Apple Venus Volume 1 (COOKCD172)
Homespun (COOKCD188)
Wasp star (Apple Venus Volume 2) (COOKCD194)

All re-issued on 3rd March 2003

Monday 3rd March saw the re-issue of three XTC albums - Apple Venus Volume 1, Homespun and Wasp star. The albums have the suggested retail price of £5.99 for CD/LP and £2.99 for cassette.

XTC (comprising the song-writing core duo of Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding) signed to Cooking Vinyl in 1997. One of the most admired and fascinating British bands of the last three decades, Partridge's lyrics place him alongside Ray Davies as one of the UK's most imaginative songwriters, whilst their musical style exposes a love of all things English and draws on angular melody, pure pop psychedelia, rural folk and Sixties beat.

Partridge and Moulding conceived the idea of presenting two contrasting sides to XTC over two albums in rapid succession prior to 1998. Essentially, they had amassed a whole range of songs (four album's worth, in truth) that conceptually fell into two categories. The critically acclaimed 'Apple Venus Volume 1' (released in 1999 and their first album since 1992) abandoned normal form for experimental sounding songs, intricate orchestrations and complex vocal overdubs, whilst 'Wasp Star' (released 2000) starts out with simple song structures and then embellishes them with inventive melodies, beautifully crafted vocals and brain twisting lyricism. Homespun, also released in 1999, is a collection of home demos from the Apple Venus Volume 1 sessions which were recorded at the respective homes of the songwriters, on either 8 track cassette, 8 track reel to reel or 8 track digital recorders.

XTC released 10 albums for Virgin Records in the years prior to 'Apple Venus Volume 1', having ridden in on the coast-tails of punk with the punchy, jerky, angular rhythms of 'White Music' in 1978 and 'Go2' the same year. A brace of albums with producer Steve Lillywhite extended their range and reputation further - the first of these ('Drum And Wires') earned the band its first Top 20 hit with 'Making Plans For Nigel' in 1979. Further hits followed, 'Generals And Majors', 'Sgt Rock (Is Going To Help Me)' and 'Senses Working Overtime' among them. They dispensed with Lillywhite's services for 1982's 'English Settlement' (one of several contenders as their masterpiece) and from this period on became known for their variety, notoriety, ingenuity and originality. It was also one of the albums that truly extended their reputation in America, 'Skylarking' being the other. 'Skylarking' was produced by Todd Rundgren, working mostly at his Woodstock, NY studio. It spent over six months on the US charts.

From here on, through albums such as the aforementioned 'Skylarking' (1986) and 'Oranges And Lemons' (1989) and 'Nonsuch' (1992), not to mention the Dukes Of Stratosphear experiments with psychedelia, XTC continued to set their own high standards. Their music was invariably impossible to categorise. Had they chosen to conform to writing straight pop songs they would undeniably have sold 10 times as many records as they did. Instead they always went their own way, living by their own rules and producing music that ranged from pure pop to psychedelia, from textured folk to orchestral majesty.

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