“Upsy Daisy Assortment” was released by Geffen (XTC’s American record company) in 1999, as the legal battle with Virgin was finally being dispelled and the band was to regain its freedom. It is a single CD that has some truly idiosyncratic cuts in addition to their indisputable classics.
Now, Andy says that the disc feels as if someone at Geffen had thrown darts at a chart with all their songs and assembled the compilation like that. Such a theory would explain why singles like “All You Pretty Girls” and “Wake Up” have been omitted, why “Funk Pop A Roll” found its way here instead of “Great Fire” and also why we have tracks such as “Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her, Kiss Her” at the expense of others.
I have to be very honest with you. The disc does not feel as if someone had randomly thrown darts at a chart, it feels as if Andy had overseen the whole thing from start to finish.
Exhibit 1: The compilation omits both “White Music” and “Go 2”, albums that he actively dislikes (and even despises). The first track is “Life Begins At The Hop”.
Exhibit 2: “Sgt. Rock”, a track Andy reviles despite being one of the highest-charting singles of his is absent.
Exhibit 3: “Funk Pop A Roll”, a composition he is proud of, is in.
Exhibit 4: “Chalkhills & Children”, one of the most profound songs he wrote is featured.
Exhibit 5: The album has “Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her, Kiss Her”, a song he named as a true source of pride related to the albums both sides of it.
The only thing that is missing is “Rook” (from “Nonsuch”), the song he regards as his biggest achievement as a composer for the album to be named “The Great Andy Album That Andy Claims He Did Not Compile”.
The end result, however, is as brilliant as only their best music can be. You have “Making Plans For Nigel”, “Senses Working Overtime”, “The Mayor Of Simpleton”, “King For A Day”, “The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead”… dear God, I could swear I am forgetting to mention a major track. What can it be?
Note, though, that you are missing the essential “This Is Pop” and that the versions of “Towers Of London” and “Respectable Street” are radio edits that are inexcusably sanitized and trimmed.
This was the second XTC album I bought after “Oranges & Lemons”. And it hit me like a ten ton truck where it counted, namely starting to turn me from a casual listener into someone willing to go all the way and beyond. Top kudos in that sense to Andy or whoever really compiled this.
Would I recommend purchase of this compilation: Yes
Do I feel like digging deeper into their catalog after listening to it: Yes