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The Big Express (1984) is the seventh in a series of expanded XTC album reissues, including 5.1 Surround mixes, Dolby Atmos (for the first time with an XTC album), 2023 stereo mixes and High-Resolution stereo mixes by Steven Wilson, along with a wealth of extra audio and visual material.
A neglected classic of its era, the album creatively fused the band's immense songwriting gifts with the technology of the day to produce a vibrant Post-Punk concept album about growing up in an industrial town.
“The Big Express is the closest we ever came to recording a 'concept' album. It’s full of Swindon and deep seams of life there, that run through myself, Colin, and Dave, (Terry too of course). It's populated by members of our families, our hopes and dreams. The things we wished for, or feared, a stew of memories.” - Andy Partridge (excerpted from the book Popartery, 2023)
Packaged in a 2-disc digipack sleeve with 16-page booklet in a cardboard slip case.
All copies come with a postcard signed by Colin Moulding (while stocks last).
CD features the complete album newly mixed in stereo + three additional tracks.
Blu-Ray includes the newly mixed material as featured on CD in Hi-Res Stereo, 5.1 Surround and Dolby Atmos + 2023 stereo out-takes & instrumental mixes in Hi-Res stereo. Also includes the original album + additional tracks in Hi-Res stereo. The complete album & more also appear in demo form (16/48 stereo reflecting the source material).
XTC’s seventh album, “The Big Express” was virtually ignored on release, much as its immediate predecessor “Mummer” (which was reissued on vinyl earlier this year to universal acclaim) had been. If Mummer was XTC’s quiet album, this was its polar opposite: bright, brash, noisy - even cluttered on occasion if the song demanded it - as it became a concept album of sorts, a partly autobiographical reflection on growing up in an industrial town, Swindon, with its history of engineering and railway accomplishments.
Perhaps in keeping with that tradition of technical innovation, the album also made extensive use of (at the time) new technology with Linn-Drum programming (alongside drummer Peter Phipps), E-mu Emulator and other synths claiming space among the more traditional guitars, bass and drums mix under-pinning the vocals.
This technology was juxtaposed with technology of a slightly earlier pop/rock era as phasing, backwards tapes and the inclusion of a mellotron hinted at a psychedelic influence that would move more centre stage with the band’s next project – ‘The Dukes of Stratosphear’.
With XTC no longer touring, the sound radically different to any previous XTC album, in a musical climate where the upper end of the charts reflected national radio, producing the most mainstream result for years: Lionel Richie, Sade, Spandau Ballet, Howard Jones, Tina Turner, Queen – Frank Sinatra’s final solo studio album… the space for a metallic, post-punk concept album about growing up amidst the ghosts of Swindon’s industrial heritage proved non-existent.
Of course the songs were as good as on any other XTC album - a very high standard indeed – but they went largely unheard. Given that position, it would be easy to conclude that the timing was wrong for the album. But the best musicians follow the music and allow the times to catch up with that; precisely what happened when XTC released its next album “Skylarking” in 1986.
Coal for the Soul.
CD (2023 Mixes)
1. Wake Up
2. All You Pretty Girls
3. Shake You Donkey Up
4. Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her
5. This World Over
6. The Everyday Story Of Smalltown
7. I Bought Myself A Liarbird
8. Reign Of Blows
9. You’re The Wish You Are I Had
10. I Remember The Sun
11. Train Running Low On Soul Coal
12. Red Brick Dream
14. Blue Overall
Album and additional tracks of 2023 Mix in Dolby Atmos, Hi-Res Stereo and DTS-HD MA Surround Sound & instrumental mixes in Hi-Res Stereo all mixed by Steven WIlson
Plus album and additional tracks of original mix in Hi-Res stereo, with additional out-takes.
15. Broomstick Rhythm (guide vocal)
16. The Troubles (Big Express Version – Backing Track)
Album and additional tracks in demo form in 16/48 Hi-Res stereo with additional demos of songs written for The Big Express
15. Now we all Dead (It Doesn't Matter)
17. Gangway, Electric Guitar is Coming Through
18. Broomstick Rhythm
19. Shiny Cage
20. A Patriotic Romance