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Bootleg Detroit Live
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Despite the implied illegality of the album title, Bootleg Detroit is a far cry from the sort of sonically-dodgy audio contraband one would expect to pick up at a record fair. An officially sanctioned, high-quality audience recording taken from a date on Morphine's Cure for Pain tour in March 1994, the tapes were mixed and edited by beat-poet band leader Mark Sandman only weeks before his fatal heart attack on stage in Italy, July 1999. Regrettably then, given the untimely demise of this truly ground-breaking combo, Bootleg Detroit now stands as an item of nostalgia. A grainy, black and white snapshot of the swarthy Bostonian minimalists (Sandman's smooth vocal sulk and elasticated two-string slide bass, drummer Billy Conway's swinging percussion, Dana Colley simultaneously honking away on the baritone and tenor saxes like a choir of traffic-jam car horns ) in all their early jazz-hued, sexily low-rent rock & roll glory. Imagine John Coltrane meeting the darkness of Joy Division via the street-wise suss of Lou Reed. Completists note; the album contains a brace of previously unreleased tracks in "Come Along" and the spoken word "My Brain", plus video footage of Morphine performing two songs at the 1995 Montreux Jazz Festival. --Kevin Maidment.
Top Customer Reviews
At about forty minutes in length, the performance is much too short, but that's partly why Bootleg Detroit succeeds. Morphine's performance is taut, intense, and laid-back smooth all at once, and it's so enjoyable you can't believe it when it's over. Billy Conway's drumming propels the band at a better, quicker pace than the studio versions of the songs, Dana Colley's sax playing is brilliant as usual, but the real star, of course, is the late Mark Sandman. His delivery of his Beat-inspired poetic lyrics and especially his dry, cool between-song banter sets the mood, from the opening strains of 'Come Along', through the band's intense reworkings of 'Thursday' and 'Buena'. As an added treat, there are two high-quality cd-rom video tracks from 1995 that are great as well, 'Cure For Pain', and 'The Saddest Song'.
Don't let the descriptions of the live cd's 'murky' sound fool you. Although it was recorded from among the crowd, it's excellently remastered, eliminating excess noise, toning down audience "whoo!'s" (a problem for every bootlegger), and sharpening the band's sound. Yeah, the sound is muddier than most other 'polished' live albums, but this is Morphine...what did you expect? Bootleg Detroit is good live music at its purest. Complete, with no studio overdubs, it's a snapshot of a great band, and along with 2000's studio release The Night, a great tribute to the great Mark Sandman. It's all good good good.
Additionally, the ECD features on this disc are pretty great. The two video clips from the Montreux Jazz Festival offer a good look at the show for those of you who never saw Morphine live, and are a great video memory for those of us who did. The video of "The Saddest Song" in particular is great, for it gives us a rare glimpse of Colley on triangle.
I'm taking away one star only because of the timing of the recording. The show is from 1994, forcing us to miss out on live recordings of the past 6 years of music, and eliminating some of the great parts shows that I have seen, such as Sandman's poetry time.
Overall, though, quite a deal for Morphine fans who want to remember what it was like when they played for an audience.
Mark Sandman gave us one last triumph with "the Night". This is a fitting sense of closure. Many of the songs have become entrenched in our heads but we just want to hear them one more time.
There is an energy posessed by Sandman and crew that most of todays bands cannot touch. Reaching back 15 years to Treat Her Right. Mark was at the forefront of the Lo-Fi Movement. I do not think he would want a live recording to sound anything different than in its purest form.
"Cure for Pain", "Head with Wings", "Thursday", "Buena", heard again for the umteenth time, never wears out or irritates but brings a satisfying smile to those of us who had seen them live. The music now has an ageless quality with Mark Sandman's genious etched in time not to be forgotten.
Bootleg Detroit is a postcard from a friend saying, "Thank You, Good Night". From all of us down here we miss ya brotha.
Most recent customer reviews
Morphine's Bootleg: Detroit is a textbook example of how not to assemble a live album: Take a fairly average performance; record it with second-rate equipment; do not eliminate any... Read morePublished on April 14 2002 by P. Nicholas Keppler
BUY IT!!! If you like Morphine, or kinda like Morphine, or have never even heard of Morphine, buy it. You won't be dissapointed. There are no bad songs on the album. Read morePublished on Feb. 27 2002
Good smattering of Morphine -- gives you the flavor of a live Detroit performance. Not as polished as a studio track though, so if that bothers you you might want to think twice. Read morePublished on Dec 12 2001 by Jay LaBelle
I was a bit hesitant to pick this one up, expecting it to have the lo-fi sound quality I have come to expect on anything labled "bootleg. Read morePublished on Feb. 1 2001
Don't miss this album's version of the song "Sheila." It's amazing, like all of the other songs on this disc. I only got to see them live once, for their Yes album... Read morePublished on Dec 30 2000 by Ian Hay
The sound quality of this recording is surprisingly good. Hearing it was recorded "by a fan in the audience" might mislead you... Read morePublished on Oct. 6 2000 by Eric Raymond