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XTC were a New Wave
New Wave music
New Wave is a subgenre of :rock music that emerged in the mid to late 1970s alongside punk rock. The term at first generally was synonymous with punk rock before being considered a genre in its own right that incorporated aspects of electronic and experimental music, mod subculture, disco and 1960s...

 band from Swindon
Swindon
Swindon is a large town within the borough of Swindon and ceremonial county of Wiltshire, in South West England. It is midway between Bristol, west and Reading, east. London is east...

, England, active between 1976 and 2005. The band enjoyed some chart success, including the UK and Canadian hits "Making Plans for Nigel" (1979) and "Senses Working Overtime
Senses Working Overtime
"Senses Working Overtime" is a single by XTC released in 1982. It is at once the apogee of their early-eighties British popularity as well as their last gasp of mainstream success in their homeland...

" (1982), but are perhaps even better known for their long-standing critical (rather than commercial) success.

Early years: 1972–1977


First coming together in 1972, the core duo of Andy Partridge
Andy Partridge
Andrew John "Andy" Partridge is an English singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He has been known as Sir John Johns and Melchior and rose to fame as a founding member, guitarist and chief songwriter of the pop/new wave band, XTC. He lives in Swindon, Wiltshire, where he was raised.Partridge also...

 (guitars & vocals) and Colin Moulding
Colin Moulding
Colin Ivor Moulding is a bassist, songwriter and vocalist. He is a founding member of the band XTC. Though less prolific than bandmate Andy Partridge, Moulding wrote many of the group's most popular songs, including their first three UK hit singles: "Life Begins At The Hop", "Making Plans For...

 (bass & vocals) went through many band names (including The Helium Kidz and Star Park) over the next five years. As the Helium Kidz, they were featured in a small NME
NME
The New Musical Express is a popular music publication in the United Kingdom, published weekly since March 1952. It started as a music newspaper, and gradually moved toward a magazine format during the 1980s, changing from newsprint in 1998. It was the first British paper to include a singles...

article as an up-and-coming band from Swindon. Drawing influence from the New York Dolls
New York Dolls
The New York Dolls is an American rock band, formed in New York in 1971. The band's protopunk sound prefigured much of what was to come in the punk rock era; their visual style influenced the look of many new wave and 1980s-era glam metal groups, and they began the local New York scene that later...

, particularly the "Jetboy" single, and the emerging New York punk scene, they played glam rock
Glam rock
Glam rock is a style of rock and pop music that developed in the UK in the early 1970s, which was performed by singers and musicians who wore outrageous clothes, makeup and hairstyles, particularly platform-soled boots and glitter...

 with homemade costumes and slowly built up a following. Drummer Terry Chambers
Terry Chambers
Terry Chambers is an English drummer and was a founding member of XTC, appearing on all studio and live albums until his departure during the 1982 sessions for Mummer, on which he played on "Beating of Hearts", "Wonderland" and a B-side, "Toys".He moved to his wife's native Australia, drumming...

 joined in 1973. Keyboard player Jonathan Perkins followed, replaced by Barry Andrews
Barry Andrews (musician)
Barry Andrews is a vocalist and keyboardist. He is a former member of the bands XTC and League of Gentlemen with Robert Fripp, and was co-founder of Shriekback. He has collaborated with Brian Eno on several projects, most recently guesting on keyboards for the 2005 album Another Day On Earth...

 in 1976, and the band finally settled on a name: XTC.

Touring years: 1977–1982


In 1977 XTC were signed by Virgin Records
Virgin Records
Virgin Records is a British record label founded by English entrepreneur Richard Branson, Simon Draper, and Nik Powell in 1972. The company grew to be a worldwide music phenomenon, with platinum performers such as Roy Orbison, Devo, Genesis, Keith Richards, Janet Jackson, Culture Club, Lenny...

. They recorded the 3D - EP
3D - EP
-Personnel:*Andy Partridge – Guitar and Vocals*Barry Andrews – Steam Piano, Clapped out Organs*Colin Moulding – Bass and Vocals*Terry Chambers – Drums and Vocals...

that summer, and followed it up with their debut LP White Music
White Music
White Music is the debut album by XTC. It was released on 20 January 1978 and reached No. 38 in the UK album charts. It spawned the singles "Statue of Liberty" which was banned by the BBC for the line "sail beneath your skirt" and a re-recording of "This Is Pop" .-UK LP: V 2095:-2001 Remastered...

in January 1978. These and future XTC releases would find Andy Partridge writing and singing about two-thirds of the material, while Colin Moulding would write and sing approximately one-third. (White Music also featured a cover of Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, film director and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly...

's "All Along The Watchtower
All Along the Watchtower
"All Along the Watchtower" is a song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. The song, which has been included on most of Dylan's greatest hits compilations, initially appeared on his 1967 album John Wesley Harding. Over the past 35 years, he has performed it in concert more...

", sung by Partridge.)

White Music received favourable reviews and entered the British top 40, but lead single "Statue of Liberty" was banned by the BBC because of its supposedly
"lewd" reference to the famous statue ("in my fantasy I sail beneath your skirt"). The group also picked up a cult following in Australia thanks to the support of the Sydney rock radio station 2JJ (now Triple-J) and the nationally broadcast weekly music TV show Countdown, which screened all of the band's early videos (beginning with their first Australian single release - "This Is Pop"); thanks to this interest, the group made two well-received tours there in 1979 and 1980.

Their second album Go 2
Go 2
Go 2 is XTC's second album. It was released on 6 October 1978. The UK version contained no singles, however the US and Canada versions included the single "Are You Receiving Me?" . A promotional video was also made for the song...

, released later in 1978, featured a typewriter
Typewriter
A typewriter is a mechanical or electromechanical device with keys that, when pressed, cause characters to be printed on a medium, usually paper. Typically one character is printed per keypress, and the machine prints the characters by making ink impressions of type elements similar to the pieces...

-text cover (designed by Hipgnosis
Hipgnosis
Hipgnosis was a British art design group that specialized in creating cover art for the albums of rock musicians and bands, most notably Pink Floyd, T.Rex, The Pretty Things, UFO, 10cc, Bad Company, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Scorpions, Yes, The Alan Parsons Project, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, ELO and XTC...

) and early pressings were accompanied by a bonus disc Go +
Go 2
Go 2 is XTC's second album. It was released on 6 October 1978. The UK version contained no singles, however the US and Canada versions included the single "Are You Receiving Me?" . A promotional video was also made for the song...

, a collection of dub mixes of songs from the album. Following its release, Barry Andrews left the group; the group initially sought a new keyboard player and Thomas Dolby
Thomas Dolby
Thomas Dolby is an English musician and producer. Best known for his 1982 hit "She Blinded Me with Science", and 1984 single "Hyperactive!", he has also worked extensively in production and as a session musician.-Early life:Dolby was born in London, England, contrary to information in early 1980s...

 was among those who auditioned) but they eventually selected guitarist and keyboardist Dave Gregory. Andrews went on to form Shriekback
Shriekback
Shriekback are an English rock band, formed in 1981 in Kentish Town by Barry Andrews, formerly of XTC and League of Gentlemen , and Dave Allen, formerly of the Gang of Four , with Carl Marsh, formerly of Out On Blue Six soon added to the line-up. They were joined by Martyn Barker on drums in 1983...

 and also worked with Robert Fripp
Robert Fripp
Robert Fripp is an English guitarist, composer and record producer. He was ranked 42nd on Rolling Stone magazine's 2003 list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" and #47 on Gibson.com’s "Top 50 Guitarists of All Time". Among rock guitarists, Fripp is a master of crosspicking, a technique...

's League of Gentlemen
League of Gentlemen (band)
The League of Gentlemen was a band active during March–December 1980 that featured guitarist Robert Fripp of King Crimson fame. Other members included bass guitarist Sara Lee , keyboardist Barry Andrews and percussionist Johnny Toobad, replaced late in the band's tenure by Kevin Wilkinson...

.

Coinciding with Gregory's arrival, XTC scored their first charting single in the UK with "Life Begins at the Hop
Life Begins at the Hop
"Life Begins at the Hop" is a single by XTC released in 1979. Their fifth single, it was the first indication of a change in their late-seventies sound from urgent post-punk to power pop. As their sound changed, so too did their line-up as keyboardist Barry Andrews was replaced by second guitarist...

", which was also the first XTC single penned by Colin Moulding. The replacement of Andrews' keyboard playing with Gregory's 1960s-influenced guitar style steered the band on a path towards a more traditional rock sound; Gregory also contributed occasional keyboards (and later, string arrangements). Their third album Drums and Wires
Drums and Wires
Drums and Wires is the third studio album by the British band XTC, released on 17 August 1979. It reached No. 34 on the UK album chart, and No. 176 on the U.S. Billboard album charts. It contained the successful single "Making Plans for Nigel", which was released on 14 September 1979, and reached...

contained the band's first major hit single "Making Plans for Nigel" (another Moulding composition), which caused a minor controversy because of its lyrical reference to British Steel
British Steel
British Steel was a major British steel producer. It originated as a nationalised industry, the British Steel Corporation , formed in 1967. This was converted to a public limited company, British Steel PLC, and privatised in 1988. It was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index...

. Drums and Wires also marked their first sessions at London's Townhouse Studios
Townhouse Studios
Townhouse Studios was a recording studio in west London. Built by Richard Branson in 1978, and managed by Barbara Jeffries as part of the Virgin Studios Group. The Virgin Studios Group was acquired by EMI when Richard sold Virgin Records to EMI in 1992. The Sanctuary Group bought the studio from...

. The studio was at the time much sought after for its highly reverberant "live" drum room, and it was greatly favoured by their producer Steve Lillywhite
Steve Lillywhite
Steve Lillywhite is an English Grammy Award winning record producer. Since he began his career in 1977, Lillywhite has been credited for working on over 500 records and has collaborated with a variety of musicians including XTC, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Dave Matthews Band, U2, Peter Gabriel,...

 and his engineer Hugh Padgham
Hugh Padgham
Hugh Padgham is a British record producer. He has won many awards, including four Grammys, with Producer of the Year and Engineer of the Year. A 1992 poll in Mix magazine voted him one of the world's Top Ten Most Influential Producers....

, who were at that time also creating influential recordings with Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel
Peter Brian Gabriel is an English singer, musician, and songwriter who rose to fame as the lead vocalist and flautist of the progressive rock group Genesis. After leaving Genesis, Gabriel went on to a successful solo career...

 and Genesis
Genesis (band)
Genesis are an English rock band that formed in 1967. The band currently comprises the longest-tenured members Tony Banks , Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins . Past members Peter Gabriel , Steve Hackett and Anthony Phillips , also played major roles in the band in its early years...

. The Lillywhite-Padgham connection also led to Dave Gregory contributing to Gabriel's third solo album.

During this period, Partridge released a solo LP of dub
Dub music
Dub is a genre of music which grew out of reggae music in the 1960s, and is commonly considered a subgenre, though it has developed to extend beyond the scope of reggae...

 in 1980 under the name 'Mr Partridge'. The album, Take Away/The Lure of Salvage
Take Away/The Lure of Salvage
Take Away/The Lure of Salvage is a record containing dub versions of XTC tracks released under the "Mr. Partridge" moniker of Andy Partridge. It was released on February 29, 1980 on Virgin Records. Side A is titled "Take Away" and side B "The Lure of Salvage." Partridge made Take Away... totally...

, featured dub reconstructions of music from the preceding XTC albums. Later the same year Moulding and Chambers released the "Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen" single under the name "The Colonel". In March 1980 XTC released a non-album single, the reggae-styled "Wait 'Til Your Boat Goes Down", but it failed to chart. Hoping to crack the American market, they undertook a gruelling US-Canada tour which included numerous support spots with The Police
The Police
The Police were an English rock band formed in London in 1977. For the vast majority of their history, the band consisted of Sting , Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland...

. The band opened three shows for The Cars at Madison Square Garden and the Nassau Coliseum between their own headline gigs at smaller area venues.

Their fourth LP Black Sea (Sept. 1980) featured the singles "Sgt. Rock
Sgt. Rock (comics)
Sgt. Frank Rock is a fictional infantry non-commissioned officer during World War II in the . He first appeared in Our Army at War #83 , and was created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert.-Publication history:...

 (Is Going to Help Me)" and "Generals and Majors", both of which made the UK Top 40, with the album reaching #1 in Australia. In the film clip of 'Generals and Majors' (directed by Russell Mulcahy
Russell Mulcahy
Russell Mulcahy is an Australian film director. His work is easily recognized by his use of fast cuts, tracking shots and use of glowing lights.- Music videos :...

), Virgin Records founder and chair Richard Branson
Richard Branson
Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is an English business magnate, best known for his Virgin Group of more than 400 companies....

 has a cameo role as one of the 'majors'.

The last major hit of XTC's touring phase was "Senses Working Overtime
Senses Working Overtime
"Senses Working Overtime" is a single by XTC released in 1982. It is at once the apogee of their early-eighties British popularity as well as their last gasp of mainstream success in their homeland...

", the first single from their double album English Settlement
English Settlement
English Settlement is the fifth studio album by British alternative rock band XTC, released on 12 February 1982. The album reached No. 5 on the UK Album Chart and No. 48 on the Billboard 200 album chart....

(February 1982) and their first top 10 hit in the UK. At the peak of their popularity, the band embarked on a major tour, but Partridge suffered a mental breakdown
Mental breakdown
Mental breakdown is a non-medical term used to describe an acute, time-limited phase of a specific disorder that presents primarily with features of depression or anxiety.-Definition:...

 on stage during one of the first concerts of the tour in Paris on 18 March 1982.

On 2 April 1982, a Friday night, XTC were scheduled to play at the Santa Monica Civic Theater in Santa Monica, California, but did not appear. The audience milled about the open festival floor for a long 45 minutes/hour after opening act Oingo Boingo
Oingo Boingo
Oingo Boingo was an American new wave band. They are best known for their influence on other musicians, their soundtrack contributions and their high energy Halloween concerts. The band was founded in 1972 as The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, a performance art group...

 departed the stage, and then finally it was announced that XTC would not take the stage due to the "illness" of one of the band members (later revealed as Andy Partridge's ongoing fight with stage fright in Chris Twomey's book XTC: Chalkhills and Children). XTC never played another tour date. (XTC would perform several acoustic sets for radio only in 1989.)

Studio years: 1982–1998


Andy Partridge's breakdown, which manifested itself as uncontrollable stage fright
Stage fright
Stage fright or performance anxiety is the anxiety, fear, or persistent phobia which may be aroused in an individual by the requirement to perform in front of an audience, whether actually or potentially . In the context of public speaking, this fear is termed glossophobia, one of the most common...

, was reportedly precipitated by his wife throwing away his supply of Valium. According to the band's biography, the drug was prescribed to him as a teenager during his parents' divorce but he was never withdrawn from the drug and became dependent on it. Concerned about her husband's dependence on the drug, Partridge's wife threw his tablets away—without seeking medical advice—just before the Paris concert. Partridge particularly needed the medication to cope with the grinding monotony of concert touring, which he had always hated, but had endured for the good of the band. The sudden withdrawal of medication brought on anxiety attacks of such severity that he was soon forced to withdraw from performing permanently. The European and British dates were cancelled and after completing only one show in San Diego
San Diego, California
San Diego is the eighth-largest city in the United States and second-largest city in California. The city is located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, immediately adjacent to the Mexican border. The birthplace of California, San Diego is known for its mild year-round...

 the whole US leg was also abandoned. Since then, XTC became exclusively a studio band, apart from occasional live-to-air performances from radio stations, and a handful of TV appearances.

Terry Chambers left the band shortly thereafter, during the recording of their 1983 album Mummer
Mummer (album)
Mummer is the sixth album by the group XTC which was released on 30 August 1983. It reached No. 51 on the UK album chart and No. 145 on the U.S. Billboard album charts....

(his last recording on the track "Toys"). He was unhappy working in confines of the studio, and also felt the loss of income that resulted from their withdrawal from touring, since he did not write songs for the band and so received no publishing royalties. Another major factor was Chambers' relationship with his Australian girlfriend; they subsequently married, and Chambers migrated to Australia and settled in Newcastle, New South Wales
Newcastle, New South Wales
The Newcastle metropolitan area is the second most populated area in the Australian state of New South Wales and includes most of the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie Local Government Areas...

. Rather than finding a replacement, XTC used a series of session drummers over the years, including Peter Phipps, Prairie Prince
Prairie Prince
Prairie Prince is a rock drummer. He was a member of The Tubes and a founding member of Journey...

 of The Tubes
The Tubes
The Tubes are a San Francisco-based rock band, whose 1975 debut album included the hit single, "White Punks on Dope". During its first fifteen years or so, the band's live performances combined quasi-pornography with wild satires of media, consumerism, and politics...

, Dave Mattacks
Dave Mattacks
Dave Mattacks is a rock and folk drummer. Best known for his work with Fairport Convention, Mattacks has also worked both as a session musician, and as a performance artist...

 of Fairport Convention
Fairport Convention
Fairport Convention are an English folk rock and later electric folk band, formed in 1967 who are still recording and touring today. They are widely regarded as the most important single group in the English folk rock movement...

, Pat Mastelotto
Pat Mastelotto
Pat Mastelotto is a rock drummer who has worked with Mr. Mister and King Crimson, amongst others. For King Crimson he initially formed part of the "double trio" lineup, joining Bill Bruford on drums...

 of King Crimson
King Crimson
King Crimson are a rock band founded in London, England in 1969. Often categorised as a foundational progressive rock group, the band have incorporated diverse influences and instrumentation during their history...

 and Mr. Mister
Mr. Mister
Mr. Mister is an American pop rock band most popular in the 1980s. The band's name came from an inside joke about a Weather Report album called Mr. Gone where they referred to each other as "Mister This" or "Mister That", and eventually selected "Mr. Mister." Mr. Mister may be considered as...

, Chuck Sabo, and Dave Gregory's brother Ian (as "E.I.E.I. Owen").

Mummer took the group's music in a more pastoral direction with songs like "Love on a Farmboy's Wages". Their next album, 1984's The Big Express
The Big Express
The Big Express is the seventh studio album by the British band XTC, released in 1984. It was one of XTC's harder-edged albums, in contrast to the pastoral Mummer and Skylarking which were released in sequence with it. The seventh track, "I Bought Myself a Liarbird" is about their former manager,...

marked a return to the harsher and more abrasive sounds of their early albums, but the combination of the group's 'no touring' status and the growing disenchantment of their label made it their poorest selling LP to date. The album was nonetheless a personal high point for Partridge, who ranks songs such as "(The Everyday Story of) Smalltown" and "Train Running Low on Soul Coal" amongst his best work.

In 1986, the band travelled to Todd Rundgren
Todd Rundgren
Todd Harry Rundgren is an American multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and record producer. Hailed in the early stage of his career as a new pop-wunderkind, supported by the certified gold solo double LP Something/Anything? in 1972, Todd Rundgren's career has produced a diverse range of recordings...

's rural studio in Woodstock, New York
Woodstock, New York
Woodstock is a town in Ulster County, New York, United States. The population was 5,884 at the 2010 census, down from 6,241 at the 2000 census.The Town of Woodstock is in the northern part of the county...

 to record Skylarking
Skylarking
Skylarking is XTC's eighth studio album, released on 27 October 1986 and produced by American musician Todd Rundgren. Skylarking is a "life-in-a-day" semi-concept album which displayed songwriting and arranging heavily influenced by The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Kinks...

. Although the pairing of XTC and Rundgren was highly anticipated by fans, the sessions were less than enjoyable for the band. Rundgren had been hired to trim the band's studio excesses and return them to commercial success. Prior to the recording sessions, Rundgren listened through demos of the songs, chose 15 for the record and worked out a sequence for the album. Being accustomed to creative independence in the studio, Partridge resisted Rundgren's decision-making role as producer. Rundgren and Partridge clashed frequently during the recording of Skylarking and when it was finished Partridge said that he was not at all happy with the resulting product. Partridge has since softened his view, describing the album as "a summer's day baked into one cake."

Skylarking spawned the controversial track "Dear God
Dear God (XTC song)
"Dear God" is a song on XTC's 1986 album Skylarking. It was not a part of the original Skylarking album, but after DJs across America picked up the song, Geffen Records decided to replace "Mermaid Smiled" with "Dear God." The song was inspired by a series of books with the same title, seen by...

", which was originally issued as the B-side of the album's first single, "Grass". Interest in the song saw the US album re-pressed with "Dear God" included and the new version of the LP sold 250,000 copies in the USA, reviving the band's commercial fortunes and earning critical accolades. "Dear God" replaced "Mermaid Smiled" on the American version of the album and the latter track was finally reinstated for the remastered reissue of Skylarking CD in 2000.

The band's follow up, Oranges and Lemons
Oranges and Lemons (album)
Oranges & Lemons is the tenth studio album by the British band XTC, released in 1989. The name of the album may have been taken from the lyrics to Skylarking's "Ballet for a Rainy Day," which in turn may have come from the old English nursery rhyme:...

, produced by Paul Fox
Paul Fox (producer)
Paul Fox is an American record producer, who is best known for producing such bands as Faker; The Green Children; Björk; Gene Loves Jezebel; 10,000 Maniacs; XTC; Phish; Sunfall Festival; Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians; The Sugarcubes; Too Much Joy; They Might Be Giants; Edwin McCain; Semisonic...

, was their biggest seller yet, with the videos for "The Mayor of Simpleton" and "King for a Day" getting heavy airplay on MTV and other international music TV programs. It was during this period that Partridge began a relationship with an American fan, Erica Wexler, the niece of famed American record producer Jerry Wexler
Jerry Wexler
Gerald "Jerry" Wexler was a music journalist turned music producer, and was regarded as one of the major record industry players behind music from the 1950s through the 1980s...

. Although signs of the failing of Partridge's first marriage were evident as far back as English Settlement (notably on the album's closing track, "Snowman"), it was some time before the still-married Partridge felt comfortable with Wexler's advances and his mixed feelings about the situation were chronicled in the song "Another Satellite". The relationship finally came to fruition after Partridge's first wife Marianne left him.

Throughout their career, XTC (and Andy Partridge) have also released material under various pseudonyms. As "The Dukes of Stratosphear
The Dukes of Stratosphear
The Dukes of Stratosphear was a pseudonym used by the British rock band XTC in the mid to late 1980s, concurrently with XTC's continued musical activities...

" (a suggested band name that the group had rejected in favour of XTC) they reunited with original producer John Leckie
John Leckie
John Leckie is a British music producer, notable for producing many high-profile albums such as The Stone Roses's debut and Radiohead's The Bends...

 to record a series of affectionate parodies
Parody
A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

 that indulged their love of classic 1960s psychedelic music. The first Dukes release was the EP 25 O'Clock
25 O'Clock
25 O'Clock is an EP from XTC which was released under the pseudonym The Dukes of Stratosphear, and was also the title song from that release...

, issued on April Fools' Day 1985; this was followed by the 1987 LP Psonic Psunspot
Psonic Psunspot
Psonic Psunspot is the ninth studio album from XTC which was released under the pseudonym The Dukes of Stratosphear in 1987.Like the previous album 25 O'Clock, this album is inspired by the 1960s psychedelia...

, and the tracks from both releases were combined for the 1987 CD Chips from the Chocolate Fireball
Chips from the Chocolate Fireball
Chips from the Chocolate Fireball: An Anthology is a CD-only compilation album from XTC which was released under the pseudonym The Dukes of Stratosphear...

. In 2009 Partridge's Ape House label reissued the Dukes recordings as a limited-edition boxed set which included heavyweight vinyl pressings of the original EP and LP in gatefold sleeves, a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle, a t-shirt and the single, "Tin Toy Clockwork Train". Other XTC side projects include a Viz promotional single as "Johnny Japes and his Jesticles", a Christmas-themed single as "The Three Wise Men" and a guest appearance on their own tribute album Testimonial Dinner as "Terry and the Lovemen" (named after a rejected album title for Black Sea).

Their 1992 album Nonsuch
Nonsuch (album)
Nonsuch is the eleventh studio album by XTC, released on 27 April 1992. In a 1992 MTV interview, Andy Partridge said that he had selected the name of the album after encountering a drawing of Nonsuch Palace and, thinking that the archaic word "Nonsuch" meant "does not exist" rather than, as he...

(named after Henry VIII's
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 fabled palace
Nonsuch Palace
Nonsuch Palace was a Tudor royal palace, built by Henry VIII in Surrey, England; it stood from 1538 to 1682–3. Its ruins are in Nonsuch Park.- Background :Nonsuch Palace in Surrey was perhaps the grandest of Henry VIII's building projects...

), united them with UK producer Gus Dudgeon
Gus Dudgeon
Angus Boyd Dudgeon , most commonly known as Gus Dudgeon was an English record producer, most notable for production of many of Elton John's recordings.-Early career:...

, known for his 1970s work with Elton John
Elton John
Sir Elton Hercules John, CBE, Hon DMus is an English rock singer-songwriter, composer, pianist and occasional actor...

) and drummer Dave Mattacks
Dave Mattacks
Dave Mattacks is a rock and folk drummer. Best known for his work with Fairport Convention, Mattacks has also worked both as a session musician, and as a performance artist...

 (Fairport Convention
Fairport Convention
Fairport Convention are an English folk rock and later electric folk band, formed in 1967 who are still recording and touring today. They are widely regarded as the most important single group in the English folk rock movement...

). The album featured the US and UK hit tunes "Dear Madam Barnum" and "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead
The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead
"The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" is a single by XTC from their 1992 album Nonsuch. It was the band's second #1 hit on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. The song was covered and released as a single by Crash Test Dummies in 1995 for the soundtrack to the film Dumb and Dumber...

", the latter bringing the band perhaps its greatest success after the early 1980s. (The video for the song drew intriguing parallels between the deaths of Jesus Christ and John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

.) In spite of the LP's success, soon after its release a contractual dispute with their label, Virgin Records
Virgin Records
Virgin Records is a British record label founded by English entrepreneur Richard Branson, Simon Draper, and Nik Powell in 1972. The company grew to be a worldwide music phenomenon, with platinum performers such as Roy Orbison, Devo, Genesis, Keith Richards, Janet Jackson, Culture Club, Lenny...

, saw XTC go "on strike" from 1992 through 1998, which finally resulted in the termination of their contract. They released no new material during this time, although Virgin did issue two compilations - the US-only greatest hits collection Upsy Daisy Assortment
Upsy Daisy Assortment
Upsy Daisy Assortment is a U.S.-exclusive compilation by XTC, released after Geffen Records declined to distribute the 1996 double-disc Fossil Fuel: The XTC Singles 1977-1992....

, and the 2-CD set 'Best Of' collection Fossil Fuel: The XTC Singles 1977-1992
Fossil Fuel: The XTC Singles 1977-1992
Fossil Fuel: The XTC Singles 1977-92 is a compilation album by XTC released in 1996. It was their third such Greatest Hits album following 1982's Waxworks: Some Singles 1977-1982 and 1987's The Compact XTC. It collects all thirty-one of their Virgin Records UK singles in chronological order...

, which featured remastered versions of their singles, including many tracks not previously issued on CD.

Management and contractual problems had dogged the band throughout their career, and around the time of the recording of Nonsuch they had to make a legal settlement with their former manager. Although most fans assume (and the lyrics of "I Bought Myself a Liarbird" from The Big Express imply) that there was some financial impropriety involved, the terms of the settlement imposed a "gag" on the band and have prevented them from speaking publicly about the matter.

By now, XTC's relationship with their label had almost totally broken down; the final straw was Virgin's scuttling of their 1992 single "Wrapped in Grey". Vinyl 7" singles, CD singles and a few cassette singles were pressed but the vast majority were recalled and destroyed by the label, who unilaterally decided it had no prospect of charting: the few copies that made it in to circulation are now highly prized collector's items. The band asked that Virgin either allow them to re-negotiate their contract or release them from it, but the label stalled for years until finally agreeing to release them after a change of management at the company.

Independent years: 1998–2005


After leaving Virgin, Partridge had their accounts audited and it was discovered that the company had withheld substantial royalty payments from them. The settlement of the accounts provided the group with much-needed cash flow, allowing Partridge and Moulding to install fully equipped studios and work comfortably at home.

Though able to record the majority of their work themselves, they also used major commercial studios (including Abbey Road Studios
Abbey Road Studios
Abbey Road Studios is a recording studio located at 3 Abbey Road, St John's Wood, City of Westminster, London, England. It was established in November 1931 by the Gramophone Company, a predecessor of British music company EMI, its present owner...

 in London) for some sessions. Finally released from Virgin, they formed their own label, Idea Records
Idea Records
Idea Records is a British independent record label. It was established in the late 1990s by Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding, the two main members of the British rock band XTC, and was set up to release the band's own recordings...

, and embarked on the recording of the ambitious "Apple Venus" project, a collection of the best material written during the band's dispute with Virgin. The band's initial plan had been to record a double album, featuring one disc of acoustic and orchestral songs and one of electric songs. Financial constraints forced the band to abandon the double album plan and finish and release the first volume (released 1999) before completing the second (2000).

Dave Gregory left the band during the recording sessions for Apple Venus Volume 1
Apple Venus Volume 1
Apple Venus Volume 1 is the twelfth studio album by British band XTC, released in 1999. It was the first on the band's own Idea Records through Cooking Vinyl and distributed in the United States by TVT Records. It reached #42 in the UK...

after 20 years' service. Ostensibly, this was due to "musical differences" -- Gregory was unhappy with the plan to record an album whose arrangements relied largely upon orchestral instruments and keyboards rather than guitars. What was not mentioned at the time was that the cutting back of his involvement in the new XTC recordings, (the string arrangements having been taken over by Andy Partridge), meant considerably fewer "points" in the calculation of royalties; as Gregory never wrote any songs for the band, this put a significant dent in his potential income from the album, basically reducing his payments to that of a session musician.

In the end, Gregory was credited as a session musician rather than as a band member on the finished album, as he left before it was completed. Partridge later claimed in a press interview that he and Colin were going to sack Gregory anyway because of his sullen attitude during the recordings, and that they had waited for him for six years to write the orchestral arrangements, and had finally told him that they would not let him stop the project.

Dave Gregory's contribution to the XTC sound had been immense; the technical skill of his guitar and keyboard playing, and his orchestral scoring, had facilitated a huge expansion in the group's sonic possibilities. His skills also encouraged, perhaps goaded Partridge to new heights of musicianship. It is some measure of how fond of him the XTC fanbase were that they slammed Moulding & Partridge for forcing his departure on the band's official forum—and some measure of their mutual respect for their fans and Gregory that the criticism went uncensored. The three got back together for a charity reunion of their Dukes of Stratosphear alter-egos years later, and in late 2006 Partridge revealed that he and Gregory had rekindled their friendship.

The band's next record, Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2)
Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2)
Wasp Star is the thirteenth and last studio album by XTC, released on Cooking Vinyl/Idea Records on 23 May 2000. It is the second volume of the Apple Venus set....

was the guitar-heavy collection Gregory would have preferred. Partridge and Moulding then released instrumental and demo versions of the two Apple Venus albums. In October 2005, the two original albums and the demo versions of the albums were reissued together in the four-CD Apple Box collection.

Having left Virgin, relations between XTC and their former label improved and Andy Partridge released a series of albums of demos of his songs (mainly from the Virgin years) under the title of Fuzzy Warbles
Fuzzy Warbles
The Official Fuzzy Warbles Collector's Album is a CD box set of rarities from XTC guitarist and frontman Andy Partridge. The box set brings together the eight previously released Fuzzy Warbles volumes and includes an exclusive ninth disc entitled Hinges. Rather than release a solo album Partridge...

beginning in 2002, on a new label imprint APE. Colin Moulding declined to contribute his demos to the series. The Fuzzy Warbles
Fuzzy Warbles
The Official Fuzzy Warbles Collector's Album is a CD box set of rarities from XTC guitarist and frontman Andy Partridge. The box set brings together the eight previously released Fuzzy Warbles volumes and includes an exclusive ninth disc entitled Hinges. Rather than release a solo album Partridge...

 series eventually included eight volumes along with a bonus CD, Hinges.

A four-CD compilation—Coat of Many Cupboards
Coat of Many Cupboards
Coat of Many Cupboards is a box set by XTC released in 2002. It acts as an anthology of their fifteen years on Virgin Records. It is their first compilation of any kind to include tracks by their alter-ego, The Dukes of Stratosphear.-Disc one:...

—spanning the band's time with Virgin, was also released in 2002.

Break-up


The 2005 inclusion on Apple Box of the first new XTC tracks in five years ("Spiral", written by Partridge and "Say It", by Moulding), offered hope that the band might continue. However, in November 2006, Partridge told several interviewers that Moulding no longer had any interest in writing, performing or even listening to music. Partridge has said he would not continue XTC without Moulding, and that therefore he has been forced to regard XTC "in the past tense," with no likelihood of a new project unless Moulding should have a change of heart.

Partridge said, in an interview on a Todd Rundgren fansite in February 2008, that Moulding had moved and changed his phone number, effectively ending all contact between the two. The only correspondence they had is through emails via their manager, discussing the division of the band's assets. Partridge also said he and Gregory—their differences now resolved—have considered working together again.

On 30 July 2008, Partridge summed up the status of the band on the news website Swindon Advertiser
Swindon Advertiser
The Swindon Advertiser is a daily tabloid newspaper, published in Swindon. The newspaper was founded in 1854, and had a circulation in 2006 of 22,321....

, in his "Ask Andy" column:
Yes I believe my musical partnership with Colin Moulding has come to an end. For reasons too personal and varied to go into here, but we had a good run as they say and produced some real good work. No, I won't be working with him in the future.


In a December 2008 internet radio interview on RundgrenRadio.com, Moulding resurfaced to confirm his recent disillusionment with music, but revealed that he was thinking of working on solo material. His given reasons for the break-up were financial discord, disagreement over the extent of the Fuzzy Warbles
Fuzzy Warbles
The Official Fuzzy Warbles Collector's Album is a CD box set of rarities from XTC guitarist and frontman Andy Partridge. The box set brings together the eight previously released Fuzzy Warbles volumes and includes an exclusive ninth disc entitled Hinges. Rather than release a solo album Partridge...

 project, and a "change in mindset" on Partridge's part, but he stated that they were again communicating directly by email.

Newly remastered re-issues of several XTC albums are planned. Included will be re-worked previously unreleased tracks with contributions by Moulding. The first of these releases—expanded versions of 25 O'Clock
25 O'Clock
25 O'Clock is an EP from XTC which was released under the pseudonym The Dukes of Stratosphear, and was also the title song from that release...

and Psonic Psunspot
Psonic Psunspot
Psonic Psunspot is the ninth studio album from XTC which was released under the pseudonym The Dukes of Stratosphear in 1987.Like the previous album 25 O'Clock, this album is inspired by the 1960s psychedelia...

—have been released by Partridge's APE House record label. The APE website states that the XTC re-issues will be coming from Virgin in 2010, with expanded CD editions of English Settlement
English Settlement
English Settlement is the fifth studio album by British alternative rock band XTC, released on 12 February 1982. The album reached No. 5 on the UK Album Chart and No. 48 on the Billboard 200 album chart....

, Skylarking
Skylarking
Skylarking is XTC's eighth studio album, released on 27 October 1986 and produced by American musician Todd Rundgren. Skylarking is a "life-in-a-day" semi-concept album which displayed songwriting and arranging heavily influenced by The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Kinks...

, and Oranges & Lemons making up the first wave, and that APE will also be selling vinyl editions of the re-issued records.

Discography


  • White Music
    White Music
    White Music is the debut album by XTC. It was released on 20 January 1978 and reached No. 38 in the UK album charts. It spawned the singles "Statue of Liberty" which was banned by the BBC for the line "sail beneath your skirt" and a re-recording of "This Is Pop" .-UK LP: V 2095:-2001 Remastered...

    (1978)
  • Go 2
    Go 2
    Go 2 is XTC's second album. It was released on 6 October 1978. The UK version contained no singles, however the US and Canada versions included the single "Are You Receiving Me?" . A promotional video was also made for the song...

    (1978)
  • Drums and Wires
    Drums and Wires
    Drums and Wires is the third studio album by the British band XTC, released on 17 August 1979. It reached No. 34 on the UK album chart, and No. 176 on the U.S. Billboard album charts. It contained the successful single "Making Plans for Nigel", which was released on 14 September 1979, and reached...

    (1979)
  • Black Sea (1980)
  • English Settlement
    English Settlement
    English Settlement is the fifth studio album by British alternative rock band XTC, released on 12 February 1982. The album reached No. 5 on the UK Album Chart and No. 48 on the Billboard 200 album chart....

    (1982)
  • Mummer
    Mummer (album)
    Mummer is the sixth album by the group XTC which was released on 30 August 1983. It reached No. 51 on the UK album chart and No. 145 on the U.S. Billboard album charts....

    (1983)
  • The Big Express
    The Big Express
    The Big Express is the seventh studio album by the British band XTC, released in 1984. It was one of XTC's harder-edged albums, in contrast to the pastoral Mummer and Skylarking which were released in sequence with it. The seventh track, "I Bought Myself a Liarbird" is about their former manager,...

    (1984)
  • 25 O'Clock
    25 O'Clock
    25 O'Clock is an EP from XTC which was released under the pseudonym The Dukes of Stratosphear, and was also the title song from that release...

    (1985), as The Dukes of Stratosphear
    The Dukes of Stratosphear
    The Dukes of Stratosphear was a pseudonym used by the British rock band XTC in the mid to late 1980s, concurrently with XTC's continued musical activities...

  • Skylarking
    Skylarking
    Skylarking is XTC's eighth studio album, released on 27 October 1986 and produced by American musician Todd Rundgren. Skylarking is a "life-in-a-day" semi-concept album which displayed songwriting and arranging heavily influenced by The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Kinks...

    (1986)
  • Psonic Psunspot
    Psonic Psunspot
    Psonic Psunspot is the ninth studio album from XTC which was released under the pseudonym The Dukes of Stratosphear in 1987.Like the previous album 25 O'Clock, this album is inspired by the 1960s psychedelia...

    (1987), as The Dukes of Stratosphear
    The Dukes of Stratosphear
    The Dukes of Stratosphear was a pseudonym used by the British rock band XTC in the mid to late 1980s, concurrently with XTC's continued musical activities...

  • Oranges & Lemons (1989)
  • Nonsuch
    Nonsuch (album)
    Nonsuch is the eleventh studio album by XTC, released on 27 April 1992. In a 1992 MTV interview, Andy Partridge said that he had selected the name of the album after encountering a drawing of Nonsuch Palace and, thinking that the archaic word "Nonsuch" meant "does not exist" rather than, as he...

    (1992)
  • Apple Venus Volume 1
    Apple Venus Volume 1
    Apple Venus Volume 1 is the twelfth studio album by British band XTC, released in 1999. It was the first on the band's own Idea Records through Cooking Vinyl and distributed in the United States by TVT Records. It reached #42 in the UK...

    (1999)
  • Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2)
    Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2)
    Wasp Star is the thirteenth and last studio album by XTC, released on Cooking Vinyl/Idea Records on 23 May 2000. It is the second volume of the Apple Venus set....

    (2000)

External links