Album Review: TC&I – Naked Flames – Live at Swindon Arts Centre

Well this is a delightful surprise. After the release of TC&I‘s welcome ‘Great Aspirations’ EP last year there were murmurings that the project was finished for the moment following some well received gigs last year. It now seems these gigs were recorded, and ‘Naked Flames’ is the result.

TC&I is, on record, the legendary Colin Moulding and Terry Chambers from the iconic XTC. Backseat Mafia were honoured to interview Moulding last year who, asked the question whether rock music was dead, answered:

Well it’s had the last rites given before and I dare say if it goes away it will come back. In this game nothing really dies , it just comes back in another guise.

It appears that to the great joy of fans, TC&I are back with this joyous live album. The recording is crisp and crystal clear, the musicianship perfect and the wimsiness that so encapsulated XTC is to the fore. This album has captured all the energy and spontaneity of a live performance, which, coupled with an incredible level of musicianship, enhances and emphasises the masterful songwriting of Colin Moulding and XTC.

Naked Flames collects the best from TC&I’s six shows at the Swindon Arts Centre in October and November 2018 – Swindon of course being the home of XTC’s original members which adds a lovely element to this performance. This album perfectly captures what must have been an exhilarating chance to see TC&I live, a memento for those lucky to be there and a chance for those who couldn’t make it to experience the joy.

The four songs off the EP are, of course, played but the gig is filled out with a number of Moulding-penned XTC songs (some never played live before) as well as ‘Statue of Liberty’ (written by Andy Partridge).

‘Scatter Me’, from the EP, takes on a whole new vibe live, and XTC standards like ‘Grass’ (from 1986’s ‘Skylarking’) are simply brilliant.

‘Wonderland’ live is gorgeous and an absolute gem – a single off the 1983 album ‘Mummer’, the last to feature Terry Chambers. The brilliant melody and mesmerising instrumentation is perfectly played by the band:

The inclusion of songs that, to me, was XTC at their very best intelligent pop – ‘Generals and Majors’, ‘Making Plans for Nigel’ and ‘Life Begins at the Hop’, are perfectly rendered, with the addition of some very enthusiastic backing singing from the audience. It is a pulse quickening and eye moistening delight to hear these iconic songs so perfectly played.

I certainly wish I was there at Swindon Arts Centre to witness Moulding, Chambers and the band, but Naked Flames certainly provides a delightful measure of compensation.

Whether back in another guise or not, let’s hope we hear some more from TC&I.

‘Naked Flames: Live at Swindon Arts Centre’ will be released on Friday, August 9 and can be ordered on CD exclusively via Burning Shed. A bundle order is also available, including two CDs from TC&I – the ‘Naked Flames’ album and their debut ‘Great Aspirations’ EP. Both options Include signed postcards (while stocks last).

TC&I’s live band was:

Colin Moulding – Bass guitar and lead vocals
Terry Chambers – Drums
Gary Bamford – Keyboards, guitar and vocals
Steve Tilling – Lead Guitar and vocals
Lee Moulding – Percussion and vocals
Susannah Bevington – Soprano voice on Scatter Me

Track List
1. Say It
2. Ten Feet Tall
3. Scatter Me
4. Wonderland
5. Grass
6. The Meeting Place
7. Bungalow
8. Big Day
9. Standing In For Joe
10. Generals and Majors
11. Making Plans For Nigel
12. Statue Of Liberty
13. Life Begins At The Hop

Studio photos and cover artwork by Geoff Winn
Live photos by Simon Hogg

Previous Live Review: The Delta Bombers - Westgarth Club, Middlesbrough 7.6.2019
Next Album Review: Ummagma - Compass

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