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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should own this record., 18 Jun. 2002
By 
DiBosco "RJW" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: English Settlement (Audio CD)
This is the album that marked the end of one XTC era and the beginning of a new, exciting, bold period for the band. Andy broke down while touring to promote the album and wouldn't tour again - which prompted Terry Chambers to get fed up and emigrate to Australia, leaving the band to hire a different drummer for consequent albums and free to march a dizzying path through numerous styles of music over the next twenty years.
I bought this album on its release twenty years ago because I had liked Sgt Rock and Making Plans... This album utterly entranced me like no other album ever has. Partridge and Moulding write brilliant, thought provoking, intelligent songs bundled up in the most enthralling, original and enduring arrangements of pop music you could imagine. And yes, they are still doing it today.
Everyone in their mid to late twenties and older will know the joyous single that reverberates to Dave's beautiful black twelve string Rickenbacker and Andy's proclamation of the joy of being alive in Senses Working Overtime. Few people will know the other songs that treat you to an hour or more of a multitude of aspects of living life in England. Not the United Kingdom, but decidely England. Post Kinks, pre Blur - or maybe the Kinks are pre XTC and Blur are post XTC. All three quintessentially English, non more consistent that this quartet from Swindon who -in this album - take us through destroying homes in the name of progress; children running away from their violent parents; the debilitating effects of long term unemployment; the woman who was so cold and unemotional through to the joys of life; seizing the moment of being alive; the fragility of love and so on and so forth.
I have heard people say the album is starting to sound a little old now; it's hard for me to say because I know it and love it so so well. Even if it is sounding a little dated it's still an album to fall in love with. Go on - have an affair.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surely one of the greatest albums ever, 29 April 2005
By 
C. Pybus "wide as a bus" (Manchester) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: English Settlement (Audio CD)
As someone who wasn't born when this album came out, i fell accross this as they were listed as an influence on a number of currentbands, perhaps most notably 'Dogs Die In Hot Cars'. However, how happy I was, Partridge as a purveyor of perfect pop must be up there with the very best, his songs are funny, touching, and impossibly catchy. For me this is his and the rest of the band (particularly Moulding)'s best work, and what's more it's a double album, though it's no white album, there are 2 great albums here not 1. That's not to say that the body of work's not coherent as a whole, it is not an album of two halves. What of the songs, well, it's a feast for the ears, just so many awesome tracks, and here i feel i have to agree with the other reviewer's comments, that you find yourself asking yourself if each song is in fact the greatest pop song ever. Personal favourites would be 'Ball and Chain', 'Jason and the Argonaughts', 'No Thugs In Our House', 'All of a Sudden', 'Snowman', but there is not a single track i don't enjoy and which would be a standout on the albums of today's imitators.
I only hope that as they continue to influence others so more people will discover this album, and the many other great XTC albums, and they might achieve the retrospective acclaim they deserve.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Timeless, 28 Aug. 2006
By 
This review is from: English Settlement (Audio CD)
I still have my original vinyl copy from the day of its UK release. Its a bit worn and tatty, has survived countless house moves, and was one of the few items I purposefully rescued from the fast rising waters when my village flooded a few years back.

It would be the desert island disc for me. Each and every track says so much and from a personal standpoint represents such an important period of my teens. I could not have forced myself to revise for my O Levels without it!

If you know the album you will see where I`m coming from. If you have never heard it well, what are you waiting for?
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another contender for..., 16 April 2004
By 
Jason Parkes (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: English Settlement (Audio CD)
(i) greatest XTC album, (ii) greatest album of the 1980s, (iii) greatest double-album of all time, or (iv) greatest pop album in the world ever (recurring). It always irks me that XTC (& the spin-off Dukes) are appreciated by a knowing cult, or just for a few hits (Nigel, Senses). They should be considered alongside The Beatles, Julian Cope/Teardrops & The Kinks as the definitive English pop act. & looking at their back-catalogue it's hard to pick out their best work, I'm as likely to pick English Settlement as I am Drums & Wires, Black Sea, Skylarking, Chips from the Chocolate Fireball, Oranges & Lemons, or the glut of releases post-1998 (Apple Venus et al). XTC are that great- & even their less succesful albums have great moments- Wake Up, Love on a Farmboy's Wages, The Loving, Statue of Liberty etc. They're much more than a great singles band- despite being a great singles band and English Settlement is just part of that evidence...
I'm a big fan of double-albums, so this album wins on that count also and gets to be filed alongside Warehouse (Songs & Stories), Trout Mask Replica, Sign'O'the Times, Something Anything and multiple other great double-releases. A band has to be great to carry off a double-album- which is why there are such follies as The Fragile and Use Your Illusion.
There are three singles here, though only Senses Working Overtime (XTC's biggest UK hit?),now a radio 2 standard (well, on Jeremy Vine!), is that well known. Ball and Chain is a great pop song that ranks alongside prior offerings such as This is Pop, Generals & Majors and Sgt Rock. Even better is No Thugs in Our House, which pre-empts Morrissey's controversial The National Front Disco in terms of theme and makes sense alongside a film like Made in Britain (1983). Plus it's a great pop song! Back to Senses..., yes it's one of the perfect pop songs and as someone said here, reason alone to buy this album!
Without naming every track on this album, I'd like to point out the rest is very wonderful too- Colin Moulding's opening Runaways is great stuff and listening to this record all the way through you say things like "Is Jason and the Argonauts the best song ever?", "Is Yacht Dance the greatest song ever?", "Is Knuckle Down...[yes, we get the idea...]"- English Settlement is that good and improved by the remastering a few years ago.
This is one album that is perfect for all seasons, and like several other XTC albums, it ought to be revered more...I'm considering stapling blue plaques to every copy I come across!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant for a "transitional" album...., 24 Nov. 2007
By 
bish (Northampton) - See all my reviews
This review is from: English Settlement (Audio CD)
By this time XTC had progressed from being new wave upstarts,through the light and then power pop of "Drums & Wires" & "Black Sea" to a bridging point between the latter and "Skylarking"(for some reason "the Big Express" and "Mummer" seem to have been forgotten but I thought they were superb).
This album was the rudder steering the band into a more mature musical direction which was tragically ignored/misunderstood by the masses.Commercially this was the band's zenith-for it to compete with the "New Romantic" fluff of the time was a major achievement.
A rich,varied album of sublime musicianship (Dave Gregory's playing is superb)I still remember the day I bought this album and it still fills me with a warm glow 25 years later.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The golden fleece of double albums, 5 July 2008
By 
russell clarke "stipesdoppleganger" (halifax, west yorks) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: English Settlement (Audio CD)
How many ways do i love this album? Well fifteen since i asked as that's the number of tracks on my vinyl LP version and unlike most double albums, indeed unlike most albums of any type there is.nt a weak track on English Settlement. It,s an unmitigated joy from beginning to end. On some days it,s even my favourite XTC album which when you consider they also released "Skylarking" and " Mummer" is saying something.
English Settlement came out in February 1982 but was preceded by the single "Senses Working Overtime" , one of three really terrific singles off this album. The others are the magnificent "Ball And Chain" possibly my favourite XTC song ever and the rollicking and witty "No Thugs In Our House" ( which has even more resonance nowadays) but virtually every song on here could have been a single .
It is also the last album where XTC recorded as a four piece band .Terry Chambers , the bands percussionist was forced by the financial constraints placed on him by the bands lack of touring ( due to Andy Partridges nervous breakdown on their tour to promote the album) though he did play on some tracks on "Mummur".
Colin Moulding,s "Runaways" opens the album- a tale of a teenager fleeing home after paternal violence set to gulping percussion and anguished harmonies. Other Moulding tracks include the aforementioned "Ball And Chain" as rousing a pop song as has ever been written and the propulsive thumping but edgy discordant "Fly On The Wall". The worst and i,m using that in context , is "English Roundabout" but even that's an appealing quirky pop number.
Andy Partridge is really on the mettle here. There is no double album filler , instead there is that wondrous radio staple "Senses Working Overtime" ( why don,t they ever play any other tracks?) followed by "Jason And The Argonauts" - a song so wonderful with it,s tippling keyboards and skipping verses that it screams SINGLE! "Yacht Dance" is a frivolous jolly little song with rather twee lyrics but this then leads into the rather ominous "All Of A Sudden (It,s Too Late)". "Knuckle Down" is a call for an end to world conflict set to an addictive two note guitar refrain. "Nearly Africa " and "Melt The Guns" are arguably two of the weakest tracks on the album but are still mightier than most bands alleged strongest moments while the vivacious sexual politics of "Down In The Cockpit" ( double meaning there i feel) and the unusual almost poignant "Snowman" give the album a different kind of twist.
English Settlement is an apparently effortless subjugation of rock & pop that maintains a generic consistency while offering something different with every track. The effects are subtle while fitting seamlessly into the album whole.This would be admirable in a single album , in a double it,s truly staggering . English Settlement, is one of the great double albums, one of the great 80,s albums and one of the great English albums for make no mistake English Settlement but is unequivocally English....unequivocally XTC and is therefore essential.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost a classic, 27 Sept. 2006
By 
D. J. H. Thorn "davethorn13" (Hull, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: English Settlement (Audio CD)
In the wake of the superb hit, 'Senses Working Overtime', and the success of XTC's previous two albums, 'English Settlement' was a keenly-awaited release. On its appearance, responses were mixed and, if anything, a little more muted than usual. On reflection, it is a fine album, full of good tracks, but not enough genuinely great ones to throw the ultimate accolade at. The cream is at the beginning. 'Runaways', 'Senses Working Overtime' and 'Jason And The Argonauts' all have the qualities of exceptional XTC songs, being those of great pop mixed with the elusive ingredient that makes them sound like no other song. 'Ball And Chain' is simply great pop.

The rest of the songs demonstrate XTC's scope of imagination and increasing wit but few are among the band's finest. 'No Thugs In Our House' comes close, 'Knuckle Down' is highly impressive and 'It's Nearly Africa' features the striking, repeated line, 'Shake your bag of bones'. This, though, highlights the perspiration rather than inspiration of some of the other tracks. On 'Yacht Dance', for instance, Andy Partridge seems to try too hard with the lyric ('we will dance like tiny boats with cotton sails upon the tops of the seas/made of people stained with scorn who never see the light of real love'). 'Shake your bag of bones' may seem simple but it has far more impact and you don't have to spend five minutes trying to unravel it.

Nevertheless, XTC have almost always operated on a higher plane than most of their pop contemporaries and 'English Settlement' beats the pants off most of the other music released in 1982. Try 'Drums And Wires', 'Skylarking' or 'Nonsuch' first and if you like those, give this album a go.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Play It Loud! XTC's Masterpiece, 16 April 2013
This review is from: English Settlement (Audio CD)
This is a fantastic album. I was aware of XTC from fairly early on, one of my older brother University pals was a big fan of White Music and I quite liked Go 2 , which I heard at various parties or after pub sessions at various flats (these were the days when most pubs still closed at 10 pm so a carry out and round to someone's flat was very common) The I saw Drums And Wires and loved Making Plans For Nigel and various other songs from that album but it was Black Sea that was the first one that really worked as a whole for me. and more people started to take XTC seriously. The next move was clearly important and so in January 1982 when I heard Senses Working Overtime I knew that the next album was going to be great and I was not disappointed. I listened this album to death; copied it onto cassette to play in the car along with b-sides including the brilliant Egyptian Solution which really should be a CD bonus track on this album but is available on Dear God. This is, however, one of those perfect albums that does not need any additional material.

Buy it and marvel; if you remember it then I assure you that it still sounds as good as you thought, if you don't know it but are exploring this band then this is a treat in store for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Albums Ever., 17 Dec. 2010
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: English Settlement (Audio CD)
I used to have a tape of this (remember tapes?)way back in the C60 C90 C120 days. And it was way back then that I recorded this from a borrowed album. I guess then that this double album must have just about fitted onto a C90? Anyhow, have been getting back into some old vibes from the punk/new wave era and bought this after a spell on here looking through my fave bands from the times and bought this on CD (any members of XTC reading this - hey at least I've come clean!). And wow - isn't it weird how you forget faces and names and all manner of things but can always sing along to songs? And believe me this gem has every single track worthy of memory, honest. My personal favorite from the album is 'Knuckle Down' but every track is wonderfully crafted and very much as fresh today as then. What amazed me was also to find that many of the songs from 1982 are still very politically apt even today - for example 'Melt the Guns' (could easily refer to the Afganistan crisis and US involvement and foreign policy) and also 'Leisure' (amazin to think that Andy way back then made such amazin observations about computer games etc. Class act XTC. So I'm really pleased I bought this after so long, and it has wet my appetite to buy very many more from their back catologue. Lookin forward to it. Bring it on!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Make your senses work - Overtime!, 19 Jun. 2001
This review is from: English Settlement (Audio CD)
Everyone with an interest in good music remembers Senses Working Overtime. Believe it or not - it's not the best track on this record! Although it's difficult to pick a best track to be honest - if you liked Making plans for Nigel, try Knuckle down.If you liked Generals & Majors, try No Thugs In Our House. If you're a Drums&Wires fan, try Down in the Cockpit. Its all here! This album is a veritable dictionary of XTC - all their musical guises are present. Look at it like this, buy the brilliant single - Senses Working Overtime, and get a free 14 tracks thrown in! The price is worth it even for that one song.
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