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…
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.
STOP WHAT you're doing right now! It's time to welcome the release of Great Aspirations, a four-track EP reuniting Colin Moulding and Terry Chambers, the rhythmic powerhouse behind XTC, now trading under the tongue-in-cheek name of TC & I.
This really is as exciting as hearing a new XTC release – and it's a long time since that happened.
While Andy Partridge has maintained a steady flow of collaborations and songwriting credits since the demise of the band, very little has been heard from Colin Moulding. He's taken his bass out for Anton Barbeau, sung for Billy Sherwood and Days Between Stations, and appeared on covers of It's Raining Again and Brain Damage, but the last Moulding song to be released was Say It on the Apple Box set over a decade ago – and even that had been recorded in 2002.
The 15-year wait is but nothing compared with the 35-year hiatus during which Terry Chambers was not only out of XTC but out of the country. Now back from Australia with h…