Sgt. Rock (or is that Steven Wilson?) is going to help XTC fans this season with the fifth in an ongoing series of remixes of the beloved Swindon band’s albums for Virgin Records: 1980’s Black Sea.
XTC’s fourth album (and second with the lineup of singer/guitarist Andy Partridge, singer/bassist Colin Moulding, guitarist/keyboardist Dave Gregory and drummer Terry Chambers) was almost immediately praised by critics upon its release, thanks to a potent brace of catchy, frenetic, barbed pop/rock songs (mostly written by Partridge, save for two by Moulding). Singles like “Generals and Majors,” “Towers of London” and “Sgt. Rock is Going to Help Me” were melodic hits built for pogoing; all three hit the U.K. Top 40, with “Sgt. Rock” at No. 16, their highest-charting single at the time. The Steve Lillywhite-produced album was the band’s first Top 20 at home, and at No. 41 became the group’s highest-charting album in America.
Following remixed and expanded reissues of Nonsuch (1992), Drums and WIres (1979), Oranges and Lemons (1989) and Skylarking (1986) between 2013 and 2016, Wilson (with the approval of Partridge) has remixed the album from the original multitrack masters in both standard stereo and 5.1 surround sound. The CD/Blu-ray set follows the “virtual box set” format of the previous titles, with additional bonus audiovisual content. Thus far, that content has been confirmed as:
- The stereo mix in 24bit/96khz LPCM audio and 5.1 surround mix in LPCM and DTS HD Master Audio
- Seven additional songs from the album sessions in stereo and 5.1 surround (also mixed by Wilson), including an unreleased Colin Moulding song, “Let’s Ban The Bomb,” and the non-album single “Take This Town”
- A presentation of the original album and bonus tracks in their original stereo mixes
- Bonus mixes and instrumental versions overseen by Wilson
- The music videos for “Towers Of London, “Generals and Majors” and “Respectable Street”
The CD portion will feature the new stereo mix and as-yet unannounced bonus tracks. Packaging includes new notes and interviews with all four band members and album engineer Hugh Padgham. The set is pre-orderable now through the band’s Ape House label store with a street date of November 10; orders from that store will include a postcard signed by Chambers. And for U.K. fans, make sure to set your calendars for the October 7 airing of the new XTC documentary, This is Pop, on Sky Arts, featuring interviews with Partridge, Moulding, Gregory, Chambers and more.