Book Reviews

Andy Partridge

Complicated Game: Inside the Songs of XTC

andyI can’t vouch for Andy Partridge as a person because he seems certainly cool enough and doesn’t hog the headlines with either genius or scandal, but he is one of the truly peerless songwriters of the last handful of decades. Through a series of interviews with Todd Bernhardt, we delve humorously and self-effacingly into the brilliant pop machinations behind many of XTC’s memorable tunes.

XTC is, was, and will forever be a master class in songwriting, ensemble playing and production. Here was a pop group with genetic links to the Beatles (though Partridge posits he was never concerned about that from the outset) and the Kinks particular brand of Englishness, and made it work in masterwork after masterwork with a post punk classicism and singular vision.

With the same sustained wit and un-erring eye for creative detail that branded 98% of the XTC canon, thirty songs including “Mayor of Simpleton,” “River of Orchids,” “Love On A Farmboy’s Wages,” “Senses Working Overtime,”Dear God,” and “Chalkhills and Children” spring from memory into real time, holding our awe and interest both then and now.

– Mike Jurkovic

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