Giles Smith

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Smith is more known as a journalist than as a musician, but he did make a significant artistic (though insignificant commercial) contribution as part of Cleaners From Venus for a few years in the last…
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Smith is more known as a journalist than as a musician, but he did make a significant artistic (though insignificant commercial) contribution as part of Cleaners From Venus for a few years in the last part of the 1980s. Cleaners From Venus was always principally the project of Martin Newell, the eccentric British singer/songwriter who produces nifty, catchy, witty pop/rock, yet often conducts his career and business affairs in the most antiestablishment manner possible. He has often worked with collaborators, though, and Smith was one of his most important ones, playing keyboards, doing some vocals, and contributing some songwriting. Newell has gone on record poking fun at Smith's mainstream pop ambitions, which weren't in the least fulfilled by the band's extremely modest sales. All the same, Smith's pop sensibilities fit into Cleaners From Venus pretty well, and "Clara Bow," which he co-wrote with Newell, is one of their most outstanding tracks.

In 1990, Smith joined the staff of the Independent newspaper in Britain, and since then has written for magazines like Q, Mojo, the New Yorker, and Vogue. He also wrote an entertaining memoir of his life as a musician, Lost in Music, which contains a good deal about his experiences in Cleaners From Venus. This is one of the few well-written autobiographies of a rock musician that went nowhere, commercially speaking. If Smith does not seem fully aware of the inherent contradictions in grasping for a shot at stardom in an uncompromisingly independent rock band, that's part of what makes the book stand out from innumerable other rock memoirs.