XTC were an English rock band formed in Swindon in 1972 and active until 2006. Led by songwriters Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding, their music ranged from tense, jerky riffs to lushly arranged, meticulous pop. After emerging from the late 1970s punk and new wave explosion, the band failed to maintain popular success in the UK and US, partly because their music was generally out of step with the times. They nevertheless amassed a devoted cult following.
Title: English Settlement
Label: Virgin Records
Andy Partridge‘s discovery of the 12-string guitar set the tone for English Settlement, an album that moved away from the pop gloss of Black Sea in favor of lighter, though still rhythmically heavy, acoustic numbers with more complex and intricate instrumentation. There are plenty of pop gems — “Senses Working Overtime” stands as one of their finest songs — but the main focus seems to be the more expansive sound; most of the songs are drawn out to near-epic length, ultimately taking some of the impact of the songs away. Despite several terrific tracks, English Settlement seems more a transitional album than anything else, although the textural sound of the album is quite remarkable, indicating the direction they would take in their post-touring incarnation.
The cover design is based upon the Uffington White Horse in southwest Oxfordshire, which is about 8 miles east of Swindon, Wiltshire, XTC’s home town.
The album spawned three UK singles: “Senses Working Overtime” (released on 8 January 1982 and reaching No. 10 on the UK singles chart); “Ball And Chain” (released 26 February 1982 and reaching No. 58 on the UK singles chart); and “No Thugs in Our House” (released 14 May 1982).
The album was previewed with a live performance on The Old Grey Whistle Test program in January where they performed “Yacht Dance” (their only performance of the song) and “No Thugs In Our House”. They also made a live appearance on The Oxford Road Show performing “Snowman”, “Ball and Chain” and “Jason and the Argonauts”. The song “English Roundabout” was inspired by a Swindon landmark known as The Magic Roundabout. This song is a rare example of popular music written in the unusual 5/4 time signature.
1. Runaways (4:33)
2. Ball And Chain (4:30)
3. Senses Working Overtime (4:50)
4. Jason And The Argonauts (6:05)
5. Snowman (5:12)
1. Melt The Guns (6:31)
2. No Thugs In Our House (5:09)
3. Yacht Dance (3:54)
4. English Roundabout (3:48)
5. All Of A Sudden (It’s Too Late) (5:19)