An expanded version of 1983's excellent singles compilation Waxworks, Compact XTC: The Singles 1978-1985 is simply that: all of the group's singles from 1978's White Music to 1985's The Big Express, in chronological order and including the misbegotten attempt at writing a proper hit single, 1980's "Wait Till Your Boat Goes Down," which wisely never appeared on any XTC album. Even more so than Waxworks, Compact XTC makes plain the remarkable transformation that took place in XTC's first five years, from the jittery new wave pop of "Science Friction" to the defiantly '60s-inspired acoustic-based neo-psychedelia of "Wonderland" and "Love on a Farmboy's Wages." There are many brilliant pop songs here, including Andy Partridge's "Senses Working Overtime" and "This Is Pop" and Colin Moulding's "Making Plans for Nigel" and "Life Begins at the Hop." Completely solid though this 18-track sampler is, it doesn't tell the complete story of how XTC got from point A to point B; for that, refer to the seven original albums this compilation is drawn from.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason