(Glass Onyon) XTC "The Big Express" The Surround Sound Series CD/Blu-ray is now available. Classic 1984 XTC album on CD/Blu-ray newly mixed (2023) by Steven Wilson in Stereo, 5.1 Surround & (for the first time with an XTC album), Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio mixes as part of The Surround Sound Series.
CD features the complete album newly mixed in stereo + three additional tracks. The 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.
Blu-Ray 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).
Packaged in a 2-disc digipak sleeve with 16-page booklet in a cardboard slip case.
"'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
XTC's seventh album, "The Big Express" was virtually ignored on release, much as its immediate predecessor "Mummer" 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 center-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. Just as "Mummer's" reputation (and sales) has increased over the years, "The Big Express" is now regarded as a 'neglected classic' of its era.
Now remixed by Steven Wilson in stereo, 5.1 Surround Sound & Dolby Atmos, the full impact and power of the album can be appreciated. Already given studio quality previews to an invited audience in London and LA at L-Acoustics studios, the reaction was one of collective awe at the amount of newly apparent detail & clarity in the Atmos mixes. As ever with XTC, the full package on the Blu-ray disc includes every recorded song from the era, ranging from demos through to the aforementioned Spatial Audio mixes.
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
5. This World Over
6. The Everyday Story Of
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
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