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- The Very Best Of: Living With Victoria Grey by Cleaners From Venus
8/10 twms Customer review, 9th November 2014
Before Captured Tracks comprehensive reissue of The Cleaners discography, this collection attempted to plug the pop-genius hole in everyone's life they never knew they had.
This seems like quite a curious selection of tracks, though understandable in a sense in that it focuses on the more polished and glam songs in the Martin Newell oeuvre post-1985. What you don't get is those absolutely magical 4-track hits from the early days, no 'Only a Shadow', 'Corridor Of Dreams', 'Swinging London' etcetcetc, which the recent reissues have re-framed as a kind-of proto lo-fi pop blueprint for the likes of Ariel Pink, and lofi indie forebears of Guided by Voices et al.
What you do get is songs that leave you aghast that that the band never went on to become household names - that these weren't ubiquitous 80's hits to be forever heard alongside The Smiths or The Cure in TV spots and nostalgia clubnights. The songwriting is completely undeniable throughout, the lyrics indicative of a unique voice and sometimes essential commentator on those now quite distant times. 'Drowning Butterflies' is a particular highlight in this respect, a yearning lament rooted in Thatcherite ruin.
But its the triumphant songwriting Newell will (hopefully) be remembered for, and if there is a better song the jangle-pop/fist-pumping/dash-of melancholy masterpiece that is 'Victoria grey', ever, than I will eat my (top) hat.
The cd version comes with some memoir-type spoken word bits, full of humour and insight in to this classic band.
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