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Return To The Last Chance Saloon
So just what is it with The Bluetones? They've been around since the whole "Britpop" era where they hit it big with Slight Return then had smaller hits with Cut Some Rug and Marblehead Johnson. It seemed The Bluetones were really taking off and Bluemania hit Britain. But then… they disappeared, much to the disappointment of their newfound fans. Why? Because they needed a rest that's why. I suppose we could maybe forgive them after all we all know what it feels like releasing a song which goes straight into No. 2 don't we? Okay so they might not have had the best luck before the release of Slight Return considering how their first debut Are You Blue Or Are You Blind? didn't do too well and even though Bluetonic done a little better, it was not enough to get them recognised on a wide scale. So, we've now established the fact that The Bluetones disappeared. End of story.
But now they are back to make up for the time they lost. With a new style of song they made their comeback with the release of Solomon Bites The Worm which certainly blew the cobwebs away for the people who had forgotten them. "Good song, what else have they released?" "Slight Return? Nah I think you've got that wrong mate" could be heard from many music fans. Different sound, different opinions. Exactly what they wanted.
So, just what makes The Bluetones different from other groups of today? Well, The Bluetones have the ability to do things that most other groups can't. That is to write lyrics that go straight to the listener's heart. Every song will mean something to one person or another. "All the songs on this album sound like they are to do with a relationship break up" was quoted from one reviewer of their debut album Expecting To Fly. Okay so maybe some of the songs make you a feel a little, dare I say, depressed, but taking the likes of Bluetonic and Slight Return into consideration, you are forced to think again. The second album however has no subject at all. The band say it was influenced by the tequila they drank while recording which might explain the certain "Mexican" feeling about it. The album begins with an instrumental track, Tone Blooze, which shows off Adam Devlin's guitar skills fully. This merges into the second track, Unpainted Arizona, which teases you with the sound of this whole album. Then comes Solomon Bites The Worm, truly an in-your-face sort of song. With Mark Morriss' Mexican speech at the start, you really begin to feel the Mexican flavour about it all. This album has many different sounds about it, all the Mexican being in Solomon Bites The Worm, Broken Starr and The Jub- Jub Bird and with the songs that really hit a place in your heart, U.T.A, Sky Will Fall and Heard You Were Dead. Down At The Reservoir has been criticised over and over as letting the album down but in the opinion of many, nothing could let this masterpiece down. What is so special about this album is the pure quality of it. Take If… for instance. This song alone displays the true brilliance of The Bluetones with unique lyrics and fantastic background accompaniment. "You know that I need you more than I want you, but I want you for all time" is just one of the touching lines in this song. And Mark's own philosophy of life "a smoke, a drink and a ponder can work wonders when you're down, takes your frown, turns it round around" which I think many will identify and agree with.
The Bluetones used to care what people thought. Now they don't and this album portrays the true we-don't-care-what-you-think kind of attitude they have now. It doesn't matter to them how many fans they have compared to other groups. "We'd rather be loved by 200 than liked by 2000" was one of their quotes. So why do the fans love them so much? What shows from all Bluetones fans is the true dedication to them. Why? Because they are just like them. They went through the same everyday life and know what it's all about. They use their songs to identify with people's feelings and by doing that they have earned a lot of Blue lovers. They don't want to be famous like Oasis saying "we're already living in a bubble but it's big enough for us". Enough said.
Return To The Last Chance Saloon is what the Bluetones' fans have been waiting for and they are not disappointed. The tones' will always continue to climb above the level they are now because after all, the sky is Blue…
Written by Melissa Gunn,4th June 1998