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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 recordedJarmusic's LP version 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 Jarmusic.


FOR A FULL DISCOGRAPHY SEE JANGLY