Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
UK new wave band formed '76: Andy Partridge, guitar (b 11 Dec. '53); Colin Ivor Moulding, bass (b 17 Aug. '55); Terry Chambers, drums (b 18 July '55); all from Swindon, Wiltshire. They were part of local band Star Park, then glitzy Helium Kidz '73, then XTC adding keyboardist John Perkins, replaced by Barry Andrews (b 12 Sep. '56, West Norwood, London). Partridge and Moulding are the vocalists and songwriters. Debut on Virgin with EP XTC '77 followed by LP White Music early '78, Euro-tour with Talking Heads, 35- date headlining tour of UK. LP Go 2 '78 critically acclaimed but a hit single failed to arrive until after departure of Andrews to join League of Gentlemen; then 'Making Plans For Nigel' reached top 20 '79; third LP same year Drums And Wires followed by Partridge solo Takeaway/The Lure Of Salvage; he also appeared on Miniatures, an oddball album fashioned by ex-Mott the Hoople keyboardist Morgan Fisher with a multitude of one-minute tracks by various celebrities, Partridge using his minute to illustrate the whole history of pop. Next XTC LP was Black Sea '80 followed by top 20 singles 'Sgt Rock (Is Going To Help Me)' '81, 'Senses Working Overtime' '82; fifth LP, two-disc English Settlement, had a folk sound, 'like Pentangle on mescaline', according to Partridge. Mummer '83 followed this path (and marked switch to Geffen label in USA), but The Big Express '84 was another change: collection about obsolescence, traditions and growing old (since Partridge was turning 30). As XTC stopped touring '82 Chambers left for Australia; the band became a trio of Partridge, Moulding and guitarist Dave Gregory. Mock psychedelic LP 25 O'Clock '85 was made under pseudonym the Dukes of Stratosphear and released on April Fool's Day; Partridge was prod. records for other acts. After Skylarking '87 (prod. by Todd Rundgren), Oranges And Lemons '89 (top 50 in USA, their biggest success there) and Nonsuch '92 (with Fairport's Dave Mattacks) XTC refused to deliver any more product to Virgin. They estimated that Virgin had made œ30m off them, but they were never in profit for the first 18 years; single 'Wrapped In Grey' '92 was a lush Partridge ballad anticipating the vogue for Burt Bacharach: Virgin pressed a few thousand and buried it as soon as possible. After eight chart albums in the USA Partridge still lived in a terraced house in Swindon. Fossil Fuel '96 was a singles collection as they won the strike and left the label.