XTC’s English Settlement Released 30 Years Ago

XTC - English Settlemen (Virgin/EMI, 1982)30 years ago today XTC released their fifth album, English Settlement. They had decided to record something they wouldn’t be able to re-create live, leading to a sprawling, fascinating double album. Many think it’s their best. While Black Sea (1980) was stuffed full of memorable songs, English Settlement had only two, “Ball & Chain” and “Senses Working Overtime” that stuck in the brains of most fans. While I prefer Drums And Wires (1979) and Skylarking (1986), in 1982 nothing else sounded like ’em, and it’s an essential chapter worth hearing all the way through for anyone interested in their evolution in headphone-worthy sound design beyond the singles. The illustration on the cover is not just a minimalist scribble of a horse, but “The White Horse at Uffington,” a 374 ft. long earthwork carved into a hillside near the band’s hometown of Swindon, England. The exposed white chalk surrounded by green grass make it visible from miles away, and it dates back over 2,000 years. The sense of wonder it evokes is precisely the kind of ambition the band was going for, and would continue to strive for.

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