First Appeared at The Music Box, April 1999, Volume 6, #4
Written by John Metzger
It's been far too long since XTC has released anything new. In fact, since I started this magazine in 1994, all this talented band has been able to accomplish is a greatest hits package. This is entirely due to a lengthy contract battle with Virgin Records, which thankfully has now ended.
Transistor Blast is XTC's first effort for their new label TVT Records, and so it's fitting that the band try to recapture their momentum by drawing attention to their extensive back catalog. However, while technically this set is just a glorified greatest hits package, it's at least a step in the right direction.
The first two discs of this set are culled from the band's many appearances in the BBC Studios to promote their many splendid albums. There are a few twists and turns from the standard album versions, and the music is as inspired as you've come to expect from the band.
The second two discs capture the band at three different points in their short-lived touring career, which abruptly ended with Andy Partridge's severe bout of stage fright. The band also began to sink more and more into the studio recording process, and it's questionable as to how they would have reproduced their songs in a live format anyway.
Nevertheless, the 1978-79 compilation is pure brut force, but if you're not a fan of XTC's earliest albums, you surely won't like this one. The fourth disc in the set finds the band beginning to mellow and settle into their more familiar blend of Beatles- and The Beach Boys-influenced pop songs. Taken together, the final two discs really show how the band grew over the early period of their existence, and they provide insight into where XTC would likely to take their music in the years that followed.
Transister Blast: The Best of the BBC Sessions is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1999 The Music Box