A review from 2002.
ANDY PARTRIDGE Fuzzy Warbles Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 (APE)
As any card-carrying XTC fanatic will inform you, the Swindon-based band spent the better part of the 90s on strike from their record label Virgin, finally earning their freedom from a draconian contract sometime in 1998. The band then set up their own label – Idea – and proceeded to release two albums (Apple Venus & Wasp Star) in consecutive years!
So it certainly behooves the band to flood the market with as many XTC-related products as possible just to make up for lost time. So whilst ecstatic fans have been lapping up the demo and instrumental versions of the two latest albums and Virgin was kind enough to issue the Coat of Many Cupboards box set, the duo decided to begin releasing the voluminous demos (subject of legend and lore and much bootlegging) Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding amassed during that seven-year industrial action.
Alas, Moulding changed his mind and so we have volumes one and two of Fuzzy Warbles as Partridge begins an ambitious program to give his fans what they have been waiting for a long time.
And is it all worth the wait and the expense? Why most certainly! Here’s why…
From Volume One, Partridge includes the delightful “Dame Fortune” (inextricably left off Apple Venus One), the bouncy “Don’t Let Us Bug You” (written for Disney’s animated James and the Giant Peach – now that would have been something!), a fiery demo of “That Wave” (off Nonsuch) that surpasses the recorded version for sheer intensity, the folky “Everything” (excluded from Oranges and Lemons), the whimsical “Goosey Goosey” (also for Nonsuch), the chirpy “Summer Hot As This” (circa 1984 – with erstwhile member Dave Gregory on guitar, a bonus!) and the offbeat “Wonder Annual” (another that failed to make the grade for Nonsuch).
Slide in Volume Two and one gets the unusually stripped down and straightforward “I Don’t Want To Be Here” (recorded for a AIDS Charity disc), the domestic tirade “Young Marrieds” – ‘Love and marriage go hand in hand like horse and horse shit’ (meant for Wasp Star), the political “Obscene Procession” – a precursor of “President Kill” perhaps? (for Skylarking apparently), the jaunty “Ra Ra Rehearsal” & “Ra Ra For Red Rocking Horse” (not quite up to the rest of Psonic Psunspot, I wager), the McCartney-esque “Everything’ll Be Alright” (also for Giant Peach), the frenetic “Chain of Command” (a blast from the past, 1979 in fact!), a gorgeously cod-psychedelic version of Nonsuch’s “Then She Appeared,” the lovely enigmatic “It’s Snowing Angels” (circa 1990) and the vivid “Ship Trapped In the Ice,” written to reflect XTC’s Virgin dilemma.
And there you have it, not meant for the XTC newbie but once you picked up every single fantastic work released by this awesome band, then Fuzzy Warbles tend to become fairly indispensable items to have and to hold. For even if the discs did not contain precious XTC artifacts, the professional sound and overall amazing quality of the tracks here make Fuzzy Warbles important albums for any serious-minded music fan to explore and absorb. A+ (Vol. 1) & A (Vol. 2)