Andy Partridge on Unwrap You at Christmas

FOR XTC's Andy Partridge, the Monkees were childhood heroes. He even won a competition in Monkees Monthly for his caricature of Micky Dolenz. A dream came true in 2016 when he wrote for the band's 50th-anniversary comeback album Good Times! His song You Bring the Summer was one of that record's highlights – as was the bonus track Love's What I Want. Two years later, he proves he can do winter just as well as summer with Unwrap You at Christmas, the lead single from the newly released Christmas Party

Mark Fisher, editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls, pulls out the crackers, pours a sherry and asks Andy some festive questions.
Our new single “Unwrap You at Christmas” is now available on #Spotify...written for us by the great Andy Partridge of XTC! — Micky Dolenz (@TheMickyDolenz1) 9 October 2018
When I was down in Swindon 18 months ago you played me your demo of Unwrap You at Christmas and I thought it s…

XTC's Colin Moulding and Terry Chambers play live

THE 36-YEAR wait is nearly over. After releasing the Great Aspirations CD as TC&I at the end of 2017, songwriter Colin Moulding and original XTC drummer Terry Chambers have announced a string of live dates in October. 

"It’s exciting times," says Chambers. "Eighteen months ago couldn’t see this happening – I’m as excited about these gigs as I was in 1973 playing our first gig at the Arts Centre Swindon as a 17 year Helium Kid, and the first time to be playing with Colin together on stage since San Diego."

Playing a mini-residency at Swindon Arts Centre, the long-standing rhythm section will be joined by Steve Tilling on guitar and Gary Bamford on keyboards and guitar. 

Multi-instrumentalist and session musician Tilling is the man behind Circu5 whose debut album The Amazing Monstrous Grady featured a guest appearance from XTC guitarist Dave Gregory.

Excited to be doing this run of dates at the Swindon Arts Centre with Colin Moulding and Terry Chambers (ex-XTC - now…

Andy Partridge on Humanoid Boogie and Apples and Oranges

Mark Fisher, editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls, talks to Andy Partridge about his limited-edition EP covering two songs from 1967: Humanoid Boogie by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and Apples and Oranges by Pink Floyd.MARK FISHER: I'm assuming you're sitting there in Dukes of Stratosphear garb.
ANDY PARTRIDGE: It's only just coincidental that they're two songs I've always loved and always wanted to cover. There are other songs I could have equally picked: Citadel by the Rolling Stones or Mellow Yellow… seemingly all from the same sort of years. I guess I was just at that everything-impressiony stage. I would have been 13 – or 14 in November 67.

So these were the first things you were listening to of your own volition.
Well, one of the very first albums I bought in 68 was the Bonzos' Doughnut in Granny's Greenhouse. I took my paper-round money into a bookshop called Wymans. They had this groovy little square section filed off at the back as a …

Limited edition XTC photo book

I'm pleased to have written a short introduction to this rather gorgeous 36-page photo book put together by Ronald Gurr featuring a selection of photographs of XTC in NYC at the end of 1980 by Virginia Turbett.

When Turbett took this set of pictures in and around Madison Square Garden in December 1980, XTC were on a roll. Four albums in, they'd been playing alongside such heavy hitters as The Police, Oingo Boingo and, now, The Cars. The year had kicked off with a handful of dates in New York and they'd subsequently played Canada, Europe, New Zealand and Australia, as well as repeat trips to the US.

Captured here in a chilly NYC, they are unguarded and relaxed – if, perhaps, exhausted by their relentless schedule. We see Terry Chambers larking about with woolly hat pulled over his face; Dave Gregory, never so happy as when he's got a guitar round his neck; Andy Partridge giving every shot its visual interest; and Colin Moulding, all mop-top, cheek bones and shy good humou…

Showtime XTC documentary – Charlie Thomas interview

Mark Fisher, editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls, talks to director Charlie Thomas about the making of This Is Pop, the superb XTC "rockumentary", as it makes its North American debut on Showtime.HOW DO YOU make a rockumentary when your principal subject detests rockumentaries? That was the challenge faced by Charlie Thomas when he set about filming the story of XTC. He knew there'd be little point in proceeding if he didn't have chief songwriter Andy Partridge on board. He also knew Andy was bored silly with the clichés of rock'n'roll reportage. What was he to do? "Persuading Andy was the key," says the moviemaker. 

Andy told him that every couple of months a director would get in touch wanting to make an XTC documentary, every time Andy would suggest ideas and every time he'd never hear from them again. Thomas gave him a call and they chatted for an hour. "We found common ground," says Thomas. "And from that p…

XTC Black Sea Steven Wilson remix review

Mark Fisher, editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls, takes a sonic journey into the land of Black Sea, freshly spruced up by Steven Wilson in a stereo remix and glorious 5.1 surround sound . . .
SORRY for stating the obvious, but XTC were a studio band for a long time. The last album they played live was English Settlement in 1982 – and then only about half the songs. After that came another seven albums, plus Dukes of Stratosphear outings, all of them created for the studio alone.

That's why all these years later, Steven Wilson's remix of 1980's Black Sea, officially released on 24 November 2017, comes as such an ear-opener. What you hear, thanks to the booming bass and thudding drums, is a band at the height of its live powers. This Black Sea is a tight set of adventurous pop gems which, for all its angular arrangements and atypical subject matter (neighbours, navvies and nihilism) is raw, unadorned and ready for action. 

Yes, as you’d expect, the tone is c…