If there was any justice in the world then Memory Muscle from Mark Morriss would draw a line under his previous career as frontman of The Bluetones and allow him to start afresh.
It’s not that there is anything wrong with The Bluetones, but only that sometimes - and more often than I am comfortable with - the perception of an artist maintains focus on an era to the detriment of what they are doing in the present.
It makes it difficult for them to draw people along with them as their career progresses.
The problem is more one of the fan stalling on their appreciation, rather than that of the artist failing to live up to past glories though, and we can possibly see this outing as an example of that.
With it being a current release the sales figures will be slowly being revealed on a week by week basis, and there is no doubt that it will not be flying off the racks in the way that Expecting to Fly did, but it should do as it’s as good if not better in places.
And that is as it should be as we are now looking at virtually twenty more years of evolving musicianship and songwriting from him.
Basically people just need to be open to the possibility of that, and then let the music take root until they find some sort of newfound appreciation for it that isn’t linked directly to it being viewed through the nostalgic hue of rose tinted spectacles.
With Memory Muscle Mark isn’t simply treading water, and instead he is continuing his musical journey with a great deal of experience and nuanced panache.
He’s heralding a new dawn and hoping that those listening will understand that.
Of course with his recognisable voice we aren’t looking to make a great leap into the unknown, and those who have enjoyed his output over the years are not being asked to put some faith in his own metal machine music, but rather the hope will be that they will appreciate the shading applied and enjoy the evolution of the material.
It’s without a doubt an accomplished release and one that I can whole heartedly recommend to fans old and new.
Worth mentioning is the addition of a nicely reworked version of Alcoholiday the Teenage Fanclub track, and Lee Hazelwoods My Autumn Done Come, with both helping to round out an already impressive body of work.
PS - Just had to go over that and change Bluebells to Bluetones. I need a proof reader.