Friday, August 29, 2014

FDF Volume 3 Issue 349 - Morphine - YES

Album - Yes
Artist - Morphine
Key Players – Billy Conway – drums. Dana Colley – baritone sax. Mark Sandman – 2 string slide bass, vocals.

Produced By – Marks Sandman and Paul Q. Kolderie

Release Date – March 25, 1995

Overview - This is the third studio album from the Boston band “Morphine”. Formed in 1989 the trio blended jazz and alternative rock. Using non conventional lead instruments the band carved out a niche. They were more successful over seas, but this album was their first to crack the Billboard top 200. The band would build a niche audience and actually become very popular outside the United States. The sudden passing of Mark Sandman halted the band in their tracks.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – The albums 12 songs track out to just 37 minutes. Opening with
"Honey White"   the band sets that tone right away..a very unique sound with a baritone (in a rock band) being such a dominate instrument. Conway settles a great back beat and Sandman and Colley just rumble with the bass that finds a both swing and kick to it. Sandman doesn't have a ton of vocal range on the track, but his voice is perfect for the layers of bass being used. With just two strings on his bass Sandman has a pretty cool intro on “Scratch” and then Colley comes right up. The track is a bit more laid back than the opener, but the groove on the track is infectious. Colley gets a bit more of a showcase on the track and your toes will be tapping along with your head bobbing. He nails it. “Radar” has a bit more a dual layer with Sandman and Colley at the intro. Conway never really opens up huge, but holds that back beat. Sandman has another cool bass intro on “Whisper” and Conway eases back as does Colley who almost whispers his notes, but spreads out mid song with a soaring solo.  “Yes” is another departure for the band. They change it up on each track it seems. A bit more smooth, but still a funky rumble of a track while a track like “All Your Way” just grabs you with the bass line and baritone sax. It always grabs you, but the band will change from a hard punch to a smooth groove to grab your attention. “Super Sex” as the title would imply is a track with a bit more of a drive to it with swirling bass lines and quivering saxophone sections. “I Had My Chance” slows it down with Sandman having the lead and Conway in no rush. Colley then comes in and its enough to give you chills. The swell of it all is grand. “The Jury” intro sounds like something Tim Burton would use in one of his films. There is a spoken word intro but the bass guitar has a “watery” sound to it and Colley sounds busy, but its not overpowering. We get a rock-a-billy intro with "Sharks" . When Sandman is singing the band lays back, but once its their turn to play it all takes off. “Free Love” has much of the same feel as sharks, a bit plodding at times, but the band continues to alter their sound on each track. Wrapping up with “Gone For Good” the band takes a real departure. Mark plays an acoustic guitar and the vocals are very hushed, almost just a man and his guitar.

Where are they now? - On July 3, 1999 Sandman collapsed on stage while performing in Italy. He was pronounced dead of a heart attack and the band disbanded. Following Sandmans death Colley and Conway set up “Orchestra Morphine” a band set up to tour and celebrate Marks life, as well as raise funds for the Mark Sandman Music Education Fund”. Conway and Colley also worked with former Face to Face lead singer Laurie Sargent to form “Twinemen”. The two have also worked in management and production and got together again in 2009 as “Members of Morphine”. With new vocalist Jeremy Lyons the band changed their name to “Vapors of Morphine” and still preform live.

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting Off? - It is a fun and interesting listen. I will admit I don't know a ton about the band. Them being “in my backyard” I wish I saw them live as the tunings, instruments and just overall cool factor are just off the charts. There is a best of collection out now where new fans can dip in, but I am sure you'd be pleased with any of the releases.

Links, find out more, follow em and buy!

Facebook page (quiet since 2009)
There was a documentary made about Mark called “Cure for the Pain” you can read more about it

Disclaimer – I am just a music fan. Feel free to comment about something that may be written incorrectly about the band/members etc. I strive to have a fun and enjoyable site. This site used to post mp3s but ran in to many issues. The audio clips provided are usually from YouTube. No copy write infringement is intended. Please alert me if something should be pulled. Finally, support the artist featured, or your favorite artist by purchasing their music, seeing their shows if possible and saying hi. They need your support.


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