Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Ocean Colour Scene - Marchin' Already (1997)

  

Released on 15 September 1997

Running time 44.47

This was Ocean Colour Scene's third album, and probably the last one they got away with before the music media and the the public turned on them as they did with other bands like Sleeper. Even more so with Ocean Colour Scene, I was at a loss to understand what they did wrong. Their albums, and particularly this one, are quirkily appealing creations, full of all sorts of influences and a myriad of styles. They were instrumentally extremely competent and inventive and their albums are always worth several listens. There is so much beneath the surface. What there also is, sometimes, is, despite a deep bass sound, is a bit of tinniness in the production.

TRACK LISTING

1. Hundred Mile City
2. Better Day
3. Travellers Tune
4. Big Star
5. Debris Road
6. Besides Yourself
7. Get Blown Away
8. Tele He's Not Talking
9. Foxy's Folk Faced
10. All Up
11. Spark And Cindy
12. Half A Dream Away
13. It's A Beautiful Thing                             

"Hundred Mile City" kicks off the album off with a magnificently vibrant, frenetic piece of psychedelic riffy rock. It is packed with all sorts of freaky sounds, man. There is something of Thin Lizzy to it. "Better Day" is a George Harrison-esque slow rock ballad with a lovely bass line and that late sixties Beatles influence all over it. Singer Simon Fowler had that somewhat (comparatively) weak, reedy voice that Harrison had. It also (predictably) has some strong Paul Weller influences in there too. There is also a progginess to it that reminds me of Supertramp, would you believe. "Travellers Tune" is a lively piece of acoustic and electric rock with a Ronnie Lane feel to it. "Big Star" is an attractive quite slow number with some infectious percussion and another sumptuous bass line. The vocal is one of those popular in the late nineties. Del Amitri had a similar-sounding vocalist.


"Debris Road" has bassist Damon Minchella on top form once again. There is a real seventies vibe about it. "Besides Yourself" is a plaintive, mainly acoustic ballad with more Harrison/ Beatles influence. "Get Blown Away" has lots of sixties psychedelic vibes to it, more Beatles and maybe even a bit of early Bowie. Ocean Colour Scene were definitely very derivative but they knew how to use their influences well.

The strangely-titled "Tele He's Not Talking" is another dreamy pice of late sixties rock stuff given a powerful nineties makeover. It has a nice piece of sharp acoustic guitar soloing in the middle. "Foxy's Folk Faced" is a short, unsurprisingly, folky piece of fun.

"All Up" is a delicious piece of jazzy, funked-up piano-driven instrumental, sort of Traffic meets The Style Council. I love this. "Spark And Cindy" is an acoustic-driven but muscular number that reminds me, again, of Supertramp, instrumentally. The big acoustic intro sounds like "Give a little Bit". "Half A Dream Away" is similarly quirky and dreamily hippy in many ways. "It's A Beautiful Thing" is a soulful ballad featuring the classic sixties voice of P. P. Arnold sharing vocal leads with Fowler.

Overall this is an album that is very difficult to categorise, so varied are its sounds and influences. It merits several listens before you start to get it, so to speak.

B-

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