Best of

/ryko; 2003/




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I would like to kiss a girl for the first time to ‘You look like rain’ by Morphine. That must be the romantic part of me. ‘You taste like the sky ‘cos you look like rain’. Mark Sandman is my favourite crooner and if all the dummies who kiss a girl for the first time to Lionel Richie or Barry White would play Morphine instead, what a wonderful world we would live in … but I’m only wishing on a star. Life is hard and so am I. I don’t know if Mark Sandman got novocaine in his soul when he had a heart attack on stage and died but I wish it was Lionel Richie that died on that day. That’s the misanthropic part of me.

Anyway, it’s summer time and we are reviewing the discs we hadn’t had time enough to review. A best-of is only interesting when it contains just hits and if everyone at Only Angels considers Morphine as a great idiosyncratic band, we just can’t affirm that they scored hits. This album is rife with good songs which encapsulate Morphine’s particular atmosphere, at once ominous, dancing and groovy (‘You speak my language’ and ‘Super Sex’ for example) sometimes slow-moving and unhealthy.

The ones who selected the songs must have had a hard time but their choice is somehow disappointing. There is only one song off their second best album Like Swimming (after Good), the late overcrowded night pseudo-jazz groovy number entitled ‘11 o’clock’. Where is their amazingly, insanely tuneful ‘Shark Patrol These Water’? And where are ‘Empty Box’ and ‘I Know You (pt3)’? Here, lively songs tend to prevail over the slow- paced melancholy ones reminding among others Tom Waits (especially circa Small change) because of their atmosphere and Sandman’s deep and somehow raspy crooner voice. There is however my favourite Morphine song ‘You look like rain’, the organic and unhealthy haunting ŕ la aforementioned Waits ‘The Night’ (the unreleased ‘Sexy Christmas Baby Mine’ reminds one of TW as well) and the astonishing unreleased 8-minute long odyssey entitled ‘Jack and Tina’. This acid, intoxicating, disquieting but incredibly groovy in a jazzy way track is the only great surprise in this highly superfluous disc which never soars to the quality of any other Morphine’s release (including the b-side album).

This best-of is just a reminder of what the Goddess Music lost when Sandman went to sleep forever while paying homage to her on stage. If his Morphine fellows, who released disappointing albums compared to Morphine, are definitely talented musicians, he was the one who brought the songs in the first place. Besides I’ve read somewhere that they named a square after Mark Sandman in his hometown Boston, Massachussets to pay tribute to his talent and activism. This can be considered as another achievement…

Morphine won’t be forgotten. That’s for sure. I’m ready to bet a Suede review that someday soon a smart director will use one of Sandman’s jewels to make his soundtrack shine. ‘Have a lucky day’ or ‘Murder for the Money’ would just click lots of films…

-Blacklisted ‘you speak my language’ Igor.

/oct 1st 2003/