A garden of earthly delights – XTC’s studio albums – White Music

XTC's early releases

White Music – 1978

Herky and, indeed, jerky. The sound of speed. 100mph. Non-stop. 

XTC was one of several bands who hitched a ride on the punk bandwagon – see also The Stranglers and The Motors.

But that was alright as Punk was as much about who was let in after the door was kicked down as it was about the here today, nowhere to go tomorrow merchants, like, say, The Lurkers – great though those early singles were. My heart is still in the Shadow. 

XTC was in the vanguard of great English songwriters, in the tradition of Ray Davies et al, who initially snarled their way into our hearts. Elvis Costello, Ian Dury and, a little later, Squeeze fit into that model. 

XTC's early releases
Singles and album from the White Music era

“Punk was as much about who was let in after the door was kicked down as it was about the here today, nowhere to go tomorrow merchants”

Contrary to popular belief, The Stranglers weren’t the only band of the new wave to feature keyboards. Indeed, the soon to be jettisoned Barry Andrews’ steam organ drives this album. And it is driven, rarely letting up, which was what we wanted. 

But they couldn’t completely suppress the songwriting under the speed. Top pop tunes like, er, This is Pop and Statue of Liberty, the album’s singles, formed an oasis among the mayhem and pointed the way forward. 

Is All Along the Watchtower the best cover of that song? No, obviously not, that’s Hendrix, but it is a fun addition to punk’s deconstruction of previous generations treasures, as exemplified by The Dickies with their uncanny ability to make every song sound the same, ie like the Ramones, and of which Devo’s pulling apart of Satisfaction was the most satisfying. 

Top Tunes 

I Set Myself on Fire 

This is Pop 

Toppermost of the Poppermost 

Statue of Liberty 

Fast forward …

Singles and album from XTC’s Go 2 era
Singles and album from XTC’s Go 2 era

A garden of earthly delights – XTC’s studio albums – Go 2 (1978)

Probably the most unloved XTC album and probably rightly so. The second album of the year and it shows.

Singles and album from XTC's Drums and Wires era
Singles and album from XTC’s Drums and Wires era

A garden of earthly delights – XTC’s studio albums – Drums and Wires (1979)

Ah, that’s better! Preceded by the criminally neglected single, Life Begins at the Hop, Drums and Wires is a really good album.

Singles and album from XTC’s Black Sea era
Singles and album from XTC’s Black Sea era

A garden of earthly delights – XTC’s studio albums – Back Sea (1980)

Is this my favourite XTC album?  Not quite, but we’re almost there on our journey through Swindon’s finest’s back catalogue. Black Sea is another great XTC album.

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