Black Sea (XTC album)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Black Sea
Studio album by XTC
Released 12 September 1980
Recorded June–July 1980 at The Town House, London, England
Genre New wave
Length 48:56
Label Virgin Records (UK, Europe, and Canada)
RSO Records (original US release)
Geffen Records (US reissue)
Producer Steve Lillywhite
XTC chronology
Drums and Wires
(1979)
Black Sea
(1980)
English Settlement
(1982)
Singles from Black Sea
  1. "Generals and Majors"
    Released: August 1980
  2. "Towers of London"
    Released: October 1980
  3. "Sgt. Rock (Is Going to Help Me)"
    Released: December 1980
  4. "Respectable Street"
    Released: March 1981
Alternative cover
US outer cover

Black Sea is the fourth studio album by the English band XTC, released on 12 September 1980. It spawned five singles—"Generals And Majors" (released 9 August 1980 and reached No. 32 on the UK singles chart and No. 104 on the Billboard Pop chart), "Towers Of London" (released 10 October 1980 and reached No. 31 on the UK singles chart), "Sgt. Rock (Is Going To Help Me)" (released 5 December 1980 and reached No. 16 on the UK singles chart), "Love At First Sight" (released 23 January 1981 in Canada only) and a re-recording of "Respectable Street" (released 13 March 1981). The band re-recorded the song to change a few words as per the BBC—who ended up never playing the clean version anyway.[citation needed]

The album reached No. 16 on the UK album chart, No. 41 on the Billboard U.S. album chart and No. 1 on the New Zealand album chart.

Early copies of the album came with the sleeve enclosed in a lime-green paper bag. There was an additional version that came packaged in a black plastic bag with the XTC logo in silver printed on one side.

The band's name is hidden in the cover artwork. The seagull, ship's mast and moon spell out XTC.

Virgin media mogul Richard Branson appeared in the "Generals and Majors" video.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Pitchfork (9.2/10)[2]
Q 4/5 stars[3]
Robert Christgau (B+)[4]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[5]
Smash Hits 9/10[6]

Black Sea received positive reviews from critics. In an Allmusic review, Chris Woodstra called it XTC's most consistent album yet, both in terms of its full arrangements and unsubtle political commentary.[1] Writing for Rolling Stone, Don Shewey also found the album to be consistent over all—with the exception of "Travels in Nihilon", which he says "strays from the intersection of punk and pop where XTC are most at home".[5] Similarly, David Sinclair, in an overview of XTC's early albums for Q, determined that the arrangements of Black Sea, while complex, were much cleaner than earlier arrangements, such as those found on their debut, White Music.[3] Robert Christgau was impressed by the album's pacing and eclecticism, despite delving into excessively "embellishing herkyjerk whozis" and over-intellect.[4]

In a Pitchfork review revisiting Black Sea, along with Go 2 and English Settlement following their remastered CD release in 2002, Chris Dalen discusses the strengths of Black Sea. In particular, Dalen emphasizes "Sgt. Rock", "Rocket From a Bottle", and "Travels in Nihilon". Dalen also appreciated the placement of the bonus tracks on the CD, following the original track listing of the album.[2] Previous reissues placed the tracks in the middle of the album, interrupting the "flow".[1][2]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Andy Partridge, except where noted.

UK LP: V 2173[edit]

Side A
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Respectable Street"     3:38
2. "Generals and Majors"   Colin Moulding 4:05
3. "Living Through Another Cuba"     4:44
4. "Love at First Sight"   Moulding 3:08
5. "Rocket from a Bottle"     3:30
6. "No Language in Our Lungs"     4:53
Side B
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Towers of London"     5:24
2. "Paper and Iron (Notes and Coins)"     4:17
3. "Burning with Optimism's Flames"     4:16
4. "Sgt. Rock (Is Going to Help Me)"     3:57
5. "Travels in Nihilon"     7:04

2001 Remastered CD: CDVX 2173[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Respectable Street"     3:38
2. "Generals and Majors"   Colin Moulding 4:05
3. "Living Through Another Cuba"     4:44
4. "Love at First Sight"   Moulding 3:08
5. "Rocket from a Bottle"     3:30
6. "No Language in Our Lungs"     4:53
7. "Towers of London"     5:24
8. "Paper and Iron (Notes and Coins)"     4:17
9. "Burning with Optimism's Flames"     4:16
10. "Sgt. Rock (Is Going to Help Me)"     3:57
11. "Travels in Nihilon"     7:04
12. "Smokeless Zone"   Moulding 3:51
13. "Don't Lose Your Temper"     2:33
14. "The Somnambulist"     4:38

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Woodstra, Chris. "Black Sea - XTC". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Dahlen, Chris. "XTC: 'Go 2', 'Black Sea', and 'English Settlement'". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 4 June 2003. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Sinclair, David. "Review: Q, 1986 - 2010". Q. Chalkhills. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Black Sea". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Puterbaugh, Parke. "XTC: Black Sea". Rolling Stone (Jann Wenner). Archived from the original on 12 April 2009. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  6. ^ Cranna, Ian. "Albums". Smash Hits (18 September – 1 October 1980): 35.