XTC - Best CD Versions?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by bcaulf, Jan 30, 2018.

  1. bcaulf

    bcaulf Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Hello forum,

    XTC, a group that seems to get a lot of love and acclaim, especially around here. They seem to have developed their sound from punk rock to a more organic pop rock sound in an interesting way. They progressed nicely, similar to another beloved 80’s band, one I love (Talk Talk).

    My interest peaked after watching the recent Showtime documentary, and was intrigued by some of the songs they featured that I’ve never heard (the only song I’d heard before was Dear God). So I think it’s about time I check this band out, but I want the best digital sound possible at the best convenience. The remastered versions seem to be the most common? Do the original CDs sound better? I also want to know if there are some discs I should avoid, like the shortened version of English Settlement.
    Gardo and enfield like this.
  2. Somerset Scholar

    Somerset Scholar Forum Resident

    For Skylarking get the remastered version (with crotch shot...yuck) with the correct polarity as it is better than the original CD but not by miles.
    vonwegen, kiddo4, George P and 2 others like this.
  3. Get the CD/Bluray combos from the surround series. It features excellent remixes (stereo and surround) as well as the original mixes in excellent hires quality, as well as tons of great bonus tracks. It beats everything else out there digitally. And yes, Skylarking is presented with corrected polarity. The 2001 remasters are a bit loud, so for the titles not issued in the surround series the original CDs are a better option.
  4. bcaulf

    bcaulf Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Can you explain what is meant by the original “polarity”? :)
  5. Due to a wiring error the polarity of the signal on the tape is inverted for both channels. That means the speaker cones are coming towards you when they should be moving away from you and vice versa. It shouldn't make much of a difference, but once you've heard the corrected version something sounds wrong on the original.
  6. guerilla1977

    guerilla1977 Forum Resident

    I'd like to add: please buy from Ape House if you can because it supports Andy Partridge directly.
  7. Somerset Scholar

    Somerset Scholar Forum Resident

    I would avoid the Japanese "Original Paper Sleeve Replicas". I bought as a bulk purchase and they do sound very clear but too much in the high frequency range makes them fatiguing over a listening session.
    sound chaser likes this.
  8. bmoregnr

    bmoregnr Forum Rezident

    1060 W.Addison
    vonwegen, ralph7109, kiddo4 and 6 others like this.
  9. bcaulf

    bcaulf Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I guess, overall, how do the 2001 remasters compare to the originals?
  10. these are the 2001 remasters so approach with caution.

    They suffer from compression issues but the tapes used were all pretty good. There are better alternatives out there though.

    I love the Steve Wilson remixes BUT they miss most of the cross fades on the original albums so, if you are wedded to those, the pre-2001 masters are a better choice although the original Oranges and Lemons was bettered by the Mofi and the Wilson remix. The best version of English Settlement is the remaster on both CD and vinyl.
    originalsnuffy and bmoregnr like this.
  11. DetroitDoomsayer

    DetroitDoomsayer Forum Middle Child

    Detroit, Michigan
    Let's clarify this for the OP. I'm guessing you mean the 2016 edition mentioned in post #8. I whole heartedly agree!
    danielbravo, bmoregnr and wayneklein like this.
  12. Yes, sorry I forgot to mention the year. Thanks!
  13. Lemon Curry

    Lemon Curry (A) Face In The Crowd

    Mahwah, NJ
    An added benefit of the Steve Wilson remix packages is that you get the original mixes included, cross fades intact, at 96/24 resolution. These really are the bee's knees.
  14. tmtomh

    tmtomh Forum Resident

    Big :righton: to this. The polarity corrected version definitely is the best-sounding version of the original mix - it beats the MFSL CD too.

    But my view is for Skylarking definitely get the CD/Blu-Ray combo, because the new stereo remix kicks the ever-loving s**t out of the original one sonically. If you're a longtime fan, of course you might prefer the original mix. But if, like the OP, you're new to the band, then I say the new remix all the way. (And the CD/Blu-Ray release also includes the original-mix polarity corrected version, so you're covered there too.)
    bcaulf likes this.
  15. riknbkr330

    riknbkr330 Forum Resident

    I've been collecting XTC CD's since...well, since the first CD made it into my local shop, with my first ever CD purchase being English Settlement when that came out. With that said, I've had both, the originals and the remasters.

    I've replaced all the originals with the Steve Wilson Blu-Rays which I think sound fantastic. I don't mind that the segues are not on the remixes, but the original transfers are there. Plus I have original UK vinyl pressings.

    I don't have White Music or Go2 on CD, just on vinyl and happy with that as I'm not really a big fan of those releases.

    Unfortunately, I got rid of Mummer and Big Express when I purchased those Japanese mini CDs came out. Too loud. Thankfully I have the vinyl and I have a good rig for that.

    In any case, go with the originals as they sound great (kudos to Drums and Wires), and can be found cheap. If you're splashing the cash, go for the Steve Wilson new ones.
    jsayers and tmtomh like this.
  16. bcaulf

    bcaulf Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I might seek out the originals. I’m just one who finds old discs from the 80’s to be so cool and often sound good :)

    For the record, I listened to some samples on iTunes as they offer the 2001 remasters and of the several I listened to they don’t sound bad at all. I do notice some boosted bass however and they are a bit on the loud side. I couldn’t hear any obvious compression. The early 2000’s were definitely a washy time for remastering and by that account these sound fine.
  17. milco

    milco Forum Resident

    You won't find any love for the 2001 remasters on this forum. They are slightly juiced up in terms of bass, treble and volume and people on here are allergic to that kind of thing. They sound great on my budget hi-fi, though, and I really like them.
    Summerisle, richierichie and bcaulf like this.
  18. hubertfarnsworth

    hubertfarnsworth Forum Resident

    Raleigh, NC, USA
    I'll never give up my 2001 remasters b/c they are all signed by Andy and Colin, except the Dukes CD, signed by the aliases.
    ralph7109, SuntoryTime and Summerisle like this.
  19. Has anyone done any sort of comparisons between original UK Virgin discs versus the US Geffen’s? I’ve got the Geffen discs and was vaguely considering searching out the Virgin’s... are they just the same mastering?
  20. bcaulf

    bcaulf Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Think I might go with those early Virgin cd’s as it seems the 2001 remasters aren’t loved, and according to some sound better than the US Geffen discs. It’d be nice if this band got a box set of flat-transferred studio albums to make everything easier but guess I’ll just have to dream.

    I’ll get them soon, as I’m currently on a Roxy Music bender, and might wait to see if they pop up here in classifieds...but I was looking them up on Discogs, and noticed most of them have bonus tracks. Some placed in the middle of the album! How do these albums sound with those bonus tracks inserted?
    cubbykat likes this.
  21. DetroitDoomsayer

    DetroitDoomsayer Forum Middle Child

    Detroit, Michigan
    The bonus tracks are all quite good, and are all period b-side tracks.
    Personally, I don't like them in the middle of the album tracks.
    Maybe it's the fact that I had all of XTC's albums on vinyl before the CDs and I am too familiar with the original track lists.
    I also think that XTC's albums were sequenced pretty dang well by the band and producers and I find the bonus tracks intrusive, whether in the middle or the end.

    I really wish there was a CD option for the albums with no bonus tracks at all, but I'm probably in the minority for that.
    riknbkr330, wayneklein and bcaulf like this.
  22. bcaulf

    bcaulf Forum Resident Thread Starter

    At least I could remove them from the digital lineup and put them aside for a home made b-sides comp, but was curious as to how they sounded appended to the albums. Appreciate your insight! I can also imagine it being a bit annoying that it makes the albums longer.
  23. DetroitDoomsayer

    DetroitDoomsayer Forum Middle Child

    Detroit, Michigan
    As I said, they are all period specific, or near enough to each album's recording sessions that they all generally have the same "sound" or production as the
    albums they are appended to.
    My gripes really have nothing to do with the songs themselves or the production used on the added tracks, but have only to do with my preconceived aesthetics of
    how the album should be.
    To me, all XTC is good XTC! I'm a huge fan and love it all.

    That being said, I'm not really a fan of bonus cuts on albums at all.
    I'd much prefer extra tracks either on a bonus disc (like the Rhino Elvis Costello re-issues) or on a stand alone compilation with other non-LP singles and b-sides.

    My preference is for CDs that replicate the LP, and a separate compilation for extras.
    SuntoryTime likes this.
  24. bcaulf

    bcaulf Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I’m with you there. I think we feel the same way about this. I often remove bonus tracks from discs unless there are only 1 - 3. Or in the case of an album like Big Fun by Miles Davis, where the added cuts made the album better.
    DetroitDoomsayer likes this.
  25. PaulOnTheBeach

    PaulOnTheBeach Active Member

    If you ever jump into the world of vinyl, the first pressing U.K. English Settlement is a poster child for 80s big production done right.

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