XTC's Partridge Combs Archives For Mammoth Box

XTC leader Andy Partridge recently combed his vaults and discovered an exorbitant amount of rarities and outtakes, resulting in the Oct. 10th release of the nine-disc box "The Fuzzy Warbles Collectors

XTC leader Andy Partridge recently combed his vaults and discovered an exorbitant amount of rarities and outtakes, resulting in the Oct. 10th release of the nine-disc box "The Fuzzy Warbles Collectors Album." Spanning Partridge's career, the set features alternate versions of many XTC favorites, unreleased tracks and also unfinished material that Partridge revisited and completed for this release.

"Working on this stuff took many years," Partridge tells Billboard.com of the box, due via his own Ape House label. "I just kept writing -- who knows what's going to fall out? It was recorded in spare bedrooms, the kitchen, the attic and of course my now infamous garden shed. Pop songs, radio jingles, film and TV music, or just plain old goofing about."

Partridge rediscovered many forgotten tracks in the process. "'I Don't Want To Be Here' for one," he says. "Lots of folks love this song but XTC was pretty democratic, so if someone didn't go for a tune, it got binned. 'Everything' was another. One of the most touching lyrics I ever wrote -- in the toilet. 'The Bland Leading the Bland' -- so proud of this autobiographical rallying call to end that boring donut mentality. You can kind of see why I just didn't want these songs collecting dust and going unheard. We threw away better material than most bands made a career out of."

Among his other favorites: "Wonder Annual" ("I always thought XTC should have recorded this surprisingly structured psychedelic slice"), "End of the Pier" ("It would have made a great out-of-season seaside companion piece to 'Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her'") and "2 Rainbeau Melt" ("Some of my favorite-ever lyrics matched to a trippy improvised soundscape. It arrived too late for the 'Wasp Star' album").

Partridge also helped assemble the packaging, which he modeled after a child's stamp album. "How better to represent a large and diverse set of home recordings than to depict them as a series of imaginary stamps?," he says.

The artist has a number of other projects in the works, the first of which will be "a double-disc set of purely improvised music called 'Monstrance.' My partners in one-take, overdub-free, unrehearsed crime are Barry Andrews -- ex-XTC keys man from way back -- and [drummer] Martyn Barker. Let's face it, nothing short of capital punishment is going to stop me making music."