TC&I is the name given the duo of Colin Moulding and Terry Chambers, the once upon a time rhythm section of vaunted new wavers XTC. The bassist and drummer recently got together to do some recording, and the first product of that liaison is Great Aspirations, an EP of four songs recorded in their hometown of Swindon, England.
If you’re a fan of XTC and, in particular, Moulding’s songs, this CD EP is probably a no-brainer purchase. Opener “Scatter Me” is definitely the best of the quartet, bringing to mind latter day Moulding greats like “King for a Day,” with “Kenny” coming in second. “Greatness (The Aspiration Song),” however, is kind of trite in its listing of great people and “Comrades of Pop” treads a similar path. After not hearing anything from Moulding since XTC’s Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2) from 2000, this release had a lot to live up to and it doesn’t make it. He writes some great songs but these aren’t those.
Great Aspirations is definitely an excellent showcase of Colin’s bass playing – always one of the secret weapons in XTC’s armory. He also plays guitar and keyboards, which have only ever been evident on the handful of his demos that have come out as B-sides of XTC singles. Yet, for Moulding (to paraphrase Sun Ra), bass is the place. As for Terry Chambers, he’s still the quite capable drummer he always was, but there’s a tightness to his playing here that feels too perfect, like a drum machine, or at the least, a digitally recorded, quantized drum track. There’s a lack of swing in the drumming so the songs feel sort of plain. And that, along with the production, which is “stock” good but lacking the kind of excitement that XTC’s best records have, make this a bit of a ho-hum affair. I hope this is just TC&I testing the waters and there’s something better in the works. Perhaps a great aspiration for something even better…
2.5/5 (TC&I Music TC&I-CD-001, 2017; available via Pledge Music)
Yes, this is a rather middling, but welcome affair, as its great to listen these two back at it and agreed that we can only hope for more. Just a few nigglings in this review: While XTC certainly rode the New Wave early on, I’d say by 1982’s English Settlement (first release after Andy’s on-stage breakdown and subsequent retirement from live performance) they moved decidedly away from the New Wave of the day, evolving into their own brand of smart, more complex pop-rock/English folkloric music. Also, Colin Moulding has popped up here and there since the last proper XTC album as guest vocalist on some primarily prog-oriented music.
Thanks for the comment, Peter. You’re right about XTC–the new wave tag was more fitting early on (and is just that, a tag). I’m also aware of Moulding’s one-off appearances but haven’t heard them as yet. I suppose now’s a good time to check them out.
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[…] teamed up to form TC&I, and after releasing an EP of new material (2017’s Great Aspirations; reviewed here), they did some live shows and recorded them. Naked Flames – Live at Swindon Arts Centre is […]