HiRez Poll XTC - THE BIG EXPRESS [Blu-Ray Audio (Dolby Atmos)]


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  • 1: Terrible Content, Surround Mix, and Fidelity

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Oct 31, 2008
Middle TN
Please post your thoughts and comments on this brand new reissue of the classic XTC album "The Big Express".

The Big Express (1984) is the seventh in a series of expanded XTC album reissues, including 5.1 Surround mixes, Dolby Atmos (for the first time with an XTC album), 2023 stereo mixes and High-Resolution stereo mixes by Steven Wilson, along with a wealth of extra audio and visual material.




Pre-release thread for all shipping/ordering queries and non-poll related posts:
Another great SW-mixed XTC product. Mixes are sublime as expected, and needed in a few of the songs that have a lot going on. I'm not a fan of a lot of the content-- this is probably my least favorite XTC album, but I don't rate on whether or not I like the music or not (I do like most of it). Wake Up, Smalltown, and Soul Coal are the mixing highlights for me (though a lot of people aren't going to be able to handle Soul Coal).

An easy 10. Again.
Well, for me the first side is by far the best (except for Train Running Low on Soul Coal) so there you go. Lovely eclectic XTC album (as always). Not their best, but this remix really makes it better. Need a little more time before I vote, but this might very well be a 10, at least for the mix.
Just finished my first listen. Listening in Atmos reminded me of the first time I heard Brothers in Arms (or Yoshimi for some). I knew MCH was something special. A new way to hear old favorites. From the first note to the final chord, Atmos Big Express will forever change my musical experience.

Big Express was XTC’s transition album. For those 70’s to early 80’s fan, there is chaos. For those who caught on with Skylarking, beautiful production abounds.

Find your sweet spot and drink it in.
Wow! I've been an XTC fanatic since their early punk days, and enjoy everything Andy, Colin and the boys do. However, I've never really warmed up to this album as much as the others.

Until now! It is clear that Big Express has a LOT going on, is very dense, and does not come across in 2 channel like it does when finally freed up into the 3D space of the immersion bubble. I love this disc, and the SW Atmos mix is exactly what this album needed. Even the three (3) bonus tracks are wonderfully done.

A solid 10!! All the syncopated melodies that Andy likes to throw into a song....comes across with power, humor, pop, and the often Beatleseque hooks that we've come to expect from XTC. Oh, and Train Running Slow is an Atmos feast. :)
A solid “9” from me. I’ve always loved the big “industrial” sound of this album and while I love some of the songs, about half of them are just “meh”. But it was certainly a nice change from the lackluster “Mummer” when it was first released, IMO.

and the mix here is outstanding. Makes the album better and really plays to its strengths. Another knock-out-of-the-park from Mr. Wilson. I’d consider a “10” based on the mix alone, but as it’s just a middle-of-the-pack album for me, I have to separate it from the great ones somehow.

As always with these XTC releases, the minimal packaging is made up for by how much content you get for the price. Although I’m not really a fan of all the bonus tracks being on the BD only. But it certainly beats not including them at all!
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funny how to most folks this is their least fave, for me it is one of their top 2 albums...so many earworms in here: donkey, seagull, train, world...
also curious that when i first heard it, i had gotten the cd with the 3 extra songs IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ALBUM, so , to me this original version is weird and thankfully SW mixed them...they should have done an alternate playlist with the later cd version, maybe i will rip it and remedy the situation...
one hell of an album...definite 11 !!!
OK. Well. Here goes.
XTC was no where on my radar when their albums appeared. Perhaps if I'd been in from the start...IDK.
I got through the Atmos and was a little weary, don't like the vocals or much the lyrics.

But wait! Don't string me up yet.

I listened to the instrumental versions and gained a better appreciation of the album. Well mixed, great sound!

None of the XTC albums turned into surround so far will ever make me a solid fan of theirs. Way it is.
Instrumentally, musicality, mixing, sound, all good here on this release.

But since I do rate loosely on content, including vocals, I give this a solid 8.
I also voted 9, which is reflecting that it's a 10 for the mix and fidelity and an 8 for the album itself.

The Big Express is one of the two "lost" XTC albums sandwiched between the touring years of the band and the breakthrough of Skylarking (and even The Dukes of Stratosphear). Opinions are divided on those two albums. Mummer appears to be a love-it-or-hate-it type album, some people find it lackluster whereas I adore it and think it's where XTC are exploding into technicolor after some more monochrome (although excellent) albums. It's not without its faults, but it works for me just the way it is.
The Big Express was one I had much more difficulty getting into, and it's even easier to understand why when I hear this new eye-and-ear-opening remix. The production choices made for a very fatiguing listen, and the 2001 CD remaster that was my only previous experience with the album did it no favors with its awful remastering. I've only listened to the 5.1 mix, but it opens it up and makes much more sense - I always wondered where did Dave Gregory go on this album, but in the new remix there is suddenly guitar interplay again, there are melodic guitar flourishes that were buried, and the industrial clang of the drums is not as oppressive anymore.
It's still not the best XTC album - a few songs, particularly on side 2, are not at their top level, and it still falls victim to their stubborn will to be quirky, different and clever (Andy Partridge, I'm looking at you). I love The Tony Williams Lifetime's "Emergency!" album as much as Andy Partridge, but it wasn't a good idea to try to shoehorn some McLaughlin lines into the opening of "I Remember the Sun" for instance. Actually, that could be Dave Gregory, but the style sounds more like Partridge.
It's trying to fit a bit too much into the songs and album all at once, so it is still a slightly claustrophobic listen (they would even top this approach on Oranges & Lemons), but the good things are even easier to appreciate now, and there are some wonderful gems here. "Wake Up" and "Train Running Low on Soul Coal" are two of the high points both musically and mix-wise. "Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her" was always great and one of Partridge's best lyrical moments, and I've always had a soft spot for "This World Over" even though the accusations of a Police-out are true. "Shake You Donkey Up" really comes alive in the 5.1 mix. I feel the first album side is stronger than the second, which is more pleasant but also more forgettable bar the stunning closer. All in all, I used to rate this album a 7.5 musically, but I think it's close to an 8 now with this new mix.

Can we get English Settlement and Mummer now, please?
Just having a proper listen in 5.1DTS MA and I must say it’s sounds great. Nice intelligent surround mix that’s engaging and uses the surround fields nicely. The stereo mix is awesome 😎 especially compared with my original LP, nice and crisp. Quite like the extra songs too. Voted it a solid 10.
Lots more left to explore with this which should be fun.


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I gave this one a solid “9” - the wonderful Steve Wilson mix gets a 10, and the content gets a 8 - the first half of the album has some fantastic songs on it, but it kind of sags a bit on the second half. I truly love XTC but their songs have so much going on and Andy’s vocals fatigue me somewhat after the first 30 minutes or so.
After all these years of listening to their albums maybe I should start listening in the middle instead of the front - downside being that their opening tracks are just too extraordinary to miss!
I truly love XTC but their songs have so much going on and Andy’s vocals fatigue me somewhat after the first 30 minutes or so.
I’m kind of in the same boat, despite being a fan of Andy and the band. Maybe it’s as much the lyrics as the voice singing them?
That’s one of the reasons I love the instrumentals so much. Without the (dare I say) distraction of vocals one can hear into the songs better IMHO.
Overall I give this release a solid 8/8.5
One listen and ready to review. It’s a 9. So close to a 10. Never heard the album before so don’t have any preconceived ideas of what the atmos should sound like but Steven Wilson did a terrific job, probably one of the best I have heard so far. It seems like what kept this from being a 10, at least for me, is there seems to be a lack of fidelity in the recording possibly? It has a slight digital crunchiness to it and the snares that sound like white noise in places. The songs seem really good with only a couple that were off in terms of quality. The song with the title about a train and soul coal is both a low point, and a high point, ending with a really nice treatment at the end which was very atmos-y. A new word! Anyway, this is a great addition to my collection and I plan on a lot more plays of this album. I may increase my score at some point but right now its competing with Harmony Codex and the new Peter Gabriel one both on their way to strong scores and this one doesn’t quite measure up in terms of recording quality.