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The Greatest Living Englishman

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Editors’ Notes

Martin Newell spent the '80s being compared to Robyn Hitchcock, XTC, and other lesser-known '60s-influenced pop maestros, so it was poetic that XTC's Andy Partridge would produce this Newell solo album. The result isn't a stretch from Martin's days as The Cleaners from Venus or The Brotherhood of Lizards. The production is cleaner than on Newell's home recordings, but the songs are as melodic and adventurous as ever. If one's naturally attracted to the charms of "We'll Build a House" (which sounds like what Guided by Voices' Robert Pollard has spent his career emulating), then there's plenty more from where this came from. Newell is devoutly English, writing his songs much in the way Ray Davies sculpted his observations of British life, past and present, with The Kinks. There's a Davies-like shuffle to "Tribute to the Greatest Living Englishman," a barrage of guitars to "She Rings the Changes," and an "all the lonely people" feel to "A Street Called Prospect" and "The Green-Gold Girl of Summer." The only drawback to being seduced by Mr. Newell? It's a full-time job to get up to speed!

Customer Reviews

Sweet Ageless Jangling Treasure

I bought this album solely because I had heard Andy Partridge of XTC had something to do with it. I was rewarded by Martin Newell's poetic and insightful audio portraits of (what I always pictured as) rural England. I can hear the massive influence of Colin Moulding and Andy Partridge throughout the entire disc. It is a solid album. My kids remember me listening to it incessantly, until my cassette of it broke. They, in turn, now love this album, especially "Goodbye dreaming fields", "Home counties boy" and "Before the Hurricane". I really love Andy's solo in "We'll build a house" a cool anthem for people like me. A great album to supplement any longing XTC fan, and you will subsequently become a Martin Newell fan.

A hidden classic!

This amazing album is not to be missed. Melodic, jangly, intelligent, and brilliantly played and sung. A dozen years later this remains one of my favorite albums of all time. I challenge you to get these songs out of your head.

Wonderful Surprise

I picked this album up on a whim and was pleasantly surprised by how wonderful this album sounds. If you're a fan of XTC-style pop or just like rock that is off the beaten path, then this album is for you. Beautiful melodies and original lyrics make for a superb album. This is a true gem of an album that is a welcome musical secret for those who have heard it.


Born: 1953 in Wivenhoe, Essex, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

One of the great eccentrics of modern English pop/rock, Martin Newell's songs are recommended listening for anyone who enjoys the peculiarly British eccentricities of Ray Davies, Andy Partridge, Syd Barrett, and the like. His grasp of the pop hook was second to few throughout the 1980s and '90s; his arrangements favor a guitar jangle but are usually infused with a whimsical eclecticism full of goofy sound effects and unusual garnishes of unexpected percussion and string instruments. His voice is...
Full Bio
The Greatest Living Englishman, Martin Newell
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Customer Ratings