More Mitch Hedberg stuff to come in a few days —

CLEANERS FROM VENUS – 3 albums (1982-84)

One thing, see one keyword that really, really makes me uninterested in an album download is “cassette”. Cassette-only underground releases from the ’80s (especially the ones frequently posted by my favorite MP3 blog of all-time, Mutant Sounds) have almost uniformly left me cold, except for the work of one Martin Newell. This shit is just too catchy to ignore, or not to share. Trouser Press sez:

Comparable in some ways to the American national treasure R. Stevie Moore, Martin Newell’s work is a delightful diary of one man’s pop obsessions. As the Cleaners From Venus, with assorted collaborators, singer, guitarist and keyboardist Newell (who had been part of the pre-Clash/Gen X band London SS) began issuing charming, offbeat cassettes of his kitschy and clever originals in 1981. The fifth of these (Under Wartime Conditions) became the band’s first vinyl — in Germany. Rudimentary and casual, but musically substantial and indicative of anything-goes pop talent, the LP has elements of XTC, Mike Oldfield (“The Winter Palace” instrumental, which sounds like it’s being played on water glasses, bears a resemblance to “Tubular Bells”), odd bits of talking and sonic ephemera and, significantly, a “Song for Syd Barrett.”

There is something to be said for “the cause of music unafflicted by the manipulations of the music business”, which is what underground cassette culture of the the ’80s offered and indeed what Newell loved to espouse in interviews he gave during the period — but I find that the Cleaners From Venus represented the very best of that subculture, and not much else I’ve heard (and that now encompasses quite a lot) reached what he achieved with this band.

Cleaners From Venus – “Midnight Cleaners”, 1982 (ZIP file)
Cleaners From Venus – “In The Golden Autumn”, 1983 (ZIP file)
Cleaners From Venus – “Under Wartime Conditions”, 1984 (ZIP file)

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796 Responses to CLEANERS FROM VENUS

  1. Maury says:

    great post!

    i too, am a fan of the cleaners…

  2. Dan says:

    Mutant Sounds is overwhelmingly awesome. There’s so much great stuff posted so frequently, it’s disorienting. I would not hesitate listing you in the same league as Mutant Sounds. Partially due to all the great music you post and partially do to the fact that you host all the albums yourself (!!!!!!).

  3. Chris R says:

    “Follow The Plough” isn’t on any of these three albums, is it? I think it’s from ’86/’87. That’s one of my favorite songs ever,,, The Kitchens Of Distinction may have gotten their whole career from it, and that’s a comkpliment, btw

  4. Chongo McCracken says:

    “drowning butterflies’ fits perfectly with ariel pink, john maus and scott walker, oh, and bill holt’s ‘dreamies’. great great stuff. thanks!

  5. William Koch says:

    Head here for Martin’s ’85 solo cassette, “Songs For A Fallow Land.”

  6. Chongo says:

    oh, one thing, “drowning butterflies” has a glitch at 0:41 which is a shame since this is such a dreamy track and it really catches one’s attention–that’s on ‘Under Wartime Conditions” any chance of reupping?

  7. I’ve followed Martin Newell’s career and he’s still writing and recording and his poetry books are great too, he actually got bigger as a poet in the UK than as a musician, great blog this, I’ve got to hear so much great stuff this morning.

  8. norm says:

    anyone out there have a download of the cleaners from venus–number thirteen cassette from 1990 with 11 tracks on it? can’t seem to locate this one and it looks great!

  9. Chris R. says:

    In The Golden Autumn is great, or even dare I say awesome and essential, but it’s missing track 4, “The Autumn Cornfield.” Any chance of fixing this?