The Spirit Cage was Martin's first record for Cherry Red Records who had
started their association with him by re-releasing The Greatest Living
Englishman (and a useful retrospective collection). Martin hadn't
released a record of new material since the Off White Album and many of
his fans worried that he never would,
but 2000 marked a new century for Martin Newell's music, and with a bang.
Some of these songs had been laying around on tapes
for many years (My Funeral, Smashing Bird Like Brenda) and some of them
were written brand new when the rekindled enthusiasm for music began to
ignite (Sugarcane and 'Offy'. The album's sound quality varies because
of this but the quality was doubtless improved when Andy Partridge stepped
in at the last minute to remaster the finished tape.
Most of the songs have quite a personal feel, a trend he was to keep up
with subsequent recordings. It's an older (but not necessarily wiser) Martin
we meet up with in this century. As in his Cleaners tapes days, Martin
wrote sang and played nearly everything. Longtime associate Nelson (Cleaners
From Venus, Brotherhood Of Lizards) did what Martin didn't and the
whole thing was recorded
at Nelson's house in Colchester. Martin's sleeve notes explain why he did
it, and why he found it more enjoyable now. He describes coming back to
music as coming back to an old cottage with roses round the door.
The finished album is similar in style to The Off White Album but lacks
the cohesion of that album. This does nothing to detract from a fine selection
of songs that will grow on you with every play until suddenly you find
at least a couple of them are the best he's ever done. I'll leave it up
to you to pick which ones though.
Songs :- Wake Up And Smell the
Offy/You Slay Me/Sugarcane/My Old School/New Europeans/The Boys Of September/A
Smashing Bird Like Brenda/The High Clouds Of Summer/Your Winter Garden/Days
Like These/My Funeral/Lily's Lullaby
Available from Cherry Red Records on CD and on vinyl from
FOR A FULL DISCOGRAPHY SEE JANGLY