Formed in 1992 by former All About Eve and Sisters of Mercy guitarist Tim Bricheno and Glasgow-born singer David Tomlinson (ex-Jellyfish Kiss), the trio (completed by drummer Neill Lambert; a bassist joined later) named CNN popped out two UK singles before being forced to change its name by Ted Turner. Regardless of the nomenclature, XC-NN is no great shakes, another cynical but lame runner in the we-can-outsmart-the-market steeplechase. Slapping dramatic, reality-invoking spoken samples into burly British hard rock distinguished mainly by its conceptual surliness and attempts at sensationalism (“Logic Bomb,” “Unnatural Passions”), XC-NN is less convincing than Sigue Sigue Sputnik and twice as tuneless. Even Billy Idol couldn’t make a record this tiresomely unpersuasive. As Tomlinson sings — with a sneering attempt at irony — in “Young, Stupid & White,” “This ain’t rock’n’roll/This is stupid.” Sho ’nuff.
Produced by Guns n’ Roses intimate Mike Clink, Lifted eliminates the first album’s color commentary for faceless American dumb-rock, an uninspired scrapheap assembled from various Generation Pearl Jam influences. “All Over the Place” slaps a catchy chorus tune onto a ticking sequencer chug, and the Creedence-styling “Love Sick” cranks up a stunning storm of chaotic noise guitar over twanging synthesizers, but otherwise the excursions into dance beats, acoustic pop and suchlike are hapless and futile.
Following the recognition that XC-NN wasn’t their future, Bricheno and Tomlinson formed Tin Star with producer-bassist Tim Gordine.