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Mummer lyrics
Mummer (1987)

Mummer, from 1983, was the first fruit of the British pop combo's "pastoral" period, but merely proved to be the inaugural chapter in XTC's mercifully brief midlife crises. A commercial flop, stalling outside of the U.K. Top 50--a major setback considering the bridgeheads established in both the British and American charts by the preceding Black Sea and English Settlement albums--Mummer was considered something of an artistic disappointment at the time. Even so, any record that contains such moments of delicious rural innocence as the folksy "Love on a Farmboy's Wages" ("shilling for the fellow who brings the sheep in") or the mangled, chamber orchestra pyromania of "Great Fire" is worth a listen, while the addition of several alternately odd and poppy B-sides only adds to the intrigue. The poorer cousin of the subsequent Skylarking, perhaps, but well worth reassessing now that time has passed. --Kevin Maidment

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