XTC - Mummer LP
Label: Ape House
Freed from the constraints of "the road" Mummer presented XTC in widescreen - experimenting with songs, arrangements and the expanded sonic palette that studios can provide when there is no afterthought as to how to reproduce the material in a variety of theatres, university halls and other venues few, if any, of which were built with rock groups in mind. And, just as the Mummers' plays involve people travelling from place to place in a village enacting tales of the cycle of life (albeit in disguise), XTC travelled the best of the UK's studios recording, mixing and re-mixing their songs cycle to exacting standards.
Released as the follow-up to their most successful UK album to date - English Settlement - and with a new record label in America, band and record company hopes were high - three of the album's first four songs were issued as singles - but were to remain unfulfilled. Fans loved it, the press was positive but radio was changing, especially in the UK, and with no touring it failed, as sometimes happens with bands adopting a new approach, to cross over to that wider audience.
As also happens with such records, its reputation (and sales) have, over the years, grown far greater than its initial reception indicated and it can now be seen, in retrospect, to have been an important first step towards the sort of expansive approach to writing and recording that would yield much greater commercial results later in the same decade with Skylarking and the albums that followed.