Recently I bought another copy of an album I had years ago but lost some time back, Morphine’s ‘Cure for Pain’. They are one of those bands I heard once on MTV and went and bought the CD for, I liked them then and I’m liking them now.
Anyway, they had a really interesting sound that incorporated elements of swing and when I think about it I can’t see why they didn’t get really popular when there was that few years of interest in old-style music with horns and such. Maybe it’s because they had a darker, more blues-influenced sound than the Squirrel Nut Zippers and the like.
Also, does anyone know if their later albums are as good as ‘Cure for Pain’, and did they keep that same simple style?
I’ve been a Morphine fan since ‘Good’. I gotta say, ‘The Night’ (released after his death) is incredibly powerful in many ways, though this might be influenced by the Sandman’s lyrics, which now seem pretty haunting.
I live in St. Louis, where the band has had a good fan base, and the two times I saw them were great shows. Even so, plenty of critics around here bashed them for having pared-down orchestrations and a weak singer. What do you expect with three people and no lead guitar (usually)? And Sandman’s voice is generally a love-it or hate-it kind of thing.
I haven’t gotten the B-sides release, but I have all the other ones and I would definitely recommend them if you like ‘Cure For Pain’ (except maybe ‘Like Swimming’ - that was supposed to be their crossover but I feel kind of iffy toward it). Definitely get ‘Yes’, I think it’s their strongest.
Though it’s on my to-hear list, I haven’t heard Cure for Pain, but I can attest that Yes, Like Swimming and The Night are all great CDs and well worth trying out. I listen to Yes and Like Swimming more often than The Night, even though I love “Rope on Fire” off the latter.
Their style remained basically consistent across all three, with the sax-bass-drums combo, but quite a few songs played around with the formula. “Early to Bed” off Like Swimming featured some keyboards and the aforementioned “Rope on Fire” included an oud.
After hearing “Honey White” once on the radio, I ran out and bought Yes. That I happened to be listening to that station at that time on that Saturday afternoon is one of the happy coincidences of my life. For me, the combination of the music and the lyrics were instantly bewitching. I tried playing Morphine for various friends, but none of them ever had the same must-run-to-record-store reaction I did.
I think that they were/are pretty big- just not MTV/Radio big obviously. Not HUGE-- but I know A LOT of people who are into them. Me- I only became familiar the last couple of years, and I would have to agree that the night is an Incredible album.
“Precilla’s in the kitchen, she’s mixin’ drinks… she’s mixin one for me, I think…
…One for Mary-Ellen, one for Jane,
Precilla-- she knows how to use a shaker.”
Funny, I’d quote that as an example of one of Morphine’s worst lyrical moments, considering the next line was “…she doesn’t get up as early as a baker, uh-uh”. Groan inducing badness amid a sea of goodness.
I was introduced to Morphine at a New Year’s Eve party. Head with Wings came on and I’ve been hooked ever since.
I don’t think they sound anything like swing. Swing had its 15 minutes again big a few years back with the Squirrel Nut Zippers and the rest of those 3 word named bands.
I’ve been a fan for about 10 years now, but oddly enough I think that Yes is their worst. (all the morphine fans gasp here).
In order, I’d say they go like this, although the first few can be switched around, depending on my mood:
[li]Cure for Pain[/li][li]The Night[/li][li]B sides[/li][li]Good[/li][li]Like Swimming[/li][li]Yes[/li][/ul]
Why didn’t they get popular? Who knows. I think their soung was a little bit too ‘lounge-y’ for mainstream tastes, and Sandman’s voice can turn people off. Also, while some of the lyrics are really good, some of them are really, REALLY bad. And when they are bad, he seems to crank up his delivery, too. “Sharks”, anyone? Get hep to this cat, dig? :rolleyes: WORST MORPHINE SONG EVER.
In any case, they certainly are not obscure. They had several videos (“Thursday”, “Honey White”, and “Early to Bed” come to mind, I’m sure there are others). They would draw 1000-2000 people at their concerts.
I havent thought about them in a while, I think I’ll pull out “The Night” for my ride into work. Thanks!
On 06/06/66 I was little I didn’t know shit
About 07/07/77 eleven years later still don’t know any better
By 08/08/88 it’s way to late for me to change and
By 09/09/99 I hope I’m sitting on the back porch drinking red wine singing
Ooooooooooooooh french fries with pepper
Ooooooooooooooh french fries with pepper
I think “you look like rain” is one of the sexiest songs ever (off the Good CD). Overall, there style was cool beyond belief.
As to why they didn’t hit it big - depends on how one defines big. To jazz players, Diana Krall is huge, but her albums don’t sell pop numbers (or they appear on pop charts briefly). Morphine sold pretty well, and seemed to stay true to what they were trying to do. Sometimes it felt like they had one album - e.g., each album more or less sounded similar - but at least it was a great sound.
I miss them. I was lucky enough to see them one last time in Central Sq in Cambridge before Mark died. The music just has such a rich, wonderful smokey feel to it that fit wonderfully with the movie Spank the Monkey…disturbing movie though.