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Making a stand for independence

BLUE NOTES

ONE of the most misused and abused terms of recent times must be the all encompassing term 'indieband'.

Originally the description was a special kind of act, on an independent label, making 'alternative' music. Be it pop or rock. Once Brit Pop raised its head, 'indie' was a description handed out to describe any band with guitars and stupid haircuts, irrespective of whether they had a deal with a major label or not.

The Bluetones, although these days (almost) a household name, have remained true to their independent roots and beliefs. Granted their label, and indeed it is their label, Superior Quality Records, was overseen by A&M, but The Bluetones have stayed fiercely independent. Proof, if any was needed, can be found with their most recent single Four Day Weekend. It was not available via the shops, instead they chose to sell it by mail order. Which, needless to say, makes it ineligible for the charts. The Bluetones made the right call as after a mere two weeks Four Day Weekend had to be repressed due to the overwhelming demand.

Bear in mind too, that the lead track was previously available on their critically acclaimed second album Return To The Last Chance Saloon. So far on mail order only, Four Day Weekend in its three formats has sold in excess of 140,060 copies, which in anybody's estimation is impressive to say the least.

Several years ago The Bluetones were quoted as saying "We'd rather be loved by a hundred people, than quite liked by many thousands". If their last tour was any yardstick, their devoted followers The Blue Army sold out shows everywhere. The feel, atmosphere and overall performances themselves evoked memories of The Stone Roses at their peak.

The Bluetones are without doubt major players in today's fickle music world. They are being talked about as a headline act for at least one of this year's major UK festivals, what's more they've been invited along to headline one of the NME/Carling Brat shows at London's Astoria on Wednesday, January 20.

The London show is a homecoming for the mighty Bluetones, after all they've been based there for some considerable time now. Initially sharing a home with Dodgy.

Before their night at the Brats, The Bluetones play a brace of shows out in provinces. Firstly they visit Newport's V3 Club on Monday - the following night they commence the whirlwind late January early February 'sessions' of mouthwateringly high-profile shows at Brookes here in Oxford on Tuesday.

On their last 'official' visit The Bluetones sold out The Zodiac easily, that was a couple of years ago now, these days The Bluetones have a much much wider appeal. Certain members of the band have been spotted at The Zodiac in the interim, checking out other acts. Specifically Mover, who are also with The Bluetones' Superior Quality set-up.

The show at Brookes is sure to be a sellout, if you haven't yet obtained a ticket, you may well have left it too late.

MARK S

Extracted from The Oxford Mail, 14th January 1999.