XTC were a formidable and creative musical entity throughout their career, placing emphasis on creativity, quality, and honesty of feeling and expression. In terms of rock music there was no one else quite like them: they could write songs of such tenderness they would make your heart ache; or of such brutality you wanted to go out and steal a car or punch an Elected Official (remember, vote No Violence). They were as good as The Beatles and as pioneering as Peter Gabriel or Kate Bush. For some, they were an acquired taste, like a John Coltrane solo. They were always present and listening.
The selected years of 1980-1989 have been chosen for a reason – the albums created in that decade of our youth tell a story wherein the central metaphor is journey and travel. As writers, Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding may be unaware of this central metaphor of transformation, for it is magical and occurs in the privacy of personal experience, the Meeting Place of artist and audience.
Each album marks a distinct movement in this engagement: we travel by boat across Black Sea (1980); by land with the English Settlement (1982); by foot on the roads of Mummer (1983); by rail on the locomotive of The Big Express (1985). We meet The Dukes of Stratospheare just-in-time for 25’O Clock (1986) and follow a metamorphosed and reinvigorated XTC into the sunny cauldrons of Skylarking (1986). We dance in the transformative heat of Psonic Psunspot (1987), and are propelled back to Earth by the solar flare that is Oranges and Lemons (1989), oddly complete.