I'm not going to pretend I'm objective - Morphine was the greatest band in the world. They were the epitome of cool, in every sense of the word. By fusing elements of jazz with a rock n' roll sensibility and bombast, Morphine made some of the best music of the 90's. The tragic death of frontman Mark Sandman in 1999 brought an end to the band, but thankfully not to the music, at least not yet.
If I were to judge this album strictly as a "Best of" compilation, it would be slightly less than 5 stars. Dana Colley and Billy Conway, two of the three surviving members of the band (former drummer Jerome Deupree is the third) selected the tracks, all of which are excellent.
What hurts is not what is included, but what was omitted. The last two Morphine albums were released on Dreamworks Records which were not included in this release. This is strictly a Rykodisc release and Rykodisc would not purchase the rights to the Dreamworks albums. Colley & Conway were asked to do the best they could in selecting tracks from the first three albums and the B-Sides compilation or leave the project to Rykodisc entirely. They did the best they could. But what about "In Spite of Me", the song that brought more attention to the band than any other after being included in the film Spanking the Monkey? "Sheila"? "Bo's Veranda"?
What makes this album indispensable are the two unreleased tracks - "Jack and Tina" and "Pretty Face". These are two of the best unreleased tracks I ever heard from Morphine, lovingly prepared by Colley & Conway. These tracks make this album indispensable, even if you already own the entire Morphine catalogue.
The band used to say "Love is the drug, Morphine is a band". Now, Morphine is the past, but Colley & Conway (Twinemen), and Deupree (Bourbon Princess) are still here in the present, making great music. Check them out today!