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Friday, February 1, 2008

(the) Bluebells - s/t

Name: The Bluebells
Album: s/t
Year: 1983
Style: College Radio Folk-Rock
Similar Bands: Hooters, Tears For Fears, Aztec Camera, Big Country,
"One-Word" Review: Folky Sun-pop
Based Out Of: Scotland
Label: Sire, Warner Bros. Warner Communications
Bluebells - Cover Bluebells - Back
Bluebells (1983)
  1. Cath (3:05)
  2. Everybody's Somebody's Fool (2:28)
  3. Patriot Games (4:02)/
  4. Sugar Bridge (3:42)
  5. Aim In Life (3:04)
Album Rating (1-10):
6.5

Members & Other Bands:Robert Hodgens (Bobby Bluebell)- Vocals, Guitar, Design (Up, The Poems)
Kenneth McClusky - Vocals, Mouth Organ, Flagelette (The McCluskey Brothers)
David McClusky - Drums, Vox, Guitars (The McCluskey Brothers)
Russel Irvin - Lead Guitar
Lawrence Donegan - Bass (The Commotions)
Elvis Costello - Producer
Alan Tarney - Producer
Colin Fairley - Producer
Robin Miller - Producer
Fraser Taylor - Illustrations
Paul Cox - Photography
Simon Halfon - Design

Unknown-ness: I had never heard of these guys before. I did read that Elvis Costello produced the record, so that was what intrigued me about getting this record. From the cover, they look like one of a thousand mid-80's independent bands. Proudly displaying their instruments in front of a castle, they seem to be eager to play. The design on the back, containing photo head shots and the open space, makes this out to be an album of high potential.

Album Review: A harmonic begins the EP, and soon after, a pleasant British voice adds in. This first anthemic track feels like it comes out directly of their homeland, Scotland. A minute and a half into the song the guitars and harmonica quit, and they have a drum & vocal audience participation chant of 'cath, whoa-a-whoa.' The song picks back up and cruises along until it ends with a mandolin fading out. The second track also begins with a harmonica, and adds a bass that follows, then picks up the same melody. A thicker British accent speak-sings the verse, and a chorus of chanting 'everybody's somebody's fool.' The musical hook is short, repetitive and addictive. The third song starts with a slow Celtic, beer drinking sway melody, and is supported by drums, guitar, bass, and keyboards, added one at a time. The song transforms into a colonial military march, complete with fife & drummer boy instrumentation. "Sugar Bridge" is another polite pop number. Non-threatening new wave keyboard sounds accompany "Doo Do-Do Do-Doos." The chorus repeats a good many times, and is itself declarative 'surely you will stand, now.' The EP ends too quickly, and with a quiet number at that. "Aim In Life" starts out as a virtual accapella (very minimal harpsichord music in the back) tune. Slowly more elements are minimally added into the music: picked strings, a distant tambourine, and some back-skipping electronic sounds. These elements give the feeling that the song could take off at any time. And just as the guitar is added, the song ends quite abruptly.

These upbeat numbers are a shining, positive foray into college radio pop. I do not hear anything too new or revolutionary, but they had a good recipe for cheerful catchy folk-rock. As it is only 5 song debut EP, it is tough to get a complete picture of where they went from here. I've read that they were quite the influential and popular band in their short career.

Stand Out Track:

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