Thursday, July 27, 2006

it all comes back to XTC

xtc | black sea

i remember really liking "sgt. rock" when XTC mimed to it on top of the pops.
it would be played at our school discos but no one would dance to it.
girls didn't seem to like it too much, but it's a song with a great chorus for young boys to shout along to.

that's my earliest memory of XTC.
i would've been about 10 going on 11.

xtc | english settlement

a couple of years later "senses working over time" came out and i loved it.
in fact i bought the 7".

and that was that until the summer of 1986 - it was 10 years after punk and the BBC aired a documentary which cobbled together bits of live footage and old grey whistle test appearances.
the program included buzzcocks, iggy, magazine, joy division, the usual pistols and clash stuff and some footage of XTC performing "neon shuffle" live in a rehearsal room (or so it appeared).
i had recorded the program, though i no longer have it, and of all the bands that appeared it was XTC that i kept rewinding to watch again.
and in my head a link was made - "sgt. rock", "senses working overtime", "neon shuffle" (and before you get all pedantic on me i know that's not chronologically correct, but that's the order it worked for me).

that summer of 86 i was between school and sixth form college and i worked most days helping to renovate my girlfriend's house. ripping out ceilings, mixing concrete, i even bricked up a door - my first and only bit of bricklaying (and it's still standing).
i was being paid reasonably for my efforts and decided i would buy all of XTC's albums.
i started with "waxworks", the singles collection. at the time you could still get copies of it shrinkwrapped with "beeswax", the b-sides album, free.

xtc | waxworks - some singles 1977 - 1982

i adored side 2 of "waxworks" for 7 days and then i bought "white music" and, following that, week after week i bought another couple of XTC albums.

then "skylarking" came out towards the end of the summer and i was completely thrown by it.
it sounded really really grown up.
like an adult's record.
and it put me off XTC - i just stopped listening to them.
i'd invested all that time and money and like a typical teenager moved on to something else.

xtc | skylarking

now of course i adore XTC and i LOVE "skylarking", though i can see why a 16 year old boy might not have enjoyed it too much.
it's definately a grown up record.

but my favourite XTC album is "black sea" and thinking about that now i feel it's fitting that it should be as it contains that first ever glimpse i had of the band - "sgt. rock".


  • At 3:01 AM, Blogger hhbtmike said…

    i went years and years trying to like xtc, but i had always bought the wrong records, oranges and lemons, rag and bone, skylarking, nonesuch, the older stuff. i pretty much picked a record a year seeing if i could get into it, but it never happened. then about a year ago, pretty much at the point i had decided you know it's something i'll never get into. i then found english settlement, then black sea, then mummer, then go 2. it's sad but i'm a xtc fan these days. mike


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