sandman still haunts us with ‘Pretty Face’..

The weekend after the death of Morphine frontman Mark Sandman I had the pleasure of hearing some tapes that included songs that had never been released and works in progress. I had met the Morphine guys a few years prior and was determined to learn a thing or two from them since I also do a “guitarless” bass-driven thing with my band.
While driving with my friend (who I guess was doing some mixing with Mark before they left for Italy)he popped-in a cdr with Mark’s scribbles on it and said “Here…check this out. I know you’ve never heard this song and I really think you should. I don’t know if they’ll ever release it.” It was a warm, windy afternoon. We were almost to the shore. I was numb from the loss of my hero. I wept quietly in the back seat while the smell of the ocean blew through the car, heavy and salty. A gray day. It was as if the song were meant to be played at that very moment. It was perfect.
The song was “Pretty Face”; by far the most haunting thing I’ve heard come off of the tape machine at Hi-N-Dry. His voice coming through his good ol Green Bullet (which he prefered to call “the Taxi mic”)and a 2-string bassline that only strays from 2 chords maybe once or twice in the entire song. And Dana Colley’s sax singing what feels like the world’s saddest lullaby, cradling you in a moment of despair. The words seemed slurred and painful…”don’t remember the place, but it’s not so easy to erase a pretty face.” “not too slow and not too fast”. You listen to this tune, maybe get a bit teary-eyed and say “yeah…I know this feeling.” It literally makes my heart ache.
I currently play with the drummer that is on that recording, Jerome Deupree, and recently had a conversation about the song. I told him that it was one of the most beautiful and tragic tunes I have ever heard. He said that anytime Sandman asked the guys if they liked a tune and they said “yes” Sandman would decide against putting it on the record. So it wasn’t long before Dana, Billy and Jerome figured out that if one of Mark’s tunes was a gem they better down-play it as much as possible if it were to make the final cut.
That moment in the car listening to “Pretty Face” is one of many that always seem to happen when listening to the music of Morphine. It is indeed cinematic. No matter who you are, there is a Morphine song that becomes the soundtrack of that 4 or so minutes of your life. Few people could write words and sing them with such potency as Mark Sandman.
I was absolutely tickled that they did release it after all. And there are other tracks on the “Best Of…” that were previously unreleased. However, “Pretty Face” alone is worth the price of the whole cd and more.
~ Monique Ortiz (Cambridge, MA) –
This review is from: Best of 1992-1995 (Audio CD)

my playlist on Grooveshark

another review:5.0 out of 5 stars
Worthy on All Counts, 06-18-2003
By: A Customer
This review is from: Best of 1992-1995 (Audio CD)
I’m not going to pretend I’m objective – Morphine was the greatest band in the world. They were the epitome of cool, in every sense of the word. By fusing elements of jazz with a rock n’ roll sensibility and bombast, Morphine made some of the best music of the 90’s. The tragic death of frontman Mark Sandman in 1999 brought an end to the band, but thankfully not to the music, at least not yet.
If I were to judge this album strictly as a “Best of” compilation, it would be slightly less than 5 stars. Dana Colley and Billy Conway, two of the three surviving members of the band (former drummer Jerome Deupree is the third) selected the tracks, all of which are excellent.
What hurts is not what is included, but what was omitted. The last two Morphine albums were released on Dreamworks Records which were not included in this release. This is strictly a Rykodisc release and Rykodisc would not purchase the rights to the Dreamworks albums. Colley & Conway were asked to do the best they could in selecting tracks from the first three albums and the B-Sides compilation or leave the project to Rykodisc entirely. They did the best they could. But what about “In Spite of Me”, the song that brought more attention to the band than any other after being included in the film Spanking the Monkey? “Sheila”? “Bo’s Veranda”?
What makes this album indispensable are the two unreleased tracks – “Jack and Tina” and “Pretty Face”. These are two of the best unreleased tracks I ever heard from Morphine, lovingly prepared by Colley & Conway. These tracks make this album indispensable, even if you already own the entire Morphine catalogue.
The band used to say “Love is the drug, Morphine is a band”. Now, Morphine is the past, but Colley & Conway (Twinemen), and Deupree (Bourbon Princess) are still here in the present, making great music. Check them out today!

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  1. #1 by rufong on 26/09/2010 - 20:27

    love’s strange, bee sting, what a fool i’ve been
    serpentine, lives unwind, trees sing, flowers cry
    a frontier town, carpet brown, pickin gold, rainin down
    this time i do it now but i’ll fastforward to a better spot now

    i can go back, later i remember the place
    but it’s not so easy to erase a pretty face
    erase, a pretty face, a pretty face

    hand on mind, all this time, unraveling this ball of twine
    butterfly back, climb through paths, not too slow, not too fast
    perfect place, pretty face, nice place for a rattlesnake
    perfect place, out of face, a good day to make a mistake, unhunh
    each time i do it now, fastforward to a better spot now
    go back later, i remember the place
    but not so easy to erase a pretty face..

  2. #2 by rufong on 26/09/2010 - 20:46

    who r my greatest bands of all time?
    morphine
    new model army
    hunters and collectors

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