An important record was recently released or dropped, as the young people say here in America. It involves Colin Moulding, the ‘other’ songwriter of legendary British group XTC, joined by original XTC member Terry Chambers. Together, the two have formed a new project called TC&I, for which they released their ‘Great Aspirations’ EP at the end of 2017.
I myself have been a rabid fan of the band since my school days and can recall hearing them for the first time on WFMU in 1980. The impact was sudden and permanent. I was not alone. The reason why the EP is so important is that fans of the group had been waiting years to hear of what had become of the members since the group disbanded back in 2006. There were strong rumors of something brewing as far back as 2013. So with all that laid across, I will say that this new EP left me with a wide smile on my face.
On offer are four tunes, which coincidently was the usual amount of songs that Colin would bring to the table, on average, for any XTC album. It’s possible that this was done on purpose, reflecting his tradition of habitually bringing four to the table.
All of the tracks here are very strong, including the first single ‘Scatter Me’, which displays the typical pastoral countryside imagery that is Colin’s forte. Its hammered piano throughout recalls ‘the days of old’ and its sentiment as a song of devotion and love for one’s spouse are uniquely poignant. In fact, I can’t recall a single other song that has expressed these feelings of my own so well.
‘Greatness’, the next track, is reminiscent of Bacharach, the 60’s groovy bass tone, and Colin’s usual tongue-in-cheek dealings with mortality, the meaning of one’s life and expression of admiration for the cultural giants mentioned… Churchill, McCartney, Spielberg… This track is a melodic triumph indeed.
Then there’s ‘Kenny’, a song depicting the tragedy of disappearing parks through the English countryside… where do the kids go to play and think today? It’s sound put me square back in the era of early XTC for some reason, which I think comes down to the energy that is present here.
Lastly, the EP closes with ‘Comrades of Pop’, a spoken word ‘cautionary tale’ for those younger folks today who are braving the arduous task of making music for a living – not an easy undertaking. In the backdrop, we hear more of that distinct ‘sound of England’ that Moulding is able to deliver so easily and perfectly.
Overall this is a wonderful outing, which is all the more intriguing because of Terry Chambers’ punchy drumming. With sales of this EP booming this definitely is satisfying the multitude of hungry fans, while leaving us all wanting more. Well done!
‘Great Aspirations’ can be ordered through Pledge Music at https://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/tc-and-ior Burning Shed at goo.gl/tR3KkZ, with both signed and unsigned copies available.
Written by: Jonn Blackwell
Photo credit Geoff Winn