An XTC box set titled "A Coat of Many Cupboards" will be released stateside on April 2 through Caroline Records. A U.K. version will precede the U.S. release March 25 through Virgin Records U.K.

An XTC box set titled "A Coat of Many Cupboards" will be released stateside on April 2 through Caroline Records. A U.K. version will precede the U.S. release March 25 through Virgin Records U.K.

Chronicling the Swindon, England-bred band's prolific 1978-1989 period, the four-CD, 60-track retrospective garners material from the influential pop group's first 10 studio albums and its Dukes of Stratosphear side project. Aimed at completists -- 41 of the tracks have never before been released -- "A Coat From Many Cupboards" features demo versions of most of XTC's singles plus a wide array of rarities.

Favorite selections from long-standing members Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding are paired with stories in the liner notes. In addition, a fully illustrated 60-page booklet contains a specially commissioned essay by XTC devotee Harrison Sherwood.

Among the outtakes is an early Partridge demo for "Senses Working Overtime," an acoustic reggae version of "Mayor of Simpleton," a rehearsal tape of "Generals and Majors," and Dave Gregory's home recording of "Dear God." A thundering London concert recording of "Ball and Chain," and a take of "Yacht Dance" from the BBC television program "The Old Grey Whistle Test," can be counted among the live material. For the full track listing, visit the official Web site of the band's own Idea Records label.

Shortly after the release of the box set, look for Caroline Records to begin reissuing the first 10 XTC studio albums in digitally mastered form. Initial limited edition packaging will replicate the cardboard style of the original vinyl album releases. Most of these reissues -- released last year in Japan and the U.K., and available as pricey imports in the U.S. -- will feature additional tracks, none of which are duplicated from the box set.

Additionally, XTC is hoping to put out a companion DVD representing this same era. According to Web site, the group is in negotiations with Virgin to compile all of their promo films for a possible home video release.

As if that wasn't enough, the group has released instrumental versions of its last two albums, "Apple Venus Vol. 1" and "Wasp Star (Apple Venus Vol. 2)," which were issued via TVT in the U.S. and Idea Records/Cooking Vinyl in the U.K. Titled "Instru Venus" and "Wasp Strumental," respectively, the albums are available only through the Idea Records site, which teases the possibility of similar releases for the music of "Nonsuch" and "Oranges and Lemons," if these go over well with fans.

These mark the third versions of "Apple Venus" and "Wasp Star" to be made available, following albums comprised of demos of all of the tracks, dubbed "Homespun" and "Homegrown," respectively.

Meanwhile, a new XTC studio album from Partridge and Moulding may arrive this year, but more likely in 2003 via TVT in the U.S., and, presumably, by Idea Records in the U.K. (the label has ended its association with Cooking Vinyl). The as-yet-untitled set is the proper follow-up to "Apple Venus Vol. 1," which debuted at No. 106 on The Billboard 200, and "Wasp Star (Apple Venus Vol. 2)," which bowed at No. 108.

The group's highest charting U.S. album was 1989's Geffen release "Oranges and Lemons," which reached No. 45 on The Billboard 200 and spawned the singles "King for a Day" and "Mayor of Simpleton," the latter of which topped Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart. The group also scored a No. 1 Modern Rock Tracks hit with "Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead," from 1992's "Nonsuch" (Geffen).