last chance dance

Two years after their debut album and the attendant hysteria, The Bluetones make a more than slight return.

Words: Brian Donaldson

Mark Morriss has just chucked the word ‘zeitgeist’ at me. Lead singer of llounslow‘s finest, The Bluetones, and inventor of The Duffie-Coat Shuffle, Morriss seems singularly unconcerned with his band’s place in any journo-concocted movement. The Bluetones will create their own scene or ‘zeitgeist’ as Morriss would have it.

‘1 don’t see it (the death of BritPop) affecting us,’ he insists, no doubt keen to do so in the light of his band’s inextricable link to that particular fad. ’Our anxieties aren’t about what else is going on. We‘ve got our own problems. I don’t think it pays to be shut off because you may miss out on good things but. by the same token, it’s not healthy to fret about fitting in. If you‘ve got something good in your back pocket, you can change things. You can affect the (wait for it) zeitgeist.‘

After the critical acclaim of the Bluetones’ first couple of singles, much was expected of their debut 1996 album so much so that they called it Expecting To Fly. And fly it did. the record-buying public bought truck-loads of the album, propelling it to Numero Uno and platinum status. Now the ‘Tones are back with Return To The Last Chance Saloon a fate-baiting title that Morriss takes no reponsibility for, apportioning the credit/blame on his brother and bassist Scott.

M THEUST 6-19 Mar 1998

Mark Morriss

’Our manager said "I've got something heavy to tell you." My brother was On a train to Scotland then and l thought it had crashed. So it didn't seem half as bad when he told me the album had gone missing.’

The Bluetones: their back pockets pack a punch

‘From what I can gather. when we started to write the record we wanted to make something that was equally as good in our minds as the last one,’ recalls Morriss. ‘But that soon changed when we started to get some songs under our belts. So we made it as if it was our last record and threw everything in there. Except the kitchen sink. We tried to see it like that rather than just another piece in thejigsaw.’

lf setting about making your second record as though it was your last seems overly radical. then Morriss is keen to stress that the end result is no road to Damascus type change. ‘lt’s a development rather than a departure, the next stage that we had to haul ourselves up to,’ he explains. ‘Sonically, it’s a more rounded sound a bit boomier. We’ve worked with producer Hugh (Jones) again but the best way to change it was not to change the personnel but to go with the people we‘d already worked with, and he knows where we’re coming from.’

In actual fact, their expectant fans were very nearly unable to make those comparisons for themselves. Apocryphal or not, the story goes that the master tapes for Return To The Last Chance Saloon disappeared between the studio and the pressing plant. causing much hair pulling in the Bluetones’ camp.

‘lnstead of being sent to A&M Records with an address on it. the address just said “A&M Records. South West London” and sat in a Royal Mail warehouse for a few days because no-one could identify them,’ sighs Morriss ‘We found out that they had gone missing after four days so it was just one day of worry. At first our manager said “Sit down. I’ve got something heavy to tell you.” Scott was on a train to Scotland then. so I thought that maybe that had crashed. So it didn’t seem half as bad when he told me the album had gone missing.’

The Bluetones play Glasgow Barrowland. Mon 23 Mar. Return To The Last Chance Saloon is released on Superior Quality Recordings on Mon 9 Mar.

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