XTC – Well I Never (Part 5)

English Settlement 1982

r-4086632-1382552911-4035-jpegThe album that upon which sat one of the best pop singles ever written. Really, I mean it, it is that good. First though, I had this album and have no idea what the hell I did with it, it was lost, stolen or sold, probably the latter as I did sell off a chunk of vinyl at one point (and yes, I have regrets).

Side A of this double LP is worth buying it for even if you consider the rest of the tracks a bonus. Runaway wasn’t a single but could easily have been even though it is a slower song, it still has hooks and a message that is worth saying around domestic violence and it’s effects on the family unit. Ball & Chain was a single of course which I was convinced did better than 58 in the UK charts, but it didn’t, it should have. It is super catchy track about urban re-development of all things:

Motorways and office blocks,
They’re standing on the spot
Where stood a home,
Crushing on the memories of people,
Who have since turned to stone

Then there is the track I mentioned earlier, one of the best pop singles ever released, Senses Working Overtime. Apparently Andy Partridge was told by the record company that the album had no singles, so he sat down to write one and accidentally stumbled on a chord that was the basis for the opening refrain. Partridge thought is sounded sort of medieval and this is where the lyrics began to take shape.

The video below is just the song, press play and sing along!

Hey, hey, the clouds are whey
There’s straw for the donkeys
And the innocents can all sleep safely
All sleep safely

My, my, sun is pie
There’s fodder for the cannons
And the guilty ones can all sleep safely
All sleep safely

And all the world is football-shaped
It’s just for me to kick in space
And I can see, hear, smell, touch, taste

And I’ve got one, two, three, four, five
Senses working overtime
Trying to take this all in
I’ve got one, two, three, four, five
Senses working overtime
Trying to taste the difference ‘tween a lemon and a lime
Pain and pleasure, and the church bells softly chime

Hey, hey, night fights day
There’s food for the thinkers
And the innocents can all live slowly
All live slowly

My, my, the sky will cry
Jewels for the thirsty
And the guilty ones can all die slowly
All die slowly

And all the world is biscuit-shaped
It’s just for me to feed my face
And I can see, hear, smell, touch, taste

And I’ve got one, two, three, four, five
Senses working overtime
Trying to take this all in
I’ve got one, two, three, four, five
Senses working overtime
Trying to taste the difference ‘tween a lemon and a lime
Pain and pleasure, and the church bells softly chime

And birds might fall from black skies (Whoo-whoo)
And bullies might give you black eyes (Whoo-whoo)
And buses might skid on black ice (Whoo-whoo)
But to me they’re very, very beautiful (England’s glory)
Beautiful (A striking beauty)

And then there is Jason and the Argonauts, which is just so damn good. No singles my arse, I’d have bought a 45 of this without a second thought.

One would think that would be it for great pop songs, but then, side b of the first record opens with No Thugs In Our House, further social commentary on the Great Britain of 1982.

The insect-headed worker-wife will hang her waspies on the line; 
The husband burns his paper, sucks his pipe while studying their cushion-floor; 
His viscous poly-paste breath comes out, 
Their wall-paper world is shattered by his shout, 
A boy in blue is busy banging out a headache on the kitchen door

And all the while Graham slept on, 
Dreaming of a world where he could do just what he wanted to

No thugs in our house, are there dear? 
We made that clear, 
We made little Graham promise us he’d be a good boy

Hardly empty headed pop lyrics but they released it as a single. The album goes on being excellent, although there are some more experimental tracks thrown in there but it is one of the great albums of the decade, so much so that I decided to replace my missing copy with the recently re-pressed version below.

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It arrived today, I played it, it is still brilliant.

Tracklist

A1 Runaways 4:51
A2 Ball And Chain 4:28
A3 Senses Working Overtime 4:45
A4 Jason And The Argonauts 6:03

B1 No Thugs In Our House 5:16
B2 Yacht Dance 3:52
B3 All Of A Sudden (It’s Too Late) 5:18

C1 Melt The Guns 6:31
C2 Leisure 5:01
C3 It’s Nearly Africa 3:54
C4 Knuckle Down 4:26

D1 Fly On The Wall 3:11
D2 Down In The Cockpit 5:35
D3 English Roundabout 3:50
D4 Snowman 4:26

Rating: 9.6

Part 4

Part 6

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