If, like me, you've fallen in love with the music of Martin Newell via the various the Cleaners from Venus and the Brotherhood of Lizards re-issues on Captured Tracks then here's another one to add to the list. This delves further back in time to the late '70s and Newell's rickety new wave outfit the Stray Trolleys. His melodic instinct is already perfectly intact and here coupled with songs of a more glammy persuasion referencing Roxy Music, Lou Reed and Bowie.
7/10 Clinton Staff review, 17 January 2017
I have spent far too much of my time over the last few years listening to the music of Martin Newell whether it be the Cleaners from Venus, Brotherhood of Lizards or his solo stuff. He's a pop genius that rarely fails to impress me. England's greatest living songwriter? Well one of them for sure. Captured Tracks must have a similar obsession as they keep re-issuing his stuff and making people like me buy it because not to do so would be a fate not worth thinking about.
This is a collection of tracks from a band he fronted between his '70s glam rock stuff and the brilliant lo-fi psych pop of Cleaners From Venus. It has a much different feel to a lot of his work in that it's very heavy on the keyboards, indeed the Stray Trolleys were a band rather than a vehicle for Newell's songs and you can sense the influence of other people in this. It doesn't have the whirling dervish devil may care attitude of a lot of his other stuff and seens somehow more studied. There are a lot of references to the '70s art rock of the likes of Roxy Music, XTC and even the Police I can also hear evidence of the more straightforward 'pub rock' sound of the likes if Joe Jackson and Nick Lowe which, of course, if you look at the date stamp it makes sense.
Newell though has an incredible way with melody and his touch is all over this. The opening lyric of 'Bluebeat Kid' has that perfect Newell melodiousness. Both melancholic and totally unexpected. It hits me just there (*hits chest*). It's like I listened to Newell songs were with me in a past life or something. It's eerie.
I have to admit, as enjoyable a romp as this is - it's not really up with his best work. I'd start with Cleaners From Venus/Brotherhoods of Lizards first but there's enough good stuff here to ensure that I add this to my ever growing Martin Newell collection.
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