Classic Compilation: A Testimonial Dinner – The Songs of XTC

By the mid 90s XTC must have felt distinctly unloved. Neither critical darlings, nor a massive commercial success, they’d had a career-stalling set-to with their record label and had no choice but to down-tools and go one strike.

What Virgin records didn’t take into account was the fact that although XTC’s fanbase was small, it was unwaveringly loyal and that Partridge, Moulding and Gregory were very much a ‘musicians band’. Such was the love and support for XTC that a number of bands contributed to this tribute album as a tip of the hat to their heroes from Swindon. True, there are a few bands here even less cool than XTC themselves (Crash Test Dummies, The Rembrandts) and others which seem to have sunk without trace (personally I’ve never heard of Freedy Johnston or The Verve Pipe), but their collective hearts were in the right place and it must have raised a smile on the lips of the band they were paying tribute to, especially when one of those paying tribute was their well-respected contemporary Joe Jackson.

Inevitably some acts make a better job of songs than others, with Sarah McLachlan’s version of “Dear God” and Rubén Blades’ lounge version of “The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul” walking away with the honours and the mysterious Terry & The Lovemen should get credit for digging up the obscure “The Good Things”.

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