(Here is a look at XTC’s wonderful, unfortunately out-of-print, Apple Box. It originally appeared on the buhdge website on November 6, 2005. Note that the two new songs discussed below were also available on a single, promotional CD entitled Apple Bite and as part of the also-no-longer-available Apple Set, which also came with two t-shirts and a badge.)
Just released by XTC’s Idea Records, Apple Box brings together the entirety of the Apple Venus project as originally envisioned by the band: a two-record set, one acoustic, the other electric–Apple Venus and Wasp Star all in one place, with their respective demos discs, Homespun and Homegrown, in tow. Apple Box rights the wrongs, and then some.
Along with all of the music, you get a spiffy, well-designed 64-page book sporting all of the lyrics to the songs and new notes from Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding (who also provide their autographs on the cover). There’s a surprise that bursts out at you when you open the box; I won’t spoil it here, though (it’s very unexpected and very cool). There’s another surprise: a coupon you mail in so the folks at Idea can send you a heretofore unknown goodie. That’s perfect. I love surprises!
But wait…there’s more! You also get a plastic card with a little scratch-off area on the back. Rub a penny over it and, voila, a number is revealed that you use to download two brand-new XTC songs, the first such numbers since Wasp Star. And, boy, are they wonderful. (You can also download a ringtone for your cell phone from any country.)
Colin’s wistful, breezy melodic masterpiece, “Say It,” is an instant classic, with a warm, affecting vocal performance from Moulding and an extremely satisfying, natural chord progression. Beautiful harmonies, too, adorn this sweet tale of spreading the gospel of love before it’s too late. The lyrics are among the bassist’s best. For example, this tasty verse: “Say it very soon/When you take your tea and toast/Don’t leave the house without saying/Whose toast you love the most.” Very, very endearing, very clever, and very English.
Andy’s new song, the lively, poppy “Spiral,” a groovy love letter to the 45 rpm disc and all its magical qualities, is fun all the way, adorned with unique chord changes and varied connecting musical tissue, not to mention a generous sense of humor. The ending is a happy, smiling surprise. Instantly memorable and catchy and classic. A real toe-tapper, this is.
Yes, you have to buy Apple Box to get these very cool and indispensable new songs, and, yeah, I know, you already have all the music, but you don’t have this very nifty collectable, and you don’t want your collection to have a hole in it, do you?
Enough said. Plunk down yer cash already.
November 6, 2005