A few things worth noting.
This April 1979 release was the first A-side that was written by Colin Moulding.
It was the first song on which Dave Gregory played having come in as replacement guitarist for founder member Barry Andrews who had left after the release of Go2.
It was the first XTC single to make the charts, reaching #44.
mp3 : XTC – Life Begins At The Hop
It’s an autobiographical number, telling the story of the bass player’s teenage years where the highlight of his week was getting along to the dance that was held every Saturday night in a local church hall.
Funnily enough, although this isn’t an XTC song that I’m all that fond of, I too have great memories as a 14-16 year old going along with my mates from school to a local church hall for a weekly disco on Sunday evenings (7-10pm). Not too many of the songs I was listening to and subsequently buying would get played at the disco but it was something to do in a crowd in a safe environment and going along sort of helped to increase confidence around girls. Sort of.
My issue with the song is probably that it veered too much on the poppy side of things and didn’t feel nearly as worthy as the earlier flops. Still, it did raise their profile a bit further, including a debut appearance on Top of The Pops and helped pave the way for what would happen next.
The b-side was a very strange affair:-
mp3 : XTC – Homo Safari
It was the first of what proved eventually to be a series of six experimental instrumentals, composed by Andy Partridge, that would appear on singles over the coming years.