Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Boys From Swindon

Phil here... In my last post I talked about my favorite band, The Beatles. It's not much of a leap to get to my second favorite band, XTC. The boys from Swindon, England, have been around for nearly thirty years and continue to make some of the most quirky, intelligent, lovable tunes around. I consider Andy Partridge to be one of the greatest songwriters ever, along with Neil Finn, Paul McCartney, and Elvis Costello.

XTC's catalog is packed with kid-friendly songs. It's difficult to know where to begin among their 20+ albums, so I'll just go with the songs that my kids love...

"Playground" - from 2000's brilliant Wasp Star ... Andy's daughter Holly sings back-up.

"Helicopter" - from 1979's Drums and Wires... If this doesn't get you up on your feet and spinning around the room with your kids, then I don't know what will.

"Mayor of Simpleton" - from 1989's Oranges and Lemons... Andy wrote this to his kids, professing that he doesn't have to be the smartest dad to know that he loves his children.

"Cherry In Your Tree" - from the 1994 soundtrack to the TV show Carmen Sandiego: Out Of This World... This is one of the first songs my son ever learned to sing.

"Do What You Do" - from their 1978 debut, White Music... Not to be played for the kids right before bedtime.

"Fruit Nut" - from their 1999 orchestral album, Apple Venus... Colin Moulding sings of his love for gardening.

"Bike Ride To The Moon" - recording as The Dukes of Stratosphear, this is from their 1987 psychedelic tribute, Chips From The Chocolate Fireball.

"Happy Families" - from the soundtrack to the 1988 film She's Having A Baby

That's just a taste of XTC. They truly are a band that kids could fall in love with... Catchy melodies, fun lyrics, quirky sound. Not to mention hundreds of songs to explore. And there's more to come... Andy and Colin should have a new CD out before the end of 2007 (they take their time). Andy's been writing songs with Robyn Hitchcock. Can't wait to hear the results of that meeting of the minds.


Back in the mid-90's, Andy was approached by Henry Selick and Tim Burton to write songs for their animated movie version of James and the Giant Peach. He recorded some great demos, but for one reason or another Disney decided to hire Randy Newman (who else?).

Here are a few of the songs that Andy wrote for the film. My kids like these much better than Newman's:

Andy Partridge - "Don't Let Us Bug Ya"
Andy Partridge - "Everything'll Be Alright"

He had better luck writing the theme to the wonderful TV series Wonderfalls, although the show itself got canceled after just a few airings. Hope Andy cashed his paycheck in time.

Andy Partridge - "I Wonder Why The Wonderfalls"


deb in sf said...

You guys are killing me! I'm psyched every day!

XTC totally reminds me of my first summer camp boyfriend at 14. Love these songs.

Anonymous said...

XTC... great stuff! Thanks for another fun post.

They kind of remind me a little of DEVO... way ahead of their time, sounds better all the time & fun for all ages.

Bill said...

Deb, you had a crazy hip summer camp boyfriend at 14, I've gotta say.

These are great. We've played "Mechanic Dancing," which undeniably rocks, but is, um, not really completely kid-friendly on the alcohol reference front...so these will be helpful.

LaShawn M. Wanak said...

XTC is one of my favorite bands, and this year I have the pleasure of introducing to my 2-year-old son. A couple of our favorites: "Life begins at the Hop", "Ladybird" and "Paper and Iron (Notes and Coins). My kid's also a big fan of Sufjan Stevens (as am I!)