Pure XTC

As published by The Footy Almanac, 23 March 2015

The recording industry is littered with tales of artists never reaching their station in the pantheon of music royalty/ies.

From the local pubs and clubs to those on the fringe of mainstream success, so many have been, for whatever reason, unable to tick off the requisite boxes to achieve widespread acclaim.

The saddest part is when such talented singers as Lanie Lane give the game away. The effort to forge a living from the biz becomes too much, an exercise in beating one’s head against the proverbial.  Bands I’ve known personally such as The Madeline Streets simply couldn’t coordinate rehearsals and recording time around their members’ full time jobs and lives – their demise certainly no reflection on their talent.

During the 1980’s so many new wave bands hit it big.  Sure enough, arguably the best of them didn’t make the immediate impact they should have for the lack of support from dozy labels.  And if you couldn’t record half decent videos or wrangle a modicum of radio play then you were pushing it uphill.

In retrospect – thanks to 21st Century connectiveness – then under-appreciated bands such as The Smiths and XTC have since been bumped up to legend status.

The Smiths at least had the benefit of their chief protagonists, Morrissey and Johnny Marr, to keep their spirit alive via their solo ventures.  XTC’s legacy though, apart from their biggest hit Senses Working Overtime, faded fast.

It didn’t help that just six years into their three decade career Andy Partridge suffered from stage fright (due to his wife throwing his Valium away) which henceforth consigned live performances to the realms of impossibility.

XTC, at their best, crafted poptastic tunes with brilliant lyrics.  Besides Senses Working Overtime, Generals and Majors, Peter Pumpkinhead, Mayor of Simpleton and signature atheist’s anthem Dear God demonstrated their class.  In their latter days the best song the Beatles never wrote, Spiral, was matched and raised by River of Orchids.  A work of art.

Such was their unorthodoxy, XTC also released albums under a pseudonym; The Dukes of Stratosphear.

As so often happens with groups there was a fallout between the driving forces. Colin Moulding and Andy Partridge drifted apart and could no longer work together beyond 2005, and we are the poorer for it.

Perhaps the greatest avocation of their output is that by name and by nature XTC simply make you feel happy.


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