Tag Archive: xtc


I guess if this blog is going to pick up any significant numbers I should embrace some of the bigger names that this fair town has offered up over the years. And just as I was thinking about that, serendipitously this popped up. It was posted by Henry Priestman, then a member of The Yachts, later a Christian and these days a member of Ian McNabb’s trusted musical entourage.

Anyway, it will give the readers something to argue about until I make a scathing comment about cover bands or suggest that certain venues aren’t great at advertising their gigs.

70502869_10156507525233244_8310818480047783936_n

759489From Mark Fisher, the editor of ‘The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls’comes a new musical exploration of one of the most essential pop groups of the 20th century. ‘What Do You Call That Noise? An XTC Discovery Book‘ is a compelling 228-page book involving some of the world’s leading musicians and keenest XTC fans to discuss what makes this Swindon band so very special and the extent of their impact of their music worldwi

Every member of XTC also makes an appearance. Andy Partridge speaks about mixing, Dave Gregory on arranging and Barry Andrews on the piano. The book also includes interviews with XTC drummers Pete Phipps, Pat Mastelotto, Ian Gregory, Prairie Prince, Dave Mattacks and Chuck Sabo. This publication features cover artwork by renowned illustrator Mark Thomas.

Continue reading

thumbnail-1With the E.P. Great Aspirations seeing Colin Mounding and Terry Chambers musically reunited, we sat down for a chat about all things TC&I, past, present and future, in that order. So the first question is to ask if it really was 1983 that the two last worked together musically?

“Yes,1983 and then Terry left the country.” Which begs the obvious question of why get back together now? “Because it’s soul destroying working on your own,” Colin admits, “Terry came back into the country and we went out for a few drinks and I said, ‘Look I’m working on some stuff, do you fancy having a go?’ He said, ‘Yeah, that would be great,’ one thing led to another and before long we had an outfit and so we could record something. It’s just a need to be with other musicians and have fun, working alone is hard, you need that feedback from fellow musicians. Although I had a few tunes, the project didn’t really take on any solid purpose until Terry was involved.”

Continue reading

largeIt is always difficult for musicians associated with a past name act to bring fresh music to the table without people trying to join dots and name check, extrapolate and reference, particularly if that previous act was one which rose over the years from mercurial pop outsiders to full blown national treasures. And so Colin Moulding and Terry Chamber’s first post-XTC collaboration arrives amid a flurry of speculation but I’m sure they want nothing better that to see this e.p. as a new start, a thing apart, a line drawn underneath the past rather than part of some fan envisaged ex-TC canon.

After all in many ways the sound of XTC was often defined by the guitar playoffs between Andy’s angular pop approach and Dave’s more florid musical statements so with that no longer part of the equation we get to fully appreciate Colin’s own English pop vision. And with so much to look back on from a certain point in the arc of life it is not surprising that it is a very reflective vision, Scatter Me dealing with the inevitability of returning to the mere building blocks of the universe but in doing so remaining part of the landscape you spent your life in and Greatness discussing the high aspirations of the e.p.s title.

Comrades of Pop is the track that will be most discussed by the fans and followers, probably more for lyrical content as for anything else. It is the sound of lines being very much drawn under the past, the squawk of cats amongst pigeons, the distant smell of smoke from bridges burning and a reflective overview which probably applies to any number of bands.

What Colin and Terry have created here is something tasteful, deftly wrought, restrained and wonderfully English, West Country…. Swindonian even, if you are close enough to get the references. It is in turns lyrically funny, emotive and poignant and falls into a sort of alternative pop territory that seems to be done so well in this country evoking the likes of Martin Newell and Billy Childish, perhaps not sonically but coming from a similar musical mindset. In short, triumph and hopefully merely the first chapter of a new musical novel.

desktopThere have been many songs about what Mr Shakespeare so eloquently refered to as “shuffling off this mortal coil” and it is part of the human experience to muse on what happens after we are done with this life, but few, if any, have broached the subject so beautifully, so gently and so expertly wrapped up in a song which is also so pulsing and vibrant. It takes a special type of songwriter to weave such deft and delicate musical threads into such a wonderful design. It takes someone like Colin Moulding.

Scatter Me is the first public outing that sees him reunited with his fellow XTC rythmn section partner Terry Chambers and comes hot on the heels of a wonderful 4 track EP called Great Aspirations which by now you already own or which is in the post…I can really think of a third option. It is an e.p. which shows that whilst age may have led to a more reflective view of the world, the duo’s ability to put together wonderfully poignant songs, ones which root them to and very much reference the part of the world where they first learnt to be musicians together all those years ago, is undiminished.

Scatter Me considers the human contition and in a very humanist and slightly humourous way pictures an immortality that on reflection and in the bigger scheme of things, doesn’t seem so bad after all. Great to see you back chaps, you have been missed.

10568792_671452159600192_7578462626234394886_nIn an effort to keep this column hip and groovy I have adopted a new tactic. I could have grown a beard that makes me look like an American Backwoodsman, bought some plaid shirts and started drinking espresso out of a jam jar but that wouldn’t make much difference in the medium of print. Instead I thought I would get on board with the parlance of a Buzzfeed type article to really show that I’m down with the kids. (Do people still say that?) So….

 

This music journalist sat down to write a gig guide and what happened next will blow your mind. No? How about…Here’s 11 gigs that only real music fans will attend. Or, When I saw what this guy had written I cried. Nah, it’s not really me, is it? What about, get off your sofa, turn that TV off and go and support some real live music before I send a cultural hit squad round to sort you out! That’s more my style.

 

And for all of you concerned that the rotation of the same few bands around town is getting a bit predictable, Riffs Bar have a real treat for you tonight. All the way from San Diego, Black Market III mix soulful blues with red hot Americana, Clash style street punk with old school rock ‘n’ roll and are touted as a real “one to watch” band on the international circuit. Support comes from the doom-rock and art-punk experimentation of Sea Mammal and the soaring, grunge-scapes of D.I.R.T.E.

 

 

More hard, electric blues can be found at The Victoria in the shape of John Fairhurst whose band freely mix music traditions from the Mississippi shoreline to The Ganges Delta with bottle neck blues and psychedelia sitting cheek by jowl with Indian Raga and exotic eastern flavours. Think Captain Beefheart and Tom Waits jamming in a Kolkata teashop. Also on the bill are Cook and The Case and personally it has been amazing to watch them evolve through solo singer-songwriter and chilled indie folk genres into a band of unbelievable dynamic shifts and extremes of light and shade. Their music is both reckless and refined but always beautiful. At The Beehive you can catch the Afro-pop and roots sounds of Two Man Ting.

 

By Friday original music gets harder to track down but you can catch Tin Spirits at The Victoria who channel the sound of 70’s progressive rock with their current writing but often treat the audience to some of guitarist Dave Gregory’s XTC back-catalogue. Support comes from Steve Grimmett’s fundraising, classic rock side project Sound Bites.

 

Tributes can be found aplenty going into the weekend, Beatles fans should head for The Rolleston whilst next-door in Level 3 Jilted Generation return to evoke the glory days of The Prodigy. On Saturday you can catch the music of The Stranglers at The Victoria and Iron Maiden at The Rolleston whilst out at Riffs Bar Hot Flex play a range of classic rock covers with support from rock parody outfit Vinyl Matt.

 

A nice slice of punk history rolls into Level 3 on Saturday as ex-Adverts front man TV Smith (pictured) joins the bill for this years Mick Love Memorial Gig. Since the demise of The Adverts, Smith has carved out a highly respected solo career as well as touring with Amen and Die Toten Hosen, anyone who has heard of either of those bands needs to catch him live. The night opens with the Nu-wave, Bowery street punk from Strength in Blunders and goes out with a bang from Charred Hearts, over thirty years in and still fighting the punk wars on their own terms.

 

Sunday has some great acoustic offerings. The Lazy Sunday Afternoon at The Arts Centre Café features Light Falls Forward a band whose EP Sleeptalkin’ I can honestly say is one of the most gorgeous new musical offerings I have heard in a while. They manage to capture a very emotive vocal sound and layer it over a cinematic soundscape that combines a lush ambience with enough drive to keep it in the realms of reflective and dreamlike rather than melancholy. The equally elegant Faye Rogers and your hosts Mr Love and Justice are also to be found there.

Review by PfalzDxii

I know some stalwart Shuffle goers who did their utmost best to be everywhere over the three day shuffle, they are heroes. I know of one musician now resident in Berlin who on being asked if he felt like a drink, jumped on a plane, and was at the shuffle. He is a legend. I though, had mainly highlighted “Matilda”, and “Emily and the Dogs” as two bands not, not to be missed. I have seen them both before and was very happy they didn’t clash with one another. Where does time go? As I write this, I realize that the Shuffle was two weeks ago. But the memories!

Where indeed does time go? I am from the generation that thought punk should have been given its own BBC programme rather than invade The Old Grey Whistle Test. Not to be too prejudiced however, I went with my then wife (yes I did have one) to see XTC at the Oasis. This was in about 1978 when Barry Andrews was still in the band, and before Dave Gregory joined. Standing at the front though was a mistake. Gobbing was still in full swing. This was the quaint custom of the band spitting from the stage, onto the heads of their fans below. I was not enamoured of this, but do remember that the music was excellent. For one reason and another, I stopped going to local bands and became a cultural recluse. Thirty years later, friends and relatives dragged me against my will to the Vic. I treasure that act of kindness. On stage that evening (13/11/08) were the Sunday Dogs and Matthew Kilford. What had I been missing? That was the first time I saw Emily Drake, she was playing violin in the Sunday Dogs, and singing vocals. Such wonderful music. I very soon discovered many other fabulous bands including “Matilda”. It was all such a revelation. I had lost thirty years.

A buzz went around the Beehive, one of “Matilda” couldn’t make it and they weren’t coming. Well, yes and no. Just as we got this piece of sad news, Emily Sykes walked in with guitar. She is the drummer in “Matilda”. Amy and Polly came in without any instruments. So it was Rebecca (singer and keyboard player), who was missing. Emily and the others found stools. Phil Hamer (with electric bass guitar) sat as far back in the corner of the room as possible with his head down, he had joined an all girl band. Except that now the line-up was “Emily Sykes and Friends”, a new and exciting line-up in which Emily is the lead singer. Someone shouted out “what’s the name of the band?” Emily replied with “Matilda mark II”. Phil did his best to hide. Emily has such a wonderful voice for folk and for harmonizing with the others, and did this whilst playing rhythm. Phil was playing the softest bass possible. There were songs accompanied only by clapping and seated stomping. This was all so harmonious and beautiful. As with Matilda, the humorous banter and laughter, was joyous.

“Emily Drake and the Dogs” were up next, I was glad I didn’t have to change venues. Emily Drake having turned the tables, now has some of the same musicians she played with in The Sunday Dogs. This time it was Ian Taylor on bass, and Lee Moulding on drums. This band is another newly formed wonder. They play Emily’s songs with such vitality and love. The songs are superb. Threatening, poignant, sharp, loving. Emily was playing rhythm guitar, will her talents never end? I stood next to her husband during their set, he was taking photos. Emily introduced new material. Songs that held me spellbound. I became aware that the audience was filling up with the great and good of the local music scene. “Emily Drake and the Dogs” are rapidly making a name for themselves, and rightly so. Afterwards, outside on the pavement, Emily Drake’s music was a subject of much conversation, all of it good. Some were surprised just how good she is. I though, already knew that. She is brilliant! As I walked away from the Beehive, a badger ran across my path. A rare and memorable evening indeed!!