Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Morphine 1: Good

If you listened to certain radio stations in 1988, you might have heard a smoky blues tune called “I Think She Likes Me” by a band called Treat Her Right. Their self-titled album didn’t catch much fire, and listening it today one can only occasionally hear hints of where singer/songwriter Mark Sandman would end up. Once he developed a style of playing a two-stringed bass with a slide and hooked up with saxophone player Dana Colley, there emerged a sound perfectly described by their moniker: Morphine.
Where Treat Her Right also had two singers, guitars and harmonica, Morphine stripped everything down to bass, sax and drums. Sandman was also the only singer, giving the project a more unified sound, as demonstrated on their first album, Good. Each song sneaks along a groove, simple yet full, and certainly toe-tapping, while the lyrics stay stark and fitting the setting. Even “The Saddest Song” sounds upbeat for music of this level. The raucous voodoo stomp of “You Speak My Language” moves through gibberish into the noir atmosphere of “You Look Like Rain”, the latter a cool stroll worthy of early Tom Waits. Dana Colley even gets an instrumental all to himself.
Good isn’t Morphine’s best album, but it’s a fine start. They would only improve from here.

Morphine Good (1992)—3

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