"On their third album it's bye bye Barry Andrews and organ and hello Dave Gregory and XTC achieve their "classic sound", ie one that lasted through Black Sea and English Settlement. On Drums And Wires Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding really came into their own as songwriters and Terry Chambers first displayed his peculiar and inimitable THUD WHACK drumming style. The freneticism of the first two albums was tempered by a growing and unique musical sophistication, yet there's an economy of style that reflects that these songs were supposed to be played live in front of actual people. Andy Partridges' crippling stage fright was still several years off and the complex arrangements of Skylarking even farther. My introduction to XTC was the second album Go2 and so when Barry Andrews was kicked out I didn't know what to expect. Well what I got was one of the nuttiest and finest albums these clever pop hooligans ever made. From Colin Mouldings' early hit Making Plans For Nigel to Andy Partridges' most loopy song Helicopter, it's sheer mad genius."
Stephen Ashley Holt | South Carolina | 09/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first heard this one during a very intense, shall we say "chemically altered" state of mind in my impressionable teens. To this day Complicated Game still frightens me a little.
This is a terrific album, one that spotlights XTC at the height of their oddball inventiveness. Sadly, the more Beefheartian aspects of their creativity would soon give way to more traditional song structure, and a tendency to overwork and overproduce their sound. I'm afraid they'll never record anything as twisted and brilliant as Roads Girdle the Globe or Millions again."
(4.5 Stars) A huge step forward..
B | Rochester, NY United States | 10/14/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After the departure of keyboardist Barry Andrews (who added those irritating, high pitched organs in the background), XTC hired a second guitarist, Dave Gregory. This album is the result, and it showcases a giant step forward in songwriting ability from their previous two works, "White Music" and "Go 2" (especially the Colin Moulding songs).
The album opens with one of XTC's biggest hits (in the UK at least), "Making Plans For Nigel". This is a Colin Moulding song, and it's quite amazing considering a couple years prior, he was writing herky-jerky crap like "Crosswires". It's a pretty straightforward pop/rock tune, not unlike something The Police would've done.
The frantic new-wave/pop of "Helicopter" sounds more like something off the first couple XTC releases, but it has a really strong melody, making it a lot more memorable than anything on those aforementioned albums except for maybe "This Is Pop".
"Day In Day Out" combines mellow rock with somewhat off-key caterwauling to great results. The electric/accoustic jangly pop of "Ten Feet Tall" is also quite memorable. It's a more subdued sound compared to the unrelenting energy of earlier XTC, showing a sign of things to come.
"When You're Near Me I Have Difficulty" is one of Andy Patridge's greatest songs, a sophisticated mix of balladry and energy to create effervescent new wave pop. The omnious, epic vibes of "Roads Girdle the Globe" is another great Partridge masterpiece.
"That Is the Way" has a dreamy pop feel to it, and features some class trumpet work in the bridge (courtesy of Dick Cuthell). "Outside World" is a catchy slice of pop/punk, very reminiscent of The Clash.
The album closes with "Complicated Game", one of Andy Partridge's most monolithic songs. It slowly builds from a hush whisper to tense yelling in its 5 minute course.
Other great songs include the Costello-esque "Reel by Reel", the oriental tinged epic "Millions", and the acerbic quirkyness of "Scissor Man".
There's also 3 bonus tracks, most noteworthy is the single, "Life Begins At the Hop", another great pop song from Colin Moulding. The other two are decent.
If you're new to XTC, this is the best place to start if you want a good early period album. It's also the first of many essentials from the band..pretty much everything from this album until the present.
Best Songs: Making Plans For Nigel, Helicopter, When You're Near Me I Have Difficulty, Roads Girdle the Globe, Millions.
TM77 | nj, usa | 04/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first bought 'Drums And Wires' back in the early 80s. I love the artwork as well as the music on the album. To this day it's one of my all time favorites along with its follow up, 'Black Sea'. All the songs on Drums And Wires are excellent...there isn't a bad track on here. But some standouts for me are - Making Plans For Nigel
Life Begins At The Hop
Reel By Reel
When You're Near Me I Have Difficulty
That Is The Way That It's DoneAs you can see, I've listed over half the cd...it's that great an album.The guitar playing is incredible on the entire album and quite unique on some songs. Listen to the chunky picked solos on 'Making Plans For Nigel' and 'Life Begins At The Hop'.
The ska influenced 'Helicopter', 'Reel By Reel' and the frantic 'Outside World' are straight out rockers.
'Millions' features a hypnotic bass line, and the lyrics warning the Kings Of The East to stay East...as far away as East will let them be.
No need to explain all of the songs. Buy the cd and see for yourself.
This especially is a must have for all Britpop fans. XTC have made some of the most British sounding pop of all time in my opinion.
Get Drums And Wires...you won't be sorry."
Beginning of Brilliance
John Furman | San Francisco, CA United States | 06/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I got exposed to this one a year or so after it came out. I was vulnerable, having grown up on a diet of Manilow and Saturday Night Fever. This one bit me on the bum and never let go. At the time I ljust liked the juxtaposition (though that word was unknown to me at the time) of incredibly catchy pop with nightmarish prolonged forays into anti-pop. In retrospect, this marks the beginning of an astonishing set of albums from middle period XTC: the groundwork is all there in this album though in less polished (more raw!) form. Happy pop ditties, politically/culturally charged lyrics, Dave Gregory's nearly psychotically innovative lead guitar (he'd just joined the group). I wouldn't call this the first XTC album you should buy, but once you've gotten them into your head, this album is the one to go to if you want to see how the next 5 or so came to be."