Thursday, 19 April 2012

The Cleaners From Venus...

There's been an awful lot of rain lately, perhaps a nice way to herald the reissue of that lost pop masterpiece, Midnight Cleaners, by The Cleaners From Venus.  Wanted to post the gorgeous instrumental that opens the record, This Rainy Decade, but can't find it anywhere online.  Hopefully that will change soon.

Record Store Day (Saturday, April 21st) sees the re-release of the first 3 Cleaners From Venus albums, appearing for the first time on vinyl and cd (true to D.I.Y. form, they were originally only issued on cassettes).  These are Pop Gems that deserve to be heard by a much wider audience.  Back in February, I had the pleasure of interviewing the man behind it all, Martin Newell, about these early records and much more.  The interview is up at The Quietus from today.

I've posted about Martin a couple of times before (and here).  I'll try not to repeat myself. But the man is a True Pop Genius.  Consider yourself in for a treat if you haven't heard his songs yet, or even if you have.  Late one evening two summers ago, facing the usual bout of insomnia, I was trawling through the blogs, looking for anything I hadn't heard before when I came across Living With Victoria Grey - The Very Best Of The Cleaners From Venus.  Intrigued by the name, and furthermore by such song titles as Ilya Kuryakin Looked At Me, Julie Profumo, Mad March Hare, and I Was A Teenage Idiot Dancer, I decided to give them a listen.  Also factoring in that I had been at school with a girl named Victoria Grey. It is almost always worth following coincidences, especially in the world of pop music where they can lead you to exciting new avenues and alleys, rooftops and roadways*, palaces and planets, or in the case of Martin Newell, universes.

Here is another one that mentions rain.  Ilya Kuryakin Looked At Me, my first favourite Cleaners song.  Fantastic Pop. Inspired by a real life sighting of David McCallum, the actor who played Ilya Kuryakin on the TV show The Man From U.N.C.L.E., recounted in Martin's highly entertaining This Little Ziggy, talking about the magic of London when he moved there as a teenager.  (The character of Napoleon Solo would also give another of my favourite songwriters, Mikey Georgeson, his Mr. Solo guise.)

Live at the XTC Convention, Swindon, 2005:

*"Rooftops and Roadways" comes from Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and I always wanted to call an album that.

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