The Big Express 1984
I should have bought this when I saw it in the used bin, but I didn’t and I regret that. As I dais earlier, I ordered a copy from an online store who contacted me later to tell me they couldn’t find it, so I ended up getting the first ‘Innocence Mission’ album and a Joni Mitchell as replacements. Which is fine but I was still disappointed.
Big Express is one of the albums from which I had heard very little, just All You Pretty Girls as far as I can recall although a few tracks feel familiar and there is, at times, a very mid-eighties sound about it to the point that the opening music of This World Over sounds like something The Police might have been putting out at the time, which is an observation rather than a criticism. The song itself is great.
Oh well, that’s this world over
Oh well, next one begins
Will you smile like any mother
As you bathe your brand new twins?
Will you sing about the missiles
As you dry off numbered limbs?
It really is extraordinary how XTC continued to release albums that had such incredibly good tracks on them but sales actually dropped off rather than increased.
Wake Up sounds to me like something that could have sat quite comfortably on Pink Floyd’s The Wall if they had greater pop sensibilities as it speaks of the hum drum day and rallies to wake up from the coma of modern life.
You put your cleanest dirty shirt on
Then you stagger down to meet the dawn
You take a ride upon a bus, it’s just a fuss
You know it keeps you born
You get to know a morning face
You get to join the human race
You get to know the world has passed you by
Who cares? You might be dead
Who cares? You stayed in bed
Who cares? You wrote the note
Who cares? You might have spoke
The whole album is seemingly centred around a failing future but is not overtly preachy and is tied into great hooks, which is something XTC seem to be able to manage quite effortlessly. The exception is All You Pretty Girls, which appears to have been the required single from the album.
I will definitely have to seek out another copy, hopefully this time it will be third time lucky.
A1 Wake Up 4:40
A2 All You Pretty Girls 3:40
A3 Shake You Donkey Up 4:19
A4 Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her, Kiss Her 3:50
A5 This World Over 5:37
B1 The Everyday Story of Smalltown 3:53
B2 I Bought Myself a Liarbird 2:49
B3 Reign of Blows 3:27
B4 You’re the Wish You Are I Had 3:17
B5 I Remember the Sun 3:10
B6 Train Running Low on Soul Coal 5:19