For a while they were indies favourite sons, rattling out such delightful hits as â€˜Mudslideâ€™, â€˜Slight Returnâ€™ and â€˜Solomon Bites The Wormâ€™. Formed in 1994 they made five â€˜properâ€™ albums, along with a Best of and Sessions album and have remained fairly prolific over the years, if not always successful. Now The Bluetones are back and in a nostalgic mood. Guitarist Andy Devlin recently discovered some of the bands early recordings when moving house and has decided to release them.
Opening with the classic â€˜Are You Blue Or Are You Blindâ€™ they sound a touch pub band, all jangly guitars and slightly off-key harmonies. Things get slightly better with â€˜Carnt Be Trustedâ€™ showing hints of the band they would become, with Mark Morrissâ€™ jaded story telling and offbeat drums.â€˜Slight Returnâ€™ deserves to be ranked alongside other defining songs of the era. Though not having quiet the same impact as Oasis or Blur, along with The Charlatans and Supergrass among others they formed the basis of the Brit Pop sound.
Even now listening to â€˜No 11â€™ (now known as â€˜Bluetonicâ€™) canâ€™t help but raise a smile or prompt a dodgy singalong. Lesser known tracks â€˜The Fountainheadâ€™ acoustic guitars shamble gently along, but made little impact. Serving to jog the memory further â€˜Time and Againâ€™ is annoyingly echoey, while â€˜Cut Some Rugâ€™ is just plain tinny, although the essence of good is there. With a distinctly scratchy homemade feel this is a portrait of band just starting out, trying to find their feet, their sound and wrestle with dodgy recording equipment.
They finish on a soaring â€˜Are You Blue Or Are You Blindâ€™ anchored by Ed Chesters rolling drums. While friends were busy devoting themselves to Boyzone or pledging undying love for The Spice Girls others were locked away in bedrooms with a stack of Shine albums and 1977 on repeat. This is for them and those embarking on a similar journey themselves.