XTC singer- songwriter-guitarist Andy Partridge suffered a nervous-exhaustion meltdown that forced the British band to permanently retire from concerts. The time Partridge has since saved on roadwork helps explain how he accumulated the nine CDs of home-demo larks in The Official Fuzzy Warbles Collector's Album (Ape House), an elaborately boxed roundup of Partridge's Fuzzy Warbles series of mail-order discs. (This set has a bonus CD, titled Hinges in keeping with the philatelic-style artwork.) The acid-jangle flavor and avant-Beatlemania quality of post-touring XTC records such as Mummer, Orange and Lemons and Nonsuch are here in often striking, working form. The beautiful, blasphemous "Dear God" appears as a bizarre folk-blues sketch; "My Love Explodes," drenched in phasing and rattlesnake tambourine, is even freakier than the official trip XTC released as the Dukes of Stratosphear. The goofin' around interludes tend to disrupt the pure-pop flow and dublike noir. But "My Land Is Burning," with its long Partridge-guitar wig-out, is typical, dynamic compensation — as well as a taste of what I still miss since XTC quit the stage.
Duster Bennett was a killer British one-man blues band who, in 1968, made an important pal in Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green, who helped get Bennett signed to the Mac's then label, Blue Horizon. The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions (Blue Horizon) is two CDs with the three exciting albums plus stray singles Bennett made in 1968-70, keeping hard time on bass drum and hi-hat cymbal while playing crunchy guitar and fiery harp. Some tracks feature Bennett with friends such as Green and original Yardbirds guitarist Anthony "Top" Topham. But most of the time, especially on the '69 live LP Bright Lights . . ., Bennett is a full, riotous Mississippi roadhouse all by his own deep-blues self.
The legendary unissued Motown single cut in 1966 by the Mynah Birds — the Canadian-American garage band featuring future superfreak Rick James on vocals and, on their way to Buffalo Springfield, bassist Bruce Palmer and guitarist Neil Young -- is finally out. The catch: Itâ€™s on the five-CD set The Complete Motown Singles: Vol. 6, 1966 (Motown/Hip-O Select), which costs $99.98. The A side, "It's My Time," should have been a Nuggets shoo-in — a ragged-Beatles stomp with James sounding uncannily like Arthur Lee and Young playing the twelve-string leads — while the flip, "Go On and Cry," is a fine downer ballad with a folk-rock-Impressions flair. As to the price, you'd have paid a lot more for a test pressing; this way, you also get another 123 great sides from one of Motown's golden years.