English Settlement is the fifth studio album and first double album by the English band XTC, released 12 February 1982 on Virgin Records. It reached number 5 on the UK Album Chart for an 11-week stay, and number 48 on the Billboard 200 album chart for a 20-week stay.
|Studio album by|
|Released||12 February 1982|
|Recorded||October – November 1981|
|Studio||The Manor, Shipton-on-Cherwell, Oxfordshire, England|
|Producer||Hugh Padgham, XTC|
|Singles from English Settlement|
The album's music style marked a turn towards the more pastoral pop songs that would dominate later XTC releases, with increased use of acoustic guitar and fretless bass. In many countries outside the UK, the album was first released as a single LP, with five tracks deleted. The record spawned three UK singles: "Senses Working Overtime" (number 10); "Ball and Chain" (number 58); and "No Thugs in Our House".
Background and recordingEdit
From 1980 to 1981, XTC toured Australia, New Zealand and the US in support of their previous album Black Sea (1981) as the opening act for the Police. At this point, they were playing in arena stadiums while leader Andy Partridge's mental state was beginning to deteriorate, and he requested to cease touring, but was opposed by Virgin, his bandmates, and the band's management. He would occasionally experience moments of memory lapse to the extent that he would forget who he was. His then-wife Marianne blamed his illness on his longtime dependency on Valium, which he had been prescribed since the age of 12. She threw away the tablets, and over the next year, he experienced intense withdrawal effects that he later described as "brain melt".
XTC became their own co-producers for English Settlement. Partridge recalled: "We did a couple of albums with Steve Lillywhite as producer and Hugh Padgham as engineer and we twigged that it was Hugh who was getting all the great sounds and we were making the music, so what did we need Lillywhite for?" He believed that "if I wrote an album with a sound less geared towards touring then maybe there would be less pressure to tour." Padgham was thus given a producer credit alongside XTC.
Compared to the band's previous albums, English Settlement showcased more complex and intricate arrangements. Songs were longer and subject matter covered broader social issues. Much of the new material featured acoustic instruments. Guitarist Dave Gregory bought a Rickenbacker 12-string and began contributing to the group as a keyboardist. His first piano contribution was on the introduction of "Respectable Street", from Black Sea and for the English Settlement sessions, he played keyboards on the B-Side "Blame the Weather".
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Promotion and aborted tourEdit
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". Promotional videos were created for "Senses Working Overtime", "No Thugs in Our House", "All of a Sudden (It's Too Late)" and "Ball and Chain".
Only nine full shows were performed on the proposed 1982 English Settlement World Tour due to Partridge's collapsing at Le Palace in Paris, France on 18 March (during the first song in their set) and subsequent breakdown after their performance at The California Theatre, San Diego, California, U.S.A. on 3 April. This would prove to be XTC's last full show; the band abandoned the next night's show in Los Angeles.
|Contemporary professional ratings|
|The Village Voice||B+|
|Retrospective professional ratings|
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
In February 1982, English Settlement was released as the group's first double album. Both the album and lead single "Senses Working Overtime" became the highest-charting records they would ever have in the UK, peaking at number five and number 10, respectively. In several territories outside the UK, the album was released as a single LP.
Writing for Rolling Stone, Parke Puterbagh stateD: "Once again, XTC has managed the difficult feat of sounding accessible even while moving into evermore abstruse and adventuresome territory. ... The result is a program of numbers that resonate across all manner of invigorating wordplay with a jazzy, stoned ambiance." Creem's Jim Farber took issue with the political songs, namely, "The only problem is that the music and vocals of Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding are so entertainingly odd, they tend to deflate the stern-faced lyrics. ... As a whole, XTC may not shake, rattle and roll — but they do sputter, twitch and gyrate, and sometimes that can get you through the night just as well."
Among retrospective reviews, AllMusic's Chris Woodstra felt that "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." Chris Dahlhen of Pitchfork awarded the album's 2001 remaster a perfect score, saying that the music had aged well, and wrote: "English Settlement catches that moment, as they change from a young band to a mature one: this is the pivot on which their entire career hangs, and a vantage point from which both ends of it make sense. It's timeless."
Original UK double albumEdit
|2.||"Ball and Chain" (*)||4:32|
|3.||"Senses Working Overtime"||4:50|
|4.||"Jason and the Argonauts"||6:07|
|1.||"No Thugs in Our House"||5:09|
|3.||"All of a Sudden (It's Too Late)"||5:21|
|1.||"Melt the Guns"||6:34|
|3.||"It's Nearly Africa"||3:55|
|1.||"Fly on the Wall" (*)||3:19|
|2.||"Down in the Cockpit"||5:27|
|3.||"English Roundabout" (*)||3:59|
Single LP worldwide versionEdit
Released in much of the world in 1982.
|2.||"Ball and Chain" (*)||4:28|
|3.||"Senses Working Overtime"||4:50|
|4.||"Jason and the Argonauts"||6:05|
|1.||"Melt the Guns"||6:31|
|2.||"No Thugs in Our House"||5:08|
|3.||"It's Nearly Africa"||3:53|
|4.||"English Roundabout" (*)||3:37|
|5.||"All of a Sudden (It's Too Late)"||5:19|
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- Colin Moulding – lead vocals, backing vocals, fretless bass, Fender bass, mini-Korg synthesizer, piano, percussion
- Andy Partridge – lead vocals, backing vocals, electric guitar, semi-acoustic electric 12-string guitar, semi-acoustic electric guitar, acoustic guitar, mini-Korg synthesizer, Prophet V synthesizer, anklung, alto saxophone, percussion
- Dave Gregory – electric 12-string guitar, electric guitars, nylon-string Spanish guitar, semi-acoustic electric 12-string guitar, Prophet V synthesizer, mini-Korg synthesizer, piano, backing vocals, percussion
- Terry Chambers – drums, electronic drums, percussion, backing vocals
- Hugh Padgham – backing vocals on "Ball and Chain"
- Hans de Vente – backing vocals on "It's Nearly Africa"
|1982||UK Official Charts||5|||
|1982||US Billboard 200||48|||
|1982||Canada RPM Top 50||15|||
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- Twomey 1992, p. 3.
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- Partridge & Bernhardt 2016.
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- Hepworth, David (4–17 February 1982). "Albums". Smash Hits: 17.
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- Frere-Jones, Sasha (2004). "XTC". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 890–92. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
- Ramon, Gary (November 1990). "XTC Recording History". Record Collector. No. 130.
- Farber (1982). "Combine One Part Pop, One Part Quirk, Stir Well". Creem.
- Farmer, Neville (1998). XTC: Song Stories: The Exclusive Authorized Story Behind the Music. London: Helter Skelter Publishing. ISBN 190092403X.
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