In 2014, 20 years after its initial release on Cherry Red Records, Wyatt Parkins of Saint Marie Records started a campaign and gathered enough money from fans of the band to re-release Blind Mr. Jones‘ second album Tatooine on colored vinyl and digital formats. I’d only seen the name of the band on a few shoegaze compilations and really had no idea what they were about. For a fan of early shoegaze I was surprised at the band’s obscurity and was intrigued to be given the chance to review their second and last album as a band. At first I was underwhelmed by the songs as at first they were quiet and midtempo almost to a song. But what I had at first mistook for quiet, after many listens I realized Blind Mr. Jones was all about the slow burn, the imperceptible buildup to searing and distorted guitars and drum bashing. The band deserves to be played loud.
Hey is that slow burn song, leading into the big pop song on Tatooine in Disneyworld, an upbeat ditty with wistful vocals and catchy melodies, and “duh duh duhs” that will have you singing along to the sunny and slightly sad song. On Viva Fisher the band gets serious, drawing you in with sighed vocals, slowly sawed strings, guitar effects and flute, your patient listening pays off three minutes in with an instrumental ending that recalls The Verve in their earliest psychedelic phase with Jon Tegner’s flute leading the charge. See You Again is more forthright, with upfront drums, almost angry vocals and guitars that jangle and buzz.
Drop For Days builds on a slow beat and syrupy bass buzz, before you know it there’s a melodic rise to the vocals and guitars and a bright and jangly lead lifting your spirits. Surfer Baby sounds like the band listened to The Cure and the song has echoes of A Forest‘s rhythmic groove, making for one funky song with some off kilter and woozy guitar jabs, tambourine and that cool shuffling beat. Please Me starts out ominously with thrumming bass and distant guitar squeals, then the distortion and volume kicks in for the loudest song on the album, swelling up and dipping down like waves of noise that is a joy to hear. Mesa closes the album with a galloping rhythm section, a guitar part played like Peter Hook, vocals that soar above the other instruments, cloudy and heavenly effects and a cathartic echoplexed ending.
While their first album Stereo Musicale showed a young band in love with the sounds around them (Ride, Swervedriver, Slowdive) the songs on Tatooine reveal a band creating a more distinct style. Thanks to Wyatt Parkins and fans the world over Blind Mr. Jones will get a second chance to inspire and entertain.
Blind Mr. Jones is: Richard Moore (vocals, guitar), James Franklin (guitar), Will Teversham (vocals, bass guitar), Jon White (drums) and Jon Tegner (flute).
(Review by Bret Miller)