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Colin Moulding – Photo Credit: Andrew Swainson
It’s always a thrill to see artists whose heyday occurred decades ago continuing to release music, whether it be under the same project, a new moniker or as a solo artist. All the better when the artist is of legendary status to begin with and when there certainly has been pent-up hunger for new material from such music icons. Enter XTC co-frontman Colin Moulding, who is back now as a solo artist, presenting ‘The Hardest Battle’, released as a CD single in 4-panel digisleeve via Burning Shed.
Containing two songs – ‘The Hardest Battle’, ‘Say It (original version)’, and an exploratory demo of the title track, The Hardest Battle represents XTC founding member Colin Moulding’s first-ever fully solo release.
In celebration of this release, Colin Moulding also presents the video for the title track, directed and filmed by Henry Meredith at St Mary’s Uffington (interior) and Salisbury Cathedral (exterior). Featuring Tomas Silberberg as George IV, the costume was provided courtesy of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
This mini-EP offers a tantalizing glimpse into the creative process of one of the UK’s finest songwriters, showcasing Colin’s English pop vision with XTC’s trademark qualities of melody, rhythm, variety, and idiosyncratic subject matter, mixed in with nostalgia and a degree of pensiveness.
Following two releases with original XTC drummer Terry Chambers under the TC&I moniker – the ‘Great Aspirations’ EP and the album ‘Naked Flames: Live at Swindon Arts Centre’, ‘The Hardest Battle’ is the first new material from Moulding in many years.
“To be nobody but yourself – in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight”… I saw these lines in a book I picked up in a secondhand bookshop and thought…maybe there’s a song there …I think it’s by the poet EE Cummins,” says Colin Moulding.
“And there it was. All I had to do was come up with some music to marry to this notion. I do think most people aren’t themselves really, or become themselves eventually. And that struggle isn’t easy. I recorded this pretty much in isolation as most people have been this past year or so. One crazy year for all of us. Perhaps ‘The Hardest Battle’ we humans have faced externally, as well as the one we fight internally every day,”
Founded in 1972, XTC only had their first UK charting single in 1979. Moulding wrote the first three charting singles (‘Life Begins at the Hop’, ‘Making Plans for Nigel’ and ‘Generals and Majors’). Moulding continued with frontman Andy Partridge through the group’s dissolution in 2006. In 1984, they also, along with XTC bandmate Dave Gregory and Ian Gregory, formed The Dukes of Stratosphear, anticipating and celebrated by retro-minded movements such as the Paisley Underground.
“About ‘Say It’, I just felt this track deserved a better fate than it got really. I wrote it for the XTC album that never was . But it ended up on a promo disk amongst XTC’s ‘Last Days of Rome’ This version feels much more akin to my original song mindset compared to the expedient I agreed to at the time,” says Colin Moulding.
Regarding ‘The Hardest Battle (First Exploratory Demo)’, Moulding adds, “I think demos are much more of a demonstration to ones self than for other people. You have to find out what works and what doesn’t. Therefore, you shoot from the hip and just fire it out, and see what sticks. Larkin always said that he didn’t know what his poems were about initially until he got some way into them ;- that’s what this is;- I’m just ‘Larkin’ around until it presents itself. Then the crossword puzzle can begin.”
‘The Hardest Battle’ is out now and can be ordered on CD single exclusively via Burning Shed at this Website
1. The Hardest Battle
2. Say It (Original Version)
3. The Hardest Battle (First Exploratory Demo)
Produced by Colin Moulding and Stuart Rowe
Mixed by Stuart Rowe
All instrumentation by Colin Moulding except on ‘Say It’, where Jon Buckett plays piano
All songs written by Colin Moulding
Mastered by Jason Mitchell at Loud Mastering
Manufactured by Noisebox Digital
Media Artwork by Andrew Swainson from a concept by Colin Moulding
Recorded within the Sound of Christ Church Bells
Released by Burning Shed. Cat No: CMCD001
The EP also features a different version of ‘Say It’, differing from the XTC-released version
Recall a few years ago when Colin released an EP and LP under the TC&I moniker with XTC drummer Terry Chambers