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Oranges & Lemons Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered

4.3 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Oranges and Lemons, from 1989, is a fantastic record, a lucid, technicolor sprawl of modernized Beatleisms and airbrushed psych-pop confectionary. Commercially, it was such a shame Tears for Fears had exactly the same idea at exactly the same time. Appropriately, given its title, several of the songs on Oranges and Lemons deal with Andy Partridge's newly acquired parental status (the jazzy "Pink Thing" is a cunning double-entendre about fatherly pride and his penis) as well as wryly address the wider failings of the world into which our children are born. Yes, like some sherberty, fructose-flavored lozenge, Oranges and Lemons is both bitter and sweet. But unquestionably excellent, as witnessed by the Byrds-like village-idiot love song "Mayor of Simpleton" and other highlights like "King for a Day" and "Poor Skeleton Steps Out." The Eastern mystique, serpentine guitars, and "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" style chorus of "Garden of Earthly Delights" is conceivably what John, Paul, George, and Ringo would have sounded like if they'd hung around a little longer with the Maharishi. As for the dreamy, green-field tourist brochure panoramas of "Chalkhills and Children," think Brian Wilson drifting over the English countryside in a hang glider. --Kevin Maidment
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 14, 2002)
  • Rmst ed. edition
  • Original Release Date: 1989
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Astralwerks
  • ASIN: B00005ATHN
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,745 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Stack on May 17, 2006
Format: Audio CD
While conventional wisdom points to "Skylarking" as the best album in XTC's catalog, I find it overshadowed by its successor, 1989's "Oranges & Lemons". For me, it's the culmination of the band until now-- the high energy and excitement of the early albums (tempered nicely by the maturity of material like "Black Sea"), the carefully constructed arrangements of "Mummer" and "The Big Express", the unerring pop hooks and cohesiveness of "Skylarking", and a healthy dose of history and tribute drawn from the Dukes of Stratosphear culminate in a record that ended up being pretty much pop perfection.

As evidence of this, I submit the album's leadoff single-- "The Mayor of Simpleton". I've pretty much convinced myself it's the best song Andy Partridge ever wrote and it's got a bit of everything-- a hint at the old guitar skanks that dominated the old new wave efforts, a superb arrangement taking a couple guitar lines and intertwining them to create a full picture, and a series of two and three part vocal harmonies that provide a lovely swirl for Partridge's downright ecstatic lead vocal results in a piece that pretty much stops me in my tracks every time I hear it.

Still, as much as I rambled about one track, the truth is there's at least half a dozen absolutely superb tracks on here from Partridge's pen.
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Format: Audio CD
First, let me put the five star rating in context. Five stars are freely given in so many customer reviews that the five star rating has been devalued by overuse. In my opinion, XTC made some music I wouldn't bother to listen to all the way through even once. Less than one star for me. Some of their albums are worth three or four stars.
This album, however, stands at the pinnacle of anything any band has ever attempted or achieved. Not to say that it is better than Sgt. Pepper or other great records. But it holds its own. It must be considered one of the five or ten best albums of the 1980s.
I would call this music chamber pop. It quotes eloquently from sixties-style British pop, but adds elements of jazz, all produced and layered to perfection with XTC's inimitable style. All the elements here are precisely and deliberately placed, like a classical composition (with distorted guitars!). The thought and care with which these musical collages have been assembled created songs that are intensely interesting and musically involving. They stand up to repeated listening and analysis. As an experience, it is a marvel and a wonder to listen to these... I won't call them songs, I will call them compositions.
The recording is only fair, at best. One could only wish George Martin had been there to oversee the recording engineers. I have the remastered GOLD CD version, and really it is only slightly better than the original Geffen release. Since the old Geffen version can be purchased used for $1 or less, there is no excuse not to own a copy of this masterwork.
Andy Partridge was at the height of his lyrical powers, and his quirky harmonic ideas were harnessed and channeled into powerful, communicative, and anthemic songs.
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Format: Audio CD
XTC threw us a curve ball with this record. After the lush Skylarking they decided to bring out the guitars and mine sixties pop psychedelic territory for Oranges And Lemons. They took a page from their sixties psych alter-egos The Dukes Of Stratosphere and modernized the sound, the result being one of their most joyful and fun recordings since Black Sea. The everything-but-the-kitchen-sink percussion of Pat Mastelloto, now of King Crimson, really adds quite a bit to these odd-ball pop tunes. Many of which rank among Andy Partridge's best: Garden of Earthly Delights (with the line "Don't hurt nobody, less of course they ask you"), Mayor of Simpleton, Poor Skeleton Steps Out, The Loving (totally joyful) and on and on. Colin Moulding also writes some gems with King For A Day and One Of The Millions, his homage to the ordinary bloke that "never seems to do anything". Dave Gregory is the guitar master as he always is and contributes quite a lot to the dense sound of Oranges And Lemons, and Colin Mouldings bass playing is fantastic. Check out his fluid Paul McCartney on steroids playing on the Mayor Of Simpleton.

What I love most about Oranges And Lemons is they brought back the guitars and the odd rhythms that made XTC such an interesting band back in the White Noise through English Settlement days while keeping their new melodic sophistication a la Skylarking. There's a lot of instrumental muscle on this album. The only real suprise for me is that Oranges And Lemons didn't get as huge as it should have.
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