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Saturday, 26 January 2013

Top 102 Albums. No 61. Go 2


Top 102 Albums. No 61. 
Go 2 - XTC

When I think of XTC it is usually one of their many fine singles that comes to mind. Making Plans for Nigel and Senses Working Overtime are peerless moments of pop brilliance. However the album I listen to most doesn't have any of their singles on it. Nor is it one of their albums from the period after they had passed their commercial peak. It is, in fact, their difficult second album. It is a pulsing grim meditative album full of bubbling frustration and self-hatred, Go 2 - my favourite XTC album,  remembered now more for it's Hipgnosis cover (click on the image to bring up a larger version) than for the music within.

Go 2 feels like a Friday night in Bray in the early eighties. A group of boys on a night out, with barely enough money to get merry, simmering in sour testosterone, fearful and frightening. There is excitement but at the same time a sense that there is nothing much worth getting excited about.

Acting macho, afraid of being laughed at, only happy when lost if the music, these are ordinary people, in an ordinary place, drinking, fucking, fighting in the car park. But it's not the loose concept but the music that brings me back. Low key, pulsing, with more of a debt to Can than The Clash, I can listen to this album over and over and not get tired of it.

This was the last album with the original XTC line up. Keyboard player Barry Andrews left, to be replaced by Dave Gregory and the sound of the band changed thereafter.  Which led to some great work. But I still love this best, modest, low key but great.

And if you don't agree I'll have you outside. NOW.

8 comments:

  1. I came much too late to xtc for this - englishe settlement is the earliest I've got and th elusher they sounded the better for me, so this is an interesting listen, sound like a completely different band although their final lp wasp star has some echoes of this lp

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    1. Drums and Wires and Black Sea are great too! Particularly Drums and Wires. My copy is probably in a huff now, and will say that it's been played more than Go 2. It's a close run thing.

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  2. This was the band that I saw gigging and fell in love with. Much as I prefer their genius twiddling studio self, this was the last real taster of XTC live before stage fright scuppered their pals of world domination. After the foreplay of Statue of Liberty & This is Pop, this album was a conundrum; once you found the tunes they stayed for life. In retrospect it's dominated as much by Barry Andrews' keyboards as it is Partridges' choppy guitar rhythms. It all translated brilliantly live.
    I have a vivid memory of this as soundtrack to me consciously pissing in my sleeping bag, too 'tired' to walk to the loo of my friends house after seeing the band live (in Blackburn I think), and a pissy sleeping bag is as memorable a whiff as you can get. Too much info? Sure but it does ingrain itself in the memory banks.

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    1. That's you barred from the spare bed! Love to have seen them and Kate Bush both. Must have been some virulent form of stage fright in the air back then.

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  3. There were some pretty scary individuals in the crowds those days Seamus. I once watched in admiration (Reading Festival 1976) as stage DJ John Peel effortlessly dodged 8 pint glass cider flagons filled with piss that were thrown with regularity and keen eyed accuracy during the course of a long weekend. A Sham 69 bassist and Greg Khin guitarist weren't so lucky...

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    1. I remember an infamous early U2 stadium gig where Annie Lennox was similarly targeted and pleaded "We're not animals, we're human beings." The same day an air ambulance was bricked away. the fence was pulled down and up to ten thousand people got in free. A guy ran past me pouring blood followed by another waving a knife. One of the people I was with almost overdosed on smack, turning blue in the process and scaring the shit out of us.

      If only Bono had got stage fright...

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  4. It has been years since I listed to this album. Truely a great and innovative work! Your commentary has brought back some memories for me. I think I will pull this CD and give it a listen today!

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    1. I hope it lives up to your memories, Brian.

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