Friday, September 02, 2011

FDF Volume 3 Issue 238 - Peter Murphy - Holy Smoke

By: March

Album – Holy Smoke
Artist – Peter Murphy
Key Players – Eddie Branch – bass. Peter Bonas – lead and acoustic guitars. Terl Bryant – Drums and percussion. Paul Statham – keyboards, acoustic guitars. Peter Murphy – vocals, guitar, keyboard
Produced By – Mike Thorne and Peter Murphy

Release Date - April 14,1992

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I have been a very casual fan of his work. I don't have many of his solo records but I heard a track by him recently and it got me to thinking it was time to have another listen.

Overview – Peter Murphy was born near Northampton, England in 1957. He fronted the goth band “Bauhaus” and was soon pegged with the moniker, “Godfather of Goth”. Bauhaus disbanded in 1983 (for the first time) and Murphy tried his hand at acting and dance and then formed a band called “Dali's Car”. That band would only release one record. Murphy would struggle in his native country, but would slowly gain momentum with US audiences. This was his fourth solo release

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – The lead off track “Keep Me From Harm” has a chant going for the first 30 seconds or so before the bass and drums start. Murphy seems light on his vocal delivery and the cheerful piano from Statham helps. Branch seems to work the bass well and he plays well with drummer Bryant. Statham has some nice fills and is the instrumental highlight throughout. “Kill the Hate” opens with a calm slapped bass from Branch. The guitars ring a delay over the bass and Murphy's deep baritone grabs you right away. It is a slow to grow song. The bass and guitar lead the way with some percussion instruments before Bryant rumbles across the kit to get things a little more uptempo. Murphy won't stain too hard and he doesn't need to. All the instruments are layered nicely with no one instrument being the dominant focus. Statham puts down a heavy church organ sounding portion towards the end as the song begins to wrap up. We start with keyboard once more on
“You're So Close”. After a quick intro the keyboards get a little more colorful. The ambient vibe then brings in the bass and guitar. The drums seem to be focused on just the bass drum. After a bit of a tease the band comes in and the vocals begin. Bonas has a very nice full guitar sound on this track with the backing vocals and harmonies being strong points as well. The band seems to really gel as the track progresses with some nice layers on the vocals, and the band just growing together. No guitar solo, no off the chart drum part, just perfect with in the context here. The track that was a single comes in “The Sweetest Drop”. Keyboards flutter and guest vocalist Alison Limerick offers up some light coo's before the deep baritone from Murphy rumbles. As the chorus approaches after the first verse he seems to really push himself. He is not going out of range, but seems to push himself more. Branch finds a nice groove in his bass line. In the later verse/chorus Murphy works in tandem with Limerick. She doesn't take the lead but offers a compliment to Murphy. The first guitar solo comes as Bonas puts some light effects on this guitar, but it is not a flashy run. Branch and Bryant also keep things in check before Limerick comes in with a few more howls. It maintains this feel for the final minute or so of the track as it starts to fade. Bonas strikes his guitar with choopy, but suppressed notes at the start of “Low Room”. The start of the track finds the band seemingly chomping to get started. Bryant pounds a note here, thee the next time, then two. The full band comes in almost at the one minute mark before Murphy starts the vocals. It has a twangy feel to it almost, but it not country by any means, just has that “feel” for some reason. Branch finds a pocket with the bass and Bonas is careful with his guitar fills but the two continue to be spot on. There are times the track seems to stray from the course, but they all quickly come back on task. Murphy seems urgent on the track, with the guitars ringing his sentiment with short choppy rings. “Let Me Love You” has a cool guitar intro, simple, but it hits you right in the brain. Statham offers up ambient fills as the only other instrument as Murphy sings the entire first verse. This is a formula that is kept with Branch coming in later, but the drums don't ever really take off. Bells, or chimes, ring before Bonas come up on guitar at the start of “Our Secret Garden”. After a few bars the bass and drums come in. They keep pace and Statham puts in some short keyboard fills but nobody is really pushing the track forward. It seems to find it's comfort zone early and then Murphy begins to sing. Murphy sounds good and is really the focus on the track as the band seems to sit back. Statham seems to be higher in the mix with his keyboard fills, but they are not flashy and seem to fit just fine with the tempo and feel of the track. “Dream Gone By” has a more uptempo, rock intro. There appears to be both acoustic and electric guitars and the drums punch right through them. This feels like the quickest song on the record, but it is hardly “blazing”. Murphy is in fine form and the acoustic guitar adds a nice touch to the electric guitar parts. This sets up the good guitar solo, even if it is after a sort of campy “counting lyrics” portion. The solo is long and the acoustic adds even more a bite. The album concludes with “Hit Song” another slower, yet big sounding track. Branch, Bonas and Bryant hold back. Murphy pushes along pretty well and gets some backing vocal help. Bonas finds his groove with some delayed guitar fills while Bryant keeps everyone in check with on the spot timekeeping. Bryant gives it a big stadium floor drum “boom” before Murphy comes with the chorus for a “lighter in the air” moment. There is a tenth (hidden track) that is about 40 seconds long of the same“oohs/ahhs” that open the are not missing anything.

Where are they now? - Murphy was part of a few Bauhaus reunion tours as well as a new release from the band in 2008 called “Go Away White”. (The band would break up again before the actual release). Murphy has released many solo albums and his most recent “Ninth” came out in 2011. He has released tracks via his website as well. According to his site he is on tour (see links). Murphy, who has lived in Turkey for the last 20 years, is a Vegan, Muslim and father of two children.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – I have not seen Murphy as a solo artist. I did see him fronting Bauhaus on a reunion tour November 13, 2005 at the Orpheum in Boston.

FDF Overall Take – Murphy has a great voice. Really its pretty awesome. He doesn't have this soaring vocal style, but its deep and full and really pulls you in. He surrounds himself with strong musicians as well which adds to it. The tracks are okay on this album. The single(s) are good some stuff seems to go on just a bit too long, but overall its a decent record. You'd be able to find this in the cheap rack at your local shop. A deal for sure.


Official Site
Twitter Feed
Peter on Facebook
And, a good old myspace page

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

Let me Love You – Audio only

You can still find the album, here is one place


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