AS my colleague Steve Webb highlighted in last Saturday’s paper, now is a good time to be a fan of XTC, writes JOE THEOBALD, AKA DJ Captain Wormhole.

Sky Arts just aired a documentary on Saturday night about the ‘under-sung’ local heroes (I haven’t seen it yet but Dad’s kindly recorded it on ‘the box’ for future viewing).

Limelight has recently released a complete fanzine anthology called The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology, just in time for Christmas, and you can even buy a t-shirt featuring the book’s cover art.

Also, according to ‘loserville’, courtesy of the Adver comments section, there was a local XTC fan convention just a few weeks ago.

I often see Andy Partridge, the band’s frontman, wandering around Old Town, taking a small bite to eat in a local restaurant or sauntering down Wood Street, dressed mainly in beige.

These frequent sightings make me happy, a brief reminder that as a fellow Swindonite, I can claim geographical affiliation to a musical heritage more meaningful than having merely attended the same primary school as Billie Piper.

I genuinely get excited when I’m out of town and a non-Swindon person makes mention of the band and I get to point out where they’re from. That’s actually happened to me on three separate occasions.

Despite their well-publicised under-appreciation (after Making Plans For Nigel, the thing they’re best known for is probably that they aren’t known well enough) XTC do seem to be quite highly regarded across the globe.

According to American writer Robert Triptow, they’re often likened to The Beatles or The Beach Boys. Wikipedia describes the band as having ‘earned a devoted cult following’.

I’ll not lie, they aren’t entirely my cup of tea. I’m sure there’s a lot going on musically and lyrically that goes way over my head - Burning With Optimism’s Flames is definitely a dope track though.

I once asked Andy if he’d do a vinyl-orientated interview for this column and he said he’d be glad to and he would ‘mostly talk about the smell of them’ (records). Still haven’t pinned him down on that one.

Next week: Blood On The Tracks