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Todd Bernhardt & Andy Partridge: Complicated Game: The Songs Of XTC

XTC mainstay dissected.

Drummer, journalist and fan Bernhardt has been interviewing XTC’s sole remaining member Andy Partridge about his songs for most of the 21st century, so it’s not surprising that this book – a collection of interviews about 30 of Partridge’s best songs – is extremely thorough.

As a guide to XTC’s history and Partridge’s personal life, it’s as detailed as a conversation with a frank interviewee can be, as Bernhardt and Partridge discuss everything from key changes, drum sounds, lyrics, line-up changes and Partridge’s marriage break-up.

It’s informative, exhaustive, thorough and engaging. If it has one fault, it’s that it’s way too sprawling. Leaving aside the spatter of footnotes – some of which are repeated (and some of which are inconsistent; we’re told what The Young Ones TV show was, but not who GK Chesterton was, for example) – the repetitition of facts and occasional textual contradictions, a better editing job would have made this book much more readable, as would some kind of overview.

Bernhardt records everything and comments on nothing. Which in a book where the author glibly talks of “your wife’s infidelity” and accepts Partridge’s take on the band’s slow, inexorable loss of members isn’t good. An interview isn’t a transcription, especially in book form.

Classic Rock 221: Stuff