Monday, April 4, 2011

XTC- English Settlement (1982) MP3 & FLAC

"Trying to taste the Difference 'tween a lemon and a lime, pain and pleasure, and the church bells softly chime."

While Black Sea signaled a move away from the acerbic Post-Punk of XTC's first three albums by adopting a more polished studio-based sound, on English Settlement, the band underwent something of an aesthetic transformation. Due, in part, to XTC's decision to no longer exist as a touring band as a result of Andy Partridge's nervous breakdown and increasingly debilitating bouts of stage fright, the unique sound of English Settlement can also be explained by the band's quickly growing musical maturity. Whatever the reason, from the first few seconds of the album's first song, Colin Moulding's "Runaways," it is clear that XTC is treading into new sonic territory. However, this isn't the (sometimes overly) polished power-pop that would largely dominate the rest of their eighties output; rather, there is a noticeable expansiveness to the songs on English Settlement, which is the result of a far more prevalent use of acoustic instruments (especially Andy Partridge's 12 String guitar) than on previous albums, as well as the incorporation of a number of "world" music elements (lending an interesting connotation to the album's title).  As on the previous two albums, Drums and Wires and the aforementioned Black Sea, percussion plays a leading role here; from the bright drum bombast of songs such as "Senses Working Overtime" and "Ball and Chain" to the complex poly-rhythms of "It's Nearly Africa," Terry Chambers, in his XTC swan-song, gives an absolutely masterful performance. Unfortunately, the band would never again sound this unified or this timeless. Truly an essential recording in every sense of the word.

English Settlement (2001 Remaster)
 1. Runaways  (4:35)
 2. Ball and Chain  (4:31)
 3. Senses Working Overtime  (4:51)
 4. Jason and the Argonauts  (6:07)
 5. No Thugs in Our House  (5:09)
 6. Yacht Dance  (3:57)
 7. All of a Sudden (It's Too Late)  (5:22)
 8. Melt the Guns  (6:34)
 9. Leisure  (5:03)
10. It's Nearly Africa  (3:55)
11. Knuckle Down  (4:28)
12. Fly on the Wall  (3:19)
13. Down in the Cockpit  (5:27)
14. English Roundabout  (4:00)
15. Snowman  (5:04)


  1. Excellent and spot on review. At the time it was exciting wondering where the band would go.

  2. Hi scurfie, thanks. This album is very special to me. Great memories attached to it

  3. I was six when this one came out. My intro to XTC was Skylarking. My parents where hardcore Christian conservatives and they made me watch some idiotic movie called "The Dangers of Rock Music," or something like that. The XTC video for Dear God was in the movie. Strangely, they didn't really address any of the points the song made which I felt were compelling. Anyway, I ran out and bought a copy of Skylarking and over the next couple of years churned through their back catalog. English Settlement really is a true gem. Here in the States it often gets overlooked when talking about the formative years of alternative rock which is a shame. XTC brought an intellect and conscientiousness that can go head to head with R.E.M. any day.

  4. Looking at my vinyl of this right now - so sad, the turntable she no work. I've a lossy version of this that I'm happy to replace with this, so thanks!

    I picked this up maybe a year after it came out, expecting more along the lines of the Waxworks comp [Plans For Nigel, Are You Receiving Me?, Life Begins at the Hop, Tissue Tigers and so forth], and instead got this - an expansive tapestry that's more art rock than post punk, and definitely unlike anything else out there at the time. Waxworks represents only one aspect of this record, and in a way misrepresents it. It feels like a work in progress, and it seems they're working out the particulars of their own transition: the same album swings between songs rooted in their past (i.e. Senses, No Thugs), and previews of things to come (i.e. Runaways, Jason & the Argonauts). And it brings us Senses Working Overtime, one of the 80s most well-crafted songs.

    Could go on, but would love to hear other musings. Great post!

  5. Part of what made the first (UK) LP release of English Settlement so endearing was the rough texture of the cover and the art, and the inner jackets of the two discs. It was just lovely to hold the thing. When the US version came out as a single disc, five songs short, in that crappy slick jacket, it made obvious the difference between us and them.

  6. Yeah, we like the music and don't care how it's packaged (digital! on the internet! I say..) The visual difference between the UK and US editions is just the difference between lemons and limes. I have the UK edition on vinyl by the way. It's not too hard to come by in the States.

  7. hcb, yes, the US packaging was crap. Even the color was inferior. We Americans are always good for a slick, watered-down, inferior product. Well, except this blog ;)

  8. FUNDAMENTAL. I agree with you!

  9. Yes, a true masterpiece. One of the greats! A must-have for every music collection. Kurt

  10. DK, if I could only own 10 albums, this would be one of them


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