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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 21 October 2004
OK, so, before I begin this review, I must confess that I am not a big XTC fan - I am unable to tell you about how this album stands up to Skylarking or Enlgish Settlement, or how the mental breakdown suffered by Partridge during this album's recording is portrayed through the sound - I only know that Partridge actually had a breakdown at this time because I've read the other reviews of this album! So, what I AM able to do then, is review this album solely on it's own merits. And on it's own merits, it's a corker. More or less all of the songs on Mummer (apart from the closing Funk, Pop a Roll, which is really out of place and is a bit anti-climactic to be honest)are wonderful little pop nuggets that could have been accidently dug up when a farmer has been gathering in his crop of potatoes, they're THAT countryside-y. "Love on a farmboy's wages", which I think was a single but knowing XTC would've sold about twelve copies regardless, is a little ditty about the difficulties of settling down with your loved one when all you have the skill to do is be a farmhand, which naturally pays a pittance ("Shilling for the fellow who brings the sheep in, Shilling for the fellow who milks the herd" is half of the chorus). "Ladybird" is a song about a ladybird, simple as that. It's the sort of album that you stick on at 10 in the morning on a day in July when you have nothing planned and think "Hmm, what shall I do today?", then you hear a song like the aforementioned "Ladybird", and think "Sod it, I'll just have a read and a doze in the garden", and grin smugly to yourself because you know damn well that no one else around has heard the marvellous Mummer, and you grin smugly because you know that their lives are just a little less happy, and just a little less easy to bare than yours.
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on 2 October 2002
Everything has been said about XTC - underrated, great singles but never sold well, never made a truly great album etc etc.
However, if there was ever an album that deserved to enter everyone's "Top 10 underrated albums" listings, it must surely be this one.
Whatever has been said about this album in the past, must be re-evaluated in view of this superior reissue.
You can make any comment you want about the might of the record companies endlessly reissuing old albums but, I tell you what, the Japanese know how to do things properly. The XTC replica albums series has been outstanding in it's attention to detail and this applies to all of the CD's released from the Virgin era.
The songs from this original LP still stand up after nearly 20 years and as a set of songs, it would take Andy and Colin another 3 years before bettering them (Skylarking).
The bonus tracks are all present from the original 1987 CD issue but the real eye-opener is the remastering of the album.
I have CD's that make you feel that they may have been remastered with a modified potato peeler but the sound is truly excellent on this release and stands as the real reason (for once) to reinvest your hard earned paper and iron in this early 80's classic.
And when you've heard this, you will want to buy the rest of the CD's too - so don't say I didn't warn you and start saving now.
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Mummer was XTC's deeply un-commercial follow-up to 'English Settlement'. Everything from the cover to the song titles said 'avoid', but the sound within those record grooves said something very different indeed.

The album is dripping with charm and sweet sounds, rich melodies and whimsical lyrics. Take for instance the enchanting 'Ladybird', or 'Love on a Farmboy's Wages' or 'In Loving Memory of a Name' - great songs telling poignant stories - each song has a purpose and a tale to tell.

Although not their greatest album, Mummer is certainly up there with the best and is well worth investigating. It may take a play or two to click into place, but go for it.

Finally, go for the APE release on partridge's label - sonically stronger and produced with love.
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on 9 November 2001
'Mummer' was recorded by a band in turmoil. Yet, through all this XTC produced one of the most beautiful pop LPs of the 1980's. The expanded pallete of sounds (mellotron, real strings, more acoustic guitars) coupled with a dazzlingly diverse range of stlyes created a set that, to these ears at least, was up with Sgt. Pepper - no exageration. I fail to understand why this LP is so underated.
'Great Fire' is mind bending psychedlic pop, 'Love on a farmboy's wages' is utterly gorgeous, 'Wonderland' is breathtakingly lovely - there's even a smattering of prog in there too (Deliver us from the elements - one of many fine songs by bassist Colin Moulding).
In the end, the perceived commercial failure of this record sent XTC into a spin - what else can you do when you've done your best and no one is listening?
From here on the band get more extreme but this is simply beautiful. XTC at their finest.
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on 22 January 2008
I'm biased, of course. XTC, one the loves of my musical life, have been a musical backdrop to my family for the past 30 years. Always on the button, the songwriting is an unequalled combination of earthy English manhood, west country wit, dazzling musical brilliance and very, very catchy tunes. Wonderful.
This album was, and is, no exception.
From the beating of hearts, through great fires and deliverance from the elements to a touch of human alchemy and the loving memory of any name, this is, even after a quarter of a century, still a great album.
Buy it, enjoy it and go back for more - I'm convinced you won't regret it.
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on 14 October 2014
The Sixth great album from Andy Partridge and gang.

Contains some of the style of their earlier pastoral pop masterpiece English Settlement with some of the hints of what they would achieve on later albums The Big Express and Skylarking.

Very very good, a must buy.
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VINE VOICEon 24 September 2006
Don't underestimate this album in the great XTC scheme of things. Coming at a difficult time for the band, 'Mummer' has a surprisingly light, carefree touch about it. Whereas the next album, 'The Big Express', evokes a steam-age industrial landscape, 'Mummer', with its preponderance of acoustic guitar, is littered with references to nature, the rural and remote, exotic places. The first five tracks, which made up the first side of the original LP, all hit the spot. 'Beating Of Hearts' features an exotic melody over a jungle rhythm; Colin Moulding's 'Wonderland' is a gentle synth-pop number; 'Love On A Farmboy's Wages' is one of Andy Partridge's catchier songs, lyrically and musically; 'Great Fire' and 'Deliver Us From The Elements' are weightier items.

The next six tracks on this reissue are b-sides added as bonuses, of which 'Frost Circus' and 'Procession Towards Learning Land' demonstrate Partridge's penchant for experimentation the most. The last five songs, which represent side two of the LP, are relatively uneven in quality.

'Mummer' may lack well-known songs, but it's a fine, charming album.
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on 14 March 2003
Mummer was written and recorded at a difficult period in XTC's history, in the aftermath of Andy Partridge's nervous breakdown and subsequent decision to quit touring, and largely has a gentle, fragile feel that gives some idea of what his state of mind must have been like at the time. The recording process was also somewhat laborious and drawn-out with a total of three producers being used.

The end result is an LP with an undeniable charm but one which is also erratic and lacking in cohesion. Nevertheless, Love On A Farmboy's Wages remains one of the band's greatest ever singles, and there are several other memorable tracks, the delightfully laidback Ladybird and Kurt Weill-esque Me And The Wind in particular.
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on 11 October 2012
Okay, okay, not everybodies cup of tea I'll grant you, but XTC are my favourite ever band, and this album has to be my most played album of 2011/12. Although I have been a big fan of XTC for many years, I only bought this album in 2011, and what a find - now my favorite XTC album.

If you like XTC, this album is a must to purchase.
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on 10 March 2013
XTC again living my youth, love the music and tunes on a wonderful album... even better kids sing along in the car...
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