Review of The Bluetones album 'Expecting To Fly' released through Mercury Records on 9th March 09.
As a teenager swept up in the Britpop movement of the mid-nineties, the original Expecting To Fly was a staple of my record collection and I also saw them live. So, I was interested to see what impact it would have well over a decade later!
Despite Hounslow boys the Bluetones getting a bit of bad press for being less than uber cool, they were hugely popular in the mid-nineties. They probably would have been even more so had they not been caught up in the middle of the all consuming, attention diverting, battle for the Britpop crown between Blur and Oasis. But they managed to ignore this and continued to make some of the best up-beat feel good indie-pop of their time.
As soon as the jet engine kicks in on the opening track, Talking To Clarry, the memories come flooding back, beer-soaked sweaty gigs, summer tunes and the excitement of being part of the new Britpop era. Their popular single Bluetonic still stands up today as a great indie-pop tune, opening with a strong beat, jangly guitar and Mark Morriss' familiar melodic vocals. They turn it up a notch for Cut Some Rug, a really loud, guitar heavy number, singing 'Its easy living in a bubble, no complication or trouble, but its hard to have responsibilities' and encapsulating the Britpop ethos perfectly. Slight Return, their biggest hit to date, sees the Bluetones doing what they do best; sing-song vocals, tempo changes, strong beats and their familiar guitar riffs all producing a really catchy indie-pop tune.
The second CD of bonus material consists of a number of radio sessions all recorded in 1995. They include Radio 1 sessions with Mark Radcliffe and the late, great John Peel. All the tracks are previously unreleased and in addition to the one's found on Expecting To Fly, there are a couple of really good live versions of Are You Blue Or Are You Blind?
If you were there the first time round, this re-release will be like taking an enjoyable trip down musical memory lane. But can it stand up on it's own in today's music market? It should do, it has all the hallmarks of an indie-pop classic; the up beat tempo, plenty of guitar, sing along choruses and topped off with the melodic vocals, a real feel-good album and maybe feel-good is just what we need at the moment.