Mark Morriss – ‘The Taste Of Mark Morriss.’ (Acid Jazz)
It’s a bit of a shock, to be honest, for this self-confessed ageing indie kid to realise it’s now twenty years since Mark Morriss first appeared as frontman of The Bluetones. They’re about to embark on an anniversary tour, but in the meantime he’s releasing his third solo album, The Taste Of Mark Morriss.
According to the press release, this is Morriss selecting his ‘favourite “blast from the past” songs that helped to form his musical tastes and shape the songwriting abilities we all know and love, picked them apart and re-invented them with his own flair.’ It has to be noted that the album does not get off to a promising start, with its cover of Jess Conrad’s ‘This Pullover.’ Whilst this song was reportedly voted in the top ten of Kenny Everett’s Worst Records list, it’s hard to know exactly why it’s here. It’s so exasperatingly twee it’s enough to make The Pastels and Belle & Sebastian want to grate kittens.
There are, however, some excellent songs here which Morriss’s reworkings do justice to. So The Sisters of Mercy’s 1988 single ‘Lucretia My Reflection’ manages to show that it can lose the bass riff which underpinned it and come up smiling. Meanwhile his take on Laura Brannigan’s 1984 hit ‘Self Control’ shows that that song was always pretty dark underneath that glossy eighties production.
Perhaps what surprises the most are his covers of Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’s ‘Souvenir’ which manages to be almost as lovely as the original, minus the synths and the darkness he brings to Madonna’s ‘Angel’ as if to balance up de-gothing the Sisters of Mercy elsewhere on the album.
Overall, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. It’s fun and no doubt selected tracks of these will do the rounds of people making lists of interesting covers. It doesn’t stand up as well as some other albums comprised completely of covers (thinking of Bowie’s Pin-Ups or Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Through The Looking Glass), but there’s some fun to be had here.
The Taste of Mark Morriss is released by Acid Jazz on July 31.