Reviews: XTC: Upsy Daisy Assortment - The Sweetest Hits
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1997
Reviews

XTC
Upsy Daisy Assortment

In a perfect world, 11 of the 19 songs on this CD would have been hit singles. As we all know, however, the world is far from perfect. Still, Upsy Daisy Assortment is just about as close to perfection as any greatest hits package can be. Now that the band's record company squabbles have ended (after four years of what leader Andy Partridge describes as "more-or-less going on strike"), new material from these modern-rock pioneers will be coming out in the next few months. Until then, Upsy Daisy Assortment gives us a reminder of why XTC's return will be such a welcome one. Even though some of the songs in this album are 18 years old, they still sound as fresh and inventive as they did during the band's heyday.

After forming in the industrial town of Swindon, England, in 1977, XTC recorded some of the most intelligent and humorous pop songs imaginable. On "Making Plans for Nigel," Partridge and company tell the story of overly possessive parents (from their point of view) with one of the most infectious rhythms to come out of the '80s. Then the band attacks warmongers on "Generals and Majors." Later they give us one of rock's most inventive love songs ("The Mayor of Simpleton"), an unusual look at the life and legacy of JFK ("The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead"), and two stories of young lovers ("Earn Enough for Us" and "Love on a Farmboy's Wages"). All this, plus one of the most controversial songs ever recorded: 1986's "Dear God." Although that song is XTC's most (in)famous, the band never intended for it to become their anthem. In fact, the song was originally recorded for the flipside of another single ("Grass," which is also included on this disc) and was left off of the initial pressings of the band's Skylarking album.

Andy Partridge's comical and insightful lyrics have been missing in action for far too long, but this CD is the next best thing to new XTC music. Upsy Daisy Assortment serves as a powerful reminder that, even though musical tastes may change, great songs never get old.


La Repubblica
1997
Musica!

XTC: Upsy daisy assortment

Le canzoni di Upsy daisy assortment potrebbero essere un musical su quella "vie boheme" che Partridge e Moulding hanno trasformato nella parte migliore del gran mondo della melodia inglese. Il disco offre emozioni a catena cronologica da brividi da This world over a The ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead con in mezzo King for a day che è un eterno colpo al cuore. Rimane il mistero della Virgin che prima licenzia la band per scarsi introiti e poi si danna l'anima per riproporne il catalogo, avendo forse capito troppo tardi che non sempre conta solo il botteghino.


The Lumberjack
December 1997

XTC
Upsy Daisy Assortment

Can you believe that it has been five years since XTC released an album? I can't, so you can probably imagine my surprise when I saw a new album on the shelves. But to my disappointment, it has no new material. Instead of new tracks, there are 19 of the best songs in the bands 20 years together.

In 1992, the band released Nonsuch, an entire album of new songs in the odd yet poppy style that has made XTC's career. With the release of a video, it seemed as though the band was going to break into the 90s. But unfortunately, the video aired rarely on VH1 and even less on MTV.

The main reason for the band's disappearance is that they were screwed by their manager. It seems the manager thought he was worth a lot more than the band was paying him, so he took it upon himself to take his fair share. The idea of his share ended up leaving the band in bad shape, owing money to both the record company and the bank.

Another reason for the band's absence was the lack of respect that the band had for Virgin Records. The band felt that the company was not supporting them, and decided to withhold the one thing that Virgin wanted, the music.

So, the band has been waiting five years for the contract to expire. All the while, the band has been stockpiling songs. About four albums worth of material.

It seems as though the band may be close to signing a new record deal that will bring new material.

The new 'best of album,' Upsy Daisy Assortment, features songs that launched XTC's career in the 80s. With the pop anthems "Generals and Majors," "Making Plans For Nigel" and some not so common like "Love On A Farmboy's Wages," reflect the many songs that make up the bands vast musical library.

The best song on the album, "Dear God," is the one that put XTC into the lime light in 1986. The controversial song, deals with God's existence, or lack there of, has never been on an XTC collection.

Though new material may be on its way, Upsy Daisy Assortment is well worth the money. Not only do you get to hear some old favorites, you get to hear the songs that most of the world has forgotten. If anything, it will bring back those simpler times, when this music was 'uncool' and "Glam Rock" ruled supreme.

--By Aaron Bell
The Lumberjack


Kibbutz Music Reviews
"You don't have to speak, I feel"
Issue #21, 15 November 1997
by Michael Zwirn

XTC, Upsy Daisy Assortment, Geffen 1997

XTC: Upsy Daisy Assortment -- I've never really been a big XTC fan, and I'm unlikely to ever become one, but I have to grant that this 19-song compilation of their twenty year career is a pretty convincing demonstration of the band's gifts. One of the band's early singles, which unfortunately doesn't appear on this disc, was "This is Pop?," which manages to artfully take swipes at both pretentious rock and juvenile pap. The question mark in the song title says it all. XTC has been compiled on disc several times in the band's history, including a recent British double-disc set called Fossil Fuel, but this is the most complete single disc history. As compilations go this is awfully straightforward, especially given the eccentricity of the band itself. The songs are arranged chronologically, with two or three tracks from every XTC studio record save a couple, but the absence of liner notes is awfully disappointing.

Early XTC can be pretty jarring. There are treated guitars, buzzing synthesizers and Andy Partridge's distinctive nasally whine to get through, but underneath is a sure sense of songwriting craftmanship. "Life Begins at the Hop," from Drums and Wires, is a lighthearded tribute to small town dance clubs, while "Making Plans for Nigel" is creepy but undeniably, brilliantly melodic. The two faces that emerge from XTC singles are an edgy, cutting band determined to cut against the grain of pop music and a wistful, almost traditionalist trio looking back fondly on the psychedelic Sixties. Their best singles bring those competing ideals nose-to-nose. "Senses Working Overtime" is a glorious and surreal mind-meld of the Byrds and the chants of the Volga boatmen, and I have to love a couplet like "All the world is football shaped/Just for me to kick in space." "Generals and Majors" comments on war between chipper rounds of whistling, and the resolutely bizarre "No Thugs in Our House" is a kind of anthropology of an alternate DEVOesque universe of "insect-headed workers."

XTC can also be stunningly sincere and tender, as in "Love on a Farmboy's Wages" and "Earn Enough for Us." "The Mayor of Simpleton," from Oranges and Lemons, is big, catchy, clever and endearing. It was a deserved hit, even if was unsubtle and atypical. Skylarking, one of the band's most commercially and critically successful records, is represented by the earnest "Earn Enough for Us," the pastoral, geeky "Grass," and "Dear God." Although it's a recognized classic, I find "Dear God" somewhat underwhelming in retrospect. Sarah McLachlan's cover has overshadowed the original in my mind, and it now seems more her song than XTC's. The band's two most recent studio albums, Oranges and Lemons and Nonsuch (from 1991, their only non-compilation or re-release of the decade) are the most streamlined and poppy, moving away from dissonant weirdness like "Funk Pop A Roll" and "Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her, Kiss Her" (awesome song title). "King for a Day" is jazzy and humanistic, and could come from an Adrian Belew solo record, and "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" (later victimized in an atrocious Crash Test Dummies cover) takes the Jesus/JFK imagery to a hitherto-unimaginable level, but it's magnificently catchy in a big-pop way that makes "Beatlesque" seem complimentary.

Rating: * * * 1/2


The George-Anne Daily
Entertainment Page
Thursday, October 16, 1997
By Robbie Bruce
Staff writer

XTC's new greatest hits album, 'Upsy Daisy Assortment', will help you keep your electronic high

XTC doesn't happen to be short-hand for ecstasy, the infamous drug synonymous to underground raves and their electronic music. This XTC did, however, begin its life during an electronic revolution, albeit one youngsters jamming to today's electronica are rarely familiar with.

As Skynyrd, the Eagles and their ilk found themselves disbanded and obsolete, a new brand of rock headed to the mainstream front of the early 80s.

Characterized by short, sweet rock songs and strangified by piercing keyboards, the new-wave genre was born. Classic rock sticklers were dismayed, feeling that rock as they knew it was on the permanent out.

Aside the mainstream electronica of this time came the counter movement of punk rock. Punk was all about dissing the two minute guitar solos of Skynyrd in favor of short songs equalling one of those solos.

As XTC appeared on the early 80s scene, they seemed torn between these two genres that sometimes overlapped. However, uncomprising views of the songwriting craft as well as boundless creative talent led them to fashion an exceptionally unique sound.

The endless torrent of songs and the perpetual integrity of XTC held through all the 80s and into the 90s.

And although their fame through these two decades has fallen and risen as often as they create songs, it is such as to warrant a collection of their "sweetest" hits titled Upsy Daisy Assortment.

Die-hard fans need not acknowledge this collection. It is an album of top radio hits from each of their ten full-length albums except two. Whatever is found on this assortment is old news for all but the uninitiated.

Their electronic influence pops up in the introductory tune "Life Begins At The Hop." And, arguably XTC's best album, Black Sea, is under-represented on Upsy Daisy, containing two songs that hardly express the awesome skills of bass-player Colin Moulding and songwriter / guitarist / vocalist extraordinaire Andy Partridge. However, a peak at XTC's recurring role as social critic rears itself via a Black Sea selection named "Respectable Street." As the assortment progresses, the knack for XTC to write and arrange evolves.

These talents are shown by three pieces from the album Skylarking. The pastoral and aural feel of "Grass" gets included on the assortment, as does the song that pushed XTC into the mainstream - the religion-questioning "Dear God."

"Mayor of Simpleton," from their last album of the 80s, Oranges and Lemons, lets the new listener observe what extremely gifted musicians XTC are.

The last selections of the assortment are from the last album XTC released, Nonsuch - their only original album of the 90s. Here, again, the pieces taken from the original album give a vague impression of the overall genius of Nonsuch. "Peter Pumpkinhead" likely will be familiar to many, but "The Disappointed" will prove novel to most.

Thanks to a cult following on the internet, I've secured news that XTC will release something new within the year. It's been a few years since the guys have been together, so interest in the upcoming release is intense.

If you wish to prepare for their sound, try Upsy Daisy. Now that electronic music has surfaced again, it's time for XTC to come aground and shape music into something that resembles song-writing.

Copyright 1997, All rights reserved.


Las Vegas Weekly
October 11, 1997
Audio Exotica

XTC
Upsy Daisy Assortment
GEFFEN

Fortunately, while so many 80s bands were busy acquainting themselves with The Basics of Music Making Via Synthesizer, XTC were sitting in a room somewhere in Britain, cursing the drizzle outside and tuning up their guitars. The ultimate in alternative guitar rock of the 80s, XTC had it all - quirky personality, musicianship, great pop songwriting - which combined to a huge college radio following, with good reason. Overplayed hits like "Senses Working Overtime" hint well at what awaits the musical explorer, but it is only a hint. "No Thugs In Our House" is a foot-stomping reminder of a time when clarity of voice and instrument was a respected and expected part of music, while "Generals & Majors" is the perfect subversive little anti-war ditty: "Out in a world of their own/they'll never come down/'til once again victorious. Generals and majors always/seem so unhappy unless they got a war." This Assortment - including modern hits "Dear God" and the lovely "Earn Enough For Us" - is a 19-track Garden of Musical Eden, proving that modern British bands like Space and Oasis should be paying XTC royalties. If you want to hear the original sound in an unadulterated best-of format, this is it. (Chuck Taylor)

Copyright 1997 Las Vegas SUN, Inc.


The Daily Cardinal
09/03/97
Bring the Noize

XTC
Upsy Daisy Assortment

Geffen

XTC, one of the seminal bands of the late 1970s, stands along with Elvis Costello, Wire and The Clash as one of the few proud musical rebels against the shlock churned out by the mainstream radio stations of that godforsaken era. While XTC have never been entirely consistent (running a narrow gamut from stripped down lyrical pop to frilly, jangle-driven syrup), they have long stood out as one of the pop world's most intelligent and melody-aware members.

Now, after five years of silence following 1992's Nonsuch, XTC has decided to herald its re-emergence into the world of music recording with Upsy Daisy Assortment, a best-of collection. The album's pleasant blend of hits should serve as decent segue to their upcoming new album.

Upsy Daisy highlights the reliably intelligent stripped-down material of XTC's earlier days while steering clear of the jangly folk-pop of the band's later releases. Keeping with this philosophy, Upsy Daisy does a thorough round-up of XTC's best-loved hits, corralling "Generals & Majors," "Senses Working Overtime," "Dear God" and "The Mayor of Simpleton" onto a single disc.

Even casual fans of XTC should enjoy this thoroughly well-balanced album; its contents are moody, thoughtful, melodious and lyrically sound.

--James Norton

©1997 The Daily Cardinal Media Corporation


The Daily Tar Heel
Thursday August 28, 1997
Music Briefs

XTC
Upsy Daisy Assortment

Geffen Records

It's really easy to review a band's greatest hits album. If you know the songs of an artist, you memorize the lines of the hits.

So, if you liked the songs, "Life Begins at the Hop," "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead," "Dear God," "No Thugs in Our House" and many more, than this CD is more than directed to you.

This album is the definitive collection for anyone that remotely likes XTC. Upsy Daisy Assortment is probably enough XTC for anyone who is not a fanatical fan who storms stages and stalks fans.

And the great thing is that it is all on one disc. But there is nothing new. In this case, there is nothing wrong with that. A.

-Mitch Bennett


The Associated Press
AP-ES-08-11-97 1435EDT

XTC - UPSY DAISY ASSORTMENT (Geffen Records)

So, you've been meaning to buy an XTC record but 20 years have slipped by and you haven't been able to decide? Waffle no more.

UPSY DAISY ASSORTMENT recaps the last two decades by the thinking fan's pop band. Subtitled "The Sweetest Hits", the new disc contains 19 tunes from the 11-record XTC discography, skipping "White Music", "Go 2" and "Rag and Bone Buffet".

Born at the height of the London punk explosion in 1977, XTC has followed its own path. While the punks bashed heads with their message, XTC used wordplay, imagery and pop hooks (Beatles-like at times) to make their points. Then there was singer-songwriter Andy Partridge's hatred of touring. The band quit in the early-1980's, performing only on a 1989 radio station tour and an appearance on "Late Night With David Letterman".

Along the way, XTC has proved a durable source of social commentary ("Respectable Street", "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead") and sweet love songs ("Grass", "The Mayor of Simpleton").

UPSY DAISY ASSORTMENT provides an eclectic overview the casual fan or experimental listener will find satisfactory. More appreciative fans probably would go deeper into the rich menu for a greatest-hits collection.

-James Reindl, Associated Press Writer


The Daily Californian
August 15, 1997

XTC
Upsy Daisy Assortment (A Selection of the Sweetest Hits)
[Geffen]

Twenty years ago, when some of us were nary a twinkle in our fathers' eyes, something was stirring in Swindon, England. That something: a group of young men called XTC, who were creating quite a buzz with their innovative and intelligent punk-pop. Later, that punk element gave way to a more purely pop focus, yielding a new and different sort of pop that would later be labeled "modern rock," influencing countless musicians of the '80s and '90s.

XTC stopped performing live in 1982, and hasn't released a new studio album since '92. But they've lived on, more or less, with occasional radio play on "flashback weekends" and, of course, in the impact they've had on the rock groups of today. And now, with the release of Upsy Daisy Assortment (The Sweetest Hits), fans get a little taste of the legendary rock group's history.

Upsy Daisy Assortment offers a good selection of XTC's music, including hits like "Senses Working Overtime," "No Thugs In Our House," and, of course, the requisite "Dear God" and "The Mayor of Simpleton." XTC's first two albums, the punk-oriented White Music and Go 2, have been left out, giving this assortment an entirely pop orientation, but they're not missed much. What we're left with is a collection that displays XTC's most thoughtful, insightful and melodic music. Appropriately enough, the "sweetest." [Jean Shin]

Copyright 1997, The Daily Californian. All rights reserved.


MediaOne Chicagoland
July 30, 1999
Scalzi's Private Blend
by John Scalzi

XTC, "Upsy Daisy Assortment"
XTC is the first group to make the Scalzi's Private Blend list twice, but it's an appropriate choice this for this week, since XTC is another "Love 'Em Or Don't" band with a fanatical fan base. The difference is that every XTC song doesn't sound like the others -- rather the opposite, in fact, something "Upsy Daisy" proves as it tracks through the first 13 years of the band's music. What is consistent is songwriter Andy Partridge's acidly smart take on the world; this guy is one of the great lyricists of the last couple decades (and he does a fair patch of songwriting too). Make yourself a fan with this.

Copyright © 1999 MediaOne, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


GambitWeekly, New Orleans
July 28, 1997
Rhythm & News

XTC
Upsy Daisy Assortment (Geffen) * * * *

British egghead-pop group XTC has made a living out of confounding expectations. To begin with, it has surprised most critics simply by continuing to thrive in a constantly shifting marketplace with an evolving-yet-consistent blend of Beatlesque melody and Jam-like urgency. And as Upsy Daisy shows, XTC has mined the more album-friendly territory of the dreaded "art rock" genre while remaining, first and foremost, a singles band. Powered by leader Andy Partridge's skewed pop sensibilities, the group has charted a singular course over the years, and the new "assortment" checks off most of the points along the way. From the McCartney references of XTC's early work to the distinctive imagery of latter-day gems like "The Mayor of Simpleton," this compilation manages to showcase the band's better-known staples while also introducing the casual listener to such hidden gems as the intensely hummable "Earn Enough for Us" and the Tears-for-Fearsish "King for a Day." In short, your senses will be working overtime sampling the many sweets this assortment has to offer.
-- K.M.
Rating: Highly Recommended

Copyright 1997 Gambit Weekly.
Reproduced by permission.


The Chronicle
Duke University
July 23, 1997

Upsy Daisy Assortment
XTC
(Geffen)

The lovely angst that is XTC's new album, Upsy Daisy Assortment...

By Chris Hoover

     Screw what Renton said about smack in Trainspotting (the whole "take your best orgasm and multiply it by 10,000 and it still doesn't come close to it" bit). This is it-the absolute XTC. Upsy Daisy Assortment is so damn gratifying that it makes me cry from elation even after the 40th time on repeat.
     These Brit pop gods from Swindon haven't released a new album since Nonsuch in 1992, nor have they toured since 1982, after their erratic lead singer Andy Partridge had a nervous breakdown and said no more to the road. The band released a double greatest hits album last September, Fossil Fuels: XTC Singles from 1977 to 1992 (Virgin), but it still left die-hard fans fretting for more of XTC's stirring whirring.
     Andy Boy, who found XTC with his chums Colin Moulding, Barry Andrews and Terry Chambers back in 1975, is an eccentric indeed. He likes to wear lace. He gives proctology exams to Barbie dolls. His signature saffron specs that give him almost a malarial glow rarely leaves his face. Queer? Never.
     Upsy Daisy reads like an irresistible novel, rendered in off-center chameleon pop, that takes you on a sinuous emotional ride through the good times and bad. Following the Aristotelian view of drama, XTC renders thick, resounding plots and subplots with songs like "Respectable Street," "Senses Working Overtime," "Funk Pop A Roll" and "This World Over."
     The burgeoning tension finally detonates as we reach "Dear God," the album's climax. Incidentally the 13th track (wink, wink), this startling cry of an atheist, with a voice louder than mere skepticism, has been bringing tears to my eyes and chills down my spine every morning-ever since I began this warped but cathartic ritual with the purchase of Skylarking. (Mm-mm-mm-There's nothing like a cup of freshly ground blasphemy to start up my day.)
     A pleasant denouement ensues with a series of my all-time favorites, "The Mayor of Simpleton," "King for a Day," "Chalkhills and Children" and "The Disappointed," while "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead," finishes it off with a complete sense of closure.
     Like great many of us, Partridge is a wanderer, who searches for meaning in the void we call existence through his densely layered lyrics. But what's even more mind-boggling and astonishing about Partridge is that he is able to piece together his puzzling odes with unprecedented sounds-creating that rare, almost-mythical milieu.

Copyright 1997, The Chronicle Online. Reproduced by permission.


The California Aggie
Arts Section - Monday, July 7, 1997

Music Review: Upsy Daisy Assortment
By Carry Rodda

Upsy Daisy Assortment
XTC
Geffen

Rating: Orgasmic

Those of us who are fans of quirky pop rock know that XTC is one of the finest bands ever in the genre. This excellent CD is a retrospective of their career.

Fans of the band are going to be eagerly anticipating this record, as the band hasn't had an American release for five years. Not that they stopped recording, but just that they were tangled in legal problems with their former label. Hopefully the near future will see the U.S. release of the records they've done in the meantime.

But this should sate our appetites for a little while. There are 19 cuts on the CD, and all are terrific. Not all are as well known as others, but many will recognize such tunes as "Making Plans for Nigel," "Senses Working Overtime," "No Thugs in Our House" and "The Mayor of Simpleton." Unfortunately, unlike other recent greatest hits packages, there are no new songs here.

Though many bands say they are influenced by XTC, few do the quirky pop thing as well. Intriguing melodies and highly emphasized, innovative rhythms combine with thoughtful, well-written lyrics to make an unbeatable combination.

Add into the mix that XTC hasn't toured for 10 years, and you can see why we're jonesing for a dose of XTC. This CD should do the trick and is especially recommended to newer fans and other inquiring minds.


The Gallery of Sound Stereo-Type
July 1997

XTC
Upsy Daisy Assortment
Geffen

XTC needs out of their debt-ridden contract with Virgin Records U.K. So much so they've refused to make an LP for the last five years-the longest exile of their storied career-since the enjoyable Nonesuch [sic], their 10th studio LP. (This somewhat average XTC LP was better than reviews indicated.) Finally sensing the now-two-decade-old band was not, in fact, bluffing on their "strike," Virgin finally relented and let them go, under terms that insisted that the band agree to a "best of" for them. Poof! Upsy Daisy sprouts. Do you really need to know why such "overview" discs often sally forth?

Admittedly, no, particularly with such an embarrassment of riches as this. Ignore leader Andy Partridge's recent disparaging comments on the track-listing: I defy any fan to compile a sample more representative for the uninitiated, who are, after all, the only folks who will buy this. Firstly, since the band is no longer fond of the first two LPs that predate key-contributor Dave Gregory's membership, White Music and Go 2 are ignored here. Fine. Surely the hyper-new wave "Barry Andrews" era bears no resemblance to the subsequent array of tuneful post-punk (three classic LPs, '79-'82) and unbelievably luscious, Beatlesesque/Beach Boysesque gilded-pop ('83-'92, including the immortal Skylarking). True, Mr. Partridge, this chronological collection leans heavily on singles, and could have been just a second "singles LP," perhaps picking up where Waxworks ('77-'82) left off.

But are there really LP tracks that should have appeared instead of, say, the edgy, cantankerous yet longing "Making Plans For Nigel?" Or the belligerent brilliance of "Dear God" and "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead?" Or the lush forestry of "Grass?" Moreover, the LP tracks are spot on, from the sardonic crack of Black Sea's "Respectable Street" (am I the only one who's noticed that super-fans Blur have ripped this song off three times already???!!!!), to the pristine wonder of Oranges and Lemons' "Chalkhills and Children," to the Revolver power-pop homage of Skylarking's "Earn Enough For Us," to the fear of rejection freeze of the oddly included "Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her" from The Big Express. An assortment like this that serves up XTC's strengths, touches all their treasures, and conceals their few missteps, is what a best-of is for. Now if only those Gideon folks stuck this in hotel drawers.

Jack Rabid


San Diego Union-Tribune
Night & Day
June 19, 1997

Reviewer: Daniel De Vise

This XTC compilation is a safe, predictable and fairly generous sampling from one of the most important bands to emerge in the punk era. It includes the key singles-"The Mayor of Simpleton," "Dear God," "Senses Working Overtime"-and makes a fair case for the deep talents of songwriters Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding.

Formed in Swindon, England, in the first explosion of punk, XTC evolved from edgy new-wavers into a propulsive art-rock unit with awesome compositional skills. The band reached a creative peak with 1982's landmark English Settlement, then imploded, with frontman Partridge suffering a nervous breakdown and XTC retiring from the road for good. Two subsequent albums, 1986's Skylarking and 1989's Oranges and Lemons, were masterpieces of art pop. But XTC hasn't cut a record since 1992 and now is without contract. Upsy Daisy Assortment is a welcome addition to the yellowing catalog and a fine introduction for neophytes.

* * * 1/2

[Thanks to Gerardo Tellez]


The Badger Herald
June 16, 1997

Music Review - XTC 'Upsy Daisy Assortment'

By Alex Fulton
Associate Entertainment Editor

Considering they've been around since 1978 and have been heralded numerous times as one of the best pop bands ever, there's really nothing new that can be said about England's XTC. Yes, they've just released an album, but it's a greatest hits type thing without any new songs at all. Upsy Daisy Assortment is simply a retrospective collection of XTC songs from the records Skylarking, Oranges and Lemons, and Nonsuch.

While the lack of new material is something of a dissapointment (especially since the band hasn't released anything new in five years and hasn't toured in more than a decade), XTC faithful and newcomers alike should be pleased with this collection. Some of the songs featured on Upsy Daisy Assortment include "Life Begins At the Hop," "Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her, Kiss Her," "The Mayor of Simpleton," and "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" (you know, the song that Crash Test Dummies covered). The album is catchy and bouncy from start to finish, so if you like pop music at all you really can't go wrong here.

While it doesn't have anything new on it, Upsy Daisy Assortment is a solid album and a virtually risk-free purchase. If you're an XTC fan and you were planning on buying the album when it came out, forge ahead with that plan, If you're not an XTC fan, give Upsy Daisy Assortment a try and you will be.

Copyright 1997 The Badger Herald.
Reproduced by permission.


The Backbeat
June 13, 1997

XTC, Upsy Daisy Assortment

XTC
Upsy Daisy Assortment
(Geffen)
19 tracks, 75:19
Release: 6/3/97

YOU'LL LIKE THIS IF YOU LIKE:
Psychedelic pop, the Beatles, Guided by Voices... but they're really sui generis.

REPRESENTATIVE LYRIC:
"Peter Pumpkinhead came to town/Spreading wisdom and cash around/Fed the starving and housed the poor/Showed the Vatican what gold's for" -- from "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead"

[9 rating]

LIFE BEGINS AT THE HOP

A new greatest-hits album proves that XTC are still, pound for pound, the smartest band around.

Film critic David Denby once famously described Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood as "the last serious men in Hollywood -- they just make movies." Much the same probably could be said about England's XTC -- they may not be the last serious men in rock 'n' roll but, indisputably, they just make records. And brilliant ones at that.

Upsy Daisy Assortment is the long overdue greatest-hits album (granted, there was a singles compilation back in 1982) that collects many of them, and what strikes you immediately, especially if you're already a fan, is how consistent the band's vision and execution have been. There is, after all, a span of nearly 20 years between an early hit like "Making Plans for Nigel" and the concluding "Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead." [Memo to the Crash Test Dummies: May you burn forever in hell for the lame cover version you contributed to the soundtrack for Dumb and Dumber.] But even though, superficially, the songs couldn't be more different -- the first a spikily ironic piece of nascent New Wave pop, the second a glorious anthemic protest song with a heart as big as all outdoors -- both musically and sonically they seem very much of a piece. In fact, the whole album feels like that -- as if it were created at one marathon recording session. And what a session that would have been, running the gamut from the Paul McCartney meets Bruce Springsteen blue-collar pop of "Earn Enough for Us," to the Bob Dylan has dinner with John Lennon-ish "Senses Working Overtime," to the deliberately blasphemous kids' song "Dear God" to the unabashedly romantic pop epiphany that is "The Mayor of Simpleton." Face it: There aren't a lot of bands around with as impressive a résumé, so if for some reason -- like you're just being difficult -- you've never really paid attention to XTC's brand of pop smarts before, you more or less owe it to yourself to get on the stick. And Upsy Daisy Assortment is a pretty convenient way to do it. -- Steve Simels

Copyright 1997 The Backbeat, TV Guide Entertainment Network


E!online
May 1997

Upsy Daisy Assortment: The Sweetest Hits
XTC
Geffen

To many, Andy Partridge is the quintessential New Wave god. Hit after quirky alterna-hit, the guy never missed the mark, so it figures that his latest label, Geffen, would finally assemble all of those ducky singles in a row. Yes, XTC-heads, they're all here: "Life Begins At The Hop," "Making Plans For Nigel," "No Thugs In Our House," and the signature "Senses Working Overtime." Put on your thinking caps--this is brainy pop at its smart-alecky best.


Go! entertainment magazine, Dayton, OH
May 9, 1997

In its 20 years of wild pop-rock reinvention, XTC has been churning out albums which, while occasionally uneven, have been laced with truly brilliant songs. Upsy Daisy Assortment (Virgin) thankfully brings the best of these together into a disarming 75-minute collection that shimmers and snaps so brightly it can make your head spin. "Generals and Majors", "No Thugs in Our Houses", "Dear God", "The Mayor of Simpleton" -- this comes across both as a catalog of Britpop highlights and as a testament to the skill of singer/songwriter Andy Partridge, who will charm you all the way through this one.

* * * *

Ron Rollins

[Thanks to Greg Brady]


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27 October 2012