Peter Murphy

Beggars Banquet / RCA Records, 1990

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Before I got into college radio, I had no idea who Peter Murphy was, nor did I care. Even after a year in college radio, I didn't care who he was - he just seemed too weird for my still narrow-minded tastes.

Then, I happened to sit down and listen to the copy of Deep, Murphy's second solo album, that had been given to me by the station's music director. And I wondered... just what had I been smoking to have ignored this guy? Even today, almost ten years after this album came out, Deepmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 contains some great music that doesn't always reflect the past of Murphy's old band, Bauhaus.

There's no denying that the overall sound on this tape is that of British alternative pop, but it carves out its own niche in that it's not as dark as the goth rock I had expected, and it leaves you feeling good. Murphy's use of the twelve-string guitar on various parts of the album also helps to create a musical texture all its own - and one that still sends chills down my spine to this day.

Opening up with "Deep Ocean Vast Sea," one almost feels that Murphy is riding the crests of his own song, and is just allowing his vocals to be shaped by the melodies. This is a new approach to my ears - and it works incredibly well. Throughout the whole first half of Deep, Murphy allows himself to be overtaken by the song. From "Sky" to "Marlene Dietrich's Favourite Poem," Murphy sets himself apart from the then-blossoming alternative scene as someone special.

The song that Deep is probably best known for, "Cuts You Up," is still as enjoyable today as it was when I started to hear it on stations like WXRT-FM in 1990. Murphy quickly shows that he can maintain his musical integrity while writing songs that are radio-friendly. Likewise, "A Strange Kind Of Love" is a great ballad that is a wonderful mood piece. It also features some great guitar work; I have yet to figure out some of those chord progressions.

The only negative I can find with Deep is that it gets a little too self-absorbed in the end. When you follow up a song like "Roll Call" with "Roll Call Reprise" - I mean, one right after the other - things get to sounding a little tedious. It's still a decent track, but I question the tracks' placement on the album.

Still, Murphy was shooting bull'seyes for almost the entire album, and Deep remains one of the treasures from the "birth" of alternative rock that still is waiting to truly be discovered. Especially with the re-formation of Bauhaus in 1998, now could be the time for Deep to be re-discovered.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen 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 Beggars Banquet / RCA Records, and is used for informational purposes only.