I'm a big fan of The Bluetones, have been since their debut album "Expecting To Fly". So I've always been a little curious about how the band's chemistry works with regards to songwriting. Solo albums will usually give a little insight to the roles within the band - which is something that "Memory Muscle" definitely does. The beauty of the Bluetones can often be found in their flights of whimsy, and the more you get into this album, the more you realise that Mark Morriss is the fount of lyrical imgination in the band. The melodies are generally sweet and bounce along pleasantly enough, but its the lyrics that capture the attention. Interestingly, despite Mark's voice and to my ears, it never quite feels like a Bluetones album - the guitars aren't as edgy - which was probably the idea. But I don't think it is fair to Mark to compare this to The Bluetones - these are clearly songs that he didn't feel would fit in with their sound and style (although there are reminders of Science & Nature). All in all, this is a good album that will deserve a place in most pop-music lovers' CD collections. Bluetones fans will gain an insight to what Mark brings to the band's songwriting, and anyone else not overly-familiar with The 'Tones will discover some songs that they may just fall in love with.
A wonderful piece of work from the bluetones front man . Very well crafted songs , this is an album to put on and forget your troubles while it takes you away somewhere better. If you like the bluetones you will love this album , in fact even if you don`t like the bluetones you will love this album.
I got hold of a copy of this at one of Mark's gigs with The Mummys and have to say its been played a lot in a short time since then. Im a big fan of The Bluetones and there is enough on here that is along those lines to make this album very easy to get into. But equally there are times that Mark manages to venture away from that sound and you can see why he did not feel these songs could fit on a Tones album.
Trying to listen to this as a real solo debut album without thinking of The Bluetones is near impossible. Thats not a bad thing and songs like the brilliant single 'I'm Sick' as well as 'Bienvenido' and opener 'How Maggie Got her Bounce Back' sound like some of the best pop-like tunes the Bluetones have produced. However its the songs that venture away from this which hold the most interest, 'So It Goes' and 'Unwanted Friend' are some of the best pieces he has produced in years and are far darker than I had expected to hear from him.
His covers of 'Alcoholiday' and 'My Autumns Done Come' work very well in with the rest of the material here and do more than just fill the album on top of the tracks from the FiLo Beddow EP.
Well worth adding to your collection if your a fan of The Bluetones, if not it might still be worth having a listen to 'So It Goes' 'I'm Sick' and 'Unwanted Friend' as probably the best (and least Bluetones like) songs on the album.
Why didn't I buy this sooner? I've always liked The Bluetones, but somehow didn't get round to giving this solo record a go when it was released. The songs here are all top notch, with great melodies. I think I was expecting it to be a stripped down 'one man and a guitar' affair, but it's beautifully produced without being over-cooked. So we still get traditional Bluetones vocal harmonies, and a full backing band: percussion, guitars and bass, of course, but also swirling Hammond, piano, cello, even mandolin scattered around the place, making a fully rounded album. Definitely recommended for fans of the Bluetones in particular, or of finely-crafted guitar-based pop tunes in general.
As the other two reviews above mine state - you get a sense of the Bluetones within every song and the album is full of meloncholy melodies and a distinct over-whelming presence of Mark Morriss.
I can't work out if it's the eloquently written lyrics, or the perfectly orchestrated music that accompanies them! Or could it be that istinctively sweet if somewhat slighty feminine, cockney drawl? Whatever it is - I like it!
From "How Maggie Got Her Bounce Back" to the brilliantly covered "My Autumn Done Come" takes you on a perpetual journey inside the mind of Mark - and being his own mind, it shows!
Ofcourse, no song or album that has Mark penning the lyrics for will go nheard without a touch of that classic Morriss humour, and this album is no different.
The more upbeat songs on the album "I'm Sick", "Bienvenido", "Buckle Up Baby Doll" and "Lemon and Lime" ironically reflect on the "sloggish" side of life - being ill, smelly men and a sense of "I'm fed up, I want to go now...!"
"So It Goes" and "Lay Low" are probably the two deepest tracks on the album, and Marks lyrical ability doesn't cease to amaze or draw you in deep. It seems that the freedom he has had has brought him back to his lyrical best.
'How Maggie...' is my favourtite song on the album, I don't know if it's because he lowers his tone, or the complexity and humour of the lyrics, but it's catchy and it's stuck in my head!!
I went to see Mark twice on his last tour, and after 13 years of loving the Bluetones, I met him. He is the most nicest, down to Earth, softly spoken guy you could ever meet. He's is so passionate about music, that even that shows when he is off-stage.
Mark is back on tour next month, and honestly, if you haven't seen this guy on his solo tour yet, you really should go! The album is worth buying, and the man himself is worth seeing! He really is one of the most under-rated musicians of today - and if anyone deserves a lot more recognition, it's this guy!
I can't help but wonder if the first track should be called "How Mark Got His Bounce Back" - because to me, it seems that he really has!
I don't know if I'm getting old, but the current indie scene feels too caught up with making the headlines of Heat and not about writing brilliant 3 minute pop songs or beautiful tunes that feel like they've come from a real person.
Mark Morriss has always been reliable for a song that clearly comes from him and relates to anyone who cares to listen to his lyrics...but also uses old harmonies and tunes that fit every musical rule that makes things sound good.
And this album is no exception on the quality front.
I'm not giving it 5/5 for every song because there's a couple I'm not 100% on. But there are more than enough brilliant songs on here to make it 10 times better than many of the new albums I've heard recently. Which makes me very happy! If you like his writing before, I'd be surprised if you're not glad for this album.
If you're a fan of decent pop songs -- and by that I mean really catchy tunes with cutting lyrics -- then you'll love this album. If you're a fan of the Bluetones and haven't bought this yet, then I'd say it is darker and a bit moodier in places than the vast majority of their output, but still just as memorable.
I don't think anyone could seriously doubt Mark Morriss's tremendous ability as a singer/songwriter, and 'Memory Muscle' finds the man in great form.
This is a super release from 'tones frontman Mark, a dreamy, brassed-up deviation from the criminally ignored and stunning 'The Bluetones' album. A widely accessable slowburner that would bolster any tasteful CD collection.
My highlights are 'How Maggie got her bounce back', 'Digging a hole', 'Alcoholiday' and the single 'I'm sick.' All have a classic Morriss melody with added Arizona-tinged spice. Order it!!
A fantastic set of 60s influenced pop tunes that show the strength of Morris as a writer. As good, if not better than his work with The Bluetones, this is by far the most underrated album of 2008. Superb covers of Teenage Fanclub and Lee Hazlewood signal the direction he takes here (although the real highlight is the horn-driven I'm Sick). Make sure you catch him live if he plays near you too!
As the previous reviewer stated, it's got shades of the 'tones in there, but the freedom Mark has on his own really does show through, and benefits from it. Also, he's a bloody nice bloke and has never had the success he or the Bluetones deserve - so buy it, listen to it and enjoy!