start tomorrow I guess.
So, the album releases start with an absolute bang, 1977's amazing "White Music", of which we have a wonderful vinyl rip here.... certainly one of the greatest albums of the 1970's, for my money a five-star classic without question.... while (IMO) a couple of Moulding's tracks ("Cross Wires", "Do What You Do") are nothing tremendous, Partridge's stuff is of legend....leading off with one of the great new wave singles, "Radios In Motion", there are also the classics "This is Pop", "Statue of Liberty", "Atom Age", "Neon Shuffle", PLUS a wonderful cover of "All Along the Watchtower".... highlighted by Partridge's stuttering guitar work and quirky vocals and especially Andrews' amazing hockey arena keyboards, this is an album you will not want to miss if you are not already familiar. By the way, it's one of "those" handful of albums that, to me, the vinyl version, for whatever reason, just sounds better than the CD version.
The follow up, "Go 2" with it's goofy cover, emerged in 1978, and is actually a semi-classic as well... Moulding's songwriting improves tremendously, his "Buzzcity Talking", "Crowded Room", and "The Rhythm" are all standouts, Partridge contributes his usual slew of great songs ("Are You Receiving Me", "Life is Good in the Greenhouse", "Jumping in Gomorrah", and Andrews even shows HIS writing chops with a pair of fine contributions, "My Weapon" and "Super Tuff"... this is another excellent album, probably a bit underappreciated.
1979's "Drums and Wires" is something of a letdown, although it does include on of their biggest singles, the great "Making Plans For Nigel", and also "When You're Near Me I Have Difficulty" and "Life Begins at the Hop"......this is another vinyl rip which if you already have you will want for some bonus tracks, including fairly hard to locate "Blame the Weather" and "Tissue Tigers", taken from, I remember it like it was last night, a Trouser Press Magazine "Flexi-Disc".
I consider 1980's "Black Sea" to be their final really great album, something of a comeback from "Drums and Wires", it is a bold attempt to develop and expand their sound.... "Respectable Street", though, sounds like classic XTC, a bold anthem of hypocrisy ("Sunday church and they look fetching, Saturday night saw him wretching over our fence"), we also get the oddball "Living Through Another Cuba" and "Sgt. Rock (Is Going to Help Me)", as well as the truly bizarre "Travels In Nihilon"..... also included on THIS vinyl rip is a live "Respectable Street", taken from "Urrgh: A Music War!"
"English Settlement" is a somewhat ambitious 1983 double LP release (that was the end of my vinyl rips, it's digital from here out), it's ok, a bit long and clumsy, there is some good stuff here ("Senses Working Overtime", "No Thugs In Our House").....for fans, not really essential from here. "Mummer" is also a solid, professional, and IMO somewhat dull effort, standouts include "Love on a Farmboy's Wages" and "Wonderland".
In my decidedly non-expert opinion, I consider the seventh album "The Big Express", to be maybe their most under-appreciated disc, and a bit of another mini-comeback......still some fine songwriting here ("I Bought Myself a Liarbird", "Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her, Kiss Her").....NOT an essential album, but a quite good and listenable one.
They plugged on...."Oranges and Lemons" (whose title comes from a poem liberally quoted in my favorite book, "1984"...."Oranges and Lemons, say the bells of St. Clemmons....."), and for a band's tenth or eleventh or whatever you consider this, it isn't awful, you have to give them some credit, this came along in 1989, "King for a Day" and "Mayor of Simpleton" are decent XTC, give Moulding and Partridge props, they could crank out the songs if nothing else.
"Nonsuch" is from 1992 (!), I've only listened to it a few times and don't really recall anything REALLY standout, it's here if you want it..... the final efforts were 1999's "Apple Venus Volume 1", a pretty weak effort (IMO) that experiments with chamber music and folky stuff, and 2000's "Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2)" which I think is even worse.... didn't even have copies of them, had to go on the web and snatch some for you guys to evaluate if yer so inclined.
OK there is a LOT of material here, and you have seen NOTHING yet, wait and see what I have the next few days, if you are a fan of these lads you probably have everything HERE, but for certain a rare piece or two may find you the next couple posts.....but I REALLY have a BUNCH of stuff from these guys and I am going to go all "Hendrix" and empty out the vault.......enjoy!
WHITE MUSIC-01 Radios In Motion/02 X Wires/03 This is Pop/04 Do What You Do/05 Statue of Liberty/06 All Along the Watchtower/07 Atom Age/08 Set Myself on Fire/09 I'm Bugged/10 New Town Animal/11 Spinning Top/12 Neon Shuffle
DRUMS AND WIRES-01 Life Begins at the Hop/02 Helicopter/03 Making Plans For Nigel/04 Ten Feet Tall/05 When You're Near Me I Have Difficulty/06 That is the Way/07 Real By Reel/08 Millions/09 Outside World/10 Roads Girdle the Globe/11 Scissor Man/12 Complicated Game/13 Limelight/14 Day In Day Out/15 Chain of Command/16 Blame the Weather/17 Tissue Tigers
BLACK SEA-01 Respectable Street/02 Generals and Majors/03 Living Through Another Cuba/04 Love at First Sight/05 Rocket From a Bottle/06 No Language In Our Lungs/07 Towers of London/08 Paer And Iron (Notes and Coins)/09 Burning With Optimism's Flame/10 Sgt Rock (Is Going To Help Me)/11 Travels In Nihilon/12 Respectable Street (Live)
ENGLISH SETTLEMENT-01 Runaways/02 Ball and Chain/03 Senses Working Overtime/04 Jason and the Argonauts/05 No Thugs In Our House/06 Yacht Dance/07 All of a Sudden (It's Too Late)/08
Melt the Guns/09 Leisure/10 It's Nearly Africa/11 Knuckle Down/12 Fly On the Wall/13 Down In the Cockpit/14 English Roundabout/15 Snowman
MUMMER-01 Beating of Hearts/02 Wonderland/03 Love on a Farmboy's Wages/04 Great Fire/05 Deliver Us From the Elements/06 Frost Circus/07 Jump/08 Toys/09 Gold/10 Procession Toward Learning Land/11 Desert Island/12 Human Alchemy/13 Laybird/14 In Loving Memory of a Name/15 Me and the Wind/16 Funk Pop a Roll
THE BIG EXPRESS-01 Wake Up/02 All You Pretty Girls/03 Shake Your Donkey Up/04 Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her, Kiss Her/05 This World Over/06 Red Brick Dream/07 Washaway/08 Blue Overall/09 The Everyday Story of Smalltown/10 I Bought Myself a Liarbird/11 Reign of Blow/12 You're the Wish You Are I Had/13 I Remember the Sun/14 Train Running Low on Soul Coal
ORANGES AND LEMONS-01 Garden of Earthly Delights/02 The Mayor of Simpleton/03 King For a Day/04 Here Comes President Kill Again/05 The Loving/06 Poor Skeleton Steps Out/07 One of the Millions/08 Scarecrow People/09 Merely a Man/10 Cynical Days/11 Across This Antheap/12 Hold Me My Daddy/13 Pink Thing/14 Miniature Sun/15 Chalkhills and Children
NONSUCH-01 The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead/02 My Bird Performs/03 Dear Madam Barnum/04 Humble Daisy/05 The Smartest Monkeys/06 The Disappointed/07 Holly Up On Poppy/08 Crocodile/09 Rook/10 Omnibus/11 That Wave/12 Then She Appeared/13 War Dance/14 Wrapped In Grey/15 The Ugly Underneath/16 Bungalow/17 Books Are Burning
APPLE VENUS VOLUME 1-01 River of Orchids/02 I'd Like That/03 Easter Theater/04 Knights in Shining Karma/05 Frivolous Tonight/06 Greenman/07 Your Dictionary/08 Fruit Nut/09 I Can't Own Her/10 Harvest Festival/11 The Last Balloon
WASP STAR (APPLE VENUS VOLUME 2)-01 Playground/02 Stupidly Happy/03 In Another Life/04 My Brown Guitar/05 Boarded Up/06 I'm The Man Who Murdered Love/07 We're All Light/08 Standing In For Joe/09 Wounded House/10 You and the Clouds Will Still Beautiful/11 Church of Women/12 The Wheel and the Maypole