Morphine - Yes ©1995 Rykodisc
1. Honey White
2. Scratch
3. Radar
4. Whisper
5. Yes
6. All Your Way
7. Super Sex
8. I Had My Chance
9. The Jury
10. Sharks
11. Free Love
12. Gone For Good

The 90s were a ripe time for at least a few unique acts to be embraced by a so-called "alternative music" culture. Despite the proliferation of many clone acts who were trying to be Nirvana or Alice in Chains, a few truly gifted and impressive acts snuck through the gates to garner at least a small portion of the pie. One such act was Morphine, a three-piece who eschewed guitars for a minimalistic setup of two string bass, drums and saxophone. Through nothing more than good word of mouth, college radio airplay and slight exposure on MTV, Morphine had gained a sizeable following by their third album, Yes.

The music on Yes can be described as the sound eminating from a smoke-filled, dark bar where seduction and intrigue are the key elements. The blues based music is organic, earthy and downright sexy at times. And I don't need the minor hit "Super Sex" to tell me that! The interplay between bassist/vocalist Mark Sandman and drummer Billy Conway is impressive, particularly since Sandman does so much with so little. His fluid basslines ooze sensuality and passion while the saxophones add the countermelodies and texture. Sandman's voice is deep, emotive and expressive. It has the hint of a few cigarettes fired up over a double bourbon on the rocks (splash of water). The production of Yes is very open and expansive, allowing the listener to feel as if he's in a very large, dim room with an intense spotlight on the band. The album does find occasional experimental edges to the music, particularly on the latter half ("Sharks" and "The Jury", for instance), but for the most part Yes is a strangely accessible record, regardless of the unusual instrumentation.

For readers who actually have the occasional date, Morphine is recommended for setting the proper mood, as opposed to that early Swans record you set aside for that "special evening". Not many bands can actually capture sensuality in the very base of their music, but Morphine does so very readily on Yes. One of their finest achievements.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2003

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