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POP EYE

February 01, 1987|PATRICK GOLDSTEIN

OH GOD! THE SEQUEL: One of the most unlikely radio hits of the new year is XTC's striking ballad, "Dear God." It's a damning attack on the notion of a beneficent deity, questioning why the Lord hasn't stepped in to curb religious wars, terrorism and world starvation. It's the No. 1 college radio track in the country, as well as the most requested song on KROQ-FM. "The response has been incredible, both from fans and from our deejays too," said program director Rick Carroll. "It's in our heaviest rotation."

What makes "Dear God" such a surprise hit is that the song isn't even on XTC's current Geffen Records album. In fact, Geffen President Eddie Rosenblatt sheepishly admitted that the label didn't even know the song existed until it started getting radio reports recently touting the track. "We were running around with our heads cut off for a while there," he said. "We got all this reaction on the song and went to look for it on the album and couldn't find it."

As it turned out, XTC's album was first released in England on Virgin Records, which has worldwide rights to the group outside the United States. The band, with producer Todd Rundgren, had cut about 16 songs, and when Virgin's A&R execs put the album together, they left "Dear God" on the cutting-room floor. However, Virgin did slip the track on the B-side of a British 12-inch single, which attracted the attention of KROQ and other progressive radio outlets.

Geffen isn't wasting any time getting on the bandwagon. The label is rereleasing XTC's entire album, this time with "Dear God" included, and has also sent radio programmers a 12-inch single, this time with the song featured on the A-side.

Rosenblatt insisted there's no truth to the rumors that the label was concerned about the possible controversial nature of the song, which has been described as an "atheist anthem."

"We had no problems with the lyrics at all," Rosenblatt said. "We think it's a tremendous current-events type song."

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