Drums and Wires

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Drums and Wires
XTC Drums and Wires.jpg
Studio album by XTC
Released 17 August 1979
Recorded June–July 1979
Studio The Town House, London, England
Genre New wave, art rock
Length 46:57
Label Virgin
Producer Steve Lillywhite
XTC chronology
Go 2
Drums and Wires
Black Sea
Singles from Drums and Wires
  1. "Making Plans for Nigel"
    Released: September 1979

Drums and Wires is the third studio album by the English band XTC, released on 17 August 1979, on the Virgin record label. The album marked the debut of Dave Gregory, who joined the band as lead guitarist following keyboardist Barry Andrews' departure in early 1979. Gregory went on to remain with the group up until 1998, during the recording of Apple Venus Volume 1.

It reached No. 34 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 176 on the US Billboard 200. One single, "Making Plans for Nigel", was released from the album on 14 September 1979, and reached No. 17 on the UK Singles Chart. It also contained the original recording of "Ten Feet Tall", a re-recorded version of which was released in March 1980 in the US only, as the band's first American single, designed to coincide with their first American tour. Certain versions of the album also include "Life Begins at the Hop", which was released on 27 April 1979, and reached No. 54 on the UK Singles Chart. In later years, the album was rated at number 38 on Pitchfork's "The Top Albums of the 1970s" list.


The album marked their first sessions at London's Townhouse Studios. The studio was at the time much sought after for its highly reverberant "live" drum room, and it was greatly favoured by their producer Steve Lillywhite and his engineer Hugh Padgham, who were at that time also creating influential recordings with Peter Gabriel and Genesis. The Lillywhite-Padgham connection also led to Gregory contributing to Gabriel's third solo album.


The first 20,000 copies of the LP were bundled with a free 7" EP, with three songs; "Limelight", "Day In Day Out" and "Chain Of Command". The song "Life Begins at the Hop", written by Colin Moulding, was released as a 7" single before the original LP's release. It appears on some international versions of the album, either as an addition or substitution. All four songs were later included on CD reissues starting in 1985.

UK and Canadian vinyl editions came with an insert featuring lyrics to all the songs on Drums and Wires as well as XTC's previous albums, Go 2 and White Music, although it didn't list which album each song came from.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Chicago Tribune3.5/4 stars[2]
Christgau's Record GuideA−[3]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[4]
Record Collector5/5 stars[5]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[6]
Smash Hits9/10[7]

"Making Plans for Nigel" and "Scissor Man" have both been covered by Primus on their EPs Miscellaneous Debris and Rhinoplasty, respectively. "Making Plans for Nigel" has also been covered by Robbie Williams on his single Old Before I Die, by The Rembrandts on the tribute album A Testimonial Dinner: The Songs of XTC, by Nouvelle Vague on their self-titled debut album, and by Pitchshifter on their single Genius. The Nigel character was later referenced by The Enemy in the song "Be Somebody" from their album Music for the People.


The 2001 reissue CD was digitally remastered by Ian Cooper at Metropolis Mastering.

The final song on side two of the album, "Complicated Game", made its way onto television in 2014 as non-diegetic source music in the premier episode of AMC's Halt and Catch Fire, which was broadcast on 1 June 2014.

The album was reissued on CD and Blu-ray in October 2014, boasting a new stereo and 5.1 surround sound mix of the album from renowned remixer Steven Wilson, as well as new liner notes from Partridge, Moulding and Gregory, alternate mixes and nearly 40 demo and rehearsal tracks. Partridge said of the new mix: "It's so good it's upped my opinion of the album."

Track listing[edit]

UK Release[edit]

All tracks written by Andy Partridge, except where noted.

Side one
1."Making Plans for Nigel"Colin Moulding4:13
2."Helicopter" 3:54
3."Day In Day Out"Moulding3:08
4."When You're Near Me I Have Difficulty" 3:20
5."Ten Feet Tall"Moulding3:12
6."Roads Girdle the Globe" 4:51
Side two
7."Real by Reel" 3:46
8."Millions" 5:57
9."That Is the Way"Moulding2:56
10."Outside World" 2:40
11."Scissor Man" 3:59
12."Complicated Game" 4:53

1979 US Release[edit]

All tracks written by Andy Partridge, except where noted.

Side one
1."Life Begins at the Hop"Colin Moulding3:49
2."Helicopter" 3:54
3."Making Plans for Nigel"Moulding4:13
4."Ten Feet Tall"Moulding3:12
5."When You're Near Me I Have Difficulty" 3:20
6."That Is the Way"Moulding2:56
Side two
7."Real by Reel"3:46
9."Outside World"2:40
10."Roads Girdle the Globe"4:51
11."Scissor Man"3:59
12."Complicated Game"4:53
EP Side one
EP Side two
14."Day in Day Out"Moulding3:08
15."Chain of Command" 2:33


Additional personnel


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Drums and Wires – XTC". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 June 2011.
  2. ^ Kot, Greg (3 May 1992). "The XTC Legacy: An Appraisal". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "XTC: Drums and Wires". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the '70s. Ticknor and Fields. ISBN 0-89919-026-X. Retrieved 20 June 2011.
  4. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  5. ^ Rathbone, Oregano (January 2015). "XTC – Drums and Wires". Record Collector (436). Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  6. ^ Frere-Jones, Sasha (2004). "XTC". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. pp. 890–92. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  7. ^ Starr, Red (23 August – 5 September 1979). "Albums". Smash Hits: 25.