The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology
Compiled by founding editor Mark Fisher, The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls brings together 256 pages of XTC goodness to celebrate Limelight fanzine’s 35th anniversary and the band’s 40th anniversary. Mark has kindly donated a copy of this splendid publication for a competition over on our Facebook page. We managed to nab Mark for a quick chat and he also agreed (without much persuasion) to compile an XTC Spotify playlistfor you. Over to Mark…
I blame Stewart Lee. My daughter was working in the Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh when she overheard him talking to fellow stand-up Joanna Neary. The two comedians were sharing their love of XTC, the band that brought us Senses Working Overtime, Making Plans for Nigel, Towers of London and a dozen classic albums.
My daughter knew I was a massive fan too. In fact, while still at school, I had set up the official XTC fanzine Limelight and had published it for ten years until 1992. I was Mr XTC.
She butted in on their conversation and told them about her old dad. Lee and Neary were delighted and said they’d love to see the fanzines. A few days later, I was digging out my old copies and wondering if anyone else would like to see them.
Before I knew it, I had reawoken my inner teen fan boy, got back in touch with singer Andy Partridge and the rest of the band and started planning a celebratory book. The result, published this autumn, is The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls, a 256-page anthology of the original fanzines supplemented by new interviews with the band and other articles about Swindon’s finest.
Appropriately, it also features Lee and Neary talking about their favourite XTC songs along with comedians Phill Jupitus, Kevin Eldon and Paul Putner. “Even their trousers are great,” says Eldon.
For me, it was a brilliant opportunity to take a nostalgic look back at the cow-gum-and-Letraset era of bedroom publishing and to see afresh what a rich and rewarding band XTC were. Not only is their music varied, surprising and invigorating, but also the band members are a continual source of good humour, witty observations and sharp analysis. What fanzine editor could ask for more?
Luckily a whole generation of fans agree with me and the book has been rapturously received. Louder Than War called it “music publication of the year,” while critic Dom Lawson welcomed it as “the most comprehensive and incisive book about XTC yet published”. I’m not going to argue with that.
All that remains is for me to think about volume two . . .
The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology, £17.99 (free UK postage) from www.xtclimelight.com
Mark Fisher is a theatre critic, editor, feature writer and freelance journalist. He has written about theatre in Scotland since the late-1980s, contributing theatre reviews, interviews, arts features and travel articles to newspapers and magazines in Scotland and all over the world.