Reviews: XTC: Coat of Many Cupboards
Coat of Many Cupboards
 

del Rock
29/9/2003
Rock > Recensioni

XTC: A Coat Of Many Cupboards (Cooking Vinyl, 4CD) * * * *

Una ricca antologia che corre tra la fine degli anni Settanta e i primi anni Novanta, con i pezzi più celebri e ammirati fino a Nonsuch più una cascata di inediti, alternate takes, provini, frammenti live o radio, a comporre una divertente storia alternativa.

Metà cofanetto è dedicata ai favolosi inizi, 1977-81. Sono i materiali più grezzi e i più divertenti, garage rock sfacciato più disinvolte incursioni nel mondo dub e nella techno appena nata; ci sono varie alternate e inediti dei primi album a testimoniarlo, non bastassero le nevrotiche giaculatorie di Life Begins At The Hop o This Is Pop.

Da Black Sea il gruppo diventa più maturo e complesso, smussa qualche angolo per guadagnare in eleganza. Le rarità qui sono soprattutto provini casalinghi, una dozzina, dai profondissimi cassetti di Swindon: ma non manca la chicca di un inedito, Didn't Hurt A Bit, un sassolino caduto dalla tasca di Partridge quando aveva travestito gli XTC da banda psichedelica, i Dukes Of Stratosphear.

Uno dei motivi di fascino del box sono i brani live che costellano i primi due cd; canzoni per lo più minori da lontane gigs a Liverpool, Sydney, Londra, con un'insolenza vocale e strumentale che era sfogo di terrore puro, probabilmente, più che repressa energia giovanile. Gli XTC odiavano il palco e Partridge in particolare ci lasciava tutte le volte fegato e nervi. Si trascinò così per anni fino a una catartica sera italiana, Genova, 1982: lì toccò il fondo del suo stress e decise che non avrebbe mai più calcato le scene. Promessa mantenuta.

(riccardo bertoncelli)


Groove
Nummer 3 · 2002

XTC
“A Coat of Many Cupboards”
Virgin

XTC har väl aldrig riktigt gått i de anpassade kommersiella ledbanden, även om deras musik alltid haft en viss hitpotential. Lite hemligt arroganta har man alltid velat göra saker och ting på sitt egna sätt. Så egentligen är det helt logiskt att när det nu kommer en box, så är det inte en vanlig samlingsbox. Eller ska man säga att när det nu kommer ett album med större delen liveinspelningar, demoversioner och outtakes, så är det en box om 4 CD-skivor. Nu kan väl förklaringen ligga i att hela XTC:s backkatalog remastrats och är på väg ut i världen, och att boxen väl kan ses som ett supplement till detta. För, precis som boxar i allmänhet brukar vara, främst för tidigare fans. Komplett med en booklet på bortåt 60 sidor, omfattande kommentarer både till bandets karriär och de enskilda spåren, ger det en mycket god bild av både XTCs olika faser och deras ofta glädjespridande och lekfulla låtar. Hela designen av boxen är utmärkt, med snygg layout och snygga bilder. Allt sker i en kronologisk ordning: inleds med demolåten Science Friction, framför allt inspelad åt CBS, som till sist ratade bandet, och avslutas med Didn't Hurt a Bit, en outtake från Nonsuch, och Books are Burning, båda med ursprung 1991. Kul att höra ratade singellåtar och alternativa versioner. Lika kul att höra de svunna slagen av XTC live. Även om det framför allt är för redan insatta och övertygade, så måste man kapitulera över de ofta kristallklara och gnistrande poppärlor XTC producerat. I många demoversioner som finns på denna box framträder just de nakna melodierna i ännu klarare skönhet. Mayor of Simpleton eller The Disappointed, till exempel. Och det känns som en motivering god som någon för en box, som för nästan vilket annat band som helst skulle vara en omöjlighet.

Magnus Sjöberg


The Daily Camera
December 6, 2002
Entertainment

When you care enough to give the best-ofs

By Greg Glasgow and Michael Cote, Camera Staff Writers

Come December, many a gift-giver offers a silent prayer of thanks for music. What other gift seems so personal yet is so easy to buy? If you know someone's favorite artists and/or genres, a greatest-hits collection or box set is the perfect way to make him feel like you spent a lot of time on the perfect present, when all you really did was take a quick trip to a record store or music Web site. Here's a look at some of the collections available this holiday season.

. . .

XTC Coat Of Many Cupboards(Caroline/Astralwerks) - After spending most of the '90s in a battle with its old label, Virgin, XTC returned a few years ago to release two great studio albums, Apple Venus Vol. 1 and Wasp Star, (Apple Venus Vol. 2) plus companion albums for each disc consisting of the entire track listings in demo form. Fans who sprung for the demo discs will want Coat Of Many Cupboards, a four-disc 60-track box focusing on Virgin-era album leftovers, alternate takes, B-sides, live cuts and demos, such as embryonic versions of "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" and "Mayor Of Simpleton" that in their simplicity reveal how much XTC benefited from the studio perfection that transformed the tunes into grand Beatles-style pop. (MC)

Copyright 2002, The Daily Camera and the E.W. Scripps Company. All rights reserved.


modern-dance
#39, June 22, 2002
Reviews

XTC. A Coat Of Many Cupboards. Virgin XTCBOX1.
Where to start? XTC, during their heyday, produced not only some quite remarkable singles, but critically acclaimed albums as well. Andy Partridge's songwriting skills were quite spectacular at times, his pop sensabilities were finely tuned, and many's the time when some of their singles whilst driving in a totally different direction to their peers, managed to deliver the goods. As well as Partridge, Colin Moulding (bass) have picked out their fave toones, as well as demos for almost all their singles, unreleased, live, indeed, a whole cornucopia of goodies that span four cds. Having only had the promos, I have no idea as to what the booklet's like, although according to the press release, it sounds like I should have it (hint hint!). It has, allegedly, many a chat about the tracks and the whys and wherefores. This boxed set is the most comprehensive retro package to date, and features absolutely loads of stuff with many a familiar title jumping out: Senses Working Overtime, Making Plans For Nigel, Statue Of Liberty, Mayor Of Simpleton and Sgt. Rock. Remixes, live cuts, alternate takes, jeez, what else does one want? Sixty tracks, four albums, and more reminders as to why XTC were quite highly regarded, it's all here. (Dw).

Reproduced by permission.
[Thanks to Dave W Hughes]


It.Arti.Musica.Rock
Musica
June 16, 2002

mur mur su: XTC, "A coat of many cupboards"

Una mia personale ed opinabilissima teoria nega l'esistenza dell'ascoltatore occasionale degli Xtc così come non contempla la possibilità di un fruire casuale e distratto delle loro canzoni: il primo approccio magari disorienta, tanta è la ricchezza e tanto è il loro fasto melodico (magari subdolamente celato da sberleffi di dissonanze armonico-ritmiche), il secondo impatto innamora e non v'è scampo, l'utopia pop che si realizza, punto e a capo.
Ne conosco di impasticcati a botte di Xtc, hanno il perenne sentore di un party celebrato tra i loro neuroni con il cappellaio matto, gli eschimesi e le rane magiche a menar le danze ed un sorriso di godimento beota che tende a imprimersi sul volto, cittadini onorari di Simpleton ("Sempliciopoli", più o meno)...a loro è dedicato questo cofanetto. Essì, perchè al novizio che non sa e non conosce sembrerebbe questa un'accozzaglia di pezzi già noti, versioni alternative, estratti live e qualche sparuto inedito: apparenze, è la storia degli Xtc che ben ci è nota ma raccontataci qui in modo diverso, una sequenza di scorciatoie e digressioni panoramiche rispetto ad un iter discografico su cui ci siamo più volte (di)strutti con gusto. Ironia, talvolta paradossale talora amara, il fil rouge sotteso in tutta la vicenda extatica: la virgin(ale) casa discografica che, dopo aver esasperato il gruppo inducendolo allo sciopero bianco ed alla rottura del contratto, va a frugare nel fondo dei cassettoni della credenza Xtc (e non li trova spogli, come temuto da Partridge in "All of a Sudden"), assembla così un sontuoso banchetto imbandito seguendo le date d'incisione ed affida ai buoni Partridge & Moulding le note di commento, ricevendone in cambio una serie di esilaranti (per noi) frecciatine al vetriolo. Ma all'ascolto, orsù, che v'è da smarrirsi: c'è una "Science Friction" tratta dagli approcci con una poco lungimirante Cbs che rifiutò il contratto ai nostri, svariati pezzi dal vivo d'una elettrica frenesia tale da farci capire quanto Partridge fosse sull'orlo della nevrastenia, una "Let's have fun" di un Colin Moulding ancora esposto alla pesante influenza del suo sodale-leader, la cover della sigla televisiva di "Fireball XL-5", pegno alle passioni infantil-catodiche del gruppo, che si dilata in una coda dub (prodromo di futuri esperimenti in "Go+"), due canzoni vergate dal tastierista Barry Andrews nel tentativo golpista (fallito) di porsi alla guida del complesso, l'evolversi filologico di "Life begins at the Hop" da tremebondo frammento in sala prove ad una versione sottilmente ska-zzata per la conquista (naufragata, ça va sans dire, pur con l'aggiunta di "handclaps" ad opera di Sting e consorte...) del mercato americano, poi un pugno di alternate-takes affidate al duo produttivo Langer/Winstanley nel folle proposito di fare degli Xtc "i nuovi Madness", le pulsioni discomusic (!) in "Sleepyheads" quindi la cateratta di demo casalinghi. E qui la tecnologia gioca un ruolo nevralgico nel corpus xtciano (e noi che credevamo all'indifferenza ed all'inattaccabilità della loro arte rispetto al mondo che le scorreva attorno...): l'acquisto di registratori multitraccia portatili modifica le alchimie compositive del gruppo che, d'ora (siamo nell'ottantadue circa) in poi, diventa espressione bicefala di due solitarie teste pensanti che, solinghe nella cameretta, confezionano gioiellini già belli e pronti, bisognosi a malapena di una lucidatina in sala d'incisione...si apre un passaggio segreto nel nostro tour: gli splendidi inediti da "Skylarking" rigettati da Todd Rundgren, produttore scriteriato, una "Dear God" più lunga e scabrosa rispetto a quella apparsa su disco o una "wake up" dalle cadenze ancor più alienate e meccaniche. E ridendo e scherzando (c'è anche la burla dei Dukes of Stratosphear"...) si giunge satolli al termine dello zibaldone con una splendida versione live di "Books are burning", liriche che illuminano ed il più creativo riciclaggio immaginabile per gli accordi della beachboysiana "I get around": Andy e Colin, già ci mancate, fatela almeno una telefonatina ogni tanto.


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
6. Juni 2002, 02:08
Feuilleton

Lumpensammlung mit Substanz

Eine 4-CD-Box mit Raritäten der verkannten Band XTC

XTC ist eine eigenwillige Band. Eine Band, die selten auf ausgetrampelten Pfaden, sondern lieber im Strassengraben zu ihrem Ziel kommt. Eine Band auch, die öfters in Streit geriet mit der Musikindustrie - von 1992 bis 1999 streikte XTC gegen die eigene Plattenfirma, bis einer der Gitarristen kündete und das Label Virgin das verbleibende Duo in die Freiheit entliess.

XTC begann 1977 als hyperaktive New-Wave-Band. Wenn sie musikalisch aneckte, war das nicht das Resultat technischer Unbedarftheit, im Gegenteil: Die vier Jungs aus der westenglischen Provinzstadt Swindon waren von Anfang an wesentlich kompetenter als die punkige Konkurrenz. So rasten sie durch eine eigenwillige Mischung aus Spionagefilm-Melodien und den ungelenken Rhythmen der damaligen Zeit. Gleichzeitig experimentierten sie mit Dub-Versionen ihrer Stücke, dachten sich auf ihrer vierten CD, «Black Sea», jenen wuchtigen Drum-Sound aus, der wenig später zum Markenzeichen von U2 werden sollte. 1981 kam ein weiterer Bruch: Der Sänger und Bandleader Andy Partridge mochte nicht mehr live auftreten, gleichzeitig sattelte das Quartett von elektrischen Gitarren und preschendem Schlagzeug auf gepflegte Akustik um und landete mit «Senses Working Overtime» seinen grössten Hit. Das war zu viel für den Drummer, der sein Glück seither anderswo versuchte.

Die verbliebenen drei Mitglieder widmeten sich fortan dem perfekten Popsong. Manchmal gelang er ihnen, etwa auf «Skylarking», manchmal entwarfen die drei unter dem Bandnamen Dukes of Stratosphear auch eine psychedelische Gegenwelt. Manches ihrer späten Stücke hätte den Britpoppern von Oasis bis Blur gut angestanden.

Das neue 4-CD-Set «Coat of Many Cupboards» präsentiert nun eine alternative Geschichte der Gruppe bis zum Streik von 1992. Alle stilistischen Stationen sind dokumentiert, drei Viertel der 60 Stücke aber werden hier zum ersten Mal veröffentlicht. Was zutage gefördert wurde, erlaubt zwar keinen neuen, aber doch einen frischen Blick auf XTC. Zu entdecken gibt es Songs, die noch schlüpfen müssten: Unter verschiedenen Demos, die ihren hochglanzpolierten Geschwistern auf den offiziellen Veröffentlichungen punkto Ausstrahlung in nichts nachstehen, findet sich auch eine äusserst charmante Version von «Senses Working Overtime» aus der Gartenlaube, mit schrummelnden Gitarren, angestrengt falschem Gesang und vorbeifahrenden Lastwagen. Oder dann fertige Songs in unbekannten Versionen, etwa eine hervorragende Live-Aufnahme von «Yacht Dance» aus derselben Zeit oder das mitreissende «Paper and Iron» von 1980. Freilich werden auch alle Schwächen von XTC mitgeliefert - etwa die Selbstverliebtheit. Neueinsteigern sei deshalb empfohlen, die ersten eineinhalb CDs zu überspringen - was zuerst kam, wirkt heute etwas angestaubt, eine Geschichtslektion in New Wave, die immerhin als nostalgisch gelten darf. Ab 1982 aber, so wie Andy Partridge seinen japsenden, jaulenden Gesang aufgab und zeitlose Popsongs schrieb, wie übrigens auch sein Partner Colin Moulding, suchte XTC seinesgleichen. - Auf «Coat of Many Cupboards» entfaltet sich die Lebensgeschichte einer ungeheuer kreativen Band, die nur zu den Fussnoten des Rockmusikkanons gehört, obwohl sie den anderen immer einen Schritt voraus war.

Eric Facon

XTC: Coat of Many Cupboards (Virgin/EMI).

Copyright © Neue Zürcher Zeitung AG


El Paso Scene
May 2002
Music, Dance & More

Liner Notes by Brian Chozick

Collectibles: XTC, "Coat of Many Cupboards," Virgin
Arriving by way of Holland and Virgin Records UK comes "Coat of Many Cupboards," a virtual treasure chest of gems from England's XTC. The box is presented in a fold-open hardback book style package, with each of the four discs on inner plastic trays, with overlying inner fold-over flaps. There is also a 128-page book with the rare unpublished photos, extensive liner notes, and stories behind selected tracks. The music spans their entire output for Virgin Records, as well as the Dukes of Stratosfear side project. The over 40 previously unreleased tracks include rarities, demos, alternate takes, and live versions. Some of the live versions are of particular interest, as lead vocalist Andy Partridge suffers from a severe case of stage fright. The band has not performed live in over 20 years, making any live recording a rarity in itself. There is also a sprinkling of well-known tracks to keep the novice listener focused on their path of magnificent discovery. This is a collection that resembles a vault more than cupboard.

Copyright 2002 by Cristo Rey Communications.


Entertainment Today
May 17, 2002
Disc Domain

XTC

A Coat Of Many Cupboards

Caroline

reviewed by David Bash

This is a marvelous four CD box set of demos, outtakes, live tracks, previously released tunes and other curios from XTC's 1978-1989 period. The selections were chosen by XTC main men Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding, and while listening to them, one can feel as if he or she has jumped into the guys' whimsical grey matter. Well, almost. . .

Disc one works out nascent live recordings of "Spinning Top" and "Traffic Light Rock," the single version of the classic "This Is Pop," a couple of early takes on "Life Begins At The Hop," and a delightful recording of the classic TV theme "Fireball XL5," done with an aplomb that only XTC can muster. Disc two moves into the '80s with the cool "Atom Medley," a rejected version of "Towers Of London," and a nifty early version of "Senses Working Overtime." The third disc concentrates on the mid-'80s, and includes home demos of "Love On A Farmboy's Wages," "Grass" and "All You Pretty Girls," as well as a very intense demo of the controversial "Dear God." Disc four features "Terrorism" and "Find The Fox," which had been intended for the Skylarking album; a playful, stripped down demo of "Mayor Of Simpleton," a nice early take of "The Disappointed" and a boppy Nonesuch outtake called "Didn't Hurt A Bit."

The one caveat here is the heavy weighting of previously-released songs on Disc four. It would have been nice to hear early works of "Season Cycle," "Brainiac's Daughter," and "Chalkhills And Children" (which do exist) rather than the released versions, but given the band's willingness to share their demos it can be assumed that they had good reason not to include them.

Most of the song notes have been annotated by Andy Partridge in that inimitable, self-effacing, quirky way of his, making for a very delightful read to accompany the listening experience. A Coat Of Many Cupboards is definitely an essential purchase, and will whet the appetite of XTC fans for the upcoming digitally remastered re-releases of the band's first 10 albums.


Facts
2002-05-16; Seite 158; Nummer 20
Facts Tipps: Pop

Genialer Zwitter

* * * *  XTC, «Coat Of Many Cupboards», 4 CDs Virgin/EMI. Ihre Kritiker beschimpfen die britische Band XTC als Promenadenmischung aus Punk und Progressive Rock, für ihre Anhänger waren XTC das geniale New-Wave-Pendant zu den Beatles. Das hat etwas: XTC deckten mit Kellerkrach, psychedelischen Experimenten und neurotischem Folk eine ähnliche Bandbreite wie die Liverpooler Vorbilder ab. Ihr Frühwerk nahm wie jenes der Beatles viele spätere Strömungen vorweg. Und: Sie zogen sich 1982 so abrupt von der Bühne zurück, wie die Fab Four es getan hatten. Sie veröffentlichten weiter Alben und hatten in den späten Eighties vor allem in den USA Erfolg. Und während des grössten Teils der Neunziger schwiegen sie aus Protest gegen die Plattenfirma Virgin, ehe sie mit «Apple Venus Volume I» und «Volume II» zurückkehrten. Die 4-CD-Box «Coat of Many Cupboards» dokumentiert XTCs Karriere zwischen 1977 und 1992 mit vielen Rohfassungen bekannter Songs und seltenen Live-Aufnahmen. Sie gibt eine eher ergänzende als zusammenfassende Optik auf das reiche Oeuvre. Ein wahres Liebhaberstück. (nj)

Ironisch inszeniert: Das Tell-Drama «Grisler oder der bestrafte Ehrgeiz».


Uncut
April 2002

THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY

XTC
A COAT OF MANY CUPBOARDS

Virgin * * * *
Four-CD box set offers alternative history of quintessentially English pop group

Soaking up this lavish survey of the hinterlands and byways of Swindon's most noteworthy export left me suffering pangs of guilt for failing to pay enough attention to XTC over the years. There has been an assortment of previous XTC compilations and bootlegs which have trawled through their teeming basement of demos and outtakes, but A Coat Of Many Cupboards is covered with the slightly neurotic fingerprints of Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding, who were evidently determined that this should be a feast for the imagination as well as steroids for the ears.

In some ways XTC have always been as English as a wet Saturday at Lord's, steeped in Wiltshire loam and marinated in real ale, while in others they've been more like something that fell from outer space. The first disc spins us back to the band's emergence at the back end of punk, and it's comical to hear them squashing their instinctive eclecticism into the one-two-three-aaaargh! formula of the era. "Radios In Motion" is a riot of splintering guitars and spiralling choruses, "Us Being Us" sounds like a bunch of stand-up comics parodying `new wave', while "This Is Pop" - in its Mutt Lange 45 version - sounds like a fearful splicing of Sham 69 and Duran Duran. Their ridiculous rehash of the theme from Fireball XL5 (with matching dub version), an outtake from the White Music sessions, reveals far more about their appetite for the obtuse.

The theory behind this collection seems to have been to offer an alternative history of XTC during their Virgin period, crammed with live or demo versions of their best-known songs alongside some neglected Partridge/Moulding favourites and a sampling of obscurities. Hence you get some of the Drums And Wires songs in versions recorded at DJM studios, not least a twiddled-up "Real by Reel" and a claustrophobic "Helicopter" ("she got to be obscene to be ob-heard"). "Senses Working Overtime" appears as an early `idea' with Partridge singing along to his acoustic guitar, but even though it sounds as if it was recorded in the middle of a congested high street, the shape of the song is strikingly clear, with most of the arrangement already in place.

XTC gave up playing live in 1982 after Partridge went bonkers on Valium and accumulated stress, and in many respects their claims to greatness rest on the material they recorded subsequently in their studio-only mode. In "Chalkhills And Children", Partridge made explicit his rejection of the rock'n'roll treadmill, and the song exudes the same sort of spiritual calm as Brian Wilson's "Lay Down Burden". "Season Cycle" is like Housman's "A Shropshire Lad" with added bucolic bonhomie, while "Mayor Of Simpleton" celebrates the triumph of emotion over intellect. They even managed some trenchant social comment, too, like the suddenly-pertinent "Terrorism" ("angel of death in black woollen mask") and a recording of "Books Are Burning" from a rare live appearance on BBC2's The Late Show in 1992.

And then there are their psychedelic pastiches, their effortless grasp of prog-rock time signatures, and `hidden' tracks like "Ballad Of The Wanking Man". Hell, you'd better buy one.

Adam Sweeting

[Thanks to Jamie Lowe]


Winnipeg Sun
Music

Friday, April 26, 2002

XTC box set a trophy for fans

By DARRYL STERDAN -- Winnipeg Sun


COAT OF MANY CUPBOARDS
XTC
(Virgin/EMI)

Major-label bands are usually too busy rushing forward -- to the next album, the next tour, the next video -- to spend time looking over their shoulders.

Then there's XTC. Their schedule almost makes Sly Stone seem like a workaholic. They've released a grand total of about two dozen new songs in the last 10 years. They haven't mounted a full-scale tour in nearly twice that long. In fact, now that they're down to a duo -- longtime musical partners Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding -- they barely even qualify as a band anymore. In short, they've got nothing but time.

Lately, they seem to spend much of it puttering about in their own back garden. And with handsome results. In the last few years, Partridge and Moulding have become masters at plundering their archives and making the most of their meagre musical output. Singles collections, live box sets, remastered reissues, entire discs of home demos -- it's become quite a little cottage industry for the duo. Even when they were scrappy young punks rushing headlong toward fame, it seems, Partridge and Moulding were foresighted enough to preserve every note they played. Now, as semi-reclusive semi-retirees semi-resting on their laurels, they're apparently determined to release it all.

This collision of packrattish anal retention and closet-clearing commercialism reaches its zenith in the superlative new box Coat of Many Cupboards. The 60-track set may be the ultimate trophy for XTC fans: Four CDs of unreleased fare, exceptional rarities and classic album cuts from their first 15 years, all chronologically presented, housed in a snazzy box and annotated with an exhaustive bio and extensive track-by-track comments from Partridge and Moulding. Exactly what's in these Cupboards? Well, we sorted it out on four shelves:

Demos and Rehearsal Tapes

No. of Songs: 20 -- the largest chunk of the set. Includes: Home recordings, band rehearsals and studio demos from their pre-fame days (a twitchy, Stranglers-influenced version of Science Friction from 1977) through their pop-hits period (a rehearsal tape of Life Begins at the Hop; a band demo of Making Plans for Nigel) to their later and more pastoral offerings (Partridge's home demos for Mayor of Simpleton and Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead, later covered by Crash Test Dummies). What's Cool: The amazing attention to detail. As anyone who's heard their more recent demo collections Homespun and Homegrown knows, Partridge's home recordings are often so close to the subsequent album versions you wonder why he bothered redoing them. Not so Cool: We've already heard so many XTC demos over the years -- first as bootlegs, than in official versions -- that the novelty has pretty much worn off. What it Teaches Us: That Partridge and Moulding may be the two most inventive and inspired pop craftsmen since Lennon and McCartney.

Alternate Versions and Outtakes

No. of Songs: 17. Includes: Assorted studio leftovers and orphans -- a handful of tracks left off of White Music, including the walloping pop-punk treat Let's Have Fun; a disco track called Sleepyheads that didn't make the cut for Drums and Wires; revamped recordings of Life Begins at the Hop, Real by Reel, Helicopter and others, intended as singles but never released; two long-lost tracks from former keyboard player Barry Andrews. What's Cool: Partridge swallows his pride enough to admit he sabotaged Andrews' songwriting aspirations because his fragile ego felt threatened. Not so Cool: If you go by the bootlegs, there are tons more outtakes than these. Perhaps the boys are saving them for yet another box set down the pike? What it Teaches Us: No matter how much various producers tried, they couldn't change XTC's core sound -- for better or worse.

Live Recordings

No. of Songs: Just nine -- presumably since they put out a four-CD live box just a few years back. Includes: Club recordings of jittery punky fare like Traffic Light Rock; an encore medley from a Australian gig in the late '70s; fiery versions of Paper and Iron and Crowded Room from London shows in 1980; and a couple of TV appearances including a rare live performance of Books are Burning on the BBC in 1992. What's Cool: How amazingly heavy and tight XTC were live. For a band whose radio hits usually consisted of melodic, poppy new wave ditties, they could kick out the jams onstage. Not so Cool: That you have to buy a different box set -- 1998's Transistor Blast -- to hear more of this stuff. What it Teaches Us: These guys quit touring way too early.

Album Tracks

No. of Songs: 14 -- a few too many, if you ask us. After all, anybody's who's enough of an XTC fan to buy this box already has these songs. Includes: Bits and pieces from their first 10 albums, along with a couple of cuts from their psychedelic '80s side project The Dukes of Stratosphear. What's Cool: The selections tend to bypass the hits for lesser-heard tracks -- for instance, Black Sea's No Language in our Lungs instead of Respectable Street. Not so Cool: These tracks take up the space that could have been used for 14 more rarities. What it Teaches Us: No box set is perfect. Although this one is pretty close.



Coat Of Many Cupboards

* * * * 1/2

Copyright © 2002, Canoe, a division of Netgraphe Inc. All rights reserved.


Dagsavisen
12.04.2002

12.04.2002
Alternativ ekstase

XTC

 GEIR RAKVAAG

«Coat Of Many Cupboards»
     Virgin/EMI
     6

For snart ti år siden gikk gruppa XTC til «streik» i protest mot behandlingen de fikk av plateselskapet Virgin. I fjor kom de omsider med nye plater etter å ha blitt løst fra kontrakten, og her er vel en del av sluttavtalen - en fin bok med fire cd-er i permene, med en alternativ oppsummering av de første 15 årene til gruppa. De fleste av sangene kommer i demoversjoner eller er tatt opp mens gruppa fortsatt gjorde konserter. Innholdet er satt sammen av Andy Partridge og Colin Moulding selv, med utførlige kommentarer til hver sang.

Til tross for sin vennligsinnede popmusikk, er XTC er rart band. Pop blir et paradoksalt begrep i denne sammenhengen, hvis det skal være en forkortelse for populært. «Senses Working Overtime» er med en 10. plass i 1982 deres største hitsingle, fra et band som lager så fengende sanger at de nesten høres syndige ut. Gruppas fascinasjon for det beste i 60-tallets psykedeliske pop ga dem lett status som «eksentriske». I stadig større grad ble XTC en hemmelighet for de innvidde, noe som sikkert forklarer samarbeidsvanskelighetene med plateselskapet. I omslagsteksten kan vi lese en nedsettende omtale av en slags ska-versjon av «Life Begins At The Hop», komplett med Sting som klappet i hendene, som skulle ta dem inn på det amerikanske markedet. Heller ikke stjerneprodusenten Todd Rundgren maktet dette - hans Utopia-studio beskrives her som «et skur utenfor New York».

«Coat Of Many Cupboards» bekrefter at XTC hadde fortjent en sentral plass i nyere rockehistorie. Her kommer bortimot geniale sanger på rekke og rad, strålende melodier med tekster som er et lite kapittel for seg. Vi får også høre et par låter fra pseudonymbandet Dukes Of Stratosfear. Og selv om det som oftest er Andy Partridge som snakker for XTC er det verdt å huske at det var Colin Moulding som skrev «Making Plans For Nigel», «Life Begins At The Hop», «Generals & Majors» & «Grass». Disse er minst like fine som Partridges «Dear God», «Sgt. Rock» og «Peter Pumpkinhead»

«Coat Of Many Cupboards» er først og fremst et redskap for viderekomne venner av gruppa. Fire plater med en lang rekke alternative versjoner av sangene deres er ikke for hvem som helst, men så kan en vel heller ikke vente at hvem som helst går og kjøper en gavepakke med XTC med en gang. For nybegynnere anbefales heller singelsamlingen «Fossile Fuel». De sa det best selv i en av sine aller første sanger - «This Is Pop».

© 2002 Dagsavisen.

Record Buyer and Music Collector
April 2002
Reviews

- A Coat of Many Cupboards (Virgin)

Hailing from Swindon, XTC were making waves as early as 1979 with angular pop music that reaped chart success whilst making plans for Nigel. They stopped touring in 1982 - main cog Andy Partridge developed stage fright - but over the last two decades they have continued to make brilliant music. Put together by Partridge and long-time foil Colin Moulding, this 4CD set will delight their loyal fans.

They shy away from cobbling previously available moments from their albums and have dug out demos, unreleased material, live tracks and different mixes. Those who know the ornate perfection of 'The Mayor Of Simpleton' will delight in the sparse original idea laid down as a mere acoustic demo. 'King For A Day' on the other hand sounds wonderful even in its basic drum machine-driven form.

Nice to see two tracks from their alter egos the Dukes of Stratosphear whose retro psyche styling laid down a carpet for later textural pop that wrestled with the Beach Boys sound - and won. Just listen to 'Chalkhills And Children' and 'The Disappointed.' Prankish as always, there are two hidden tracks including 'The Ballad Of The Wanking Man.' A great box from a, uh, 'seminal' band.

[Thanks to Paul Rodgers]


Ananova
March 25, 2002

New albums out on March 25

XTC

A Coat Of Many Cupboards

EMI

Tired of carrying your umpteen XTC records around with you everywhere you go? Well, fans can rejoice, because their chunky back catalogue has been condensed into this sleek, four-disc boxset.

Every aspect of Andy Partridge and his progressive pop band's varied career is covered here, including all their biggest hits. From their debut single of 1979, Life At The Hop, past the gentle rural melodies of Love On A Farmboy's Wages off their Mummer album, right up to 1992's little-heard Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead, they're all here.

In between, the compilers have sieved-out all the best album tracks, including cuts from XTC's psychedelic alter egos, The Dukes Of Stratosphear, making this the most comprehensive overview of the career of one of the UK's most underrated bands.

Copyright © 2002 Ananova Ltd


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26 January 2013