ANDY PARTRIDGE – Candymine (Demo)
ANDY PARTRIDGE – Prince Of Orange (Demo)
One reason XTC took their business from Virgin to Cooking Vinyl was Virgin’s rejection of a bubblegum-pop concept album Partridge had cooked up. The label – and you have to sympathise with them – clearly thought that a record full of Kasenetz-Katz tributes would sell like very cold cakes indeed. Nowadays, though, the hipster-held division between proper powerpop and base bubblegum is flimsier than ever, and while a record packed with stuff like “Candymine” still wouldn’t actually sell, it might turn a few critical ears.

“Candymine” is ridiculous, just as you’d hope. A big part of bubblegum’s appeal was its out-and-out idiocy, and Partridge easily recaptures the lunatic blatancy of knock-offs like “Captain Groovy And His Bubblegum Army”, with a dreadful Mid-Atlantic accent, ample nonsensical yelling, and vast thuggish hooks. And of course, in the finest tradition of XTC past, it’s all about genitals. For fans less taken with Partridge’s conceptual whimsy, “Prince Of Orange” might appeal more: an off-kilter chorus, enigmatic lyrics and wayward keyboard lines make it tantalisingly difficult to pin down, like one of the odd and lovely B-Sides they used to knock out. In fact, if XTC would put this kind of thoroughly charming stuff on their B-Sides now, instead of interminable lectures about Andy writing songs in his shed, their singles would be much better buys.