Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Albums For Life: 105: XTC: Nonsuch

Seems a lowly spot for this to appear but I must warn you that anything between here and my top 30 could really feature anywhere on the list.
I've followed XTC since they started out in the late 70s; saw them gigging their debut with 'Statue of Liberty' and other spiky songs of frustration. Their post punk thrash was always infused with devilish humour; underpinned with an obvious lyrical intelligence, not to mention an ear for a great melody.
Who'd have thought that once Andy Partridge had retreated from live performance and got the perfect pop of 'Black Sea' out of his system that he'd would go on to produce such pastoral classics as 'Mummer'Skylarking', 'English Settlement' and 'Nonsuch'.
Word had it that he was going slowly bonkers in rural parts; although anyone who had the gumption to outwit the acidic Todd Rundgren, throwing him off the 'Skylarking' sessions, must have retained some of his city smarts. Andy seems to be holding it together on this 1999 interview from Bay TV, where a resplendent Partridge does his best to make the color brown look cool...

And on to 'Nonsuch'; this box of delights starts thumpingly with 'Peter Pumpkinhead' and works its way inexorably towards the set's highlight; the baroquely beautiful 'Wrapped in Grey'.
People always talk about XTC's Englishness as though it were an inbred weakness. I say God bless the eccentric Englishman that is Partridge.
Long may he potter away in his Swindon garden shed, come studio; conjuring heavenly words and music.

"How coloured the flowers all smelled 
As they huddled there in petalled prayer"

Word has it that he gets depressed; head dropping at his unfathomable anonymity. I doubt that Andy has the bulbs to ask for patronage, so let's hope that the afore mentioned Arts Council (see yesterday) sees fit to help keep this unsung songwriting genius's head up, smelling the daffodils and dahlias.


  1. Great lp just behind Skylarking and Apple Venus for me
    Did ssome lovely production on a Lilac Time lp and his stuff with Blur didnt see the light of say as Damon A flet he had made them sound like xtc!

  2. Tough choosing between those three albums; top of my tree too.
    I think Nonsuch nicked it for Wrapped in Grey. Love it!

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