Cleaners from Venus

Golden Cleaners

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A posthumous CD collection of 20 songs culled mostly from the Cleaners From Venus' '80s cassette-only releases, 1993's Golden Cleaners is easily the best introduction to this unfairly obscure act. (It's also one of the easiest to obtain, as the limited-edition cassettes have become quite scarce over the years.) Starting with the group's best-known single, the haunting "Julie Profumo," the album skips through Martin Newell's catalog (plus a lovely, Kinks-like pair of tunes by pianist Giles Smith, "Sunday Afternoon" and "Felicity"), hitting all the high points while ignoring the dogs that pepper even the Cleaners From Venus' best efforts. Highlights include the gently mocking, Television Personalities-like "I Was a Teenage Idiot Dancer"; the brilliantly catchy, swinging London pastiche "Illya Kuryakin Looked at Me" (which features bass and backing vocals by Captain Sensible); and "Living With Victoria Grey," a marvelous song whose wistful melody candy coats a sharp-edged lyric about life in Thatcher's Britain. The sound quality on this CD is greatly improved from the often-dodgy cassettes, but this is still rather on the homemade, lo-fi side. Fans of R. Stevie Moore, the Times, or Martin Newell's marginally better-known solo records simply must check this out.

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