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The Bluetones - The Early / Garage Years

The Bluetones, Early Garage Years

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THE Bluetones may have long since dipped out of the limelight but they continue to generate numerous playlist requests on the likes of Xfm.

They’re still making music (and pretty good stuff at that) but they have struggled to achieve the heights of their heyday, when songs like Bluetonic and Slight Return propelled them into the charts.

Well, for anyone feeling nostalgic and in need of reminding what a good band they are, The Bluetones have decided to put out The Early / Garage Years, a 10-track collection of home made and studio demos and rarities.

And as unwanted as that sounds, it’s actually a fine collection of tracks that embrace everything that was good about first listening to them.

We’re talking about stuff like a limited edition UK and Japan 7” version of Slight Return that’s rawer and less polished, but no less thrilling; cracking demo versions of Talking To Clarry (from Expecting To Fly) and Can’t Be Trusted (from their eponymous debut) and No.11 (Bluetonic) from the Fierce Panda Return To Splendour EP.

All collectors’ items indeed, but capable of appealing to anyone with their ear to the new wave of guitar-based music that’s sweeping Britain.

Commenting on the reasons behind the album, drummer Eds Chesters explains: “These are the very first recordings we made. Some were mixed in the through-lounge of a semi on the Brabazon Road estate, Heston, Middlesex. The others were recorded in various teeny studios around London, paid for by record company big-wigs ready to nurture (and one day exploit) the burgeoning talents of four fledgling song-makers.

“These old demos have been salvaged using up-to-the-minute studio jiggery-pokery from some old cassettes Adam found in a box when he moved house recently. We felt compelled, having listened to them, to share them with you all/both. I think you’ll agree they provide concrete proof that we were the best band in Hounslow, if not the world, in 1994.

“So here it is – the sound of four layabouts with an ear for a tune and some romantic notion about not having to work for a living.”

It’s an endearing intro to a deeply pleasant listening experience. So, go and re-discover why tracks like Slight Return continue to command such pride of place in the indie-pop back catalogue.

Download picks: The Fountainhead (demo), Talking To Clarry (demo), Slight Return (ltd edition), Cut Some Rug (home-made 4-track recording)

Track listing:

  1. Are You Blue Or Are You Blind
  2. Talking To Clarry
  3. Carn’t Be Trusted
  4. Slight Return
  5. No 11 (Bluetonic)
  6. Fountainhead
  7. Time And Again
  8. Cut Some Rug
  9. Talking To Clarry
  10. Are You Blue Or Are You Blind