What does it sound like?:
Its been over 20 years since the last proper XTC album with comparatively little in the way of new material from either the band or as individual artists since then – a couple of digital only tracks, the Andy Partridge Fuzzy Warbles series, songs for The Monkees and Colin Moulding virtually disappearing until briefly surfacing a couple of years ago with TC&I.
Suddenly in 2021 we have new material from both the main songwriters, albeit only EPs, and released within a week of each other.
First up is Colin Moulding with “The Hardest Battle” EP. One new song “The Hardest Battle” in both completed and demo version and one re recorded XTC song “Say It” (one of the late digital only releases). The Hardest Battle starts with a burst of church organ, some multi tracked vocals and then Colin’s vocals kick in and its like he’s never been away – one of those great pop melody tracks that could have come from any of the later period XTC albums. XTC fans will be in heaven. “Say It” was always one of those great late career tracks that got away and so its great to get a re recording, Its not massively different – maybe a little more spacious and obviously a new vocal.
So to Andy Partridge, who between being an idiot on twitter and taking care of the excellent XTC reissue series, has only really been writing bits and pieces for other artists. This EP is four tracks that were written for other artists, but for various reasons (covered in the liner notes) were rejected. Its apparently the first of a series. Opening track “Ghost Train” is an upbeat, almost “punky” track which reminds me very much of early XTC. Next track “Great Day” is probably my favourite – very McCartneyesque and could have found its way onto the Dukes Of The Stratosphere album. “Maid Of Stars” is a gorgeous pastoral ballad which could have come from any of the later XTC albums and “The Mating Dance” is a upbeat number (and rejected due to the “offensive” lyrics”) which again could slot into any later XTC album (probably Wasp Star).
Both are available from Burning Shed.
What does it all *mean*?
Its great to have them back, Two of the UKs greatest songwriters producing music again must make any lover of great music happy. Its a pity its only a few songs, but hey its a start.
And with Dave Gregory recently leaving Big Big Train, one could always speculate that now they are writing again and all available……….I can dream !
Goes well with…
Warm summer evenings, memories, the rest of my XTC collection
Might suit people who like…
XTC, sophisticated pop, Pastoral Pop