XTC – Senses Working Overtime ….Power Pop Friday

What a great-sounding band XTC has been for years. I was exposed to many bands in the 80s like The Replacements, REM (before they hit), and Big Star but not XTC. I didn’t find out about them until their 2002 release I’m The Man Who Murdered Love. When I heard that song I knew I had to find out about this band. Way back when I published that post I also looked up this song that a fellow blogger (run-sew-read) suggested. It’s only taken me 4 years but I’ve finally posted it!

This song was released in 1982 on the album  English Settlement. The album peaked at #48 on the Billboard Album Chart, #15 in Canada, #12 in New Zealand, and #5 in the UK. The song peaked at #10 in the UK, #31 in Canada, #37 in New Zealand, and #38 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts.

When they went on tour for this album… it would be their last. That didn’t exactly help them cross over to a mass audience. Andy Partridge had a fear of flying and severe stage fright that could have been heightened by withdrawing from valium that he had taken since childhood. On April 3, 1982, they performed their last show in San Diego. After that first night of the American tour, the rest of the tour was canceled. My friend Dave from A Sound Day has more info on this band and album.

I do think XTC would have broken through to a mass audience if they could have toured. At the time some people in America had thought that Partridge died and some bands held tribute shows.

Allmusic Stephen Thomas Erlewine: XTC was one of the smartest – and catchiest – British pop bands to emerge from the punk and new wave explosion of the late ’70s. … While popular success has eluded them in both Britain and America, the group has developed a devoted cult following in both countries that remains loyal over two decades after their first records. … XTC’s lack of commercial success isn’t because their music isn’t accessible – their bright, occasionally melancholy, melodies flow with more grace than most bands – it has more to do with the group constantly being out of step with the times. However, the band has left behind a remarkably rich and varied series of albums that make a convincing argument that XTC is the great lost pop band.

Drummer Terry Chambers on their last concert: “The audience was electric, everyone was on their feet and cheering throughout. It was the first date of our first major U.S. headlining tour, playing decent-sized venues, and the future looked good. I had no idea that Andy [Partridge, singer] was in such bad shape. Even after the gig, when we were traveling to LA, we had no clue that anything was wrong.”

Andy Partridge: “We were bullied back onto the road and that really started to wind me up, I’d be there onstage thinking: ‘I hate doing this.’ The anger towards being made to tour and the mental stress it was causing me began to manifest itself in stage fright, which I’d never had in my life. It didn’t help that my mental state was being exacerbated by the impact of Valium withdrawal, which I’d been on since my early teens.”

“And I had no concept of withdrawal, and I had no concept of what would happen to you if you stopped taking this stuff, which… your brain becomes dependent on it,” Partridge said in 2006. “And after 13 years of quite high doses, you’re really dependent on it. … I was losing my memory, I was getting bouts of amnesia, I was getting physical problems like pains in my stomach, I was getting weird events like I couldn’t move my legs. And my brain came unwound. I started having panic attacks.”

Senses Working Overtime

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 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 tell the difference ‘tween the goods and crimes
Dirt and treasure
And there’s 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

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

50 thoughts on “XTC – Senses Working Overtime ….Power Pop Friday”

  1. I looked into XTC for the April A to Z challenge when I was doing groups, but instead I went with the LA punk band X. It is not easy to find a band whose name begins with X. Nice music Max, and I enjoyed learning about this group.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. thanks for the nod and link! I was lucky where I grew up, XTC were big from early on (“Making Plans for Nigel” in ’80) and through the 80s. they put out a string of really good, different albums but they were a bit ‘out there’ for the huge masses plus, obviously the lack of touring hurt them especially since their record company did little to promote them as a result.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve read where they never paid off the record company because of the lack of touring. It seems like the valium…or lack of had a lot to do with it. Afterward from what I’ve read he was ok but just wasn’t happy touring after this happened.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. One of those bands I always liked, without paying too mch attention if you know what I mean. Like a Thinking Man’s New Wave band, they were. Classy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, a shout out! Thanks! I’ve been awol from blog reading this week, with long work hours, but I’m glad I didn’t miss this. Nice post, and info from the band members. It’s always a treat to hear this song.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had this song in my drafts since you mentioned it in my first XTC song post…I’m glad you got to see it. Yea I totally get the long work hours…this week in particular.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. YES! We had to move the IT department to another part of the building…it was a pain! Lets have a great weekend!

        Like

      1. Yeah. It was. I discovered all kinds of stuff there, particularly all the music that came out of Mammoth Records before it shutdown. Very cool, eclectic place. I used to have a Poindexter magnet…until Ken threw it away (I didn’t notice for a while that it was missing from the fridge. In fact, he threw a lot of my cool magnets away). It never occurred to me to get one of those t-shirts. I am mentally kicking my own ass right now.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yea but Vic…back then it was Country central…now though…if you walk down 2nd Avenue you will hear all kinds of music.

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      3. Yea when we played in the 80s…it was hard to get into a club because they wanted country….oh how I hated it.

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  5. They have a ton of great stuff, and pretty power pop adjacent. Skylarking and the Dukes of Stratosphear album are both great.

    I don’t think any Andy Partridge-sung song would be a huge hit though – Moulding’s voice is a bit smoother.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s a rich catalogue. You could make a really good compilation that paints them as a power pop band. Songs like ‘Earn Enough For Us’, ‘Towers of London’, ‘That’s Really Super Supergirl’, ‘Generals and Majors’….

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m going to order it from Amazon I think…they combined the two albums into a package called Chips from the Chocolate Fireball.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. The more I hear by XTC the more I like. It took me so long to find them. What separates them from regular power pop are the smart lyrics…to me anyway.

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  6. Great tune! While I had known them by name for years, I only started listening to some of their music last August after Graham from Aphoristic Album Reviews had done a post ranking their albums. I think my favorite is “Making Plans for Nigel”. I ended up picking that tune for my previous desert island song feature.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Graham just commented about their offshoot band The Dukes of Stratosphear…. both of their albums are very good…they basically pretended to be a mid to late sixties band. The song Vanishing Girl is just awesome to me. One of my favorite power pop songs ever.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. All of a sudden I’ve got a new favorite besides Senses Working Overtime cuz I wanted to listen to some of the songs that people here are mentioning and decided to listen to the album The Big Express, which I always forget about. And then I remembered how much I liked the song All You Pretty Girls and
    I listened to it again. I think I like it better than Senses Working Overtime. And also I might even like Life Begins at the Hop better. But nevertheless it’s still at least in the top three anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do like I’m the Man Who Murdered Love and Making Plans for Nigel also…well there is quite a bit.
      I do like their offshoot band Dukes Of Stratosphear a lot.

      Like

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