Saturday, September 26, 2015

black sea

XTC poured some oil on the water and threw pessimism in the air, shrugging off shrouds with the glorious whimsy of decency's jigsaw.   The Swindon punks had developed their sound into a new wave art pop over three albums  (White Music,  Go 2 , and  Drums and Wires) before returning to The Town House in London with producer Steve Lillywhite.   'Black Sea' was recorded during June and July of 1980 with engineers Hugh Padgham and Nick Launay and featured  Terry Chambers on Tama drums, Tama Snyper drum synthesiser, and free form vocals;   Dave Gregory on guitars, synth, piano, and vox humana;   Colin Moulding on vocals and Epiphone Newport bass;   and   Andy Partridge on vocals, guitar, and synth.   

Partridge proclaims:    "We never let producers make any structural changes to our music. We only give them the music and they then mix it, usually under our supervision as well. So it's a bit rotten on a producer who gets involved with us because we tend to loom over them all the time. I'd personally like to mix them but it would be wrong to impose my taste totally on the band so we get a producer in as mediator or like a sifter - we throw all the ideas in and he has to sift them out and stop us from fighting with eachother and biting eachother on the leg and things like that, 'cause we have a lot of ideas and they do need sifting ... I'd say [we're] equally a singles and album band. I think our albums are more important 'cause they've made far more inroads than our singles have, especially in other countries. I do like singles and I'd like to think that our albums are composed of potential single material - you know, all the tracks could be singles. That's why we tend to work within a three minute, four minute framework ... We never build a song for a purpose. The only time we ever did anything on purpose was quite an innocent thing, an electric re-recording of "Ten Feet Tall" for the American charts. But we never do anything on purpose, we just write whatever comes out and rehearse it the way that it just falls out. Nobody's told what to play, everybody plays exactly what they want to and we never sit down and try and make things difficult to understand or easy to understand, we just do them as they come out. Certain songs demand certain treatments and they seem to scream it when you rehearsing it. They say 'Do me like this! Do me like this!' and there's no other way that you can mess around with them. So we just try to do things as naturally as we can. It's just our personalities..."Travels In Nihilon", originally a book title by Alan 'Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner' Sillitoe. It's nothing to do with the book title, it's just a great title. Nihilon means state of nothingness if your thumbing through your dictionary right now. Its about how the media basically fox young people into believing that the latest trend is going to save them or what have you..gonna be the saving grace, it's gonna pick rock 'n' roll up, it's gonna make pop music 'it', you must be a mod, you must be a punk, you must be a hippy, you must be a pirate...all of those trends. And people do get serious about them. And I know I got serious about them when I was younger. I think the last thing that I got demi-serious about was punk. After all it's only another media game. The sell you all the items, they sell you the records and you will buy it. And the younger you are the more your judgement is fogged by the fact that you think that you're finding something ultimate and you're not. And it happens every so years the media finds something they want to sell to you, and it's not really about that at all. It's about music basically, a lot of it revolves around music and "Travels In Nihilon" is about how people are continually japed into believing that there's something to believe in ... and there's not. It's just music and it always will be music, and they shouldn't try and sell you these funny things that have nothing to do with music."

'Black Sea'  hit number sixteen in the UK and was their biggest album in the US peaking at number forty-one.  In New Zealand it became their only number one album in their entire career.

"Generals and Majors"   went to number thirty-two in the UK, twenty-four in Australia, and sixteen in New Zealand.  

Generals and Majors ah ah 
They're never too far 
From battlefields so glorious 
Out in a world of their own 
They'll never come down 
Till once again victorious 

Generals and Majors always 
Seem so unhappy 'less they got a war 

Generals and Majors ah ah 
Like never before are tired of being actionless. 

Calling Generals and Majors 
Generals and Majors everywhere 
Calling Generals and Majors 
Your World War III is drawing near 

Generals and Majors ah ah 
They're never too far 
Away from men who made the grade 
Out in a world of their own 
They'll never come down 
Until the battle's lost or made 

Generals and Majors ah ah 
Like never before, are tired of being in the shade

"Respectable Street"

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.

"Towers of London" made it to number thirty-one in the UK.  

"Sgt. Rock (Is Going to Help Me)" hit twenty in Ireland and sixteen in the UK. 

'Black Sea' 
full album:

All songs written and composed by Andy Partridge, except where noted.

1. Respectable Street 0:00
2. Generals and Majors (Colin Moulding) 3:38
3. Living Through Another Cuba 7:42
4. Love At First Sight  (Moulding) 12:26
5. Rocket from a Bottle 15:34
6. No Language in Our Lungs 19:04
7. Towers of London 23:57
8. Paper and Iron (Notes and Coins) 29:22
9. Burning With Optimism's Flames 33:39
10. Sgt. Rock (Is Going to Help Me) 37:55
11. Travels in Nihilon 41:52
12. Smokeless Zone  (Moulding)  48:56
13. Don't Lose Your Temper 52:47
14. The Somnambulist 55:20

interview 1980

XTC At The Manor 1980  documentary

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