REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

'The Taste Of Mark Morriss' Is Simply Wonderful

Old Subbacultcha

Old Subbacultcha

Totally intrigued by this one, I must admit. I used to love The Bluetones back in my uni days, and was curious to learn that frontman Mark Morriss was to release a second solo album featuring an eclectic mix of covers - all of which he has selected as having special relevance to his songwriting career and which have shaped his musical direction.

Mark Morriss Album

Glancing at the track listings, I could tell straightaway that this was going to be an interesting one. Artists as diverse as The Sisters of Mercy, Madonna and Weezer all get a look in, as do some less familiar sounds of the sixties and seventies.

So I settle down and have a bit of an experience to say the least. Immediately clear on the first track is that this is the voice of Mark Morriss. It’s so distinctive and was one of the reasons that The Bluetones were a favourite of mine. The song itself “This Pullover” (a 60s tune by Jess Conrad) is a bit of a bizarre choice, coming up as it does in all sorts of top tens and buzzfeeds as one of the worst records of all time.

Lyrically, it’s cheesier than Alex James at a Tom Badcock cheese talk wearing my daughter’s cheesy trainers while harbouring a Russian cheese smuggler under the table. But Mark somehow pulls it off and it’s suddenly undeniably endearing.

Track four takes me way off down memory lane; I was nine when “Self Control” was first released by Laura Branigan, and Mark’s minor-key and melancholic take on this is a nice change to the flash-dancy, legwarmers and fingerless gloves period of the 80s.

In another one from the same era, Mark manages to put an almost New Order/Depeche Mode spin on the frothy pop of Madonna’s “Angel”. Not sure about the way Mark’s voice comes across on the chorus of this one, but it’s an interesting arrangement.

Moving on in time to the late 80s, we get Mark covering “Lucretia (My Reflection)” which started life as a cold, industrial Sisters of Mercy track…well not anymore! Mark’s dressed this one up in a delicate, light, almost ‘Tubular Bells’ kind of a way. It sounds like it should be awful but it actually works well. It’s a complete contrast to the original, and it strikes me that if you’re going to take a song and cover it, you really need to try to make it your own, as Mark does with each of the songs he’s chosen.

One that doesn’t stray too far from the path is Weezer’s “Don’t Let Go”, but Mark’s intonation and phrasing on this makes it sound like it could have been one by The Bluetones back in the day. And I suppose that’s why I’ve listened all the way through a set of songs that really don’t have anything in common, except for Mark’s unique (Blue) tone reassuringly holding it all together. As soon as it’s over, I’ve got “Expecting to Fly” lined up immediately and can’t wait for the anniversary tour taking place later on in the year! To find out more about Mark Morriss,
click here. To visit his Facebook page,
click here. Words by Mary Long.