Wednesday, February 22, 2006
My Top 20 of 2005, #13: Pugwash-Jollity
It hasn't been easy being an XTC fan for the past 15 or so years. After a brilliant run in the 80s capped by "Oranges and Lemons", all we have to show for proper XTC releases (aside from compilations) are 1992's Nonsuch and 2000's Apple Venus/Wasp Star combo. For a couple of years now, there's been a rumored release of an album titled Tunes to Help You Breathe More Easily, but it seems to be the Chinese Democracy of the power pop set. Actually there have been a few new XTC songs trickling out ("Say It", "Spiral" and "Where Did The Ordinary People Go?") but no imminent release date for a full-length.
So what's a music-starved XTC fan to do? Get a copy of Pugwash's 2005 release Jollity. A vehicle for singer/songwriter Thomas Walsh, it has the XTC pedigree - the strings were arranged by former XTC member Dave Gregory, and the man himself, Andy Partridge, co-wrote the album's final track, "Anchor", with Walsh. Really, this is about all I should need to tell you if you aren't already familiar with this release. The songs live up to the influence and the style, and there's also some Eric Matthews (who adds trumpet on "Black Dog" - not the Zep song) as well as Brian Wilson (who apparently is a Pugwash fan) in here as well. Standouts include the Wilson-influenced opener "It's Nice to be Nice", and "Poles Together", which will have you checking the liner notes to see if Partridge co-wrote that one too.
The Pugster isn't offering up any mp3s of this one on his site, so the best place to listen is here. There are a couple of mp3s from previous album available for download at the Pugwash site, however.
UPDATE: Nice catch from alert reader Brihoos in the comments: Pugwash has a myspace page here, under Pugwalsh (sic), where he's streaming 2 b-sides (or one C-side, as he calls it): "To My Maker" and "Home to Me".
Posted by Steve at 8:58 AM