Feel a bit bad saying this, but when I saw the cover of this record, combined with the name The Taste Of Mark Morriss, I thought this was a joke project… I mean, that cover art in 2015? Anyway, the record is much better, being a collection of Bluetones member Mark Morriss covering a varied selection of his favourite songs. On Acid Jazz.
LP £17.99 AJXLP375X
Limited pink coloured vinyl LP on Acid Jazz.
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- The Taste of Mark Morriss by Mark Morriss
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Former Bluetone Mark Morriss appears on the sleeve of this covers album dressed as poindexter from Hot Chip and the results within are similarly limp. The Bluetones may have been a serviceable Brit-pop outfit but Morriss's voice is a little thin for the type of easy listening he is attempting here. He's no Richard Hawley that's for sure but opener 'This Pullover' attempts that kind of rich, Northern melancholy.
He has interesting taste that's for sure - there are plenty of good songs here but listening to his takes on them just makes you yearn for the original. You would think OMD's 'Souvenir' would be unruinable but Morriss tries anyway with a weak country-lite approach and a clarinet solo. Whether it's Buffalo Springfield or Laura Branigan, each song is turned into a flimsy washed out pale imitation. The Rain Parade's excellent 'You Are My Friend' fares badly without the original's psychedelic overtones but R.E.M's beautiful 'Good Advices' is better as a kind of Charlatans-lite version, possibly because Morriss adds pace to the track and does a few things different (that said, he can't help but add a saxophone solo just as I was enjoying it).
Look, this is really only going to appeal to Bluetones fanatics so I'm not going to get all haughty about it. It's the singer from the Bluetones doing a covers album. It's not Scott Walker (as the lilting pub rock country of 'Duchess' proves) it just seems a shame to pick some good and interesting songs but then not to make them good or interesting.
6/10 SteveeeNash Customer review, 12th August 2015
Bluetones Mark Morriss returns with his third solo album, this time opting for a selection of covers. It's quite a bizarre selection in places to say the least opening with Jess Conrad's novelty hit This pullover, I'm unsure this song should ever be covered, it's novelty at it's very worst and Mark simply does was what Mark does in his style but this song can't be saved, not even Frank Sinatra could save it (IMO). He pays homage to Buffalo Springfield again (Expecting To Fly) with a reasonable run through Rock and Roll Woman, Mark's beautiful vocal tone suits this track perfectly.
He tackles OMD's Souvenir, again a song originally performed in such a style is difficult to radically alter unless you heavy metal or jazz it up, Mark's version is pleasant, sweet and nice enough but lacks the depth of the original.
Laura Branigan's Self Control fares much better, it's classic Mark, that beautiful vocal tones, the atmosphere builds verse by verse backed by smooth guitars and organ, it's a gem.
The country tinged version of Scott Walker's Duchess again is nice enough but lacks any edge or atmosphere of the original, a dangerous artist for anyone to cover. The same can be said of The Rain Parade's classic You Are My Friend, we are used to plenty of Rickenbacker action from The Bluetones but it's not here, it's too tame, the original was drenched in Rickenbackers but Mark hasn't done much here other than tone the song down, Mark's strength is that powerful soul in his voice but he's not delivering it here.
Just like This Pullover, The Sisters of Mercy's Lucretia (My Reflection) is a song few could really cover and do justice to and I don't really think Mark does, it's too mellow, the tinkling piano, the semi acoustic sounding guitars, it just doesn't get up there with the haunting depth of Andrew Eldritch's original.
Does Madonna's Angel fare better, yes it does, Mark gives it a bit more punch, he covers female songs better, The Bluetones did a fine version of Phyllis Nelson's Move Closer many years ago. He also gives The Jesus and Mary Chain's Almost gold a pleasant run out which contrasts the original nicely.
Pet Shop Boys Love Comes Quickly, loses me with the exception of the chorus. The original, like OMD's is so powerfully driven by synths trying much else would be hard to get right.
I am a Bluetones die hard, I also loved Mark's two solo albums but although I love that voice on anything he sings the style and vibe of some of these covers is too tame and maybe some of the selections are not quite suitable.
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