Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Sinister Cleaners - The Gnomes Of Zurich (AAZ 7" 1985)

Seven 7" Singles In Seven Days #4
Hailing from Leeds bedsit land, The Sinister Cleaners were initially a trio of Len Liggins, John Parkes and Andrew Middleton, all sharing instrument and vocal duties, aided and abetted by trusty tinny drum machine. The Gnomes Of Zurich was their debut single, self-financed on their own label (as were all their subsequent releases) and released in early 1985. Astonishingly, it was Record Mirror that first gave them wider exposure with a small feature and interview (I think Gnomes may even have been single of the week). I say astonishing because at this stage the publication had shed its tabloid status rivalling the NME, Sounds and Melody Maker in favour of a colour magazine format almost exclusively dedicated to mainstream chart acts in direct competition with Smash Hits. (By the end of year the publication would do an about turn again and focus mainly on the independent scene).
It's fair to say that stylistically Gnomes doesn't stray too far from The Three John/Eton Crop pop stable, but B side The Architect seemed to demonstrate what was to come in future releases. Eighteen months would pass until they unleashed Lemon Meringue Bedsit, a bumper 6 track 12" ep in summer 1986. By this time they had acquired a "proper" drummer, Simon Smith, and built a bigger, individual sound with stronger vocal melodies and blues-tinged guitar runs suggesting The Magic Band playing Richard Lloyd's lead parts on Marque Moon.
The group toured the UK and Europe regularly and issued two more 12" eps in 1986-87, before calling it a day sometime in 1988. Len Liggins had become increasing involved with The Wedding Present, contributing violin and vocals on their Ukranian Peel sessions. This would develop into side project The Ukranians which later would turn in to a full time affair when Peter Solowka quit The Weddoes shortly after completing Sea Monsters in 1991. Simon Smith took over the drum seat from Shaun Charman in early '88.
In 2007 the group reactivated their AAZ label and released Shine, a 20 track cd collection compiling the latter three eps and five new recordings of previously unreleased songs. Strangely, both Gnomes and Architect were excluded from the set. All the more reason to post it here!
 A1 The Gnomes Of Zurich
B1 The Architect

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