With our top ten Morphine Songs list, we look at the work of an extremely underrated alternative rock band who were formed in Massachusetts in 1989. They are now sadly long-defunct since their spilt in 1999 after the tragic and shocking death of their singer Mark Sandman who suffered a fatal heart attack whilst performing on stage.
Morphine deserves far more recognition than they get because their sound was truly unique. It was a mixture of styles that made for a truly brilliant listen. Their sound was very much their own, with not many other bands having a similar style, which made them difficult to pigeonhole into any particular scene. This was perhaps the reason why they never received as much mainstream success as they could because that can often be quite a barrier when it comes to achieving success in the music industry. Despite their lack of mainstream success, they gained almost universal praise from critics, who often commended them for their sound which mixed rock with blues and jazz as well as various other styles. Sandman in particular was often seen as having a very unique voice with his crooning style.
Mark Sandman is one of those artists who is criminally unknown and one of those who would have undoubtedly gone on to do great things as an artist had he not had his life cut tragically short. He was not only a great singer and musician but also an unsung genius in terms of songwriting. He had a very clever way with words and had a penchant for setting an effective atmosphere with his music.
After Sandman’s death, other members stayed in the music business, and in 2009, Vapours Of Morphine was formed which was intended as a continuation of the band’s sound.
With this list, we hope to bring more attention to our readers to this brilliant band who have been reduced to a relatively obscure status in rock music history. If you like Bruce Springsteen or Tom Waits with a sort of British punk film-noir feel then this band is for you. Here is a list of their ten best songs.
# 10 – Good
Kicking off our top ten Morphine songs list is the opening song and title track from their debut album released in 1992. This song is a pure example of why this band is one of the hidden greats of the alternative rock era. At only two and a half minutes long, it really sets the atmosphere for the rest of the album, particularly with Mark Sandman’s, baritone voice over the very dark groovy riff.
# 9 – Do Not Go Quietly On Your Grave
Up next on our Top 10 Morphine Songs list is another song taken from the first album which has a really effortless laid-back feel and lyrically is giving advice to young people. As a singer, Sandman was a great crooner and the music here has a brilliantly dark tone to it which even feels quite eerie at times. It is an example of how he was an overlooked genius who was taken from us far too soon.
# 8 – Radar
At the number eight spot on our Top 10 Morphine Songs list we have a song taken from the band’s third album Yes released in 1995. This is an album that saw them receiving slightly more success in the US with it being their first to enter the Billboard charts where it reached number 101. Despite this, it was not as successful abroad as their previous album Cure For Pain.
# 7 – You Look Like Rain
Next up we have yet another song taken from the first album. This song is very melancholy and truly shows the band’s talent for making beautiful music. The song is very jazz influenced with the use of a saxophone as well as having a generally jazzy structure. It does a brilliant job of painting a picture of the lyrics in the listener’s head.
# 6 – Whisper
Ending the first half of this Top 10 Morphine Songslist we have another track taken from Yes. This is another track that is a prime example of the band’s jazz side as it also features heavy use of the saxophone. It is very well played and produced and also has a brilliant dark atmosphere that would not be out of place in a film noir.
# 5 – Beauna
Kicking off the second half of this list we have a track taken from the band’s second album Cure For Pain released in 1993. This track has made a couple of appearances in tv shows such as The Sopranos and Daria. This album marked the debut of drummer Billy Conway. It achieved some moderate commercial success.
# 4 – Candy
Our next song is another track taken from Cure For Pain. This track, while still bluesy in tone, is one of the band’s more conventional-sounding rock numbers. The song is clearly about a relationship that has turned sour and you can feel the heartbreak of Sandman in the way that he delivers the vocals with his deep style.
# 3 – Swing It Low
At number three is the closing track of the band’s fourth album Like Swimming which was the band’s final Morphine album to be released while Sandman was still alive, with the next album being released posthumously. This song is very minimalist in its approach, with a repetitive rhythm and a hypnotic vocal performance from Sandman.
# 2 – The Night
Just off the top spot is the title track, opening song, and only cut on this list taken from the band’s fifth and final album released in 2000 which reached number 137 on the Billboard 200. The album saw the return of the original drummer Jerome Dupree while Billy Conway also played drums on some of the tracks, thus making it their first as a four-piece as opposed to a trio. Sandman died not long after the recording process, which took three years altogether.
# 1 – Thursday
At the top of our Morphine songs list is another track taken from Cure For Pain. Featuring a very sinister sounding bass riff courtesy of Sandman, the song’s tells the story of a relationship that quickly goes downhill after a couple start to break out of their established routines. The video was featured on Beavis and Butthead. This song has always reminded us of early Elvis Costello. There is also a bit of Mighty Mighty Bosstones feel to it.
Top 10 Morphine Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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