Who missed The Bluetones? Four lads from West London came out to surface with double A-Side debut single ‘Slight Return’/’The Fountainhead’ in 1995, then went No.1 on UK Chart with their debut LP ‘Expecting to Fly’. After 6 studio albums, 3 EPs and 20 singles the band decided to disband on March 28th 2011. Too bad that The Bluetones did not accept much spotlight as other major Britpop bands like Blur, Suede or Pulp. In fact Mark Morriss’ mild vocals and Adam Devlin’s guitar play that sounds like popish Johnny Marr, are essentially matched for a perfect 90s Britpop band. Here’s one of their highlighted singles in their early years ‘Bluetonic’;
Though as a reissue single ‘Slight Return’ marked their peak performance on UK Chart (number 2) in 1996, but The Bluetones got significantly recognized on the release of Gold receiving album ‘Return to The Last Chance Saloon’ in 1998, as ‘If…’, with its catchy refrain and glorious nanana– in the outro, went to number 7, exactly in the golden year of British Invasion. Then ‘Science and Nature’ was released smoothly on 2000 as another successful trial to reach a wider audience while other Britpop bands were struggling to stay in the scene. The album title is “… presumably refers to the dilemma – particularly acute at this millennial juncture – of how to enjoy the benefits of the techno-fixated now without corrupting the eternal truths” according to NME’s review. Two singles from which are ‘Autophilia’ and ‘Keep The Home Fires Burning’, made the album stays at number 7, the second highest after Expecting to Fly, and the rest had never reached Top 10 anymore.
Between the third and fourth album The Bluetones released ‘The Singles’ – their greatest hits compilation on 2002. It is like a spectrum of nostalgia from their career beginning to the millennium, on which (only) 4 years but consists lots of anthemic songs from ‘Are You Blue or Are You Blind?’, ‘Solomon Bites the Worm’ to ‘Mudslide’. It also includes 3 new tracks ‘Freeze Dried Pop (Dumb It Up)’, ‘Persuasion’ and ‘The Bluetones Big Score’. A year after they released their fourth LP ‘Luxembourg’, with its singles ‘Liquid Lips’ and ‘Fat Boys’, on which we can see their musicality were a bit touched by garage sound, as it was 2003 – a year when garage-bands started to revive. In 2006 a self-titled LP was released. Just the same as Luxembourg, it did not receive much critical acclaims. In fact I did not even realize they released new materials until mid 2007 (!).
It is their sixth yet their last album ever, when they were back in 2010 after 4 years long hiatus. I even thought that they were disbanded already, way before! “If anything’s on there (the album) it’s to be heard. There is none of this layering, there’s like two or three guitar over dubs. None of this you need to feel it rather than hear it; it is all kind of a bit rawer, and a bit bolder. It’s a bit more ambitious than we’ve been before.” said Mark Morris to BBC 6 Music. But these 12 tracks of ‘A New Athens’ psychedelic trials would not help the fact that the band itself was collapsing. Even on July 2010 Adam faced the court charges for marijuana possession after a gig in West end Centre. After 17 years of touring they finally made an official announcement of their break-up;
“It’s time to say farewell…
We’re afraid the time has come and we must say farewell. After 17 years of touring and 6 studio albums, The Bluetones have decided that this Autumn’s tour will be our last. We will be playing a career spanning set of songs as a way to say thank you to our loyal supporters and hopefully signing off with a bit of a bang.
We hope we’ll see you all in September.”
They did a farewell gig in Birmingham Academy, September 2011. Andy Long wrote a report for Sabotage Times; “As they came out for the encore wearing dressing gowns to signify their retirement, they threw flowers into the crowd and I had to hold back the tears. I was sad, but at the same time very happy that they’ve left me with so many wonderful memories”. I bet he was one loyal Blue Army, since he claimed to have watched more than 30 Bluetones’ gigs. I dearly hope that I would have a chance to see them live too, if I had watched The Stone Roses reunited then why won’t The Bluetones? Who knows they would come on stage again. Who knows..
“But just for a short while…”