GHS 4035 Black Sea
Produced by Steve Lillywhite
Released on September 12, 1980
UK CHART POSITION #16 . . . US CHART POSITION #41
Find it at GEMM
GHS 4035 cover
[high resolution scan]
 

T he dense, difficult, beautifully baroque fourth album. Black Sea was the first XTC album I ever owned, “Respectable Street” the second XTC song I ever heard (Nigel being the first), and from the moment that needle hit the old Victrola it was love pure love. Now, I was reading on the SwindonWeb that English Settlement is the avowed masterpiece and I have to disagree. For me, it’s always been about Black Sea. Drums and Wires let the pop monkeys come tumbling out of the barrel, Black Sea trained them to sit up straight and do tricks, while Settlement found them overeducated and prone to idle, rustic reverie. Their most ambitious and overtly political album to date, Black Sea demanded to be taken seriously. Andy Partridge takes aim at society (“Respectable Street”), religion (“Paper And Iron”) and politics (“Living Through Another Cuba”). Love, the noble sentiment, is again roughly handled with the destructive imagery begun with Drums; love is a battle, a rocket, a fire, a suffocation. Behind these images is a rich musical backdrop of angry guitars, electronic buzzing and tribal drumming from Martin Chambers that ratchets up the intensity. It’s a more complicated record than Drums by design, as if Partridge felt their last album made too many concessions to pop. Moulding apparently had no such qualms, following in Drums’ step with “Love At First Sight” and “Generals And Majors.” What endears Black Sea to me is the sense that XTC has at last inherited pop’s sharp sword of social justice, unflinching intelligence, resolute idealism (et cetera’d to an infinity of increasingly tiny words) wielded so well by The Beatles and The Kinks. And so, on Black Sea, I saw the old colors flying on a new craft and realized I might be rescued from the radio waves after all. Ahem. And now for the dull details about the bonus tracks. They are three, unvarnished unfortunately, and belong at the bottom of Black Sea, not in the middle.

GEFD-24376 cover GEFD-24376 back sleeve
GEFD-24376 cover
[high resolution scan]
GEFD-24376 back sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. RESPECTABLE STREET    3:37
  2. GENERALS AND MAJORS    (Colin Moulding)    4:04
  3. LIVING THROUGH ANOTHER CUBA    4:45
  4. LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT    (Colin Moulding)    3:06
  5. ROCKET FROM A BOTTLE    3:30
  6. NO LANGUAGE IN OUR LUNGS    4:52
  7. TOWERS OF LONDON    5:24
  8. PAPER AND IRON (NOTES AND COINS)    4:14
  9. BURNING WITH OPTIMISM'S FLAMES    4:15
  10. SGT. ROCK (IS GOING TO HELP ME)    3:56
  11. TRAVELS IN NIHILON    6:56

    CD reissue bonus tracks (which appear between tracks 6 and 7 above)
  12. SMOKELESS ZONE    (Colin Moulding)    3:53
  13. DON'T LOSE YOUR TEMPER    2:37
  14. THE SOMNAMBULIST    4:37

    All songs written by Andy Partridge unless noted

CREDITS

TERRY CHAMBERS --
DAVE GREGORY --
COLIN MOULDING --
ANDY PARTRIDGE -- producer (14)
Hugh Padgham -- engineer
Laurence Burrage -- engineer (14)

return to XTC discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK September 12, 1980 Virgin LP V-2173 bag cover, lyric insert
US September 12, 1980 Virgin/RSO LP VR-1-1000 bag cover, lyric sleeve
AUSL 1980 Virgin LP L-37434 bag cover, lyric insert
CAN 1980 Virgin LP VL-2203 lyric sleeve
GER 1980 Ariola/Virgin LP 202.836.320 bag cover
JPN 1980 Virgin LP VIP-6964 bag cover
MEX 1981 Virgin LP LAE-330 lyric sleeve
US   Geffen LP GHS-4035  
UK 1986 Virgin LP OVED-83  
UK 1987 Virgin CDX CDV-2173 w. bonus tracks
US 1987 Geffen CDX GEFD-24376 w. bonus tracks
JPN   EMI/Toshiba CDX TOCP-53073 w. bonus tracks
UK 2001 Virgin CDX CDVX-2173 digital remaster w. bonus tracks
JPN 2001 Virgin CDX TOCP-65714 w. bonus tracks
US June 25, 2002 Caroline/EMI CDX 50636 digital remaster w. bonus tracks
JPN 2003 Virgin CDX VJCP-68533 w. bonus tracks

 

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