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James Cashin (Manchester)

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Do It Yourself
Do It Yourself
Offered by 247dvd
Price: £3.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Very underrated band and album!, 8 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: Do It Yourself (Audio CD)
This album came out when I was in my first year at 6th form - we were left lamenting the demise of The Stone Roses the previous year, and once I learned that John Squire was returning to music so quickly, I purchased myself a copy
almost straight away.

This was at the tail-end of the Britpop phenomenon, and this album slotted seamlessly I thought into the genre. Well crafted interplay between the rhythm section, melodic vocals and psychedelic lyrics all the while carried through on Squire's trademark blistering guitar work.

The album itself was widely criticised upon release, being regarded as little more than a vehicle to showcase Squire's guitar talents - but that is an unfair appraisal as I find this is an album of upbeat, often humourous indie-pop gems.

From the Led Zep-esque opening riff of "I Want You To Know", the album skips along at a fair pace. Second track "Blinded By The Sun", which was a Top 10 hit is one of the album's standout moments. Things take a slightly bonkers diversion on "Suicide Drive", but the absolute show-stopper on this CD is the first single "Love Is The Law". This is a corker of a track, Squire's technical ability is brought to the fore from the get-go - culminating in a mind-crushing 4 minute solo at the end of the song. "Love Me And Leave Me", which was co-penned with none other than Liam Gallagher is a more mellow moment in the second half of the album, and was the last single to be released from it. The album was produced by Tony Visconti, known for his work with Bowie, T Rex and Thin Lizzy - and it's from the latter that finds the levels of guitar cranked up in the mix - by no means a bad thing to my ears, but it may not be to everyone's taste!

I have pretty much critiqued this album at length with various people over the years and it truly does polarise opinion. For every one in awe of Squire's ability and singer Chris Helme's soulful vocals, there will be plenty who think this CD is probably better used as a coaster or Frisbee.

However, if music of the indie persuasion is your thing, and you weren't around to witness their very ephemeral rise and fall during 1997 - you could do much worse than stick this in your basket!

A New Athens
A New Athens

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Carry This Home!, 27 Oct. 2010
This review is from: A New Athens (Audio CD)
The Bluetones are a strange commodity; despite being largely ignored by the hip music press and the vast majority of the general public (their last self-titled album barely worried the top 100), they have a core of fanatical support who seem to encourage the band to keep churning out records year after year. How they still seem to remain invisible to a wider audience is beyond my comprehension. They have a knack of being able to write witty, intricate and often dark tales into their infectiously upbeat music, and that ability shows no sign of diminishing on the strength of this album.

Again, I find it difficult that given the relative obscurity of the band these days, it's highly unlikely that a newcomer to the band will stumble upon this particular album purely by chance. And the opening track wouldn't encourage a Bluetones novice that there were great tunes ahead. "The Notes Between The Notes Between The Notes" is one of the least accessible beginnings to an album I've heard in a long while. The electronic inflected song has a simple vocal refrain, "Be different like everyone else" - but the song doesn't really go anywhere to me. It's a strange way to kick proceedings off, especially given the quality of some of the previous album openers such as "Talking To Clarry, Zorrro, Here It Comes Again and Surrendered". To paraphrase Alan Partridge, "Straight away, you've got them by the Jaffas". Unfortunately this track doesn't deliver on that score.

I was a bit worried what might be in store for the rest of the album; I needn't have been. The second track, "Firefly", is as good a song as they've done since their heyday for me. The track is wondrously uplifting, and the layered vocals on the chorus never fail to get me singing (badly) along. Similarly, the title track has a more raucous edge which harks back to some of the best moments of "...Last Chance Saloon", and "Culling Song" is another high point. Lead off single "Carry Me Home" is a very radio-friendly track which shows a more mature, measured approach from the band, but is still great, and "Half The Size Of Nothing At All" keeps the tempo going. The final track, "Pranchestonelle" is ostensibly a withering attack on the vacuous fame hungry antics of Chantelle and Preston from BB, and is a great closer to the album. A couple of the tracks in the middle are a bit laboured, but they are well thought out and not bad songs by any stretch of the imagination.

I was dismayed to find the album didn't even trouble the top 200, which must give an indication of just how little notice people are taking of the band; but don't let this put you off. This is probably one of their better albums for a while and is definitely worth investigating. All in all, a very good album.

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