Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
It is almost the contradiction of Charles Dickens’ erstwhile narrative hero Philip Pirrip, instead of great expectations, there is instead situated at the heart of TC&I’S four track E.P. Great Aspirations, a more honest approach to the English language, a modern dialect in the hands of two musicians with vision, who by all rights would have been crowned kings of their world.
Aspiration against expectation, to have a goal in this day in and age, a target and desire when everybody is screaming at you and telling you it is an outdated concept; and yet from Colin Moulding and Terry Chambers ambition, memory, is still very much at the forefront of their music and their persona, a quality of being that you would expect from two members of the phenomenal and in some cases, tragically underrated, XTC.
Great Aspirations, a sense of originality in a world that can seem harshly keen on going down a path that is shy from such duty and pleasure. Too many samples, countless rehashes of songs in which, to be as honest as the two gentlemen at the centre of this terrific and inspired piece of work, is not good for the soul, original can never be taken for granted, it can be sneered at by those who feel that only a cover is good for the listener’s taste, but in the end original is fresh and exciting.
They may have once made plans for Nigel, but in these four new tracks, Scatter Me, Greatness (The Aspiration Song), the marvellous Kenny and Comrades of Pop, the likeable and national treasures that they are, it is the sense of return that makes the songs playful, to grasp the point of reconciliation in a turbulent world, a handshake across which is pleasantly and surprisingly offered and reciprocated. Such is the memory of a sincere handshake, not one born like a kiss on the cheeks in a Film Noir but with truth and honesty attached to its very meaning.
Kenny is a track in which the nature of British Pop Rock would have once grazed the landscape, by its own high standard it is possible to hear what could have been if time had been kinder, less built upon rocks that were dashed by storms and yet like the three other songs that make up the E.P., it is whimsical buoyed up by anger, of a past that will not be recovered because the so called tides of progress have demanded change at the expense of basic humanity and compassion.
Great Aspirations is a really enjoyable E.P., one that gets under the skin without the listener realising until the final note and the expression of a whistle of appreciation passes the lips; it is a whistle that sings of greatness.
Ian D. Hall