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English Settlement


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Audio CD, January 1, 2002
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Music

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Biography

XTC hailed from Swindon to cultivate a legacy of highly original British pop born from their early punk/new wave roots in the late 70s. Their angular yet melodic songs, lead by distinctive jagged riffs boasted the catchiest of pop sensibilities which was then injected with an edginess by the darker overtones of astute and often political lyrics. Throughout their career, from the jerky earlier ... Read more in Amazon's XTC Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 1, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Dgc/Geffen/Reunion
  • ASIN: B000000OMT
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #494,609 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Runaways
2. Ball And Chain
3. Senses Working Overtime
4. Jason And The Argonauts
5. No Thugs In Our House
6. Yacht Dance
7. All Of A Sudden (It's Too Late)
8. Melt The Guns
9. Leisure
10. It's Nearly Africa
11. Knuckle Down
12. Fly On The Wall
13. Down In The Cockpit
14. English Roundabout
15. Snowman

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

English Settlement is a watershed work for XTC that provides a valuable link between the band they had been (caustic, high pitched, and quirky) and the band they became (sublime, pastoral, and still undeniably quirky). It reveals a band in transition, coming only months before swearing off touring, due to Andy Partridge's stage fright, and the subsequent departure of drummer Terry Chambers. Despite the internal hemorrhaging, or perhaps because of it, XTC produced their finest record. English Settlement deals largely with the horrors of modern life and ordinary people's attempts to make sense of it all. Racism, violence, and the senseless proliferation of weapons are ingeniously examined in songs such as "Runaways," "No Thugs in Our House," and "Melt the Guns." The record's finest moment, however, plays against these horrors with "Senses Working Overtime," a pastoral piece celebrating life and all its simple wonders--the beautiful as well as the commonplace. With its majestic, sweeping chorus and hilarious lyrics, "Senses" laid the groundwork for XTC's '80s sound and established Andy Partridge alongside Elvis Costello as one of England's premier songwriters. The album also features two of bassist Colin Moulding's finest compositions: the frenetic "English Roundabout," which builds the narrator's disgruntlement with a delirious, staccato guitar attack, and "Ball and Chain," a compelling plea for landmark conservation that would have fit flawlessly on the Kinks' reactionary manifesto, The Village Green Preservation Society. This was the last time XTC would record as a bona fide rock quartet and it presents the band at the height of its playful glory as they enthusiastically trip down a fertile new path into uncharted territory. --Paul Ducey

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Musically XTC were such an original band.
Chet Fakir
That said, this is still a very good album, and I'd still recommend it based on the strength of the good songs, which, believe me, are MANY.
Rich Bunnell
Which comes to why this is the best XTC recording and why they will never top it.
Mars Villion

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Laura G. Carter on April 2, 2003
Format: Audio CD
"English Settlement" is nothing short of brilliant. Guitars ring as the chords arc upward; insistent, arousing drumbeats backdrop Andy Partridge's gracefully-soaring vocals ("All Of A Sudden [It's Too Late]") which then assume a driven, frenetic edge ("No Thugs In Our House") before settling down to give you the elegant "Yacht Dance", then getting you up out of your seat again with "Melt The Guns" and "It's Nearly Africa". With this CD, it seems as if XTC have created a musical panoply of just about any and every mood a modern pop group could create. The wealth of creativity that has always existed in this band is immediately obvious even to listeners just taking their first tastes of the boys from Swindon.
"English Settlement" was perhaps the work that put Andy Partridge on the same song-writing level as Elvis Costello. Colin Moulding, too, the group's bassist and other song-writer, holds his own here as well. There's literally been no one like them before or since.
No matter what mood I'm in or where I am, if someone suggests putting this on the CD player, I never say, "No."
If you love XTC, this CD will be uppermost in your collection. If you're just starting out, after you've sampled "Upsy Daisy Assortment", try "English Settlement". You'll be enchanted; you'll be hooked; you'll wonder why the hell you're listening to anyone else.
The world needs more XTC.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Mars Villion on March 5, 2002
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have no idea why Andy Partridge belittles Terry Chamber's contributions to the band these days but the evidence is in sound. Except for "Beating of Hearts" on Murmur, the rhythm that defined early XTC is lost. Though most fans came in during Skylarking which featured more guitar centered music and Dave Gregory, I prefer the early music because the Moulding-Chambers rhythm section was one of the most advanced and ground breaking elements that turned many of us early listeners on to this band.
Colin was also an incredible song writer for the brief moments between Drums and Wires to this album. Runaways, Fly on the Wall, English Round-a-bout (referencial to English Settlement in opposition) and Ball and Chain are among his best lyrically and musically and his vocals were much better back then. Colin and Andy have more vocal presence in each other's songs with them trading vocal lines often here as in Snowman, Leisure and Jason and the Argonauts.
Back then, Andy's photo was not sprayed all over the place as on later albums. They were still considered a band (with all of them in equal placement in band photos) and the arrangements sound more like band arrangements. And this is what made them XTC and not Andy and the boys.
Which comes to why this is the best XTC recording and why they will never top it. It is Terry Chambers and Colin Moulding in top form. Just listen to "It's Nearly Africa" at the complex drum beat that suddenly gets tranformed into another rhythm by the simple aplication of the Bass. There are so many textures as the guitars take a back seat (as in most of this album, the guitars become a textural backdrop rather than a solo vehicle).
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Desired FX VINE VOICE on February 15, 2001
Format: Audio CD
This is the seminal XTC album: the one that came after Andy Partridge got an acoustic guitar but before he had his nervous breakdown. It's a truly amazing piece of work that belongs in the collection of anyone who likes any kind of rock music.
Songs range from mellow and pensive ("All Of A Sudden (It's Too Late)") to kick-out-the-stops, rock the house ("No Thugs In Our House"), from pure pop mastery ("Senses Working Overtime") to a melding of worldwide influences ("It's Nearly Africa," "English Roundabout").
"Snowman" will have you crying in your beer, cursing that woman that we've all known and tried to love.
Buy it. Buy it now.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 25, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Ahhh the 80's....clover cigs (they were awful), embarrassing haircuts (ditto), foul smelling clubs well...they're still around. So is this fine document. It's a closing chapter in XTC's history. This was the last album the band toured behind; this was the last album to feature drummer Terry Chambers as a full time member (he quit while recording Mummer); this was the last album to feature the band's quirky "new wave" sound.
Senses Working Overtime was the perfect single to close out the first phase of the band's career; it features everything that was so marvelous about the band's first 5 albums. Andy Partridge's stunted mini-melodies and odd lyrical pharsing had become something of a trademark (as had Colin Moulding's catchy 3 minute singles...something that main songwriter Partridge was occasionally jealous about).
This double album (on 1 CD) features the original artwork and replicas of the original LP sleeves. Just about every song is a classic. While the sound and production are a bit stark (and, in fact, prefigure Hugh Padgham's work on Phil Collins Face Value and echo his engineering work on XTC's previous album Black Sea), the strong songs carry the day for the band.
This was an uncertain time for the band. They were poised to make a major breakthrough due to a catchy, quirky single and MTV video. Touring had just about killed Partridge and reduced him to a mess at the end (he had horrible stage fright). This album still opened a lot of doors some of which would be closed (most of radio). Luckily, those that did close their doors were forced to open them again when Dear God became an unexpected hit single (relatively speaking--it never broke the top 50 in the US but garnered much attention and airplay due to its topic).
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