Now that Mark E Smith has left this mortal coil, Martin Newell could indeed be a contender for greatest living Englishman. His work with the Cleaners From Venus and Brotherhood of Lizards is enough on its own to win him the title. This is the 25th anniversary of his Andy Partridge (XTC) produced solo debut which pretty much everyone but me thinks is his greatest work. If you are looking for sublime 60s influenced English pop, you have come to the right place.
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- CT271 / Reissue LP on Captured Tracks - restored to original tracklist as envisioned by Martin Newell and Andy Partridge. Includes 10-page booklet of updated liner notes
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2 reviews. Add your own review.
Seen pretty much everywhere as Martin Newell's best album (including his the Cleaners from Venus slabs of genius) but I'm inclined to disagree. It's not to say that this isn't a marvellous batch of English psych pop and probably one of the more consistent of Newell's many albums but for me Andy Partridge's kitchen sink production distracts somewhat from the songs rather than adds to them. It's true that I prefer the demos of many of the tracks that he recorded as Cleaners From Venus a few years before this album's release.
There's a more synthetic synth based feel to tracks such as 'Before the Hurricane' which in it's original form is just exceptional and less said about the snare drum on 'The Jangling Man' the better. In fact I can't even listen to this version over the stunning, spangling the Cleaners From Venus version. You'd think Newell and Partridge together would create a work of unparalleled genius but I feel these versions are overcooked somewhat -a capella intros, zither twangs, massive triangle hits, the kitchen sink seemingly.
Gripes apart though, this is still a fine collection of songs and perhaps it is their strength that has allowed this to become one of Newell's most loved opus's. Coming at it fresh, and not comparing to superior (to these ears) demos, they are as usual full of his wonderful '60s inspired brand of songwriting. Newell more than anyone in the '80s sounded like a man out of time but also somehow ahead of it. Pop doesn't get any more joyous than 'She Rings the Changes' for example. Don't let the fact that I prefer some of his more rudimentary homemade work put you off.
9/10 Jack Customer review, 3rd February 2018
This may be Martin Newell's 'commercial peak', although he despairs of the notions that this is 'commercial' or his 'peak'. I found it to be a good 'gateway' album, an album that prepares the listener for the rest of Newell's back catalogue, either his solo projects or band projects such as 'Cleaners From Venus' or 'Stray Trolleys'. Whether you hear this album first or even last among all of his other recordings, it is yet another fine example of Martin Newell's uncanny ability to write absolutely perfect pop hooks and melodies.
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