XTC remains the most powerful indictment of the induction committee [or however it’s organized] of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which has snubbed them every year since 2002, their first year of eligibility.
My advice: just break down (or break your piggy bank) and get the entire album catalogue. You will in the long run anyway, and in the long run we’re all dead, so why not enjoy them sooner rather than later? Besides, Andy & co. could use the royalties.
Even XTC’s least-idolized albums (the first two, plus Mummer and Apple Venus Vol.s I & II) have must-hear, must-own tracks. The mid-period Rag and Bone Buffet compilation of castoffs, demos and miscellany is well worth having, too. Even the relatively worst XTC albums and compilations beat the pants off of all but the best efforts of almost everyone else, but I’d skip over “best of/singles” compilations and get the complete album catalogue, instead.
And for concert recordings, the best one-disc purchase is BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert , with the best bootleg that I’ve got being Fab Foursome in Philly .
I think the way to go is to buy the albums, plus the Rag & Bone Buffet compilation and the Dukes material, in chronological order, to better follow the twisting turns in the band’s evolution over the years. But if you would rather cherry pick as finances allow, I’d go with this order: The Dukes of Stratosphear Chips… Anthology, Black Sea, The Big Express, Oranges & Lemons, English Settlement (the landmark double album that inaugurated their acoustic sound), Mummer, Nonsuch, Go2, the Rag & Bone Buffet comp., AV Vol. 1, White Music, AV Vol. 2, BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert 1980, and only then the Fuzzy Warbles discs 1-9 (see the fan site Chalkhills for their rankings of those), the Drums and Wireless Live at the BBC compilation, the Waxworks singles compilation (with the rarity “Wait 'til Your Boat Goes Down”), and the Homespun discs. Skip the Fossil Fuel and Upsy Daisy best-of and singles comps (they’re superfluous).
And if you can afford only one copy of each album, opt for the Japanese digital remastered versions of the albums if you can. They sound fantastic and recreate the original album packaging, too.