Countdown to XTC

New Musical Express
24 August 1991

“The high point of XTC drummer Terry Chambers' career was breaking into a fish shop and pissing into a batch of uncooked chips.” -- XTC's Andy Partridge

“It's driving me mad! Where are XTC? Oh misery -- put me out of it!” -- Marcus Ford, Rugby

XTC are, even as we communicate, piecing together an album at a market town studio. Andy Partridge took time out from the sessions to report:

“We're working with Gus Dudgeon (he of various Elton John sessions and Bowie's ‘Space Oddity’ fame), who's so wrong for the project that he's right for it. Actually, Gus is all right -- apart from his clothes sense. When we first saw him, we were in a pub and Colin looked out the window, saw Gus and the way he was dressed and yelled: ‘Don't let him come in here -- he'll get beaten up!’

“We should have made the album a year ago, but we've had wretched luck with a couple of other producers. One kept us waiting for months while he finished his missus' album, then, just when he was supposed to start with us, nipped off on a two-week holiday in the Bahamas. Also we took about 30 songs into Virgin Records and all of them got rejected. Now we hope to record about 20 tracks, if the budget allows it. One of the songs is cod-Bacharach.”

Partridge, the man who once provided the whole history of rock in just three chords (he can also provide a fair impression of Morrissey by using just three notes) says that, though he's now an in-demand producer in his own right, XTC really need a separate “ringmaster”.

“The last band I produced was The Lilac Time. Previously I'd worked with The Mission but it was a complete disaster. Serves me right really, because it was the only job I'd ever taken for purely mercenary reasons.

“Working with Stephen Duffy was entirely different, even though he's totally besotted with Nick Drake. He's also the biggest Beatle fan I've ever met. He would point out things I had never noticed, things like the duff guitar solo on ‘I'm Down’, how you can actually hear the string section talking on the stereo mix of ‘All You Need Is Love’ and the fact that John Lennon can be heard exclaiming ‘f---ing hell’ amid ‘Hey Jude’.”

So when can we expect the new album?

“Maybe late this year or early next year.”

Probably best to say early next year then?

“Yes, that's about right.”


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[Thanks to Little Express subscriber Natalie Johnson]