I asked if any fans of The Bluetones would like to share their Expecting To Fly stories with me and of course they did! I’m very pleased to be able to share these wonderful words with you on why the band means so much to so many people. Thanks to everyone who sent in their story, it was my pleasure to read them.
Katie De Marinis – I had just got my first proper Saturday job, whilst at sixth form, cleaning the restaurant at the local KFC. I used my first pay packet to buy Expecting To Fly.
I spent subsequent weekends with Cut Some Rug stuck in my head ALL THE TIME. It was bittersweet because of the whole ‘Blitzkrieg and the Doodlebug, salt upon a bubbling slug’ affair. I couldn’t make out the lyrics and they weren’t included on the tape insert (which smelled absolutely wonderful!). Argh!
By the way, The Fountainhead; superb!
Emma Carter (and Leon) – I first discovered The Bluetones July 1995 after seeing them at Roundhay Park Leeds Heineken festival alongside Sleeper- Menswear- Pulp et al). I loved them from that moment.
I was 20 and had just met my boyfriend Leon (he was in the army). The Following December Leon was deployed to Bosnia on an IFOR peace keeping tour for six months. Even today hearing Slight Return reminds me of the excitement of looking forward to his R&R due in the April. He bought me the album during that R&R break from Woolworth’s in Scarborough! We still have the CD copy (and a taped version that he took back to Bosnia to listen to on his Walkman).
We’ve listened to it countless times over the last 20 years and it’s a favourite of our 4 young children. I’ve been lucky to have been to many Bluetones gigs over the past two decade: Leeds 2000, The Slade Rooms Wolves, Brum for the Farewell Tour. I’ve been fortunate to have met Mark on the odd occasion too (however, he knows me as Fleurs mum thanks to my daughter making a YouTube Littlest Pet Shop vid of his Maggie Got her bounce back ditty !) Cheers for 20 years of Expecting To Fly!
Ann Denham – I can’t remember exactly when I first heard The Bluetones (sometime in 1995), but I was instantly addicted to their sound and image (if they really had an image). When I bought it I loved Expecting To Fly as soon as I played it (and still do) and would get really cross when I heard people say it was ‘disappointing’. In my opinion, it is THE most underrated debut album of all time as are The Bluetones THE most underrated band of all time. So much talent and personality. I defy anyone not to want to be mates with them! I was a hairdresser at the time and whenever I played ETF I just thought, how cool would it be to be their hairdresser! This album has lifted my spirit so many times over the years and brought many a tear to my eye. They have been wafting through my home for 20 years, it feels as though I know them. To summarize, I love The Bluetones and everything about them!! I’m welling up just thinking about it!!
Lee Rainford – The Bluetones will always have a special place on the Rainford mantlepiece. Once we were in a lift in a Travelodge (the glamour!)in Liverpool and Mark Morriss came in. Cue double take and chat about where he’d been and we’d been. We mentioned not being able to get tickets for Preston the next night, and bang we were on the guest list and enjoyed such a cool gig at 53 degrees.
But cooler for me personally, I moved to Haarlem in the Netherlands in 2014 and was settling into the city when one Mark Morriss was down to play the local acoustic night in my first week in the city. So I got to hang and chat and we were lucky to get some of the Bluetones classics – because at the time he was tending to tour his solo stuff only. So Home Fires, Bluetonic and Slight Return all got an outing. Hardly anyone there knew who he was except a couple of hardcores! So glad they’re back.
So, I bought the CD and somewhat tragically a duffle coat and though I’d like to say I was a huge fan from that day onward the truth is that after a while it was just another album on the shelf. I played it a handful of times then let it gather dust for 10 years or so.So, roll on to about 2005 and I’d reached a stage in my life where I was finally driving better equipped cars. Cars that had central locking, air conditioning, and most importantly CD players. One day I picked out Expecting to Fly and it’s no word of a lie to say that it’s not been out since. It’s the one album from the ’90s that I’ve played and played and played and haven’t tired of yet.So, that’s me. Horribly late to the party. I’m just glad they’re back together and touring, providing a soundtrack to my midlife crisis. Bless them.
Lorraine Stevens – 20 years ago met a lovely guy just when I needed to. We had lots in common including a love of The Bluetones amongst other things. He would occasionally leave me hand written notes with Bluetones lyrics that made him think of me. Sweet. Expecting to Fly was played A LOT!
We separated after about 3 years and both have families of our own, but we are the best of friends and go to see Mark Morriss and The Bluetones together when we can. When we split, Putting Out Fires really felt like our song and last September 24th (his birthday) we went to see the Bluetones in London. When they played our song we just stood and held hands. The Bluetones were part of the best years of my life and I just love them.
Ian Blinkhorn – I first discovered the band at the end of 1995/start of 1996 (around the time of the release of Bluetonic) at a friend’s house who had both the first two singles. We listened to them over and over and I loved the sound, so I went straight out and bought the Bluetonic Single (£3.99 from HMV).
I bought Expecting to Fly (and everything they’ve ever released since – yes I’m the one person that pre ordered My Neighbours house!), but I couldn’t find a copy of Are You Blue Or Are You Blind anywhere! This was pre eBay/iTunes etc, when you had to have the physical copy, so the only choice was trawl though record shops in towns across the north west over and over looking for a little known single by a cult Britpop band.
Finally, around 5 years later I came across two copies in Vinyl Exchange in Manchester and I couldn’t get the money out of my pocket fast enough. I bought both, (one as a birthday present for a friend in the same position as me with everything else but the first single). They were £15 each, (for a three track single) and I didn’t think twice, (as a teenager £30 was a lot of money to me).
A few years ago, I got Mark to sign the single for me (It’s still one of my most prized possessions), and I showed him the receipt. To say he was shocked at the price paid was an understatement!
Anyway, I’ve followed to the band (and solo Mark) for so many years, and as you see, my twitter name, (and username on pretty much everything else, xbox etc), harks back to the Bluetonic single – @Colorado_Beetle. The Fountainhead off ETF is still my favourite song and I whoop with delight when the Band play it a gigs! #BluetonesBliss
Mark Whitworth – In late 1995 I was in the early stages of my year abroad in Strasbourg as part of my French degree. (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? was released in October 1995 and it had been a constant companion on my Heath Robinson-esque Sony-Discman-hooked-up-to-cheapest-possible-stereo combo ever since, occasionally interspersed with other Britpop staples such as Ash, Pulp and Cast.
I can’t say I can remember where or when I first heard the Bluetones. I’ve had to dig out my Guinness Book of Hit Singles to even give myself a chance of having a vague guess, but it was clearly around this time, and I’m pretty sure the first song of theirs I heard was Slight Return, which hit the charts in early February.
Not long afterwards I asked my mum to send me out the CD singles of Slight Return and its predecessor Bluetonic, which she kindly did despite her embarrassment at having to go into HMV and ask for something that wasn’t The Bee Gees or Elvis. In common with seemingly a lot of bands of the era, the B-sides here were just as good the title tracks, Don’t Stand Me Down and Colorado Beetle being prime examples.
So, when the debut album, Expecting To Fly, was released in February 1996, I was naturally going to get hold of a copy. France has a magnificent chain store called FNAC, similar to Saturn in Germany, which is effectively a massive Curry’s/PC World/Waterstones/HMV and much more in a single building. This is where I got most of my music during this year, although with the terrible exchange rate meaning a CD cost between £15-20, this wasn’t a huge amount.
I can still remember the original French promo label on the front (I don’t have this original any more as I replaced it with the expanded edition a couple of years ago), which mentioned something along the lines of “The Bluetones have been elevated to the first rank of British music”. That’s good enough for me, I thought. And do you know what? I thought it was terrible. Couldn’t get into it at all. How the hell did this manage to knock Oasis off Number 1?! Two decent singles and a load of rubbish. So that was it, it sat on the shelf for a fair old while.
I did a copy for my then girlfriend, a fellow Britpop lover who loved the previous two singles, to see what she thought and her reaction was “he’s got a real problem with someone hasn’t he?”. I clearly hadn’t listened to the lyrics closely enough the first time . She certainly had a point!
I can’t recall how long it had been when I decided to give it another airing. But whenever it was, it clearly grew on me, and grew, and grew a bit more. I certainly remember playing it to death on the bus to and from work that summer, and constantly on night shifts (when I could get the tape player off the whizzed-up happy hardcore brigade).
How could I have been so wrong? From the opening 7-minute epic Talking to Clarry, through the mighty Bluetonic and Carn’t Be Trusted, the oh-so-nearly Number 1 Slight Return, the beautiful Putting Out Fires (Mrs W’s fave track) to the sublime closer Time & Again, there isn’t a bad song on it. I’ve no idea what I was thinking when I first heard it – must have been quite a session on the aperitifs the previous night.
While I think the Bluetones have since written many, even finer, songs, I think this is definitely their best and most consistent album. It’s the album of theirs I play most often (and I’ve still got the sheet music book which I’m staggered to see is going for £180 on Amazon!) They are the live band I’ve seen the most, getting on for 20-odd times, and it was this album that started the love affair. It’s just hard to believe that it’s 20 years old next week. As if I wasn’t feeling old enough already.
Stuart Evans – Expecting To Fly became the soundtrack to my first year as a twenty something. Slight Return was the song that EVERYONE danced to at Club X @ LA II on a Friday night and then upstairs at the Garage on a Saturday.
It is also the soundtrack that reminds me of my first proper relationship. Bluetonic was the opening song I put on a cassette for the girl in question, naturally I quoted ‘There’s no heart you can’t melt with a certain little smile’ it did the trick! A Parting Gesture will also forever remind me of the relationship, I’m sure you can work out why!
The album is a beautiful piece of indie/pop music, Mark’s harmonies, the jangly guitar genius from Adam, stomping bass lines from Scott and the backbone provided by Ed gave us a record that still sounds fresh today. Their live shows were a joy to behold (and still are) every track was sung along with gusto and belief from the adoring army of fans.
The summer of ’96 was the year football almost came home, Oasis at Knebworth, Britpop glowing and ruling the airwaves and this album is THE record that reminds me of the best summer of my life. No challenge should be faced without a little charm and a lot of style.