I first heard of XTC when I heard the song “Senses working overtime” on the radio.  Because of the way my hearing has always been, however, “Senses” is not what I heard.  So when I walked into Sam Goody Music, I had the misfortune of hearing several people laugh at me when I asked for “SISTER’s  working over time”.

Needless to say, they corrected me and set me up with two tapes.  Again, when this happened, CDs were a luxury that I could not afford as was a CD player.  The Tapes were English Settlement and Skylarking.

English Settlement really did not do much for me.  The music seemed to all be the typical kind you might hear on the radio any particular Thursday afternoon, but I will admit that it was OK.  The one that really moved me, though, was Skylarking.  The songs, sound, rythym and story were great…  but as you might have already guessed about me… it was the story that was told through the lyrics and the track placement that hooked me.

If you listen to all of Skylarking, you will hear a story of meeting, courting, life, birth, death, questioning our existence and love.  You may not catch it the first time around, but listening to it enough, you will see it all there.  While I could find no confirmation of it, I have to think that the album was inspired by something that happened to one or more of the writers.  Who knows.

XTC themselves have been around since the late 1970s and the members performing for longer than that.  Unfortunately I have no personal experience with their music dating before 1982, so it would be unfair for me to comment on what they were before that.  I do see a lot of information out there about them on sites like Wikipedia and the like, but I would like these articles to be as much in my own words as it possible.

One of the lead names attached to XTC during their rise to fame was that of Todd Rundgren.  Yes… THAT Todd Rundgren.  While I will admit that his leadership did guide XTC to greater success, I think it also drove them apart.  Again… this is my own opinion and not based on anything other that what I see in the music and read in the trades.

Based on what I have read, one gets the feeling that Todd’s brief direction of the group caused them to burn brightly and use up quite a bit of their success.  But what was created in this period of time, while he was pushing them and going forward, was… in my humble opinion… some of their best work to date.  This culminated in the release of their last two CDs… Apple Venus volumes 1 and 2 in 1999 and 2000, respectively.

The Apple Venus CDs appeared to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, however… shortly there after there was nothing else to be heard from the group.

One could say that the bloom had fallen off the rose by this time and there appears to be no effort to get the group back together again.  Though if someone out there reading this hears different… I would like to know.  XTC is actually on the short-list of groups that I would be willing to go stand in line to see… preceded only by Pink Floyd and Jimmy Buffett.

If by some chance any reader thinks that I am bashing Todd Rundgren with this or blaming him for the breakup of XTC, that could not be further from the truth.  I think that he simply exposed flaws in the band that were already there.  They were destined to break up at some point.  He caused them to refine their talents and work harder for a period of time so that the production house would be happy.  They might have made it a few more years without him, but I suspect that the sound would not have been the same quality.

Please… go out and pick up a copy of Skylarking, then let it help you decide if you think the others will be good for you.  Personally, I think that if you like Skylarking, then you will like all their work, including the early stuff.

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