Thursday, July 27, 2006

Obscure Gems - 3 in a Series - Martin Newell


I was talking with Bobby last night about his fantastic "An Easy Winter" and was reminded of Martin Newell. Odds are you’ve never even heard of Martin Newell if you aren’t an XTC fan (Andy Partridge produced his critically acclaimed "The Greatest Living Englishman*” which is a must have) or if you aren’t into modern poetry.

His music is intelligent, witty, eclectic and sometimes his singing is technically lacking, but (to my ears) in a very charming kind of way. I’ve included two (er - four - got a real Newell hamster in my bonnett this morning!) songs here. The first one is from 1995’s “The Off White” album. (Gotta love his ironic sense of humor.) It is a guitar driven mid-60’s power-pop confection that I can’t help but crank-up when it comes on in my car. In my world this song is a hit. Click here to listen to “Ursula in a Waiting Room.”

Next up is a track from 2004’s “The Light Programme.” All Music Guide says:

“…Newell's self-deprecating wit, magnetic personality, and amiably imperfect voice give each song a warmth and a wink that would make any listener want to throw another log on the fire, pour a glass of brandy, and share in some stimulating conversation with likeminded freethinkers.”

Sounds like a fine idea, except I’d prefer a glass of Frie Brothers Sonoma Cabernet - if only for the fact that the only brandy I like would break the bank. Next time Sound is in town I’ll invite MT over and we’ll do just that with Martin supplying the entertainment.

Some women might find this one offensive, but The Viscountess doesn’t and since she is the one who I ultimately have to answer to I offer no apology. Personally I think in some ways the song is as much a put-down of himself as it is to his unattractive friend. Click here to listen to “Blackout.”

Note:* After writing this post I realized a needed a track from "The Greatest Living Englishman" and then I couldn't pick which one, so I've included two.

Click here to listen to "Before The Hurricane." Beautiful.

Click here to listen to "A Street Called Prospect." If this tune doesn't make you want to go to England and hang with the locals, you're hopeless.

4 Comments:

Blogger Soundsurfr said...

Next time Sound is in town I’ll invite MT over and we’ll do just that with Martin supplying the entertainment.

Could be very soon. Things are a-brewin'.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Employee of the Month said...

A wonderful disc to get aside from TGLE is the anthology "The Wayward Genius of Martin Newell". Nice overview & intro to his work.

3:54 PM  
Blogger Neddie said...

My fave Newell tune: "Living with Victoria Gray" (which, come to think of it, was burned for me, along with the rest of "Wayward Genius" by the aforementioned Employee, peace be upon him!). *So* atmospheric for such a lo-fi recording.

I once was privileged to chat about Newell's music with a Certain Partridgean Somebody, and I mentioned the fact that Newell's melodic sense owed a lot to simple Anglican hymns. I demonstrated by singing "Goodbye Dreaming Fields" in that manner, and AP said (to my eternal pride) "Good God, you're absolutely right! Never thought of that!"

(That's 'cos I'm a geeeeeeeeenius, Andy. You should know that by now.)

Thanks for the post, Al. I'm gonna dig out the Newell catalog and give it a spin.

9:54 PM  
Blogger XTCfan said...

Good job choosing "Before the Hurricane," Al. As choice #2 from TGLE, though, I think I would have picked "We'll Build a House," simply because of the guitar solo from the New and Improved Andy Patridge.

And, lest we forget, Mr. Dave Gregory graces the Off-White Album with his presence...

Ned, I expect to hear an Anglican-hymn arrangement of "Goodbye Dreaming Fields" on your blog in the coming days...

12:07 PM  

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