Fyfeopedia Music Reviews
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Drums And Wires (1979)
Black Sea (1980)
English Settlement (1982)
Mummer (1983)
The Big Express (1984)
Skylarking (1986)
The Dukes of Stratosphear: Chips From The Chocolate Fireball (1987)
Oranges And Lemons (1992)
Nonsuch (1992)
Fossil Fuel: The Singles 1977-1992
Apple Venus Volume I (1999)
Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2) (2000)

Fossil Fuel: The Singles 1977-1992 (1996)
Fossil Fuel's excellent two CDs of singles deepens the mystery of XTC's lack of commercial success. The first disc of Fossil Fuel chronicles the group's stripped down new-wave sound, which sounds slightly dated but features Partridge's and Moulding's predictably interesting songwriting. In the original lineup was a prominent and virtuoso but tasteless keyboard player named Barry Andrews. His style functions effectively in 'Statue of Liberty', but generally he is distracting. Partridge writes that "Barry had a ludicrously idiosyncratic style." XTC made a large step forward when Andrews was replaced by David Gregory, and Colin Moulding's songs were released as singles. Moulding's catchy pop songs 'Making Plans For Nigel', 'Generals and Majors' and 'Love at First Sight' complement Partridge's darker and more literate singles well. Moulding is also the instrumental star with his innovative bass lines. Moulding's initial success inspired Partridge's songwriting to the new heights of 'Senses Working Overtime', 'Respectable Street' and 'Towers of London'. Around the time of the second disc of Fossil Fuel, beginning with 1983's Mummer, XTC softened their approach and retreated into the studio in an attempt to emulate 1960s influences, such as The Beatles, The Beach Boys and the Kinks.The group also developed an attractively romantic sense of archaism in 'Love on a Farmboy's Wages', 'All The Pretty Girls' and 'Grass'. 'The Meeting Place' features lovely harmonies and innovative piano riffs, while 'Wake Up' features an unforgettable dual rhythm guitar introduction. Although the music on Fossil Fuel is excellent, there is justification of XTC's low profile in the jarring effect of the bizarre coda tacked onto the end of 'Wrapped in Grey' and the bridge that interrupts the flow of 'King for a Day', while Partridge's slightly grating voice is often a distraction. Maybe we should be grateful as it allows these great songs to remain untainted by the evil forces of commercial radio.
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