Upsy Daisy Assortment
In 1986, XTC released their break-through single, "Dear God," which is the most cogent and effectively disturbing atheistic declaration you'll ever hear in a three and half minute song:
Your name is on a lot of quotes in this book
And us crazy humans wrote it, you should take a look
And all the people that you made in your image
Still believing that junk is true
Well I know it ain't, and so do you, dear God
I can't believe in
I don't believe in...
I won't believe in heaven and hell
No saints, no sinners, no devil as well
No pearly gates, no thorny crown
You're always letting us humans down
The wars you bring, the babes you drown
Those lost at sea and never found
And it's the same the whole world round.
The hurt I see helps to compound
That Father, Son and Holy Ghost
Is just somebody's unholy hoax
And if you're up there you'd perceive
That my heart's here upon my sleeve
If there's one thing I don't believe in
Upsy Daisy Assortment is a career-spanning retrospective of their "sweetest hits," beginning with "Life Begins at the Hop" from their first album Drums and Wires, travelling right on up to "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" (their oddly messianic pop song from 1992's Nonsuch) and visiting everything in between. Their earlier hits are much more synthesized-sounding than the more straight-forward rock and roll sound of later albums, and Upsy Daisy Assortment is an excellent way of watching their progression, since these bizarre songs are included in chronological order. Only nine of their twelve albums are represented, in all circumstances by two to three songs. The album bogs down a bit in the middle with songs from Mummer and The Big Express, proving that they started and finished their illustrious career stronger than their less-inspired middle period. Nonetheless, it's a delightful collection of smart pop with catchy choruses and indelible hooks galore.
Naturally, there are plenty of songs that were not included, most of which (like "Sgt. Rock (Is Going to Help Me)" and "Are You Receiving Me?") can be found on an earlier 1982 compilation called Waxworks, a nice companion piece to this collection. More recent songs such as "The Garden of Earthly Delights" and their pair of politically-charged odes to pacifism, "Melt the Guns" and "War Dance," are regrettable omissions (you can insert your own here). Perhaps a two-disc boxed set would've been more representative. A careful listener, however, will conclude that XTC writes zippy songs from a thinking-person's perspective, with a great deal of passion for what they believe, be it deluded as in the case of "Dear God" or admirable such as "Earn Enough for Us." The latter is a wonderfully upbeat song originating from the same album, Skylarking, which ultimately celebrates marriage despite financial woes:
At home, at work and on the bus
I've been praying I can keep you
And to earn enough for us...
Just because we're on the bottom of the ladder
We shouldn't be sadder
Than others like us
Who have goals for the betterment of life
Glad that you want to be my wife, but honest..
I can take humiliation
And hurtful comments from the boss
I'm just praying by the weekend
I can earn enough for us.
Now the home computer has me on the run,
And I may be the Mayor of Simpleton,
But I know one thing, and that's I love you.