Mummer by XTC

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Mummer by XTC
Mummer by XTC

Album Released: 1983

Mummer ::: Artwork

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1.Beating Of Hearts4:01
3.Love On A Farmboy's Wages3:58
4.Great Fire3:47
5.Deliver Us From The Elements4:34
6.Human Alchemy5:11
8.In Loving Memory Of A Name3:16
9.Me And The Wind4:16
10.Funk Pop A Roll3:01


The consensus amongst fans of XTC is that Skylarking perfected the formula tentatively explored on Mummer, but in my opinion Mummer features a better set of songs. Not that Mummer is better, I'd admit that it sounds a bit quaint next to the warm beauty of Todd Rundgren's production on Skylarking.

Unfortunately, all I can do is dream of a world in which these songs had gotten the care they deserved. Imagine “Human Alchemy” no longer sitting in a sea of weird and ungainly mellotron diddlings. Imagine “Ladybird” dusted off and displayed in all its glory, or “Great Fire” and “Beating of Hearts” with some goddamn OOMPH.

Still, whatever the production faults, there’s lots to love here. Lead single “Wonderland” gives birth to the 'indie/pop songs that sound like old-school video game music' genre; “Love on a Farmboy’s Wages” takes the acousticism of the previous album to its logical conclusion; “Me and the Wind” features a pounding piano groove and a montage coda that intercuts the verse and bridge in a strange yet delightful manner.

Plus the CD reissue includes six fine bonus tracks! Gee, I wonder what was wrong with those songs? They’re great! I guess they got rejected because they didn’t fit in with the overall feel of the album.

But then, “Funk Pop a Roll” certainly doesn’t fit either, and they left that on the album - it’s pretty funny hearing all these softly pastoral nature-ish songs, and then Partridge kicks you in the nuts with an angry 'death to the music industry' rocker - and what's more, it turns out to be the best song on the album!

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by Reviewer: S M Hellebore

At around this point in XTC's history, Andy Partridge suffered a nervous breakdown onstage, and the band gave up touring entirely. I suspect that retreat into the insular confines of a studio is to blame for this cluttered mess of an album.

I don't even know where to begin describing half these tunes, they are so intricate and stuffed full of interesting ideas that in general go nowhere. Over-cleverness had threatened to topple the band's innate tunefulness on previous encounters, and here XTC's eccentricities completely overtake them.

The material isn't presented as conventional pop songs, but instead announce themselves as meticulously constructed lego-block sculptures that scream 'Look at how much time, effort, and thought we put into building these tracks'. And as such, it's bloody difficult to find the melodic core of most of these tunes, that gets lost in the distractions of the rococo shuffle.

Unlike English Settlement, which likewise proved initially difficult to absorb, repeated listens don't uncover that many frosty nougats hidden within. And it doesn't help that the mood intended is pastoral, which translates as mellow and energy-drained, with the only exception being the hectoring closer "Funk Pop a Roll", which feels totally out-of-place, and is the worst track on the platter.

Sure, there's a handful of decent songs, but only the sprightly acoustic-based jig "Love on a Farmboy's Wages" and the big-beat cello-pop "Great Fire" are up to XTC's usual standards. Two other songs are decently passable - the shuffling loungey "Ladybird" is a pleasant trifle, and the WWI eulogy "In Loving Memory of a Name" barrelhouses rollickingly enough to provide a sliver of amusement.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise (blogging at Creative Noise)

Badly-produced once again, but this time XTC don't overdo it with the crappy songs.

In fact, of all the ten tracks on this release, I'd say only two of them qualify for the 'bad' pile ... "Me and the Wind", despite the nice refrain, just rambles on and on, and "Human Alchemy" is one of the dreariest side-openers ever writ.

But check out those other tunes: "Beating of Hearts" is one of Partridge's best-ever 'all you need is love'-type songs, "Love on a Farmboy's Wages" is the only acoustic guitar-driven song of the lot, and Moulding provides two neat synthy songs in "Wonderland" and "Deliver Us from the Elements", the latter featuring a neat echo-drenched ending.

There's also "Funk Pop a Roll", the only really uptempo number on the album, in which Partridge gets incredibly acerbic over the music industry, badly-constructed sentences and all.

The bonus tracks on the CD reissue are surprisingly good too: "Desert Island" and "Jump" are lovely acoustic ditties, "Frost Circus" is an eerie minimalist instrumental, and "Gold" is a fun rocker with some horns in there somewhere. Only "Procession Towards Learning Land" sucks, as it's just dissonant synth work.

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by Reviewer: Cole Reviews