XTC Coat of Many Cupboards

Apparently there's a much bigger eight-volume collection of XTC oddities and unreleased tidbits in the works, but for now this four-CD boxed set will have to suffice. It attempts to serve the dual roll of providing the band's many fanatics with a historic range of unavailable material while also acting as an XTC primer of sorts by including 14 band-favourite album tracks among its 60 tunes. Trying to be everything to everybody rarely works, but Coat of Many Cupboards comes close. After all, XTCs discards are better than what passes for radio fodder these days. Perfect examples are Go2 throwaway "Sleepyheads (Looking for Footprints)" and the Todd Rundgren reject from Skylarking, "Find The Fox." Due to the collection's chronological nature, one gets an excellent view of the band's musical evolution, especially with the inclusion of live material, TV appearances, rough demos, alternate versions and album cast-offs. From the vanguard of post-punk in the mid-'70s to '90s pop perfectionists, ...Cupboards provides a great sampler of the band's years with Virgin, as both XTC and Dukes of the Stratosphere (their '60s psych-pop alter ego). The very personal and illuminating track-by-track commentary provided by the group's two songwriters, Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding, in the accompanying book make the package complete. Not only do we get great insight on XTC's many-layered and always-striving compositions, but also on the incredible songwriting relationship that still drives this band. (Virgin)