Oranges & Lemons (XTC) – Album Review (Part 1)

by Emilio Pérez Miguel on November 15, 2009

"Oranges & Lemons" Was Released in 1989

"Oranges & Lemons" Was Released in 1989

This was the first XTC album I set my hands on. I bought it used but in mint condition for a completely ridiculous amount of money, something like the equivalent to USD 2. Talk about bargains. Looking back, I can honestly say that this was the perfect introduction I could have had to these impassioned artistic rockers. The album has my favorite XTC song overall (“The Mayor Of Simpleton”), and that song in particular and the album on the whole made me pick up the craft of writing lyrics. I don’t think there is a better indicator of the transcendence a piece of art can have than that.

The record has 15 songs, and in more than a couple of instances it resembles the Dukes more than fleetingly. That is true not only when it comes to compositions like “Garden Of Earthly Delights” but also to the cover art, a happy 60s pastiche that once again showcase Andy’s visual skills.

Three singles were culled from the album: “The Mayor Of Simpleton”, “King For A Day” and “The Loving”. More importantly (and maybe even more uplifting for us fans), the band hit the road again to promote the album. But it is not that they “toured” in a conventional sense. Rather, they did several live radio shows to promote the album. They even played one with an audience of about 250 people, and everybody remarked how much Andy enjoyed it. Good for him. Those of us who are fond of the band admire him as an artist but dearly care for him as a person, and it must have been a touching moment for everybody who was there that day.

Thematically speaking, this is one of my favorite XTC albums. I place it up there with Nonsuch, the one that would follow in 1992. I personally love the compositions that deal with family and the relationship between fathers and sons. “Garden Of Earthly Delights” is a great way for introducing children to the world, whereas “Pink Thing” is more hilarious than John Entwistle’s entire oeuvre taken together. And I mean it.

On the other hand, “Hold Me My Daddy” takes the form of a plea from a son to his father and it is a very moving moment that comes as the record is climaxing. And the final track is no other than “Chalkhills and Children”, one of the most profound reflections on life I have ever seen. In the song, Andy explores the role that the ordinary plays in connection with the extraordinary, or rather how daily life fares when pitched against the bristling enclosures of fame. By then, he had looked at that from both sides. Couple his always sharp insight with his most poetic lyric ever, and then you know you have something special in your hands.

(Continued to Part 2)

{ 3 trackbacks }

Oranges & Lemons (XTC) – Album Review (Part 2) | MusicKO
November 16, 2009 at 11:00 am
Nonsuch (XTC) – Album Review | MusicKO
November 21, 2009 at 4:44 am
The Dukes Of Stratosphear – General Introduction | MusicKO
November 29, 2009 at 5:20 am

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