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Return To The Last Chance Saloon
(Superior Quality/All formats)

Brave title, considering: for the Bluetones, this, their second album, really is a make-or-break affair. Sure they were enormously successful two years ago: number one in the album charts and heavily touted by John Peel. But then, people did rather lose their sense of perspective amid the hysteria of Britpop. With hindsight, we can all see the Bluetones for what they were: a dreary four-piece with a wimpy-voiced singer who sang not-very-good songs far too quietly. If they had never made another album no one would have cared. But they have have and amazingly, it's sometimes pretty impressive - especially the guitar work, which nods variously towards The Smiths, Led Zeppelin and Radiohead. The letdown is singer Mark Morriss, whose voice sounds fine when it's distorted or drowned out on the full-on, rock-out tracks like Solomon Bites the Worm, but unbearably whiny on the slow, sensitive numbers. Which, unfortunately, comprise almost half the album.

James Delingpole

Extracted from Q, March 1998