XTC: The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul
I don’t like the label “post punk”, but if I have to tell you what it means, I point to the music of XTC. Over a strong rhythmic pulse, you find crunching guitars and highly politicized lyrics. But XTC’s leader, Andy Partridge, is also heavily influenced by the Beatles. So in 1986, Partridge got some help to expand XTC’s sonic pallet, in the form of producer Todd Rundgren. The resulting album was Skylarking. Here, one hears nature sounds, there is a string quartet on one song, and, in general, there is a great spirit of experimentation on the album. A few of these experiments miss, but one that does not is also the most surprising. Nothing that XTC had done before, and nothing I know of Todd Rundgren either, led me to expect the jazz of The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul. The band is augmented here by percussion, flute, and horns. The song has an amazing slippery groove. Colin Moulding’s deceptively simple bass line anchors the whole thing, and the song really swings.