Accurate, 1992

REVIEW BY: Jedediah Pressgrove


“Good,” the opening and title track of Morphine’s debut album, is the most unassuming greeting I’ve received from a rock band.

Let’s put this first impression in the context of 1992. The phrase “alternative rock” was everywhere in popular music. Nevermind by Nirvana, Ten by Pearl Jam, Badmotorfinger by Soundgarden, and Blood Sugar Sex Magik by Red Hot Chili Peppers had just been released in 1991.

Along comes Morphine – late singer/bassist Mark Sandman, saxophonist Dana Colley, and drummer Jerome Deupree – with Good, also labeled alternative rock, and you hear the opening track: a one-string bass, a dirty sax, a beat more in line with Afro-Pop, smoky vocals, and repetitive lyrics that could belong to a bluesman. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The one-string bass owns the first ten seconds, bumbling and lost. Percussion and sax riffs creep into the track. “You’re good, good, good/Good,” sings a deep and dark voice, and the song could fall apart. But it doesn’t. “Good” simply builds energy before starting again from the bottom.

But what caused a 1990s rock band to abandon the guitar? Did the band dislike the instrument? According to the online publication PopMatters, the guitar was Sandman’s favorite instrument, but he felt it wasn’t right for Morphine.

And to be accurate, they didn’t quite abandon the guitar, but I needed extra listening to realize that. “The Saddest Song” is the second track, and if you listen closely (I recommend headphones), you can hear Sandman’s guitar, a black sheep in Morphine’s brand of rock. Colley also contributes triangle to the track, and shit, it’s effective triangle. With such a minimalist band, the smallest sound counts.

Without Sandman’s sense of humor, Good could have been a bummer given the emptiness of its overall sound. “Have A Lucky Day” uses a gambler’s demented perspective for laughs: “I can’t lose forever, but I’m doomed to try / Because I keep on hearin’ a voice inside / Players win and winners play / Have a lucky day.” Other songs can be appreciated for their madness, such as “You Speak My Language” with its deranged mixture of country and jazz and an insane bridge that would make Les Claypool smile. Of course, jazz is a standard ingredient for Morphine, and when it takes a more prominent role on tracks like “The Other Side,” it’s clear these guys have a respectable passion for the genre.

Good is a solid listen, an anomaly, a less-is-best philosophy. Its only flaws are two unnecessary instrumentals, which contribute to a less engaging second half. But a 1990’s rock album this upfront and different is rare and welcome.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


Great review! Great album

© 2009 Jedediah Pressgrove and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Accurate, and is used for informational purposes only.