Bluetones frontman Mark Morriss has been a busy boy of late. The singer and his former band mates recently announced they would be going back on the road to celebrate their twenty-year anniversary. And now Morriss has just released his brand new solo album, ‘The Taste Of Mark Morriss’ on Acid Jazz. Basically speaking it’s a covers album. Something I am often very sceptical about. Releasing your version or versions of other people’s work can often be done for all the wrong reasons. Sometimes by new artists who don’t have enough confidence in their own material, or by older artists, using well known songs to give a boost to a flailing career. But Morris isn’t either of these. The concept of this covers album is to put together songs by artists who have inspired him as an artist and a songwriter. Almost like taking a look into his mind, and seeing where he draws influences from. And it couldn’t be more of a mixed bag. With songs originally from artists as diverse as OMD and Sisters Of Mercy.
There are a couple of things you need to look at whilst making a good covers album. Firstly, song choice. There’s no point recording another version of ‘Let It Be’; there are already a million different attempts at it already. Morriss has been smart in his song choices in that there is nothing obvious about them. Okay, so there are songs by big pop acts such as Madonna and The Pet Shop Boys, but he has gone for little known early singles. There are songs on here that I had never heard before listening to this album. The second consideration is how you want to play these songs. Do you stay safe and play them as the original artist did, or completely deconstruct them and make something new?; potentially pissing off fans of the original. Morriss has gone somewhere in the middle. He has given each track a unique twist, whilst keeping loyal to the original melody.
His cover of eighties pop classic ‘Self Control’ (originally by Laura Brannigan) is a great update of a track that whilst still great is a little dated. On ‘Angel’, he adds a depth an emotion to what was originally one of Madonna’s more throw away pop tracks. The Pet Shop Boys song ‘Love Comes Quickly’ sheds the synth pop sound of the original and gives it a more organic, live sound. But whilst giving these songs a new sound, he treats them delicately so as not to take away the heart and soul that made him love them in the first place. And he obviously does have a love for them.
I got to see him playing live and acoustically supporting She’d seven a couple of years ago, and he is obviously still a very talented vocalist and performer. Those reunion gigs with his former band are going to be good, and this album will keep fans more than happy until then. It’s great to have him back.