I was looking through some old concert ticket stubs (yeah, I’m a pack rat), thinking of summer concerts of days past. I came across an August 1, 1999, show for Soul Coughing at Stubb’s in Austin. At the time, I was a sportswriting intern at the Austin American-Statesman.I’ll always remember the show because a) I saw Soul Coughing; and b) Morphine was on the bill. But, sadly, about a month earlier, Mark Sandman passed away on stage of a heart attack at a concert in Rome. He was only 47.
Clearly, the news of his death wasn’t on par with someone like a John Lennon; however, I was (still am) totally into Morphine. That band was doing things musically that few — if any — were: Billy Conway on drums, Dana Colley on saxophone and Sandman playing a homemade two-string bass. It was sometimes amazing what they were able to coax out of such minimal instrumentation. The low-end vibes were downright (dare I say it?) sexy. For proof, check Cure For Pain, the group’s sophomore — and breakthrough — album.
Colley and Conway went on to form the Twinemen, a fine outfit but, frankly, it was hard not to think that Sandman should still be around. A box set — Sandbox — came out last year, with two discs of Sandman material compiled by Colley and Conway, plus a DVD. (I have yet to purchase.)
So, here’s to remembering Morphine:
Cure for Pain (audio stripped from enhanced video on Bootleg Detroit; song performed live at The Montreux Jazz Festival in 1995)
Pulled Over the Car (from B-Sides and Otherwise; originally from Japanese CD release of Yes)
Thursday (from Cure for Pain; listen to the bass!)
Potion(from Like Swimming; listen to the sax!)