Melody Maker

Nice to see you back, old fruit!

● Everything in the garden is lovely . . . we hope.

THE GARDEN is blooming, the fruit is almost tantalisingly ripe, and in a couple of months will fall plumb into the eager hands of a few hundred thousand XTC fans.

Having weathered the storm of losing drummer Terry Chambers, XTC are now applying the finishing touches to their sixth album, which goes under the working title of Fallen From The Garden.

Explained Andy Partridge: “We think of our songs as fruit, grown from seeds as ideas, ready to plop off into your lap.”

He said the album was at the moment on the soft side, though they plan to “remix some of the guts back into it” over the next few weeks.

It will contain, he says, his best ever song . . . Beating Of The Hearts. “Lyrically and musically, it's the best I've ever done. I get the sort of shiver listening to it that I get from our best material.”


Hearing snatches of the new stuff, it is obvious there has been another change of direction, veering this time towards a more keyboard dominated sound: not the boppy sympathy things clogging up the charts, but lush, verdant layers of sound, often tailored and schemed emphasise the subject matter of songs.


Andy describes the spicily oriental Wonderland as “psychedelic Stevie Wonder.” Gold, with its rude trombone, could be a theme for James Bond. And of Great Fires — possibly the next single — he says: “It sounds like a piece from Oliver.”

It sounds like a hit single to me.

Human Alchemy, is slavery from the slavers' point of view. An epic soundalike soundtrack, you can almost sense the pain and misery of the brutal subject in hand.

Other titles include Love On A Farm Boy's Wages, Deliver Us From The Elements, In Loving Memory Of A Name, and Frost Circus.

Terry's place was taken by former Glitter Band drummer Peter Phipps.

Terry's departure was a blow. They were used to his rhythmic style and feel — most important in laying down the skeletal structure for new songs.

Having married an Australian girl, he quit Swindon for a permanent place in the sunny Antipodes telling the new slim-lined band he was sick of struggling.

So now there are three, Pete having become a “helper outer” rather than a full-time group member.


And as they've no plans to tour — “we've been poisoned off it” says Andy — they could remain a trio for some time.

While recuperating from a complicated stomach illness which led to the cancellation of U.S. and European tours last year, Andy has been getting to grips with the saxophone.

“It looks like an oil refinery, but I'm gradually getting the hang of it.”

Inspired by Charlie Parker, he reckons he's not exactly a beebop visionary, but still managed to honk a horn section on one of the new cuts, Funk Pop A Roll.

“It nearly finished me,” he gasped.

He has also written and performed 40 minutes worth of remarkably graphic and atmospheric music for a picture called Liquidream.

It's an odd concoction of synthesised sound and treated vocals.

Andy describes it as quasi-classical and very primitive.

Disney, apparently, are interested in the flick, though it may end up on TV.

Naturally, the entire film was acted underwater.

Go back to Chalkhills Articles.

[Thanks to Bill Wikstrom]