For One Night Only Vol.2 - XTCFor One Night Only, Music | Head Chef | May 10, 2009 at 9:17 pm
Right, let’s keep this short and straight to the point. I think there was too much waffle on the last post, especially when this should essentially be about the music. Feels like I should have written “man” at the end of that last sentence, but I’m waffling again.
XTC are one of a handful of bands that, in my youth, I became so obsessed with I had to hear every note they ever recorded. I’d still argue it’s all really good, except for one album, which out of a total of fourteen is pretty rare. It’s a shame that Andy Partridge is underrated in the UK. I see him as a sort of British Brian Wilson, except with better lyrics. He’s matured into a complex, intelligent, and peculiarly English songwriter whose work sounds like The Beach Boys crossed with morris dancers, 60’s pop, and experimental soundscapes. But that’s not how XTC started out.
Today’s MP3 is a cover version that dates back to 1977 and originally appeared on their first album, White Music. The group had hitched a ride on punk’s coat tails and were pretending to have attitude and sneers while singing two minute, high energy, psychedelic pop songs. They covered All Along The Watchtower in a strange jerky fashion that captured all of Andy Partridge’s hyper and nervy state of mind. A condition that lead to an onstage breakdown at the peak of their success, when he walked off stage in 1982 convinced he was about to die, never to return. The group then found out their manager had disappeared with all their money and XTC were back to square one. They became insular, studio bound, and produced the finest work of their career. Skylarking, Oranges & Lemons, Nonsuch and Apple Venus Vol. 1 are, to me, minor masterpieces and great places to start if any of this has piqued your interest.
This live version of their All Along The Watchtower cover comes a few years after the debut album and has a strange, synthesiser and drum machine beginning before going into a version that’s not too dissimilar from the one on the album, just a little more wired. It’s an odd musical mish mash that highlights how great they were live, although Andy Partridge didn’t think so, the music on stage never matching the sounds in his head. This isn’t really a fair representation of the band - you’d need a bigger selection of tracks to do that - but it is an interesting mp3 from a band that deserves the recognition. See what you think and, just to do the groups musical development justice, I’ll stick a few YouTube clips of other key songs below.
Thanks for listening.
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Mayor Of Simpleton
Your Dictionary (Though this fan made video thinks the song is about the bible, it’s about Andy’s divorce)