Reviews: XTC: Fossil Fuel: The XTC Singles 1977-92

Few English bands have inspired such devoted love and commercial failure in equally huge amounts. Perhaps now's the time, with Crash Test Dummies covering their songs, an LP in the pipeline and a new generation to misunderstand their name, for Andy Partridge to be recognised as the The Supreme Being of Pop. Or not. Either way you can't go wrong with this bogglingly big compilation (31 tracks), which, being singles-driven, emphasises XTC in jolly bouncy pop mode.
-- Andy Robson, Maxim, circa 1996


Den enda invändningen skulle vara att The Dukes of Stratosphear är psykedeliskt frånvarande. Annars är denna dubbel-cd med Swindons bidrag till musikhistorien en guldgruva, fylld av intelligent musik, som både är pophistoriskt intressant och högst levande. Bra pop håller länge.
-- PM JÖNSSON, GPs skivguide, Göteborgs-Posten, 20/9 -96, Copyright © Göteborgs-Posten

Betyg: * * * * *


Deluxe
July/August 1998

THE REAL 100 BEST ALBUMS EVER

Ah, lists. Nick Hornby wrote a book about them. And it wasn't as good as the one about football. Funny, isn't it, how the same old names come up in every one of those absolute, final, definitive accounts of The Best Album Ever Made Bar None? The Beatles. The Stones. And Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys, a record most people have never heard and most would detest if they did. The truth is, most of us are terrified of feeling uncool and so we vote for the record we think we ought to - which usually means some big celeb-endorsed rock achievement. The ones we really like, the daft or truly joyful pop albums, get left by the wayside.

Not here. The Deluxe 100 is compiled by excluding the acts that get on all the other lists. It doesn't matter how good Radiohead or Neil Young or Zep or the Floyd are. They're not getting in. Instead, here are the records whose contribution to human happiness and the life of the booty goes unrecorded. It is heavy on that most despised but useful medium for recorded music, the compilation album, and it has one useful bonus - you can pick up most of these CDs second-hand for about four quid, and they'll still rock your world.

And at number 64 -

Fossil Fuel - The XTC singles 1977-1982 [sic] - XTC

They were Blur before Blur were Blur, and XTC songs are so whistleable that most of them have whistling on them in the first place. Includes: Making Plans for Nigel


Akers Mic
June 1997

Hvorfor kaller Yan Friis denne samleplaten "pop for hjernen?"

XTC:
Fossil Fuel: The XTC Singles Collection 1977-1992 (Virgin)
2CD

Ifølge Andy Partridge er Swindon et høl, byen der ingenting hender og som ikke har noen ting å være stolt av. Han påstår til og med at fotballaget Swindon en gang møtte 11 søppelspann, og tapte. Falsk beskjedenhet kaller vi slikt. Swindon er byen som fødte XTC, et av de mest originale og uforutsigbare poporkestre England har levert siden The Beatles. I deres plater finner man også videreføringen av The Kinks' døsige, magiske hverdags-vignetter fra 60-tallet.

De debuterte i 1977 som et krakilsk forsøk på å låte rasende punkt. Men selv ikke deres mest velmente selvredusering ned til to-akkords bråk klarte å skjule den art school pregede lekenheten som lå og holdt pusten i bakgrunnen og bare ventet på en sjanse til å sprette ut av høytalerne som ett tusen mangefarvede gummiballer.

Allerede på gjennombruddssinglen "Life Begins At The Hop" (nr. 54 i 1979), hadde XTC store problemer med å holde seg til larmen. Sangen lurte seg ut hit og den lurte seg ut dit, og før vi (og de) visste ordet av det var neste single ute: "Making Plans For Nigel". Og XTC så seg aldri tilbake. "Nigel..." er rar, vridd, gnurende innpåsliten, med vers som omtrent går deg på nervene, men lagt på en etterhengende, nesten skjødesløst poengtert rytme som bare fikk deg til å gape. Hva i all verdens rike var dette for noe?

Å kalle XTC et band er kanskje å gå litt langt. Det tok ikke lange tiden før Andy Partridge rev til seg kapteinsbindet. Hans eneste utfordrer, Colin Moulding (mannen bak nettopp "Nigel..."), aksepterte 2. fiolinen fordi han rett og slett ikke klarte å matche Partridges produktivitet. Han mangler også sjefens svært intellektuelle evner til ordlek, tankesprang og presisjon (slik de kommer til uttrykk i de ofte ganske syrlige tekstene). Men han er viktig for miksen i XTCs plater. Jeg tror 45 minutter med Andy Partridge alene kan bli ganske slitsomt.

XTC ble aldri så store som sitt potensiale. Deres eneste TOP 10-slager, "Senses Working Overtime", kom tidlig i 1982, og siden har de omtrent ikke vært i nærheten av hitlistene.

Årsakene er sikkert mange. I punk/new wave-perioden fremsto de absolutt som en beslektet, men utrolig etterlengtet farveklatt. Kastet ut blant 80-tallets posører og billig programmerte dansepop, havnet de ganske langt ut på siden. XTC krever rett og slett for mye av deg, selv om de arbeider på popfabrikken. Man kan jo også innvende at Partridge & Co. nok matcher Beatles' uortodokse forhold til hvordan en poplåt skal se ut og hvilke midler man kan tillate seg å bruke. Men de greier ikke å lage melodier som er så sterke at de bærer alle de rare påfunnene inn i de tusen hjem. Ikke har de det samme eventyrlige vokal-materialet å øse av heller.

Det forringer ikke gruppens rikholdige og mangslungne produksjon. Det bare forklarer hvorfor den ikke er blitt folkeeie.

Den nye doble CD'en er et dokument over Swindons eneste stolthet. 31 låter (fra 1977 til 1992) som burde vært verdensslagere nesten alle sammen, om Gud hadde villet. Men det ville han ikke, og derfor ble han tildelt sin egen sang "Dear God", som definitivt ikke står på playlisten i Himmerik.

Få vil han glede av å eie XTC komplett, rett skal være rett, men ingen har vondt av denne fine dobbel-CD'en.

by Yan Friis / Copyright 1997 Akers Mic Online / Reproduced by permission.


Start!
v1.0 1997
recensioner

XTC: Fossil Fuel -
The XTC Singles 1977-92

(Virgin)
* * * *

Virgin har åter gett ut en samling XTC-singlar. Sedan tidigare finns "Waxworks/Beeswax: Some Singles/B-sides 1977-82" (1982) och "The Compact XTC: The Singles 1978-85" (1987). "Fossil Fuel", som av konvolutet att döma inte har gjorts under medverkan av XTC själva, vänder sig till två typer av lyssnare (förutom de fanatiska XTC-fansen). De som sporadiskt följt XTC och de som aldrig hört dem. Till dessa har jag bara ett råd. Köp! Hyser man den minsta kärlek till klassisk brittisk pop finns det ingen anledning att tveka. Här finns ett hyfsat tvärsnitt av bandets karriär. Från intensiv powerpop under det sena 70-talet till 80- och 90-talets mer sofistikerade låtar. En utveckling som aldrig inneburit kvalitativa bottennapp. XTC:s adelsmärke är i stället en hög och jämn nivå på musik och texter. Det enda som kan tänkas störa de som är helt obekanta med XTC är 80-talsproduktionernas plastiga ljud.

Problemet med skivan är att den verkar ha gjorts med vänsterhanden. Eftersom det redan finns två singelsamlingar borde Virgin gett oss en mer komplett bild av XTC. Även om singlarna generellt är bra saknar jag utmärkta b-sidor som "Blame the Weather" (1982) och "In Loving Memory of a Name" (1983), liksom albumspår som den Brian Wilson-doftande "Chalkhills and Children" (1989). Med på skivan finns heller inga av de jazzinfluerade låtar som funnits på alla album från början av 80-talet och framåt. Det saknas också exempel på bandets mer experimentella sida samt något från deras psykadeliska projekt, "The Dukes of Stratosphear".

Det är alltså inte hela XTC:s förmåga som lyfts fram på "Fossil Fuel". Men innehållet räcker gott som introduktion till bandet och inte minst i väntan på nästa album som lär komma senare i höst eller i vår.

Fredrik Sandgren

© 1997 IGUANAMAGASIN


Sydney Morning Herald
circa 1996


XTC
Fossil Fuel: The XTC Singles
1977-92
(Virgin)
****

Gem after gem after gem. For those who have two or maybe three peaks of interest in XTC (Making Plans for Nigel, Senses Working Overtime and Dear God), this collection will leave you wondering what you have been doing for the past 18 years to have missed out on so many great pop tunes. Here is the whole story (well, the whole story as told to seven-inch vinyl anyway). We go from 1977's Science Friction and Are You Receiving Me (not-quite-punks who played fast to obscure the fact that they had better songs than real punks), to 1992's The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead and The Disappointed (almost-obscurists who just pumped out fab English-soaked extensions of The Beach Beatles Boys ... or something like that). In between it's a parade of pretty songs such as Ten Feet Tall (here in its American, acoustic version) and Grass, brittle beat-group beauties such as Generals and Majors and the slew of gorgeous, decorative numbers from the 1980s/early-'90s such as Love On A Farmboy's Wages, The Mayor Of Simpleton and, of course, Dear God. The missing fifth star is because the angular and exploratory sides of the band aren't shown here. But put this on at a party soon and watch the smiles. *BZ


[Thanks to Graeme Wong See]


MOO, Columbus, Ohio
December 1996

XTC FOSSIL FUELS VIRGIN UK

This 2-disc set is XTC's last output on Virgin, their home since the dawn of punk in 1977. Mounting band/record company tension has worn down the relationship so much that Virgin has seen fit to release only one new XTC album this decade. FF reeks of contractual obligation as there's not even one new song included. There are no witty liner notes or production credits or jovial looks back from the band. Just two Cds and some words. The motivations for this compilation make be stained with the vileness of corporate devilry, but we might as well enjoy the scenery while we're here.

From the firm 'n fruity "Science Friction" to the limp and langorous "Wrapped In Grey," every single XTC single appears here. Most folks know XTC from the annoying counting song "Senses Working Overtime," or the career-saving "Dear God." Maybe you remember the revoltingly dull "Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead." Or perhaps your band used to cover "Making Plans For Nigel" before Primus. Maybe you've heard "Generals And Majors" on the radio. But even the tracks you've never heard before will sound familiar due to XTC's far-reaching influence on the world of modern rock music. No, really.

Though it's hard to imagine anyone but a seasoned collector (who'll already have the 7" vinyl versions of all of these singles) paying the 30 tacos for an import copy of FF, this set provides an excellent overview of XTC's irritatingly wonderful singles output and lays the foundation for the next stage of their career: the REALLY fucking good stuff."


Exclaim!

XTC
FOSSIL FUEL: THE XTC SINGLES 1977-92
(VIRGIN)

XTC was never the flashiest of the bands to emerge out of the British New Wave - only one of the most eccentric - nor the most demanding of attention or the most media-savvy, so initially the idea of a double CD XTC singles collection may seem a tad presumptuous, or just more evidence of their eccentricity. But immersing oneself in this compilation quickly justifies the breadth and depth with which they (or Virgin) have chosen to represent themselves. For the first decade of its existence, XTC was a phenomenally prolific group, cranking out one loopy power pop hit after another, hits that have so subtly become the soundtrack for alternative kids who came of age in the late '70s and early '80s that hearing them all in one place is a bit of revelation. Fossil Fuel does not cast nearly so favourable a light on their post-Skylarking days, when XTC became increasingly dominated by leaden, self-important production and Andy Partridge's pretensions toward being a bardic conscience of his generation speaking in parables, allegories and whatever other clumsy rhetorical ploys were within his reach. The evangelical atheism of "Dear God" was just the top of a very slippery slope. And that leads us to perhaps Fossil Fuel's most surprising revelation: while XTC became largely identified with Andy Partridge, almost all of what I think of as their best songs, with the exception of "Senses Working Overtime," were written by Colin Moulding: "Life Begins At The Hop," "Making Plans For Nigel," "Ten Feet Tall," "Generals and Majors," "Wonderland" and "Grass." Sure, songs like "Life Begins At The Hop" grew right out of the British pub rock tradition with its big football-style chorus, but by the time he was penning "Wonderland" and "Grass," Moulding was perfecting a lush and deliciously wonky take on pop weaned on late Lennon and McCartney that stands up a whole lot better today than "All You Pretty Girls," for example. As a chronicle of a band and a songwriter that have been taken too much for granted, then, Fossil Fuel, even as it tails off near the end of the second disc, is pretty indispensable.

by Chris Wodskou


Morgenbladet
29.11.96
Kulturkanalen

XTC: Fossil Fuel (Virgin Records)

XTC viser frem sinmesterlige pop for annen gang.

This is pop

Mer tak er det i XTC. Men, så har da også dette trekløveretspilt på andre fakter og strenger enn punkens egentligegrunnlegger. Andy Partridge, Colin Moulding og Barry Andrews/Dave Gregory startet i punkperioden, og spilte da også noe tilnærmethelt i starten, med sporet fort av og endte opp med en slags intelligent, kritisk og vittig form for erkebritisk pop. Og der har de medhell vært siden. Med en nesten uovertruffen evne til åskrive enkle, gode låter og syrlige tekster skulle det daogså mye til for ikke å slå gjennom føreller siden. At de ikke har klart det til nå, sier ganskeenkelt hvor lite de forsøker. Rene frierier som «All You Pretty Girls», «Grass» og «Senses Working Overtime»er klare signaler om at disse guttene utmerket godt kunne, menaldri egentlig har ønsket å slå ordentlig gjennom. Kanskje ligger noe av forklaringen i det at de ikke ønskerå være kjendiser eller å leve livet påturné. De oppgav turneringen allerede i 1982, og de harvalgt å forbli i det falleferdige Swindon, et viktig jernbaneknutepunkti England for svært lenge siden. Videre er det jo klartat foreldre ikke handler inn XTC-album til barna, når tekstersom påstått blasfemiske «Dear God» og samfunnskritiske «Making Plans for Nigel» gis ut som singler for åpromotere dem. Andy Partridge & co. er kommet dit de ville. Nå selger platene på et jevnt, godt nivå. Dogkunne de kanskje tenke seg et noe høyere salg og litt merinntekt uten å jobbe livet av seg av den grunn. Sjeldenkommer man over et bedre utvalg på et samlealbum, som herfavner over to CD'er. XTC har en imponerende katalog å taav, og det eneste minus måtte vel være at den førstedelen av repertoaret er kommet som samlealbum tidligere. Men, hvem bryr seg om det. This is pop, som XTC selv formulerer det.

Thor Lynneberg


The West Australian
28/11/96
Revue

All of XTC's singles can be found on this double disc of 31 tracks, starting with Science Friction and ending in Wrapped in Grey. Sandwiched in between are some of the best pop songs to emerge from the UK, predating the whole Brit-pop thing by the best part of a decade. Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding's songwriting talents are never questionable, with classic song after classic song filling up this album.

Also featured are Statue of Liberty, Making Plans For Nigel, The Disappointed, Great Fire, Love on a Farmboys Wages and Dear God. Forget the other best of albums out for Christmas, this is a historical document that deserves a place in everyone's CD collection. You have been warned. (* * * * * * * * *  )

Alistair Moffat


Real Groove, New Zealand
November 1996

XTC
Fossil Fuel - The XTC singles 1977-92 (Virgin)

reviewed by Ilmar Taimre

XTC emerged during the 70s punk movement, playing itchy and scratchy pop for white Britons on speed. Their first four singles date from 1977-78, and sum up the edgy pop-punk sound of XTC at the beginning. But these lads soon outgrew the throwaway trash ethic that helped to spawn them. The writing was on the wall with their sixth single "Making plans for Nigel", which turned into a top 10 hit in 1979. Over the years that followed, XTC's singles rarely reached the single digits in the charts. And small wonder. Their music was simply too good, too incredibly well crafted... and okay maybe a bit too eccentric, to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Scanning the list of tracks on this double CD compilation reveals just how many archetypically Brit-pop classics XTC have been responsible for. "Generals and Majors" and "Towers of London" reveal that XTC are part of a British musical heritage which reaches back to the Kinks at their late 60s best. "Love at first sight" reminds us that our very own Split Enz were charting a similarly quirky course in the early 80s. "Great fire" opens the second CD of this set; with more than a passing nod to psychedelic-era Beatles, this must surely be one of the best "pop singles" ever released. And so it goes... If you don't have the original albums this is an excellent place to discover XTC... or to remember just how superb they were. One packaging criticism - the liner notes give us all the lyrics, but absolutely nothing about recording dates, musician credits or the usual discographical details - there can be no excuse for this omission. The good news is that, after a three-year lull involving legal wrangles with their record company, XTC are poised to enter the studio again - the word on Respectable Street is that the demos are just as sublime as ever. (9/10)

Real Groove is a Real Groovy Promotions publication. All rights reserved © 1996


Chester UK Indie-Pop Zine
November 1996

XTC - Fossil Fuel (The XTC Singles 1977-92)
Virgin

Fossil Fuel is a fitting testament, not an epitaph, for one of Britain's most influential and acclaimed acts. Spread across two CDs is all 31 of XTC's singles from 1977 until 1992 from the skewed songwriting pen of Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding. The first disc begins the proceedings with the ska-bop of 'Science Friction', and new wave 'Statue of Liberty". Things get quirky with 'Making Plans for Nigel', reggae flavoured with 'Wait till your boat goes down' and best of the bunch the classic dark verse, catchy chorus of 'Senses working over Time'. Disc two hits a slow spot for the first five, unremarkable, songs until things pick up with 'Wake Up' and 'Grass', which obviously gave Blur an idea or two, while the spiralling agonistic anthem 'Dear God' stands out not only in content but also in production and execution. Not to say 'The Major of Simpleton' and 'The Loving' off Oranges and Lemons are shabby, but just more typical XTC. The set closes with the polished pop of Nonsuch's 'The Disappointed', 'The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead' and 'Wrapped in Grey' which due to Virgin pulling the single from the shelves led to XTC boycotting the label until now. As such this is to be their final offering for Virgin, with Partridge shopping around for a new contract.

As critical and influential as XTC were to UK music and current Britpop they were never the most consistant of bands, and as such this compliation could have been whitled down to a single, trimmer, disc. Another complaint - while the lyrics and single sleeves are printed there are no dates or linear notes - strange for an officially sanctioned release. That aside, it's well worth a place in any record collection and can be no better summed up than in the track 'This is Pop' - "someone leans in, in my direction / quizzing on my station selection / what do you call that noise, that you put on? / this is pop! yeah yeah". Indeed it is Mr. Partridge, indeed it is.

Caleb Rudd

Rating: * * * 1/2

© 1996 Chester


Time Europe
November 11, 1996
by James Geary

The Agonies of XTC

The British pop band XTC dazzles and delights with a retrospective double CD of their singles

They don't tour, they've never had a number one hit song and they've never won a Grammy. In fact, the British trio XTC (pronounced ecstasy, but unrelated to the recreational drug of the same name) displays none of the traditional trappings of rock and roll stardom. While garnering critical acclaim and a devoted cult following in Europe, the U.S. and Japan, the band has never enjoyed mass appeal or huge commercial success. But with the group's new release - Fossil Fuel: The XTC Singles 1977-1992 - the evidence is there for all to hear: XTC is one of the greatest pop bands since the Beatles.

Founded in 1976 amid the ferment of London's punk explosion, XTC is made up of three working class lads: guitarist and lead singer/songwriter Andy Partridge, bassist and songwriter Colin Moulding, and Dave Gregory on keyboards. Fossil Fuel chronicles the band's evolution from pubescent punk rockers to sophisticated balladeers.

Early XTC songs were three-and-a-half minutes of scratchy guitars and spastic rhythyms, distinctive for their irresistible melodic charm and pungent lyrics. "Life Begins at the Hop", a tongue-in-cheek description of London's punk scene, is the kind of irrepressibly catchy tune you find yourself humming in elevators. The classic "Making Plans for Nigel" parodies bourgeois values by recounting the sorrows of young Nigel, doomed to a grim future in British industry by parents who "only want what's best for him."

Starting in the early 1980s XTC's music became more complex and orchestral - with a whiff of 1960s psychedelia thrown in. In a 1991 interview the reclusive Partridge confessed to suffering from "a Sgt. Pepper's complex." Partridge's most recent compositions combine the songwriting skills of Lennon and McCartney with the poetic sensibilities of Gerald Manley Hopkins. Like the Beatles, Partridge is a master of the sad and lovely ballad. In "Wrapped in Grey" he writes evocatively of how "Some folks see the world as a stone/Concrete dubbed in dull monotone." Like Hopkins, Partridge uses poetic devices such as alliteration and synesthesia to express pastoral beauty: "How colored the flowers all smelled/As they huddled there in petalled prayer." Partridge also pens scathing political broadsides. In "Dear God", he wrestles with the question of faith, concluding "That Father, Son, and Holy Ghost/Is just somebody's unholy hoax." With soulful songs like this, Fossil Fuel testifies to the knack XTC has for making music that moves both body and spirit.

COPYRIGHT © 1996 TIME INC.
[Thanks to James Isaacs]


The Brunswickan
November 1, 1996
Genrecide
by Michael Edwards

Bizarre childhood memories, number three hundred and seventeen: I remember watching tv one Friday afternoon - I know it was a Friday as that was when Crackerjack was on ("It's Friday, it's five to five, and it's Crackerjack !"). At the end of every show, they did a silly play where they managed to work in a couple of hit songs of the time, and this particular week, Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart was doing something terrible to 'Making Plans For Nigel' by XTC. And I remember thinking that it was an unusual tune to pick as XTC were still kind of punky at that point, and not what you'd expect from the BBC. Bizarre.

Of course, that story will mean absolutely nothing to most readers (I do pride myself on keeping things willfully obscure...), but my point is that even back in 1979, XTC could write songs that were so very memorable without compromising themselves. In fact, most of their songs fall into that category, yet their popularity only seems to last for one single at a time. Sigh. So it isn't a surprise that a compilation of their singles has finally seen the light of day. Fossil Fuel features all 31 gems of singles they released, from 1977's jumpy 'Science Friction' to 1992's mournful 'Wrapped In Grey'. Just a very casual listen will demonstrate that the band changed an awful lot over the years. And in retrospect, it also turns out that while XTC was always Andy Partridge's band (and, in my opinion, he wrote their best songs), it turns out that Colin Moulding also knew his way around a song, too. Who knew?

The first disc shows the progression from the early, punky days to the pop sensibilities of such hits as 'Senses Working Overtime', 'Generals And Majors' and, of course, 'Making Plans For Nigel'. But it is on the second disc that the brilliance of XTC really shines through, as they finally manage to blend their many influences, ranging from The Beatles to less obvious psychedelic bands that nobody ever heard of, into a most satisfying blend. From the idiot's love song, 'The Mayor Of Simpleton' to the happily blasphemous 'Dear God', every single song is just wonderful. They may never have got above cult status, and their biggest money-maker to date was The Crash Test Dummies completely unnecessary cover of 'The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead', but Fossil Fuel will hopefully help to make up for lost time. It probably won't, but I've done my part.


Timo Pennanen
October 1996

XTC: Fossil Fuel ­ The XTC Singles 1977­92 (Virgin)

Heti selitys: miksi kokoelma, jossa on laatua ja tasoa enemmän kuin monessa viiden pisteen levyssä yhteensä, saa vain neljä ja puoli? Siksi, että XTC ei parhaimmillaankaan ollut singlebändi. Toki suuri osa ryhmän valiolauluista päätyi sinkuiksi, mutta tuo äänitemuoto on myös tuottanut XTC:lle paljon harmia. 31-raitainen tupla Fossil Fuel on turhaumia huokuva mestariteos.

Kun eri nimillä 70-luvun alusta soitellut swindonilaiskvartetti sai levytyssopimuksen XTC:nä, se niitti kuuluisuutta keikka- ja albumiaktina. Kosketinsoittaja Barry Andrews lähti teilleen juuri ennen kuin kuudennesta sinkusta Making Plans For Nigel tuli hitti. (Minä en ainakaan jäänyt kaipaamaan herran tilutteluja ­ XTC:stä oli muuhunkin kuin vara-Stranglersiksi.) Kun bändi lopultakin näytti saavan ansionsa mukaan, laulaja Andy Partridgen esiintymiskammo siirsi keikka-XTC:n telakalle. Introverteilla älykkörokkareilla ei ollut visuaalisia rahkeita hypätä videoajan British Invasionin mukana maailmansuosioon, joten kohtalona oli väkisinkin sysäytyä juhlahumun sivustakatsojiksi. Virgin sai julkaistavakseen hienoja, mutta myyntipotentiaaliltaan epätasaisia sinkkuja, kunnes luopui 90-luvun puolella toivosta. Yhtye puuhaa nyt paluuta indie-pohjalta.

Olihan XTC:ssäkin omat “vikansa” ­ Partridge ja toinen biisinikkari Colin Moulding olivat sangen suppean skaalan vokalisteja, bändin lavakarisma jäi ainakin Urgh! A Music War -leffan perusteella nolostuttavan lähelle nollaa ja näppäriin teksteihin kaipasi joskus elämänmakua ja liehuvaa liekinvartta. Mutta pojat tiesivät myös vahvuutensa; he olivat maailman paras XTC, nykyperspektiivistä ehkä viimeinen todella persoonallinen brittirockryhmä, joka otti velkaa Beatlesiltä vain silloin kun sitä huvitti.

Vaikka XTC:stä ei ollut punkkareiksi, se hyödynsi tehokkaasti uuden aallon energiapurkaukset. Päästyään eroon Andrewsista orkesteri teki niin jämäkän ja kekseliään lp:n kuin perusrockkokoonpanolla voi eli Black Sean (1980), jonka viidestä raidasta Fossil Fuel lähtee miltei katkottoman komeaan liitoon. Ainoa Top 10-hitti Senses Working Overtime, sinfoninen Great Fire, naivi helkyttely Love On A Farmboy's Wages, rosvoroopekailotus All You Pretty Girls, psykotuhmeliini Grass, jylhästi julistava Dear God... täysosumia, sanalla sanoen. Onhan niitä muitakin sanoja, mutta käyttökelpoisin on tämä: osta.


Beat Magazine - Sydney
30th October 1996

CD of the Week

XTC - Fossil Fuels: the XTC Singles 1977-92 (Virgin)

Various - A Testimonial Dinner: The Songs of XTC (TWA)

The genius of XTC is that, unlike other staple acts of musicality who in the past have been successful in releasing concept albums (Supertramp, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers INXS etc.), XTC are clever in their issuing of individual concept songs. Almost every one of their single releases has come complete with a sleeve matching the song's lyrical theme, while the music intact was just as onomatopoetic [sic], as exemplified perfectly in the cacophonous climax of Great Fire, the playground ambience of Wonderland, the naval war cries of All You Pretty Girls, the psychedelic strands of Grass, and the alarmic electronic stabs of Wake Up.

With clear pop vision, XTC have sailed the pop charts worldwide, especially renowned for their household tunes Making Plans for Nigel, Generals and Majors, Senses Working Overtime, Dear God and The Disappointed, all of which are included on this greatest hits compilation.

So pertinent is the musicology of XTC, their influence is well audible in recent compositions by Blur, Nancy Boy, Pulp, Tears for Fears et al.

In fact, some of XTC's biggest fans in the music industry have been stimulated to record their own versions of x-tatic classics, under the banner of A Testimonial Dinner. To recite the songs in their original form would not only be unwise but impossible, and to mock or mimic would be futile, hence the likes of Spacehog, Crash Test Dummies, The Rembrandts and They Might Be Giants add their own definitive touch to the epic tracks (respectively) Senses Working Overtime, All You Pretty Girls, Making Plans for Nigel, and 25 O'clock. (8.9 out of 10 for the original XTC; 7.5 for their emulators)

Antonio Tati - Beat Magazine


Ola
11th October 1996
Music

Ola's Album of the Week: XTC 'Fossil Fuel' (Virgin)
It's been out a few weeks now but these poor boys really need a plug for their greatest hits compilation. Actually 'greatest hits' would be missing the point - 'collected singles' would be more accurate because the Swindon art-poppers to whom Blur owe EVERYTHING have rarely made an impact on the only chart that counts, or any other chart for that matter. Andy Partridge, XTCs bespectacled lead singer, is one of our premier league songwriters - up their with Lennon, Costello and Ray Davies. Songs as good as 'Senses Working Overtime', 'The Mayor of Simpleton' and 'All The Pretty Girls' deserve to be saved from obscurity. Great songs ... and the CD case has a lovely moulding of a fossil.


Tages-Anzeiger
02.10.96
Kultur

Keine Sprünge mehr

Reprisen von The Heads und XTC

Ohne ihren Anführer David Byrne wirken die Talking Heads sprachlos. XTC ist hingegen schlau genug, ihre Kreativitätsblockade mit einer Singles-Retrospektive zu überbrücken.

VON NICK JOYCE

Die Zersplitterung der heutigen Musikszene verunmöglicht den Überblick und löst ein Gefühl der Stagnation aus. Weil allfällige Innovationen von immer kleiner werdenden Publikumssegmenten wahrgenommen werden, wird ihre potentielle Wirkung gebremst. Anfang der achtziger Jahre schien das internationale Musikgeschehen noch laufend Quantensprünge zu erleben, was auf die Punk-Bewegung zurückzuführen war. Sie versuchte die ihr vorangegangene Popkultur zu negieren, und wer bei null beginnt, macht unweigerlich schnelle Entwicklungen durch.

Repräsentativ für die damalige Aufbruchstimmung war die Musik der amerikanischen Talking Heads, die die Regeln der Rockmusik konsequent auf den Kopf stellten. Unter der Leitung des Frontmanns David Byrne machte das Quartett urbanes Unbehagen zum zentralen Thema ihrer eindringlichen Popnummern, später liessen sie afrikanische Rhythmen in ihre Musik einfliessen und verknüpften so Neurotisches und Ekstatisches. Ende des letzten Jahrzehnts löste Byrne die Gruppe auf; unter dem Namen The Heads wagen seine ehemaligen Weggefährten nun einen Neuanfang. "No Talking Just Head" heisst ihr programmatisch betiteltes erstes Album, das mit einem Grossaufgebot an Gastsängern und -sängerinnen eingespielt wurde, aber nur darum eigenständig wirkt, weil es vergessene Klischees aus der Populärmusik der achtziger Jahre neu aufbereitet.

Detachiert und doch dominant wirken die Arrangements, die den Gesang von Maria McKee oder Gordon Gano zu blosser Schattierung innerhalb der musikalischen Grautöne degradieren. Von den zwölf Gehversuchen auf "No Talking Just Head" sind nur gerade zwei von wirklichem Interesse. Der irische Punk-Dandy Gavin Friday besticht durch schiere Charakterstärke, und auch Andy Partridge von der englischen Band XTC gelingt es, dem falschen Funk der Heads seinen Stempel aufzudrücken.

Mit Byrne hat Partridge auch einiges gemeinsam: eine grossartige, aber wenig schöne Stimme, ein Flair für ungelenke Melodien und eine Begeisterung für exotische Musik. Die Singles-Zusammenstellung "Fossil Fuel" dokumentiert die Entwicklung seiner XTC von einer sperrigen Popgruppe zu einer narrenfreien Studioformation, die sich mühelose Ausflüge in Richtung Akustik-Folk und mechanischem Reggae erlauben konnte. Allerdings ist auch XTC kreativ in Schwierigkeiten geraten: Ihr letztes Werk, "Nonsuch", liegt um die vier Jahre zurück; Quantensprünge können eben nicht auf alle Ewigkeit geleistet werden.

The Heads: No Talking Just Head (Radioactive/MCA MCD 11501)
XTC: Fossil Fuel (Virgin 841983, zwei CD)


MOJO
September 1996
Reviews

XTC
Fossil Fuel: Singles 1977-92: 2cd

Reviewed: September 1996
Genre: Rock & Pop
MOJO price: £12.99

Arguably the most intense and most intensely English musical experience to have arisen from the brief heyday of the new wave that succeeded punk, XTC have always been too individual ever to fit in with any passing fashion. Even the early singles, when the band was being touted as part of the new wave, revealed a lyrical intelligence, ironic whimsy and a musical scope that clearly didn't belong anywhere outside of Andy Partridge's private universe. Rather than fitting into a convenient marketing niche, it was essential for Partridge and Co to appeal to like-minded souls of which, fortunately, there have always been enough to keep the band afloat, even when the record industry didn't know where to find them.

With only three UK Top 20 entries - Making Plans For Nigel, Sgt Rock and Senses Working Overtime - there's not a lot here that will be immediately familiar to anyone beyond existing devotees. As a result, rather than providing the instant nostalgia bath that most singles collections offer, this functions best as a wide open front door into a rich and diverse musical mansion than can, otherwise, seem a tad daunting to casual visitors.

Although outrageously quirky and thought-provoking by the standards of most chart-contenders, XTC singles have nevertheless generally been their most accessible tracks so, if these glorious confections appeal, maybe you're ready for total immersion in the rest of the back catalogue. All that's missing from this set are the singles recorded under XTC's psychedelic '60s alter-ego, The Dukes Of Stratosphear, and the one-off double-A side with The Ruts, Take This Town.

Reviewed by Johnny Black

© Copyright EMAP Digital Limited 2001.


MOW
1996

XTC
Fossil Fuel

Nati nel momento culminante dell'ondata punk, gli XTC, grazie alle eccezionali doti di compositori di Andy Partridge e Colin Moulding (la formazione è completata da Dave Gregory), hanno continuato a riscuotere successo di pubblico e costanti riconoscimenti da parte della critica per tutti gli anni Ottanta e fino ai primi Novanta.

Il doppio CD Fossil Fuel - The XTC Singles Collection 1977-1992 contiene 31 brani: per la prima volta tutto il materiale del gruppo pubblicato sotto forma di singolo viene raccolto in un'unica antologia; la rassegna è completata da tre bonus tracks (due pezzi mai usciti come singoli, Ten Feet Tall e Love At First Sight, e uno pubblicato solo a fini promozionali, Wrapped In Grey) e comprende due canzoni non incluse in album degli XTC, Wait Till Your Boat Goes Down e Dear God. Ordinato cronologicamente, il repertorio prende avvio dalle prime uscite, poi inserite in White Music (1978), per attraversare l'intera discografia del gruppo - 10 album in totale - fino al lavoro di più recente pubblicazione, Nonsuch (1992). Tra i brani più noti presentati nell'antologia ricordiamo Statue Of Liberty e This Is Pop da White Music, Generals And Majors e Sgt. Rock da Black Sea, Grass da Skylarking, The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead da Nonsuch.

Al momento gli XTC stanno completando i provini del materiale scritto per un nuovo album.

La storia del gruppo ebbe inizio nel 1977, con una formazione composta da Andy Partridge, Terry Chambers, Barry Andrews e Colin Moulding. Il primo album, White Music, risale al gennaio 1978; in rapida successione uscirono Go 2 e Drums And Wires, facendo del gruppo un piccolo mito in Gran Bretagna, protagonista della fase post-punk/new wave. Andrews fu sostituito da Dave Gregory. Nel 1980 venne pubblicato Black Sea, autentico capolavoro cui seguì nel 1982 l'eccellente English Settlement, sperimentale e di risonanza internazionale. Gli XTC abbandonarono l'attività dal vivo nell'82; nel 1983 se ne andò Chambers. Ad album sempre più raffinati e affascinanti (Mummer, The Big Express, Skylarking) si affiancarono le invenzioni psichedeliche, tra ironia e celebrazione, di una propaggine "acida" degli XTC, i Dukes Of Stratosfear [sic] (25 O'Clock, Psonic Psunspot). Con Oranges And Lemons (1989) il gruppo tributò un sentito omaggio ai Beatles.

SETTEMBRE 1996


Rip It Up
1996

A typical piece of humorous self-depreciation for the title from Andy Partridge, and Fossil Fuel is a double CD re-visit to the quintessentially English and eccentric pop created by these four punks from Swindon. The 31 songs on display are not only singles, they're also a representative overview of the best songs penned by Partridge and his trusty songwriting sidekick, Colin Moulding. Always the reliable melodic McCartney to Partridge's unpredictable edgy Lennon, Moulding wrote some lovely stuff, and 'Ten Feet Tall', 'Generals and Majors', and the very Neil Finn-ish 'Wonderland', certainly haven't been dimmed by the passage of time. The victim of several nervous breakdowns, Partridge's songs were often strung out between depressions like 'Wait Till Your Boat Goes Down', and strident social reflections such as 'Respectable Street' and 'Great Fire'. And yet he could come up with fine uplifting love songs like 'The Mayor of Simpleton', and on his early classic 'This Is Pop', he asks the perennial older generation question, 'What do you call that noise that you put on?' Just great pop son.


Roch On Music
1996
By Roch Parisien

One of those great lost British pop bands, adored by critics and cult following alike yet always managing to elude anything resembling sustained commercial appeal, two-disc set Fossil Fuel: The XTC Singles 1977-92 (Virgin/EMI) collects 15 years-worth of XTC's excellent, intelligent, engaging-with-a-barbed-hook single releases. Covering the early dissident pop of "Are You Receiving Me" and "Life Begins At The Hop," lurching hit single "Making Plans for Nigel," sheer perfection of "Senses Working Overtime," pastoral flavor of "Love On A Farmboy's Wages" and "Grass," semi-controversial agnostic anthem "Dear God," and gentle psychedelia of "The Loving," this meticulous 31-track set delivers most everything a neophyte needs to know while delighting even long-time fans by sequencing every single in chronological order. Booklet includes lyrics but, regrettably, no discography or biographical notes.


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