I have long been a fan, supporter, and proponent of Morphine. The jazz-influenced trio released 5 fantastic albums before the tragic early death of lead singer/songwriter/bass player Mark Sandman. Sax virtuoso Dana Colley has done great work since Sandman’s death with a variety of projects (A.K.A.C.O.D., Twinemen, Orchestra Morphine) playing new music and keeping the old Morphine music alive.
Colley’s newest endeavor is a great act that calls itself The Ever-Expanding Elastic Waste Band. Or maybe Members of Morphine with Jeremy Lyons. It’s unclear. (Maybe you can help me out, Dana.) Former Morphine drummer Jerome Deupree is with Colley again and a talented guitarist/bass player named Jeremy Lyons has stepped in to make them a trio. He plays and often sings Sandman’s parts when they cover Morphine tunes and has written some new songs for the band. As I mentioned in a previous post, I failed to get their disc, “Members of Morphine with Jeremy Lyons,” at the live show when I saw them, but my girlfriend came through and scored it for me for Christmas.
The album is great. Colley still has much to say musically. Deupree blew me away live and sits right in the pocket on this album. Lyons does fine work on the Morphine tracks they cover and he helps them into some great new territory the rest of the time. Check out a few winners off the disc.
Hurricane – Lyons is credited with writing this song, but only the lyrics are new. The guitar and vocal lines are from ‘Goin’ Down South’ by R.L. Burnside (particularly the North Mississippi Allstars version). That’s not a criticism, though. There are only a dozen chord progressions in blues anyway. Everyone borrows. The lyrics are about God crushing Baton Rouge. The guitar work is cool without being flashy and Colley’s sax rumbles through the whole song.
Different – The pace of this song is glacial but Colley’s atmospheric sax work is gorgeous. Nobody else sounds like this.
Pulled Over the Car – This is unmistakably an old Mark Sandman song that they never released on a Morphine album. The guys performed this song when I saw them at the Beachland Ballroom this year. Fantastic. Sandman was such a clever and funny songwriter. They get a little help from some brass in the studio and the arrangement is hot.
Know – I like the original songs EEEWB have written for this release. This is a heavy and slow love song. The baritone sax and electric guitar interact in unexpected and pleasing ways.
Palestrina – What a beautiful instrumental. I believe it’s a live recording, too. It’s mostly Colley noodling on his saxophone but he gets some fine moody support from the drums and bass.
If you were ever a fan of Morphine and The Ever Expanding Elastic Waste Band comes to your town, you must go see them. In fact, even if you weren’t a fan you will like these guys. All three members are talented musicians with a fantastic catalog of new and old songs. It’s a fun show.