At last, at last, at last. A hit single in September 1979. It reached #17.
Jonny the Friendly Lawyer said this when he included it within an XTC ICA a while back:-
One of the band’s best known and loved songs, but what is it about, exactly? Parents planning their child’s future? A comment on English society’s emphasis on steady employment? Never been able to work that out, but I do love this number.
Colin Moulding has said it is semi-autobiographical in that his parents weren’t sure about his efforts to pursue a career as a musician and tried to persuade him to remain at school and get enough qualifications to go to university.
Lyrically, it was a brilliantly timed song. The British Steel Corporation (BSC), for so long a cornerstone of the UK economy at a national and many local levels, was now in deep financial trouble and making huge losses, largely from the fact that the more modern plants elsewhere in Europe and further afield could easily supply the products to manufacturers much more cheaply. Nigel, or indeed anyone, didn’t appear to have too much of a future,and indeed there soon followed a high number of plant closures in the early 80s that put tens of thousands of men out of work and with few prospects.
But having said all that it is the tune that was responsible for the single getting loads of airtime and leading to enough sales to finally propel the band into the charts. I think that has a lot to do with the sound of the drums which were quite unusual for the time in question as well as the nagging riff that once heard isn’t easy to forget….in a good way!! Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that the single edit is some 20 seconds shorter than that which would appear later on Drums And Wires.
Two tracks on the b-side, one being the second in the Homo Safari set of tunes referred to last time out:-
mp3 : XTC – Bushman President
The other is a short 90-second track that has a catchy, infectious riff but sort of feels a bit like a demo that never really developed much:-
mp3 : XTC – Pulsing, Pulsing