Nishimatu Nisei, 1996
Nonsuch, or “Nonsvch,” as the album cover technically rendered it, was XTC’s final record for Virgin. It was released in 1992 with an arresting medieval cover concept (one might also surmise that this extended to the album’s songs as well). I don’t know anybody who counts it among XTC’s strongest efforts. In fact, last year, when Robert Ham of Stereogum endeavored to undertake a full ranking of all of XTC’s albums, the only XTC album he rated worse than Nonsuch was Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2). Christgau gave the album a bomb, which might be a little harsh.
An advertisement for the album in Alternative Press featured a cute little poem with the title “Subscribe, A Poem,” the idea being that subscribing to AP would enable you to receive a CD sampler of Nonsuch and also enter the subscriber in a raffle. The poem went:
It slices not.
It dices not.
It belches not.
It squelches not.
It lives for you.
It lives by you.
Meanwhile, in what today seems like an agglomeration of dropped names that were extra certain to identify the year as 1992, an ad in the August issue of SPY claimed that “George Bush doesn’t get it. David Duke thinks it contains communist codes. William Kennedy Smith just wants to know if it gets chicks hot.” (Ahem, the “George Bush” in question here was George Herbert Walker Bush….)
Chalkhills, the XTC fan mailing list that later became one of the most exhaustive XTC fan websites, at some point noticed that the attractive woodcut-looking back cover art lent itself to, well, a coloring book (or a “colouring book,” depending). So they asked XTC fans to send in their best “coloured” versions of the various images. Naturally, this became known as The Nonsvch Colouring Book. The results, mostly executed in MS Paint or similar programs, aren’t half-bad.
Here we present a few of the highlights from the colored-in gallery and then the entire panels in their original b/w form.
Jeff Parker, 1998
Molly Fanton, 1998
Pierre Mesnier, 1999
Steven Young, 1997
Per Nordgren, 1998
Here’s the first video off the album, “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead,” which weirdly conflates the JFK assassination and Jesus’ crucifixion. It was controversial insofar as the U.S. version was “heavily edited,” according to Wikipedia.