How XTC's "English Settlement" changed pop music

Originally published at: How XTC's "English Settlement" changed pop music | Boing Boing


That was a really interesting video. I didn’t own English Settlement, though I knew of some of the songs. It wasn’t until Skylarking in 1986 that I bought one of their albums, and I can see now how their work on English Settlement influenced their own course, with Skylarking reflecting many of the same wide varying and eclectic music styles (and it’s a fantastic album, too; in fact, going to go listen to it again now).


This was one album I rebought in every format and had in my collection for as long as physical collections were a thing. I had a tradition of listening to Skylarking every summer for a long time too.


i wore out the record, then i wore out the cassette, and now spotify won’t play it for me anymore citing “mental health concerns.”


Fuck yes. I was mildly obsessive about XTC back in the day, and even though I’ve long since moved on, I continue to go through little obsessive phases from time to time. I was just listening to them this morning.

They had their duds, it’s true, but when they were on, they were ON. So much top-tier songwriting, it’s astonishing.

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The usual chronology of gate reverb is that Padgham first used it with XTC and Peter Gabriel (a major drum fan) hired him for his next record and Phil Collins was next rather than the way they have it here. I believe that is correct, rather than teh Wikis which has Gabriel as first and no mention of XTC.

To be fair I think Tony Visconti’s drum sound was hugely influential and not recognised as much as it should be due to it being on the less fashionable side of low.

Nigel was recorded June 1979, Melt summer to autumn 1979, in the air tonight 1980.
It is usually said that Gabriel heard it in the studio while XTC were working. You can hear it on say, intruder and I think the way he uses it would fit quite nicely on side one of Low.


i was disappointed this wasn’t included in the video:

maybe tied w/ yacht dance and no thugs as my favorite tracks


Good video that, being a local band to me, I’m pretty familiar with much of XTC’s history, but that’s helped fill in details of why Andy stopped touring. Sadly, I never did get to see them play live.
A little story connected to the band: a bunch of mates and I went to see a local band called Dean Gabber and the Gabardines play a pub just outside of town, and afterwards we were chatting to their guitarist, saying how much we’d enjoyed the gig, and in particular his playing; he seemed genuinely chuffed that we thought so, a really nice bloke.
Not long afterwards we heard he’d left the band and joined another local band. His name was Dave Gregory!
He’s still working, he’s guitarist with a Prog band called Big Big Train, which I only discovered very recently.
FWIW, my own personal favourite XTC album is Apple Venus/Wasp Star, which has, quite possibly the most vituperative break-up song ever recorded - Your Dictionary. The other party’s response is unreported, as far as I know.


It’s one of those albums that people rave about that I just haven’t been able to grok. I’ll have to give it another go.

This is such a great series of videos! Tomorrow I will go through some XTC albums that I’ve waited far too long to hear. I always loved the tunes I heard of theirs and thought I would really enjoy the albums but never went out and got them. Now I have vast libraries at my fingertips so no more excuses!

After the Kate Bush video of a while back, I spent a few weeks bouncing back and forth between YouTube and Spotify, filling the void I didn’t know I had in my musical awareness with her wonderful material. Tomorrow will be XTC and relistening to the first three Peter Gabriel solo albums which I loved, thanks @robertmckenna for the reminder! I really enjoyed the Cure and Souxsie videos too.

I wonder if people here are familiar with Gentle Giant, and wonder if Warren ever did a piece on them. I think they are another band that was more influential to other musicians than to the general listening public.

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I’m just gaga over Oranges and Lemons. Even though I’d heard and enjoyed Skylarking and English Settlement for a couple of years, it was O&L that really set the hook! And then came the Dukes of Stratosphear releases :slight_smile: Wow, did I ever gleek out on that stuff!

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