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Entertainment News : Pop Music


A Garden of Earthly XTC Delights

October 22, 2006
9-CD SET: Andy Partridge of XTC says he was sick of bootleggers selling demos and rare recordings.

XTC fans can celebrate a sumptuous new musical offering from Andy Partridge, leader of the British band: He's releasing a nine-CD box set — eight volumes of the collected "Fuzzy Warbles" demos with a bonus disc — on his own record label, Ape House Records.

The material covers nearly 30 years — from cloudy cassette versions of early XTC songs to fully realized masters. Some tracks are early versions of songs that were never released; others are goofy experiments.

"I was sick of the bootleggers selling demos and rare recordings," he said from his home in England. "I never made a great deal of money in the business, [so I decided to] bootleg myself. That way I can remix something cleaner if it's muddy."

The collection serves a dual purpose — as a home-recording primer, with an accompanying booklet detailing every piece of equipment used; and as the diary of a songwriter's growth.

"I never intended it to be like that," he says. "It's more like a chart on a schoolroom wall . . . looking through layers of geological cake."

XTC has maintained a cult following spanning several generations, particularly among musicians. The early, choppy, visceral sound has been reproduced by such contemporary bands as Franz Ferdinand, the Futureheads and Blur. Partridge himself might be the most perceptive pop chronicler of Anglian life since Ray Davies, but the group's live performances, aside from a handful of TV and radio appearances, ended in 1982.

"We were poisoned by the amount we were obliged to do," says Partridge.

"Bands are a gang thing," he says. "Up to 25, you have that gang mentality, that energy. . .

"Look," he says, "bands either make great records or great shows. Never both."

Casey Dolan

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