Oranges & Lemons (album)

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Oranges & Lemons
Studio album by XTC
Released 27 February 1989
Recorded 6 June – 14 September 1988
Studio Ocean Way Recording, Hollywood
Genre Psychedelia[1]
Length 60:50
Label Virgin
Producer Paul Fox
XTC chronology
Psonic Psunspot
(1987)Psonic Psunspot1987
Oranges & Lemons
Singles from Oranges & Lemons
  1. "Mayor of Simpleton"
    Released: January 1989
  2. "King for a Day"
    Released: April 1989
  3. "The Loving"
    Released: August 1989
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[1]
Chicago Sun-Times3.5/4 stars[2]
Chicago Tribune3/4 stars[3]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music5/5 stars[4]
Q4/5 stars[5]
Record Collector5/5 stars[6]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[8]
The Village VoiceB−[10]

Oranges & Lemons is the eleventh studio album by English band XTC, released in 1989. The name of the album came from the old English nursery rhyme,[11] also referenced in the song "Ballet for a Rainy Day" on their previous album Skylarking. Oranges & Lemons was XTC's second double album, after 1982's English Settlement. The band was sent to Los Angeles to record the album, and Paul Fox was recruited for his first producing gig.


The album produced three singles, "Mayor of Simpleton", "King for a Day", and "The Loving". "Mayor of Simpleton" was a minor US hit (reaching No. 1 on the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, No. 72 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and No. 46 on the UK singles chart) and was the only XTC song ever to hit the US Hot 100 chart. It was accompanied by a music video, which resembled the opening credits of an Avengers-type TV show and saw significant airplay on MTV, especially on the alternative music show 120 Minutes. In addition, the Steely Dan-influenced "King for a Day" reached No. 10 on the US alternative / modern rock charts. The album itself was a commercial success, reaching No. 1 on the US college / alternative album chart, No. 44 on the US Billboard Top 200 chart, and No. 28 on the UK album chart.

To promote the album and appease the stage-shy Andy Partridge, the band went on a two-week acoustic radio-station tour of the US on which they performed a few songs from the album and a few medleys of earlier hits, as well as album reject "Blue Beret". The tour commenced on 15 May 1989 in Boston and ended on 31 May 1989 at Eastern Sound Studios in Toronto before a live studio audience of two hundred people.[citation needed]

The album cover, designed by Andy Partridge with Dave Dragon and Ken Ansell of The Design Clinic, is directly inspired by a 1965 WOR-FM 98.7 radio advert poster by Milton Glaser.[12][not in citation given]


While Oranges & Lemons is frequently compared to the music of the 1960s, especially the Beatles (in the words of one reviewer, "The tunes usually bend Beatle-esque pop into angular asymmetries,"[13]) other influences are prevalent on the album,[5] with the arrangements borrowing "a globeful of trappings, from Middle Eastern drumming to jazzy trumpet to Zairean soukous.[13] In the words of Q, the album drops "in and out of jazz, reggae, hard rock and so on."[5]

The psychedelic opening song "Garden of Earthly Delights" features Arabic modalities.[3] "Poor Skeleton Steps Out" features a samba-style rhythm,[14] glockenspiel and numerous slowed down voices.[15] "Hold Me My Daddy" also features a samba-style rhythm,[14] as well as South African-styled choral stylings and an Afro-pop coda.[5][3] "Miniature Sun" has been described as a jazz fusion track,[7] while "Pink Thing" has been compared to Paul McCartney.[7] "The Mayor of Simpleton" adopts a jangle pop style.[16]


The album was also available as a limited edition 3-Mini CD box set (CDVT2581), with a slightly different running order (switching the positions of "Cynical Days" and "Across This Antheap"); also, because "Poor Skeleton Steps Out" opens disc two of this edition the song starts cleanly rather than cross-fading from previous song "The Loving". A Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab gold-plated "Ultradisc" CD remaster (UDCD 682) was released in 1997.[17]

On the 2001 remastered CD edition, "Garden of Earthly Delights" is a new edit (removing the brief gap between the fade-in section and the first verse), "King for a Day" is an alternate mix (with more low-end information and an emphasised woodblock part), and "One of the Millions" has a shorter introduction (omitting the first two rings of the bell in the fade-in section).

It was remixed for stereo and 5.1 surround sound from the original analogue tapes by Steven Wilson in 2015.[18][better source needed]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Andy Partridge, except where noted.

Side one
1."Garden of Earthly Delights" 5:02
2."Mayor of Simpleton" 3:58
3."King for a Day"Colin Moulding3:35
4."Here Comes President Kill Again" 3:33
Side two
5."The Loving" 4:11
6."Poor Skeleton Steps Out" 3:27
7."One of the Millions"Moulding4:42
8."Scarecrow People" 4:12
Side three
9."Merely a Man" 3:26
10."Cynical Days"Moulding3:17
11."Across This Antheap" 4:49
Side four
12."Hold Me My Daddy"3:47
13."Pink Thing"3:48
14."Miniature Sun"3:49
15."Chalkhills and Children"4:59





Year Chart Position
1989 Australian Albums Chart 91[19]
1989 UK Albums Chart 28[20]
1989 US Billboard 200 44[21]


Year Single Chart Position
1989 "King for a Day" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 38
1989 "King for a Day" Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 11
1989 "Mayor of Simpleton" Billboard Hot 100 72
1989 "Mayor of Simpleton" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 15
1989 "Mayor of Simpleton" Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 1


  1. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Oranges & Lemons – XTC". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  2. ^ McLeese, Don (31 March 1989). "XTC deserves to have a hit with 'Oranges and Lemons'". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 12 March 2017. (Subscription required (help)). 
  3. ^ a b c Heim, Chris (16 March 1989). "XTC: Oranges and Lemons (Geffen)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 22 June 2016. 
  4. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8. 
  5. ^ a b c d Sandall, Robert. "XTC: Oranges & Lemons". Q. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  6. ^ Rathbone, Oregano (November 2015). "XTC – Oranges & Lemons". Record Collector (446). Retrieved 26 March 2017. 
  7. ^ a b c Azerrad, Michael (23 March 1989). "XTC: Oranges & Lemons". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 3 February 2008. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Pinnock, Tom (November 2015). "XTC: Oranges & Lemons". Uncut (222): 97. 
  10. ^ Christgau, Robert (25 July 1989). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  11. ^ Geffen press release
  12. ^ "Chalkhills: XTC: Oranges & Lemons". Retrieved 2016-03-30. [self-published source]
  13. ^ a b "HOME ENTERTAINMENT RECORDINGS: RECENT RELEASES". NY Times. 19 March 1989. Retrieved 9 August 2017. 
  14. ^ a b Thelen, Christopher (18 May 1997). "Oranges & Lemons". The Daily Vault. Retrieved 9 August 2017. 
  15. ^ Stafford, Bob. "XTC - Oranges and Lemons". Melody Maker. 
  16. ^ "Oranges & Lemons - Geffon". CMJ New Music Report. 164. 24 February 1989. 
  17. ^ Chalkhills: XTC Discography (Albums)
  18. ^ XTC [@xtcfans] (29 December 2014). "Been listening to some of the new Steven Wilson mixes of ORANGES AND LEMONS....ooh!,they are really good,warmer,clearer,doing it good" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  19. ^ "Chartifacts – Week Ending: 31 May 1992 (from The ARIA Report Issue No. 122)". (original document published by ARIA). Retrieved 2016-07-25. 
  20. ^ "Official Charts: XTC". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 2016-07-25. 
  21. ^ "Billboard > Artists / XTC > Chart History > Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 2016-07-25.