XTC (Rock A-Z part #66)

In January 1978, a relatively unknown Swindon band released the single ‘Statue of Liberty in advance of their debut album – ‘White Music’. I was just into my second term at West Sussex College of Art & Design in Worthing, UK and the Virgin signed XTC were being played to death in every studio on the campus.

Owing more to quintessential English psychedelia than the raw nihilistic three-chord assault of their punk peers, XTC’s art-pop sound combined with the very obvious song-writing talent of Andy Partridge endeared itself to fine art, ceramics and fashion students alike.

Later in 1978 XTC released the more sonically adventurous second album ‘Go 2’ which was heavily influenced by the likes of Brian Eno to mould quirky art-pop with equally quirky electronica.

The band build success on success with the dawn of the 1980’s releasing the massively successful ‘Drums and Wires’ album in 1979 and a spate of chart-busting hit singles including ‘Making plans for Nigel’, Senses working overtime’ and ‘When you’re near me I have difficulty’.

But, whereas the ’80s brought the good time, the ’90’s initially brought obscurity as fashion changed and the band left Virgin to start their own independent label ‘Idea Records’. However, the Virgin split had a silver lining as an audit revealed that a considerable backlog of royalties had been withheld from the band. An out of court settlement allowed the building of two new studios but despite remaining together through to at least 2005 and releasing a lot of back-catalogue material, XTC never regained the glory days.