Nonsuch is the final album I will be looking at for now, although there are some further releases they aren’t readily available, unless you are prepared to pay £200 for a copy, and I’m not. This album sells for around £120, a decent copy does at least. I’ve seen one for sale listed as ATTENTION!!! ONLY RECORD 1 OF THE SET WITH IT’S ORIGINAL INNER SLEEVE, IS FOR SALE…….RECORD 2 WITH IT’S ORIGINAL INNER SLEEVE AND THE ORIGINAL COVER, ARE MISSING!!! that was £50, madness really.
This was the album that caused XTC to enter into a dispute with Virgin Records that resulted in a gap of several years before anything else was released. On its its initial release in 1992 it did pretty well, reaching number 28 in the UK charts and Lead single The Disappointed, was nominated for an Ivor Novello award. The album was nominated for the 1993 Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album (won by Tom Waits with Bone Machine) and reached number 97 on the US Billboard 200, as well as number one on Rolling Stone’s College album chart. Not too shabby.
The album cover is an image of Nonsuch Palace, a Tudor royal palace, built by Henry VIII in Surrey, England; it stood from 1538 to 1682–3.
Having written around 32 songs for Nonsuch by 1991, it was a while before anything else happened as the musical director of Virgin Records felt that the band “could do better” and asked them to write other songs. Andy Partridge reflected: “We were ready [to record the album in 1990], but our English record company refused all our songs.” In Partridge’s recollection, the director threatened that Virgin would drop the band if the band don’t write an album “of twelve Top Ten guaranteed singles,” and noted that this attitude held the band up in recording Nonsuch, which they refused to rewrite, believing its songs to be among the greatest they had written. With the band sitting on the material, the director left the label a year later, and his replacement liked the band’s content, hurrying the band to record the album.
I think the band were pretty much right, it’s not an album of top ten singles though, I think that was never going to happen, and to be frank, it is an entirely unreasonable demand to make of any band/artist.
There were only two singles released, The Disappointed and The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead, although Wrapped In Grey was to be released and copies were pressed, but the record label changed their minds at the last minute, another reason why the band parted company with them after this album.
A1 The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead
A2 My Bird Performs
A3 Dear Madam Barnum
A4 Humble Daisy
A5 The Smartest Monkeys
B1 The Disappointed
B2 Holly Up On Poppy
C2 That Wave
C3 Then She Appeared
C4 War Dance
D1 Wrapped In Grey
D2 The Ugly Underneath
D4 Books Are Burning
Like all the XTC albums I’ve looked at so far, it’s bloody good. They are one of the most, if not the most, consistently good songwriters I’ve ever heard. I do wish this would get a re-release though, doesn’t have to be a deluxe box set or anything like that, just a re-press as it was when originally released.
Also, I had no idea this existed, I don’t know how I feel about it:
Next, the graph, everybody loves a bloody graph!