After spending the '70s mining glam and progressive rock -- in the Plod and then Gypp, respectively -- singer/songwriter Martin Newell ushered in the '80s by crafting rough-hewn psychedelic pop nuggets with a curious co-conspirator, Lawrence "Lol" Elliot. The duo assumed the name Cleaners From Venus, quickly wrote and self-recorded
a number of subterannean pop "hits" using borrowed and battered equipment, then issued their own short-run tapes, which they made available through British weeklies and word-of-mouth exchanges. Their self-sustained approach to recording and releasing their own music helped pioneer the UK DIY cassette culture, as further popularized by punk, post-punk, noise and anarcho contemporaries who were similarly skeptical of the cutthroat practices fueling the country's corrupt music biz. With the occasional help of other like-minded musicians, The Cleaners' original roster released three excellent tapes -- Blow Your Troubles Away (1981), On Any Normal Monday (1982) and Midnight Cleaners (1982) -- before Newell and Elliot parted ways. Newell subsequently soldiered on, recruiting a rotating auxiliary of capable musicians to bolster his increasingly distinctive and sophisticated pop songwriting. He remains musically active today, occasionally under his own name, but oftentimes under the Cleaners From Venus moniker.
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