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Released: 26th November 2001.

Blue - All RiseSo, the next big thing, eh? The combination of baggy leather trousers and "selecta" attitude enough to carry them over the heads of their boy band rivals and into a nation of adoring young fans' hearts? Well, maybe. "All Rise" the album contains more than a smattering of decent tunes, and, on CD at least, they certainly sound alright.

Encouragingly, the three singles don't seem to be all of the tracks that are chart and radio friendly. "This Temptation", "Fly By", "Back To You" (which has more than a hint of 'NSync about it) and maybe "Best In Me" all have potential.

As far as ballad-watch is concerned, the three present here only fit the mould loosely: all have a beat, and are all relatively upbeat compared to what their Irish counterparts would generally opt for. Lyrically, "Long Time" begins to stray into treacle territory: "The warmth in your smile/Is the warmth that I desire", but "Best In Me" could well emerge as a classic of our boy band times.

So, guilty as charged? Well, it looks like they may be up to the job. While avoiding the MOR nature of Westlife, but not going for the full-on craziness of 'NSync's new material, Blue may have, unbelievably, unearthed a new niche in the pop market.

Genuine talent is difficult to assess until we see some proper live performance, but if they can continue to attract decent songwriters and producers, maybe they're "not guilty" of their "another rubbish boy band" tag after all. No further questions, your honour.

* * * * (Simon Owen)

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