BY JONATHAN LEVITT
Martin Newell released this pop tour de force back in 1993, which makes it a shocking 25-years-old. If by now you haven’t heard this record then this reissue is a great time to get in on the action. Using the later era cover art for the record, the album is the finest slice of British guitar pop this side of XTC’s Skylarking and as fate would have it the record is produced by Andy Partridge. His presence looms large especially on tracks like “Back on the Hurricane” with a string sound that would eventually be used on XTC’s own “River of Orchids”. “She Rings the Changes” is as perfect a pop song as you can get, here Andy joins in on the chorus which will have you humming it long after the song has dissipated. This sets the stage for the song that is the true centerpiece of the album. “A Street Called Prospect” hits every single sweet spot for fans of British pop. From the harpsichord to the clever lyrics, this song is absolute perfection. I love how Newell turns a phrase, “And there’s a brown stone church with a cracked bell ringing, Where the boys learn boxing and the girls learn singing, Where the good take the cloth and the fallen join the game, Before they burn out so briefly like an insect in the flame”. That’s absolutely brilliant! A tough act to follow for sure but Newell manages to lay on us another stellar cut with “Christmas in Suburbia” filled with beach boy harmonies and a snappy beat. Then to finish the pop trifecta Newell offers up “Straight to You Boy” a plaintive beautiful number that shows a more introspective side to his writing. If there’s a downside to this iteration of the album it’s that Cherry Red for some odd reason has decided to strip the two extra tracks tacked onto a previous reissue of this record. Be that as it may this is a work of art that needs to be in every Kinks, Beatles and XTC fan’s collection.
DOWNLOAD: “A Street Called Prospect” “Christmas in Suburbia” “She Rings The Changes” “Straight to You Boy”