Reviews: XTC: Go 2
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H-Block 101
Music Review Archive
May 2001

Karl's last 3 albums
Gang of Four - Entertainment!

Midnight Oil - Head Injuries

XTC - Go 2
This band is pure genius when it comes to writing songs. Quirky chords and fantastic energy. Only their second album (1978, I think), so production is still nice and raw. The mid 80s saw XTC really change their sound, so don't judge them on their later stuff - the first 4 albums are all killer. Takes a few listens to get into it, but those kind of albums are the ones that you end up liking the most. Lyrically, some of the songs are throwaway, but interesting in their approach. Apparently after 1983 (?) Andy Partridge, the singer/guitarist, developed stagefright and never played live again!

Trouser Press
circa 1978

XTC, Go 2 (Virgin) 9+

XTC's first album, White Music, released earlier this year, was a stunning debut from a band that defies easy labeling. Such was the mixture of what you could call "commercial" pop -- bouncy rhythms, easily memorable hooks -- and clever, more progressive ideas usually associated with an anti- or non-commercial musical outlook -- subtle melodic (and amelodic) twists; harsh, abrupt changes of notes and chords; general complexity. As Roxy music was to "glitter" in 1972, so, it seemed was XTC to 1978's new wave: bolder, better musically developed, more willing to experiment and more capable of transferring their ideas into music than almost any of their contemporaries.

Go 2 pretty much abandons, or more to the point, obscures the obvious commercial elements present on White Music to concentrate on the less accessible side of XTC (a point hammered home by the exclusion of their latest single, "Are You Receiving Me?" from the LP). The result is a sometimes jarring, sometimes beautiful, sometimes annoyingly calculated and mechanical collection of songs, or rather, sounds (because they seem more important than the actual songs) that consistently challenge a listener to react to both its differences from and its underlying similarities to most other rock music.

It is essentially a cold, industrial sounding music, that begs comparison not to other British bands (except maybe early Roxy Music), but to the current rumbling out of O-hi-o from Devo and Pere Ubu. In fact, a good case can be made for XTC being the real Devo, stripped of bogus theoretical posturings and silly costumes: their line-ups are similar (XTC has one guitarist, Devo two) and the music mines much the same turf, only XTC are light years ahead of Devo in carrying out the musical implications of their modern technological vision. Whether the same people who are lapping up the devolutionary hokum can distinguish the real thing minus the fancy packaging remains to be seen.

Incidentally, the first 50,000 copies pressed come with a mini-album featuring five of the songs redone utilizing the reggae "dub" technique of rearranging the studio mix to create a totally different version. It may be impossible to find, but it's exceptionally interesting if you can get hold of it.

-- Dave Schulps

© 1974-1984 Ira A. Robbins. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
[Thanks to Fast 'n' Bulbous]

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23 January 2021