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Andy Partridge Looks Back at XTC

XTC's Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding courtesy of Getty Images

XTC was one of the great post-punk bands of the ’80s. They created cleverly-written, tightly-played tunes that made you want to dance to subjects as dark as war (“Generals and Majors”) and abortion (“Respectable Street”). Andy Partridge’s clear, stinging vocals zeroed in on harsher aspects of life (“Dear God”) – but Colin Moulding (bass), Dave Gregory (guitar) and Terry Chambers (drums) never lost the beat. XTC gave up touring in 1982, after Partridge suffered a nervous breakdown on a Paris stage. (He had a long dependence on valium to conquer his stage fright; his wife had thrown out his pills without telling him.) After that, the band became a studio group. Their 1986 album, Skylarking (produced by Todd Rundgren), gave us the Beatlesque confection, “Earn Enough for Us.” They soldiered on with a few more albums, but by 2005, the great XTC was essentially defunct.

There’s good news for fans, though: Andy Partridge has just released a new book, Complicated Game: Inside the Songs of XTC (with Todd Bernhardt). Composed of a series of interviews, it reveals the story behind 30 of the band’s best songs, straight from the source. There’s also more than a bit of reflection by Partridge, on the struggles for both money and critical respect for this often-overlooked band.

Last year, Elvis Costello published his own look back at his career, Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink; Partridge’s book is a fitting bookend, as another look at a band that created searingly-clever (and simply great) great pop tunes.

Cindy Grogan

Photo Credit: Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding of XTC (Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns courtesy of Getty Images)


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1 comment on “Andy Partridge Looks Back at XTC

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    Respectable Street is about abortion?
    That’s one line in the song… I would compare its subject matter to the Monkees “Pleasant Valley Sunday.”

    Maybe you ought to find a writer who knows XTC…

    It’s in the order of their hedgerows
    it’s in the way their curtains open and close
    it’s in the look they give you down their nose
    all part of decency’s jigsaw I suppose

    Heard the neighbour slam his car door
    don’t he realise this is respectable street
    What d’you think he bought that car for
    ‘cos he realise this is respectable street

    Now they talk about abortion
    in cosmopolitan proportions to their daughters
    as they speak of contraception
    And immaculate receptions on their portable
    Sony entertainment centres.

    Now she speaks about diseases
    and which sex position pleases best her old man
    Avon lady fills the creases
    when she manages to squeeze in past the caravans
    that never move from their front gardens.

    It’s in the order of their hedgerows
    it’s in the way their curtains open and close
    it’s in the look they give you down their nose
    all part of decency’s jigsaw I suppose
    Sunday church and they look fetching
    Saturday night saw him retching over our fence
    bang the wall for me to turn down
    I can see them with their stern frown
    as they dispense the kind of look that says
    they’re perfect.

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