A Rough Outline in its own words
Are The Bluetones a great band? I think so, but that might a a minority opinion. Did they put out some great music? Definitely. It helps if you have an ear for irony and the love of a jangly tune. I got hold of a copy of A Rough Outline, their singles and B-sides as of about 2003. They’ve done some good stuff since, but this is a great collection, and not rendered redundant by owning the albums. The 3cd set is the winner — I would not want to be without “Persuasion” or “The Bluetones Big Score”, though not everything on that disc is gold.
You’d expect a mix of B-sides and singles to be pretty diverse, and it is, from spoken word to instrumental to electronic noise.
I’m not going to review, I’m going to let the songs speak for themselves by picking a line or two from each (at least, from the ones written by the band).
Disc 1: The Singles
“Are You Blue or Are You Blind?” – 2:56
Smile again for me
As if you’re going to say
Nothing could have done all this
Then gone away
“Bluetonic” – 4:05
When I am sad and weary
When all my hope is gone
I walk around my house and think of you with nothing on
“Slight Return” – 3:21
You don’t have to have the solution, you’ve got to invest in the problem.
And don’t go hoping for a miracle.
“Cut Some Rug” – 4:36
Seems like you’re always a million miles away
As far as I’m concerned that’s where you can stay
“Castle Rock” – 3:09
I’m lying in your arms
I’m lying to your face
“Marblehead Johnson” – 3:22
Tonight we’re not gonna solve anything.
“Solomon Bites the Worm” – 3:08
Pack up your troubles now take
All you can carry
“If…” – 5:08
It’s all that I can do to sing these stupid songs to you.
I give up half my time just trying to think of words that rhyme.
“Sleazy Bed Track” – 4:37
Your pills have cost too much.
And you can’t feel them working any more.
So pour them all right down the sink.
“4-Day Weekend” – 3:57
Lets forget about the questions
We’ve been dragging ’round for years
Clear this smoky air between us
And shed no tears
“Keep the Home Fires Burning” – 3:30
That man who would save us,
From the hurt the world brings,
Neglected to mention,
Who would save us from him
“Autophilia (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Car)” – 5:02
She comes in 16 colours,
She’ll suck your money dry,
Gives shitty mileage,
But come on lets get inside.
“Mudslide” – 4:23
How’m I gunna get my white shirt clean?
“After Hours” – 3:34
Lord only knows what kind of poison I’m drinking
I can’t read the label
So I’ll just dance off my cares like Fred Astaire
Up here on the table
“Fast Boy” – 2:59
I’m a fast boy
I’m on the guest list
I’ve got a gram of joy
Wrapped in a clenched fist
“Liquid Lips” – 3:05
Maybe your kind of face just ain’t in season
“Never Going Nowhere” – 4:14
I keep my thoughts in little boxes
Disc 2: The B-Sides
“String Along” – 3:56
I forgo my pride
“Colorado Beetle” – 3:59
I shan’t close my eyes tonight,
I’m gonna look at you instead,
And when at last you sleep my love,
I’m gonna smash your lying head.
“Nae Hair On’t” – 2:47
It doesn’t get any better, alone.
“The Devil Behind My Smile” – 3:02
You think that everything’s all right,
I think you might be wrong,
“Nifkin’s Bridge” – 5:16
Where is the child that was to teach us how to fly?
“The Simple Things” – 4:20
Thought that time was a healer,
But now you feel the days starting to ache
“I Was a Teenage Jesus” – 3:15
I knew a teenage Jesus,
I bought into the dream,
He had the coolest sandals,
That I have ever seen,
“I Walked All Night” – 2:21 (Hargus “Pig” Robbins)
“Blue Shadows” – 2:38 (Randy Newman)
“Blue” – 3:00 (Rain Parade)
“Pretty Ballerina” – 2:52 (The Left Banke)
“Armageddon (Outta Here)” – 3:36
Student 2: You don’t need fake ID, you look about thirty.
Student 3: Exactly. This gets me child fare on the buses.
“The Favourite Son” – 3:18
The days of our lives are but leaves in the wind,
Collected and binned
“Be Careful What You Dream” – 3:11
Some wounds don’t heal,
They’re designed to let you know,
That you must be careful what you dream.
“Vostok of Love” – 3:19
With just an elegant flick of her wrist,
I was made to realise that I could never exist,
She brushed me aside and tapped off her ash,
And my life went up like the head of a match.
“Zero Tolerance” – 3:48
I realised that the people I’d known all my life,
My family and friends, were all just like strange little islands.
“Keep the Home Fires Burning” [U.S. version] – 3:19
And those home fires burn,
Scorching a hole through me,
And I am welcome no more.
“Fock Da Brain Hole” – 3:01
This ain’t no east side,
This ain’t the west side,
This ain’t the south side,
Where the fuck are we?
“Groovy Roussos” – 3:08
Remember your words they’re tattooed in my brain,
You said never apologise, never explain,
And so who’s sorry now, who’s sorry now.
“Reverse Cow Girl” – 3:42 (Instrumental)
“Suffer in Silence” – 2:35
Every night I retire to the same chair,
By a phone that’s attached to the wall,
And I hope that no one will call,
“Pram Face” – 3:14
I offered my heart to the pram faced girl
Disc 3: More B-Sides (Limited Edition release only)
I’ve said goodbye so many times,
It’s as easy as breathing
“Glad To See Y’Back Again?”
I’ve said too much,
But I’ve far to much to say,
“Don’t Stand Me Down”
I know all about magic baby, you see I taught myself,
And I’ve got tonnes of the stuff on my bedroom shelf,
And that’s the end of this transmission,
“The Ballad of Muldoon”
Play the game, co-operate,
When it suits your mood
“Mr. Soul” (Buffalo Springfield)
“Please Stop Talking”
There’s so much to admire about you,
I like you as a friend or a pet,
But each time that you open your mouth,
It spoils the whole effect.
“Thought You’d Be Taller”
Never meet your heroes, they’ll always let you down,
They’re just as shallow as you or me,
Or worse than that, they’re clowns,
“It’s a Boy”
I really do hope that it’s a girl,
But a little knob would really do the job,
“Soup du Jour”
And in good time you may find that in this song I got it wrong.
“Mudslide” (Shandy Weather version)
There’s a mudslide,
A mile wide brown tide a bona-fide mudslide,
And what’s the odds that you’re enjoying one right now?
From the comfort of your favourite easy couch.
“Sail On Sailor” (The Beach Boys)
“Woman in Love” (Barbra Streisand)
“Move Closer” (Phyllis Nelson)
“Beat on the Brat” (Ramones)
Everyone get down like the chief of the funk train leaving and jump.
With a little persuasion, with a little finesse,
I’ll comply with any lie you’re happy to express.
“Freeze Dried Pop (Dumb it Up)”
We don’t want Mozart or that old Ludwig Van,
Give us freeze dried pop in a can,
“The Bluetones Big Score”
Was that a bird call or was it a signal?
“That’s Life” (Frank Sinatra)