England - Full Moon 72 - 08/22/02
A Coat of Many Cupboards
XTC has already released two records full of demo versions, Homespun and Homegrown
that showed how their latest albums, Apple Venus and Wasp Star came to life.
Coat Of Many Cupboards is a 4 CD box consisting of partly rehearsal or demo versions,
live versions, studio outtakes and album or single versions from their huge back catalogue.
The band seems to have become friends with Virgin Records (money talks, I guess), and the 60
songs to be found here are from the period with their old record label (1977-92).
In addition you get a thorough essay on the band by Harrison Sherwood, a frequent commentator
on XTCs fansite Chalkhills (I was a bit put off by his style at first but - hey - this
is actually a great read!) and song-by-song comments from the songwriters.
It starts off with the (rejected) demo of "Science Friction" they made for CBS. And from there
on it's WHAM! BAM! BANG! through the whole of CD 1 with highlights such as live takes of "Traffic
Light Rock" and sensationally good outtakes ("Let's Have Fun", "Things Fall To Bits") from their first
three albums. I am quite astonished how great they were as a live band, and I had nearly forgotten
how seriously fast they were in their early years.
We are halfway through CD 2 before we get our breath back and can sit back and enjoy Black Sea
era material (among other things). There are more live cuts, several single recordings, both
rejected and special US versions and an interesting early work tape of "Senses Working Overtime").
Going through this box also proves how good a songwriter Colin Moulding is. I must admit I was
not aware of all his positive contribution to XTCs output.
I'm not sure for whom this box set is intended, as the original studio versions included are
already released on ordinary and several compilation albums before. Most of us who have all
their regular records are a bit put off by the fact that there are too many of these versions
included. I would like to have more demo, rehearsal and live versions, so what I'll have to
do then is wait for the 12 - that's twelve (!) - CD series due to be released solely containing
stuff from the band's demo and rehearsal tape archive.
Copyright © 2002 Pingo