14 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Martin Newell's literary interests have informed his most recent recordings. Where his '80s and '90s recordings with The Cleaners from Venus and The Brotherhood of Lizards presented a man with an absurd sense of humor and an unrestrained energy, he's layering things with greater care in the present day. He sounds more measured, less spontaneous in the 21st century. He's always remained resolutely English, as loyal to his memories as Ray Davies or Robyn Hitchcock (two artists to whom he's often compared). "Another Sunny Day" and "St. Audrey's Fair" combine for a one-two punch that show he hasn't lost his command of power pop; he's just slowing the rhythms a bit. "Mulberry Harbour" and "Stella & Charlie Got Married" pick up where the late-'60s Kinks left off. "Wow! Look at That Old Man" resonates as a personal character sketch. "You Made It Rain" strips things down for an autumnal ballad that's among Newell's finest work. The digital age has even encouraged Newell to include three bonus cuts, including the peppy power pop delight "Soldier Town."

EDITORS’ NOTES

Martin Newell's literary interests have informed his most recent recordings. Where his '80s and '90s recordings with The Cleaners from Venus and The Brotherhood of Lizards presented a man with an absurd sense of humor and an unrestrained energy, he's layering things with greater care in the present day. He sounds more measured, less spontaneous in the 21st century. He's always remained resolutely English, as loyal to his memories as Ray Davies or Robyn Hitchcock (two artists to whom he's often compared). "Another Sunny Day" and "St. Audrey's Fair" combine for a one-two punch that show he hasn't lost his command of power pop; he's just slowing the rhythms a bit. "Mulberry Harbour" and "Stella & Charlie Got Married" pick up where the late-'60s Kinks left off. "Wow! Look at That Old Man" resonates as a personal character sketch. "You Made It Rain" strips things down for an autumnal ballad that's among Newell's finest work. The digital age has even encouraged Newell to include three bonus cuts, including the peppy power pop delight "Soldier Town."

TITLE TIME
2:24
2:14
3:06
3:30
3:50
3:23
4:47
3:51
3:35
3:43
4:57
5:34
4:49
3:06

About Martin Newell

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 winningly quizzical, but his chief assets are his compositions, which reflect contemporary English life with a wry combination of affection and cynicism.

For most of the 1980s, Newell was the mainstay of Cleaners from Venus, who recorded most of their albums at home for cassette-only self-release, although they eventually put out some vinyl product. After a short stint as head of the similar Brotherhood of Lizards, Martin started a solo career in the 1990s that was essentially a continuation of the territory he'd explored in the 1980s; sometimes he re-recorded songs from the previous decade. The difference, if any, was that he was concentrating on the proper official album market instead of the cassette underground, with somewhat higher (though not slick) production values.

Newell's most acclaimed album was 1993's The Greatest Living Englishman, which was produced by Andy Partridge of XTC. The Off White Album (1995) was a bit more baroque in approach, with occasional string arrangements. Spirit Cage was issued in fall 2000, and a collection of home-brewed recordings from 2010 through 2014, Teatime Assortment, appeared in 2015. Newell has co-written material with Captain Sensible and is a poet/humorist of some renown in Britain, publishing his own prose with a good deal of success and writing humorous pieces for the Independent newspaper. Ironically, his music is virtually unknown on his home turf, although he enjoys a considerable cult following in Germany, Japan, France, and on certain American college radio stations. ~ Richie Unterberger

  • ORIGIN
    Wivenhoe, Essex, England
  • BORN
    1953

Top Songs by Martin Newell

Top Albums by Martin Newell