It’s perhaps a little early to be declaring anything as “reissue of the year”, but there’s no doubt that Captured Tracks’ Cleaners From Venus vinyl box set is going to take some beating.
The box brought together three albums recorded by The Cleaners From Venus in the early 80s and previously only available on cassette: Blow Away Your Troubles (1981), On Any Normal Monday (1982) and Midnight Cleaners (1982) [the records were also reissued individually for Record Store Day]. Despite their scarcity prior to being reissued, these DIY psych-pop gems were already well-established as classics, with such contemporary artists as MGMT, John Maus and Ariel Pink among their champions.
The songwriter and figurehead of CFV is one Martin Newell, the self-proclaimed “Wild Man of Wivenhoe” and “Greatest Living Englishman”. An accomplished poet, journalist and raconteur as much as a musician, he gave a particularly memorable interview to FACT earlier this year.
“The Cleaners stuff was so badly recorded, in such poverty,” he said. “But despite the poverty, our creative needs were such that we overcame everything. There was no way we were going into the music industry, because we couldn’t even if we wanted to, so we thought, if we’re imprisoned in this cell we may as well sing and dance and paint the walls while we’re here. So that’s what we did – and the Cleaners From Venus was that.”
In a recent post on his website, Newell reveals that plans are afoot for Captured Tracks to reissue another three Cleaners albums.
“Cleaners From Venus have been having a roaringly successful revival as you’ll know from earlier news this year,” he writes. “As a result of this, Captured Tracks and I are hoping to release the next three albums in the series early next year. The next three albums, remastered from glorious lo-fi. It does gradually get better, honestly.”
The albums in question are In The Golden Autumn (1983), Under Wartime Conditions (1984) and Songs For A Fallow Land (1985). Songs was originally credited to Martin Newell solo, and a very limited vinyl reissue of this record came out last year on Gary War and Taylor Richardson’s Fixed Identity label.
Newell adds: “In addition Captured Tracks have pushed me to search my archives for unreleased and buried treasure. I’ve found some! Enough said for now.”