I picked up a copy of Mummer at a record fair a couple of weeks ago, never owned it before and never heard it before. It is typically British in its title with Mummer being derived from Mummers’ Plays which are folk plays performed by troupes of amateur actors, traditionally all male, known as mummers or guisers (also by local names such as rhymers, pace-eggers, soulers, tipteerers, wrenboys, and galoshins) which all seems quite apt for XTC.
I bought this particular album for one track, Love on a Farmboy’s Wages, which I adore, and everything else on it is a bonus, and what a bonus. I don’t see that much talk about Mummer compared to many of the other albums and I really do think it deserves to be up there with the rest. More great song writing, more great melodies, cutting lyrics, superb arrangements, well engineered/produced and bears up to repeated listening. THere were three singles released, Great Fire, Wonderland and Love on a Farmboy’s Wages, the last being the only one to touch the charts at number 50.
Shilling for the fellow who brings the sheep in
Shilling for the fellow who milks the herd
Shilling for the fellow with a wife for keeping
How can we feed love on a farmboy’s wages?
This was the final album that drummer Terry Chambers appeared on with XTC, as he quit the group during the recording sessions. He was replaced by Peter Phipps. Andy Partridge later said “Until early 1982, our work was like black-and-white TV. Mummer was the first in full colour — bright sky blue.”
This was the first album post Andy Partridge breakdown, which resulted in no more live performances. Freed from the possibility of performing the songs live allowed for more studio experimentation with backwards guitars, inventively creepy synth parts, and effect-laden harmony vocals.
A1 Beating of Hearts 3:56
A2 Wonderland 4:50
A3 Love on a Farmboy’s Wages 3:58
A4 Great Fire 3:47
A5 Deliver Us from the Elements 4:36
B1 Human Alchemy 5:11
B2 Ladybird 4:32
B3 In Loving Memory of a Name 3:16
B4 Me and the Wind 4:17
B5 Funk Pop a Roll 3:14