When I am sad and weary,
When I think hope is gone,
When I walk along High Holborn,
I think of you with nothing on
Celia, Celia, Adrian Mitchell
This is where it all begins, for them. "No. 11", so called because it was the 11th song that the band had written, was the lead track on indie label Fierce Panda's third EP Return To Splendour. Other tracks on that one were by such household names as Thurman, The Nubiles and Alvin Purple, but it's worth noting that its predecessor included debuts by Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, Ash, and Supergrass.
"No 11" sets out the band's stall very effectively. A simple but richly reverberating guitar riff cycles twice before another, better one is overlaid, then a third. Eds Chesters drums almost as much to fill in the little gaps left in this intricate web as for rhythymic purposes. The bass does... something in there somewhere. Mark Morriss' voice is basically fully formed already, a sweet, high, enfolding thing that scuppers any chances of a place as the new Stone Roses that they were claimed to be.
And come the chorus, they set it all out. 'There's no heart you can't melt with a certain little smile/No challenge should be faced without a little charm and a lot of style'. Perhaps the latter should be swapped around, because charm has almost always been a bit more them than style, but that's The Bluetones right there. Taking on allcomers, politely. If you're being snarky, 'Only a fool won't take the chance to stay the same' fits too. It's so perfect a statement of purpose that it's no surprise that they went on to all but name it after themselves.
"Bluetonic" is thus the eventual album and hit single version of the same song. It's meatier, of course, with every little guitar sound crisply projected in widescreen and the chorus now marked with a big 'sing along here, folks' signpost. It loses a little something in transition. Scott Morriss' backing vocals are already being relegated back in the mix and imitating his brother's poised tone, rather than being slurred in from another room. That line, the Adrian Mitchell-sourced one that was of course the one Mark was asked to finish on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, is delivered with a knowing wink rather than thrown away as if it wasn't anything. The biggest difference shows up right at the end though: The closing 'yeah, ye-ah yeah YEA-eh' of "No. 11" is full of palpable hunger, the sound of a band raring to take on the world and with a drive beyond the polite exterior. The yeahs are still there in it's successor, but the excitement isn't quite.
Youtube: Bluetonic video, don't they look young?
mp3: No. 11