Oranges & Lemons by XTC

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Oranges & Lemons by XTC
Oranges & Lemons by XTC

Album Released: 1989

Oranges & Lemons ::: Artwork

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1.Garden Of Earthly Delights5:02
2.The Mayor Of Simpleton3:58
3.King For A Day3:38
4.Here Comes President Kill Again3:34
5.The Loving4:11
6.Poor Skeleton Steps Out3:27
7.One Of The Millions4:42
8.Scarecrow People4:12
9.Merely A Man3:26
10.Cynical Days3:17
11.Across This Antheap4:51
12.Hold Me My Daddy3:47
13.Pink Thing3:48
14.Miniature Sun3:49
15.Chalkhills And Children4:59


At 15 songs, and with nearly every one of them filled with warp-speed vocals, inventive percussion, weirdly intriguing horn parts, and crazy melodies, Oranges & Lemons is a whole lot of XTC to swallow.

If you can sit through it, this album's quite rewarding, but that's a big 'if'. I'm usually zonked by the fifth track, not only because it's tiring, but because the glossy sheen puts me to sleep. For example, "Here Comes President Kill Again" is clever, but is it really entertaining?

Still, XTC seem to have taken it upon themselves to prove that they're smarter rockers than anyone else, and what the hell: they are. Andy Partridge's lyrics are more entertaining and insightful than anyone's this side of Bob Dylan; the melodies are quirky and addictive; guest drummer Pat Mastoletto is virtuosic, adding something interesting to every track; and there are enough crazy tricks buried in every song - even the boring ones - to keep a listener interested. In fact, condensing the whole thing into a short review like this is probably a huge injustice to such a densely packed work of art.

There are several flaws to this record though. For one, in a career of trying to prove their brilliance (and usually succeeding), XTC has never really produced a standard, something like "Imagine" or "Like A Rolling Stone" - a song with simplicity, soul, raw honesty, and a timeless melody, the things that make great music great. As it is, XTC are just the hardest-working men in the recording studio, showing up most other artists as uncreative lazy asses, but themselves falling short of creating anything truly transcendent (although the beautiful closer "Chalkhills and Children" comes closer than any other XTC song I've heard).

That doesn't stop "The Mayor of Simpleton" being one of the most genuinely catchy songs ever written (if only Partridge had dumbed down the lyrics, it would've been huge), or the rest of the record from being an exhausting yet intriguing load of fun, but there are plenty of less inventive, more rewarding albums out there that will probably end up meaning significantly more to punters.

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by Reviewer: Cosmic Ben (blogging at Cosmic Ben [Defunct])

Oranges & Lemons represents the moment the label folks smelled the blood in the water left by “Dear God”.

This is an album based on the wildly popular 'more is more' philosophy, and - thanks to a new, bigger budget - it may be even more loaded with crap than The Big Express, though it’s also got a smoother, friendlier sheen that hides some of the machinery.

The band actually managed a couple of minor hits, with the excellent singles “Mayor of Simpleton” and “King for a Day”, but you can forget about mad rampages like “Across this Antheap” and “Garden of Earthly Delights”. Great songs? Hell yes, but not exactly radio friendly, in spite of the modernized production.

According to legend, the folks at Virgin - always with their finger on the pulse of society - asked Partridge to write something 'like ZZ Top'. So he wrote “Merely a Man”. Of course, by the time the band was done with it, it was more an XTC song, with pretty horn overdubs and other paraphernalia all over the place, including some badly out-of-place overdubbed guitar licks. There’s a really kickass song in there somewhere, except it just didn’t come out quite right, which is unfortunately true of a number of songs here.

“Miniature Sun” sounds awkward and unfinished, though it finally finds its groove just before the fadeout, but that’s too late to save it; “Here Comes President Kill Again” is similar, but without the last-second redemption; “Cynical Days” is just ultra-cool however, a Velveeta-encrusted lounge ditty that I will defend to my dying breath.

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by Reviewer: S M Hellebore

Oranges & Lemons, in which XTC give way to the sissy pop band that had always been lurking inside. One glance at the cover should reveal what to expect - a Saturday morning children's cartoon version of 60's 'psychedelic' pop.

This album is the band's Chips from a Chocolate Fireball anthology performed with a straight face, and that's only half the problem: the other half is the glossy late-80's production and the 15-song 60-minute length (which gave the album a small footnote in history, by being one of the first double-LPs issued on a single CD/cassette).

The problems are apparent from the very first track, "Garden of Earthly Delights", which hearkens unpleasantly back to The Big Express territory, what with its ludicrous rococo excess attempting its best to hide whatever tune there may be underneath massive layers of over-arrangement. Eventually, a bright and simple tune does make itself very clear and bright, but even then, I'm so blindsided by the horns and pounding drums that all I remember is the overblown arrangement.

Fortunately, the rest of the album isn't (for the most part) within that style; in fact, the next two tracks are the album's clear highlights. Moulding chips in with his A-side, "King for a Day", which is very pleasant easy-listening pop/rock that superficially resembles Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (not that that's a bad thing mind), which was the non-hit follow-up to the album's big hit song (and only U.S. Top 40 entry) "The Mayor of Simpleton", a song about a retarded person trying to get into some girl's pants.

Whilst "The Mayor of Simpleton" is an extremely catchy slice of pop classica, I have to take issue with the song's vile sentiments. Partridge is arguing that he deserves to get laid even though he's ugly (ever taken a good look at him?) and stupid. He should be introduced to the concept of Darwinian selection, for - contrary to the song's assertion - stupidity is never a turn-on. The protagonist of the song lacks brains, charm, and good looks. So why would any woman want to be with him?

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise (blogging at Creative Noise)