REACHING A SETTLEMENT
It was the making of XTC - yet it brought with it colossal stress on the group’s frontman and endless entanglements with their record label. The band would also never tour again. Thirty years later, how do XTC’s members look back on the wonderful English Settlement? Jim Keoghan finds out
Can Swindon ever be forgiven for forcing upon the world the musical abomination that was Billie Piper? The town’s defence can probably be summed up in three letters: XTC, the new-wave quartet who put the town on the map musically and built up enough goodwill to compensate for a thousand Billie Pipers (should such an atrocity ever occur).
Thirty years ago, the band released English Settlement, an album that many critics, both then and since, have regarded as their finest. It’s a release that planted them firmly in the the mainstream, giving the band a fleeting taste of massive commercial success.
Prior to its release, XTC had already been incrementally moving beyond the confines of the new-wave herd. Their previous two albums, Drums And Wires and Black Sea had troubled the charts and singles such as Making Plans For Nigel, Generals And Majors and Sgt Rock (Is Going To Help Me) had garnered them growing critical and commercial success.
Over the course of those two albums the band had also smoothed out the rougher edges evident in their early work and produced a more polished, accessible sound; though one that still packed enough punch to set them apart from the crowd.
“By Black Sea we had perfected a very muscular yet accessible sound, one that was geared to touring and live performance. I liked to think of it …
by Jim Keoghan
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