A true thing of wonder this. A long-time fan of XTC, after the drought following Apple Venus 1 & 2, how pleased was I when AP started officially releasing demos and other previously unreleased material on individual CDs which would, we were told ultimately comprise the complete collection to date.
The first CD was a delight, with a number of songs which would have comfortably graced any official CD release, Dame Fortune, Born Out OF Your Mouth and Wonder Annual are all top class tunes. The rest wasn’t too shabby either, demos of XTC classics, COmplicated Game, Miniature Sun and That Wave helped illuminate the songwriting process whilst still offering fascinatingly different takes on otherwise familiar songs. That Wag, a studio outtake illustrates perfectly AP’s quicksilver off-the-cuff wit and mimicry as he performs the song from the vocal booth in accurate pastiches of Dylan and robert Smith of The Cure. Not something you would want to listen to a lot – but certainly worth including.
AAnd this was only the first CD. Seven (7!!) others followed over a period of time, the final instalment coming with the package you see here – the collectors box. No pair of Bono’s sunglasses, one of Springsteen’s flip-flops or a phial of Morrissey’s blood – no, what you get is a designers dream, a facsimile stamp album with beautiful faux 60’s style, a book with recording details for geeks like me, and a further CD Globe Hinges (nice touch that). All the individual CDs have beautiful stamp inspired covers, and detailed song-by-song notes…what’s not to like? Oh, and the rest of the musical contents are a good as the first. Classic unreleased songs, experimental instrumentals, rejected material for other artists (cloth eared morons) and XTC demos, works in progress. This is the XTC Anthology. Plus, about 2 CDs worth of album quality new stuff. Who needs another XTC album now? Time to concede, it’s not going to happen, and anyway AP is doing great stuff out there with the likes of Jen Olive, Stu Rowe, Monstrance and Peter Blegvad. Lots to look forwards to.
In the meantime (PB pun!) there’s all this to enjoy!