Andy Partridge BOX SET review [Ape House]

Music Reviews
Andy Partridge BOX SET review [Ape House]
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Jun 18, 2007, 07:08

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ANDY PARTRIDGE The Official Andy Partridge Fuzzy Warbles Collector's Sampler CD

It's always hard to make an assessment of an entire box set based on selections from it. Even with sixteen songs to choose from, the very fact that they are culled from no less than ten albums (nine with a “Bonus Disc”), which are also available as individual morsels, makes just sifting through the volume of songs an unwieldy task. Regardless, this is perhaps the cure for those who were hoping for more XTC on the Monstrance record. Most of these recordings are from demos meant for XTC, with many of them secreted away during a very long legal battle with both the band's management and record label which left the band, for all intents and purposes, legally bound to silence. As a result of the lengthy period of time this covers, it's tempting to try to figure out where in the scheme of things these tunes were created.

That Andy Partridge is a prodigious songwriter is a given; stories of him keeping a small tape recorder on his nightstand so that if he awoke with a song/riff/lyric, he could hum it into the recorder and go back to sleep abound. What is surprising is just how much of the material, in a more fully-realized version, he is releasing. These recordings (and likely many others) were fairly jealously guarded, fearing that Virgin would find out about the tunes and attempt to release them without the band's consent.  With the songs tucked away safely in the band's hometown of Swindon, no one apparently bothered to look under Partridge's mattress, except for the errant bootlegger.Â

“My Land is Burning” is another look at the underbelly of Western culture a la “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead,” a favorite theme for Partridge, and includes a church-evoking chime introduction. “Dame Fortune” is an upbeat, acoustic tune that sounds like it's from Oranges and Lemons.  “I Don't Want To Be Hereand “Ship Trapped in the Ice” stand out as lost singles. Why they were never released is a peek at what was lost beneath all the legal red tape. Grabbing the entire box set might be overwhelming for the casual fan, but for the completist and hardcore fan alike, here is the set you've all been waiting for. Clearly, Coat of Many Cupboards was just an appetizer for the Warbles main course.  Now the only question left remaining is, how will Partridge and company top this feast?  [Ape House]

-Amanda Nichols

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