• Bluebells
  • The Bluebells EP (Sire) 1983 
  • Sisters (Sire) 1984 
  • The Singles Collection (Japan. Deram) 1991  (UK London) 1993 
  • Second (UK Vinyl Japan) 1992 
  • Young at Heart (Fr. Star) 1993 
  • Exile on Twee Street (Songs From Glasgow 1980-1982) (UK Cherry Red) 2014 
  • McCluskey Brothers
  • Aware of All (Thrush) 1987 

In a brief career, Glasgow’s rustic pure-pop Bluebells — whose small output was concentrated on singles made with a procession of producers — never had anywhere near the impact their marvelous music plainly deserved. Guitarist and ex-fanzine publisher Robert Hodgens (aka Bobby Bluebell) wrote instantly memorable classics (some in collaboration with the two brothers who completed the Bluebells’ essential troika) and Kenneth McCluskey sang ’em in a likably unaffected voice, making every track count. The five-song EP and the Sisters album have three songs in common (Brendan Behan’s moving folk classic, “The Patriot’s Game,” the beautiful and romantic “Cath” and different versions of “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool”), all of them winners. Sisters also boasts “I’m Falling (Down Again)” and six others, all subtly shaded with country fiddles and mandolins, ringing guitars, a light bouncy beat and choruses that you’ll be humming all the way home. Utterly wonderful.

After the Bluebells ended, brothers Kenneth (vocals) and David (drums) McCluskey picked up different instruments, formed a duo and continued to record airy originals with more of a folky feel and none of Hodgens’ power pop leanings. Bluebells bassist Laurence Donegan, meanwhile, joined Lloyd Cole’s Commotions, changed the spelling of his first name and then left music, wrote a bunch of books and became a full-time journalist.

With significant assistance from guitarist Ali MacLeod and former Smith Craig Gannon, Hodgens and the McCluskeys released another smashing album in the early ’90s. In the irreligious and occasionally vengeful Second, “Sweet Jesus” directs stinging criticism at someone (“when your time comes, you’ll pay”), while the refrain of the bouncy, almost funky “God Forgives You” ends with “but know that I never will.” Older, maybe wiser, less joyful but no less appealing, Second is a handsomely produced beauty, filled with winning melodies, sparkling guitar music, winsome singing and fine harmonies.

Young at Heart is a live set; Exile on Twee Street and The Singles Collection are best-ofs.

[Ira Robbins]