Either Andy Partridge has way too much time on his hands or he's simply too prolific to be reined in by the confines of XTC, the proto-punk band-turned-Beatles/Beach Boys disciples he founded nearly three decades ago. It's likely a bit of both; after all, it has been practically 25 years since Partridge announced the group would stop playing live gigs, and a good six years have elapsed since their last formal outing, the unusually ambitious Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2). Shortly thereafter, this reticent genius released the first of what would eventually become eight installments of his Fuzzy Warbles series lavishly anointed compilations of outtakes, demos and unreleased tracks from his personal archives, songs destined for XTC albums and either waylaid or retooled along the way. So while Partridge patrons have struggled to keep up and to dole out import-inflated prices the task has been simplified with the release of a lavish box, Fuzzy Warbles Collector's Album, a domestic offering that boasts all eight original albums and a bonus ninth disc containing nine tracks exclusive to this collection. And lest anyone doubt a source of his inspiration, the set also includes a remarkably faithful read of "Strawberry Fields Forever." Suffice it to say, these volumes provide a bounty of brilliance to relish and enjoy.
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