XTC have been sadly neglected commercially, despite some excellent work in the field of popular music, as demonstrated on this double CD.
Included in the original lineup - along with vocalist/guitarist Andy Partridge and vocalist/bass ist Colin Moulding - was a prominent but tasteless virtuoso keyboard player named Barry Andrews. Whilst his style is effective on "Statue of Liberty", generally he's distracting (Partridge states 'Barry had a ludicrously idiosyncratic style').
XTC's line-up improved when guitarist/keyboardist David Gregory joined and Moulding's songs were released as singles - catchy pop songs such as "Making Plans for Nigel", "Generals and Majors", and "Love at First Sight", all complement Partridge's darker and more literate singles very well.
Moulding is also the instrumental star with his innovative basslines, and his initial success in turn inspired Partridge's songwriting to new heights such as with "Senses Working Overtime", "Respectable Street", and "Towers of London".
So the first disc of Fossil Fuel
chronicles the group's stripped-down New Wave sound, which although now sounding slightly dated, does feature Partridge's and Moulding's always interesting songwriting.
Around the time of the second disc, beginning with 1983's Mummer
, XTC softened their approach and retreated into the studio, in an attempt to emulate their 1960's influences, such as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and The Kinks. That's in contrast to their earlier work, where a primary influence was Captain Beefheart.
XTC also developed an attractively romantic sense of archaism with "Love on a Farmboy's Wages", "All The Pretty Girls", and "Grass". My favourite though is "The Meeting Place", with its innovative piano riffs - I can't figure out why it works so well! Also noteworthy is the dual rhythm guitar introduction for "Wake Up".
Although the music on Fossil Fuel
is excellent, the evidence is there as to why XTC never enjoyed much commercial success, as in the bizarre coda tacked onto the end of "Wrapped in Grey", and the bridge that interrupts the flow of "King for a Day". Maybe that's a good thing though, as it meant that all the great songs were untainted by the demands of commercial radio.Rated:
by Reviewer: Fyfeopedia
(blogging at Fyfeopedia [Defunct]