Author Topic: The "XTC are really really good" thread  (Read 48482 times)

Dr Rock

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #30 on: July 20, 2015, 03:43:42 PM »
Sgt Rock
Brainiacs Daughter (cheating - it's the Dukes!)
That's Really Super Supergirl

um . . .

Snowman?

Bing
Bing
Bing
BUBUUUH

Brundle-Fly

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #31 on: July 20, 2015, 04:24:52 PM »
They can be lyrically weak, especially Moulding, whose social commentary songs are often markedly rote and trite; Robert Christgau, a bloke I don't make a habit of agreeing with very often, got it about right when he said that XTC are quite a clever band, but not as clever as they like to think they are. 

I have to disagree with that. This implies they were pretentious and I never got that with Xtc. I don't think they wanted to be "clever" for the sake of it, they just desired to make good pop music that wasn't route one.

wosl

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #32 on: July 20, 2015, 04:31:27 PM »
I'm paraphrasing from something read ages ago.  Doing a quick search I can't find it;  I've probably got the wording wrong, but I'm fairly sure that was the gist.  Comparatively, the case is arguable.

Absorb the anus burn

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #33 on: July 20, 2015, 05:27:31 PM »
Better a get a 'new broom', long story, but I know them a bit and once had the honour of standing in Andy's famous shed. He played me that Can pastiche track and it was really good. I was trying to convince him to do a Krautrock Dukes project , Herzogs Von Stratosphare?  It hasn't been released.
He also played me some of his Robin Hitchcock collaborations which were excellent but that album seems to be on ice. He said Robin is permanently touring so they can never get a head of steam on it.

Wow!

I saw Andy P in GOSH! comics (when it was near the British Museum). I was buying a Blake And Mortimer book to cheer myself up after a disaster trip to the dentist. I was too swollen and numb to say hello, but I mumbled something to the shopkeeper about us being in the presence of one of the greatest songwriters this country has ever produced.

Brundle-Fly

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #34 on: July 20, 2015, 05:34:47 PM »
Wow!

I saw Andy P in GOSH! comics (when it was near the British Museum). I was buying a Blake And Mortimer book to cheer myself up after a disaster trip to the dentist. I was too swollen and numb to say hello, but I mumbled something to the shopkeeper about us being in the presence of one of the greatest songwriters this country has ever produced.

One of the rare occasions he ever leaves Swindon. That's like spotting a badger.

23 Daves

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #35 on: July 20, 2015, 06:36:50 PM »
I've got all those XTC 7"s. Funny how they've not gone up in value in over thirty odd years. The only one I don't have is, of course Science Friction UK 7" which is one of the rarest collectable punk(?) singles.

That's the thing. It's easy to build up a huge collection of them, because you can spot them in second hand record shops for a fiver each (often less) and being a fan I'm often tempted. I don't have to own the 7" singles, obviously, since I have all the tracks on album or CD anyway, but it feels strangely comforting to have them in my paws.

There are numerous XTC singles I expected to at least go top thirty which never did - Ball and Chain got to number 50 or so, All You Pretty Girls didn't reach the top 40, Respectable Street failed to chart at all... and then their best known records seldom scaled the heights you'd expect, "Making Plans For Nigel", for instance, only getting as high as number 17. "Generals And Majors" didn't get into the top 30 either. I obsessed over this when I was a teenager, I couldn't get over the injustice of it. When "The Disappointed" (hardly their finest effort) scraped into the Top 40 in the early nineties, it broke a whole decade of appalling luck.

It's odd, because during their peak period at least, they never wanted for Radio One airplay or Top of the Pops exposure. I was introduced to "Ball And Chain" through daytime Radio One. "Wonderland", a total flop, was playlisted, I believe (though it's not one of their finest). The only conclusion you can draw is that they're just one of those bands who don't appeal much beyond their core fanbase. That theory is backed up by the abysmal performance of the "Waxworks" Greatest Hits compilation in 1982, which defied everyone's optimistic expectations and sold poorly - the fans owned the singles already, and the general public couldn't much care less.

The one over-riding criticism a lot of my friends (and indeed wife and girlfriends in the past) have made about them is that they're a bit of a chin-stroking band. Graham Coxon made a similar criticism of Partridge's aborted production work on "Modern Life Is Rubbish" - that it was far too carefully thought through and "lacked swing". I don't hear that, though. The Black Sea and Drums and Wires era stuff swings like a rickety pub sign in a 100mph hurricane. I think what people possibly object to is the angularity of it, the way Partridge in particular seems obsessed with creating sharp or unexpected twists and turns to the orthodox rock way of doing things. But to me, that's precisely why it's so great.

daf

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #36 on: July 20, 2015, 06:59:39 PM »
Graham Coxon made a similar criticism of Partridge's aborted production work on "Modern Life Is Rubbish" - that it was far too carefully thought through and "lacked swing".

He's probably quite a hard task master in the studio, but I think the results are worth it.

Here's the Demo of 'Seven Days' :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBHhU6QAWJI

Andy Partridge produced version :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK_VFoUNOAg

Generally tightened up, and those fanned out harmonies are spectacular.




Brundle-Fly

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #37 on: July 20, 2015, 07:54:51 PM »
It's often said XTC were underrated by the public but realistically they were never going to be as big as The Police*, the most obvious comparable pop contemporary.  They were never sexy enough with their attitude and musically slightly too odd. For all those reasons we loved them, the pop single buying general public just didn't buy into.  They're simply not for everyone. Some friends I had who weren't fans, said it was Partridge's singing voice that put them off, nothing to do with 'smart arseness'

And of course, we will never truly know if XTC would have finally cracked it because they gave up performing live forever at the height of their success. Who knows? Would it have made a difference if they toured Oranges And Lemons? Their music probably wouldn't have been so complex if they hadn't had become studio bound, like them Beatles.

They haven't done too badly in the grand scheme of things, highly regarded and everybody can sing Nigel and Senses. Not many bands have that pleasure.


*Sting was a massive fan and champion of the band, even taking them on their Stateside tour.

Dr Rock

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #38 on: July 20, 2015, 08:02:27 PM »
Scarecrow People.


Jockice

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #39 on: July 20, 2015, 09:17:14 PM »
This probably sounds like an awful thing to say in context but although I quite liked (and bought) several XTC singles I never really got into them because of Andy Partridge's face. Or rather the expressions he would pull while singing (or miming) them on TV. I thought he was trying to look wacky - something that always annoys me - where in fact he was probably even then suffering from crippling stage fright. They were okay though, but sometimes the most minor things can put you off an act you would otherwise really like.

Dr Rock

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #40 on: July 20, 2015, 09:44:11 PM »
I was going to say I think Andy Partridge's face puts some people off too. Unfair but that's pop!

Jockice

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #41 on: July 20, 2015, 09:48:52 PM »
I was going to say I think Andy Partridge's face puts some people off too. Unfair but that's pop!


Phew! So it's not just me then?

Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #42 on: July 20, 2015, 10:17:20 PM »
My favourite XTC track The Somnambulist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqLuO_cPjco
proof that they could do more than the jaunty clever pop.

Brundle-Fly

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #43 on: July 20, 2015, 10:21:47 PM »
That never occurred to me his gurning might be annoying. He stopped this by the time they stopped playing live. Never bothered me because I've always embraced this sort of behaviour from my favourites, Costello, Dury, Cardiacs, Madness, Wilko, Fishbone, Ween, Stump but I understand people (i.e.: the music press) hate it with a passion.

Jockice

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #44 on: July 20, 2015, 10:40:01 PM »
That never occurred to me his gurning might be annoying. He stopped this by the time they stopped playing live. Never bothered me because I've always embraced this sort of behaviour from my favourites, Costello, Dury, Cardiacs, Madness, Wilko, Fishbone, Ween, Stump but I understand people (i.e.: the music press) hate it with a passion.


That's the thing though. it was only Andy Partridge doing it that annoyed me. Madness are one of the greatest bands ever, I have a lot of time for Costello, Dury and Wilko, and I've liked stuff by Fishbone and Stump. Got to admit that Cardiacs and Ween are two of my blindspots but I don't say that loudly round here for obvious reasons.

I dunno, sometimes something about an individual just gets on your tits for no particular reason. And so it is with Partridge. It doesn't take anything away from their music, it just means that I find them less likeable than perhaps I might have done.

Ambient Sheep

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #45 on: July 20, 2015, 11:06:39 PM »
For almost inexplicable reasons, I only own one XTC record - the 7" of Making Plans for Nigel, bought at the time.  Like others here, I'm staggered it only ever got to No. 17, you'd think it was easily top five.

The reason I mention having the most predictable XTC record it's possible to own is... the wonderful B-sides:

Bushman President
and
Pulsing, Pulsing

I have no idea how slight or otherwise they might now sound to modern ears, but the 14-year-old me played the living fuck out of them, arguably more than the A-side (see also The M Factor, the B-side to M's Pop Muzik).

I think they should be more widely known, hence me sharing them here to anyone who hasn't heard them (unlikely on this thread!).

23 Daves

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #46 on: July 21, 2015, 09:04:20 AM »
Regarding Partridge himself being irritating, I remember pulling the inner sleeve out of "Oranges and Lemons" so the photo of him wearing a hat with a knife and fork attached was visible, and a friend's reaction was immediately "Aaargh! JUST LOOK AT HIM!"

I have to admit that is a particularly ridiculous photo. Obviously going for humour or quirkiness but somehow seeming slightly Bono-ish in its pomposity. But whatever point I was trying to prove to my friend was lost from that point on. He wasn't going to be brought round.

I have very, very few friends who are fans, actually. Some will admit to liking some of their work but own little more than "Fossil Fuel". They're a difficult band to get people to buy into, even people who otherwise have quite similar tastes to me.

Brundle-Fly

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #47 on: July 21, 2015, 11:05:35 AM »
Regarding Partridge himself being irritating, I remember pulling the inner sleeve out of "Oranges and Lemons" so the photo of him wearing a hat with a knife and fork attached was visible, and a friend's reaction was immediately "Aaargh! JUST LOOK AT HIM!"

I have to admit that is a particularly ridiculous photo. Obviously going for humour or quirkiness but somehow seeming slightly Bono-ish in its pomposity. But whatever point I was trying to prove to my friend was lost from that point on. He wasn't going to be brought round.

I have very, very few friends who are fans, actually. Some will admit to liking some of their work but own little more than "Fossil Fuel". They're a difficult band to get people to buy into, even people who otherwise have quite similar tastes to me.

Your mate must've loved their Skylarking Quaker chic then? AP enjoyed raiding the dressing up box and you always got the feeling the rest of the band may have had to tow the line a bit (a'la Dexys Midnight Runners).

I was lucky that I had enough friends fairly obsessed with Xtc; even one girlfriend at the time, which was nice.

I have one mate who claims he only likes ten Xtc songs but was still prepared to go and see Xtc tribute acts with me in the past.

Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #48 on: July 21, 2015, 12:04:37 PM »
I think the onset of baldness pushed AP towards questionable hats.  Coupled with the glasses and a slightly wider face, he looks completely different from the guy who's on the White Music-era footage.

Jockice

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #49 on: July 21, 2015, 12:12:41 PM »
That never occurred to me his gurning might be annoying. He stopped this by the time they stopped playing live. Never bothered me because I've always embraced this sort of behaviour from my favourites, Costello, Dury, Cardiacs, Madness, Wilko, Fishbone, Ween, Stump but I understand people (i.e.: the music press) hate it with a passion.


Actually, I think the reason I found Partridge so irritating is that when the other acts seemed to pull faces naturally, he was so bloody self-conscious about it. Does that make sense? It does to me.

Brundle-Fly

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #50 on: July 21, 2015, 01:11:24 PM »

Actually, I think the reason I found Partridge so irritating is that when the other acts seemed to pull faces naturally, he was so bloody self-conscious about it. Does that make sense? It does to me.

I think a lot of it was hiding behind a mask to a certain extent and probably another reason he retreated to the studio. He once said in an interview the only way he could possibly set foot on stage again would be in the guise of Sir John Johns playing Dukes stuff or maybe something along the lines of The Residents (who of course he collaborated with in 1980 as Sandy Sandwich)

Brundle-Fly

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #51 on: July 21, 2015, 01:14:04 PM »
I think the onset of baldness pushed AP towards questionable hats.  Coupled with the glasses and a slightly wider face, he looks completely different from the guy who's on the White Music-era footage.


Those MySpace interviews were excellent but that book is going to be the size of a small fridge!

daf

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #52 on: July 21, 2015, 01:24:05 PM »
The blurb on Amazon says 30 songs - so they've left two thirds of them out.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2015, 01:35:10 PM by daf »

Phoenix Lazarus

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #53 on: July 21, 2015, 01:36:57 PM »
Nigel's now making plans for retirement from a foreign-owned steelworks.

Vodka Margarine

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #54 on: July 21, 2015, 02:55:11 PM »
I dunno, sometimes something about an individual just gets on your tits for no particular reason.

I don't know what you're talking about.


Phoenix Lazarus

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #55 on: July 21, 2015, 06:02:17 PM »
I remember a documentary in 1981 showing them recording at some big country house, where they had races round a course in little racing cars, and played their instruments on a big bouncy castle.  They had this strange machine connected to their speakers that could make their voice sound slowed-down or speeded-up, though the words came out at the same speed.

Brundle-Fly

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #56 on: July 21, 2015, 06:21:21 PM »
I remember a documentary in 1981 showing them recording at some big country house, where they had races round a course in little racing cars, and played their instruments on a big bouncy castle.  They had this strange machine connected to their speakers that could make their voice sound slowed-down or speeded-up, though the words came out at the same speed.

That would be XTC At The Manor, no?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ne35P7kbucs

Oops! Wrong Planet

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #57 on: July 21, 2015, 07:31:29 PM »
I don't know what you're talking about.



Judee Sill at Louis Tussaud's House of Wax.

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Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #58 on: July 21, 2015, 07:41:38 PM »
This is the ticket for the night I saw them at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1981, supported by The Members.
It was the Black Sea tour but it seemed that most of the show was them running through English Settlement
and it was, bloody brilliant, like really bloody brilliant, one of those shows you never forget. I remember coming out of the
show on such a high as I had missed them in Amsterdam not that long before and so was very keen to see them live and then
it turned out to be their last bloody tour.







Re: The "XTC are really really good" thread
« Reply #59 on: July 21, 2015, 08:15:18 PM »
They were great. 'Generals & Majors' was when I got properly acquainted but I only have a few albums - inspired to get 'Big Express' now particularly.

It's odd to me how they just don't click for so many - but maybe it is AP's vocals. I stuck 'Nonsuch' on once in the company of a few friends who, it transpired, had never even heard of them despite being in their late 30's. Before the first track was through they were laughing & doing impressions of AP's apparently 'ridiculous' singing. They then requested me, in no uncertain terms, to take it off. Perplexed, I was.