- First time on vinyl
- Double LP set pressed on 45 RPM 180-gram wax
- Remastered from the original tapes by Pete Weiss
- Housed in a deluxe gatefold jacket and featuring art direction and design by Darryl Norsen 20-page booklet featuring lyrics, unseen photos, ephemera and artwork by Mark Sandman, along with new liner notes by Ryan H. Walsh
- Pressed on two special color wax editions: Orange Translucent Wax & Purplish Hue Wax
Available September 8, 2023
Modern Classic Recordings, an imprint of Light in the Attic Records, proudly announces the deluxe vinyl reissues of Morphine’s final two studio albums: Like Swimming (1997) and The Night (2000), marking the very first availability of both titles on wax.
Each album has been lovingly remastered by Pete Weiss at Boston’s Jade Cow Music, with lacquers cut by John Golden. Both titles were pressed at Austin, TX’s Gold Rush Vinyl and are each available in two colorways. The 1xLP Like Swimming (which features such favorites as “Early to Bed,” “French Fries with Pepper,” and “Eleven O’Clock”) can be found on opaque blue or translucent red wax, while the 2xLP, 45-RPM edition of The Night (featuring “Rope on Fire,” “Top Floor, Bottom Buzzer,” and “The Night,”) is available on orange translucent or purplish hue vinyl.
Rounding out each package is a 20-page booklet, featuring rare and never-before-seen images from the band’s archives, including photos by Lana Z. Caplan and Danny Clinch, artifacts from Morphine’s career, and unseen art by the band’s late frontman, Mark Sandman. A major highlight of both packages are the insightful new liner notes by Ryan H. Walsh—a Boston-based journalist, musician, visual artist, and author of the acclaimed 2018 book Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968. Walsh’s notes include a handful of new interviews detailing the band’s career, including one of the final interviews with Morphine drummer Billy Conway, who played drums in Sandman’s previous band, Treat Her Right. Both albums are housed in deluxe gatefold jackets, featuring gorgeous art direction and design by Darryl Norsen at D. Norsen Design, also of Boston.
Dedicated to the memories of Sandman and late drummer Billy Conway, both albums were produced with the full support of Morphine’s surviving members (drummer Jerome Deupree and saxophonist Dana Colley), as well as the band’s friends, family members, and collaborators—many of whom shared their memories with Walsh.
Like Swimming and The Night follow Modern Classic Recordings’ acclaimed vinyl reissue of Morphine’s sophomore album, Cure For Pain, first reissued on LP in 2011.
Inspired by a map of Morphine’s Cambridge included in the liner notes to The Night, Ryan H. Walsh will be leading a walking tour on September 24, 2023 (Mark Sandman’s birthday) for twenty-five “Lucky” fans. The tour will start at the former location of Hi-n-Dry studio (Mark’s loft) and include an intimate concert by Vapors of Morphine upstairs at the Middle East. There will also be a vinyl signing with original band members Dana Colley and Jerome Deupree at Cheapo Records after the show. Press are invited to cover the event. More details and tickets available here on Thursday August 9.
MORE ABOUT MORPHINE AND THE NIGHT:
Formed in 1989, Morphine quickly gained a name for themselves in Boston’s underground scene, thanks to their unconventional instrumentation, their clever, offbeat lyricism, and their utterly unique sound. Named for Morpheus, the Greek God of Dreams, the trio (singer, songwriter, and bassist Mark Sandman, saxophonist Dana Colley, and drummer Jerome Deupree) delivered a mesmerizing blend of tonalities that were moody, yet seductive: Sandman’s intriguing baritone vocals and a two-string slide bass guitar (initially outfitted with just one string), Colley’s baritone sax (he was known to play two horns at the same time), and the vibrant percussion of original drummer Deupree and then Billy Conway, who frequently stepped in as drummer. When it came to classifying Morphine’s music, critics were at a loss. Was it jazz? Blues? Alt-rock? Beat poetry? To avoid the inevitable pigeonholing, Sandman coined his own genre: Low Rock.
Forming a creative partnership with producer Paul Q. Kolderie (whose credits read like a who’s who of alt-rock heroes, including Radiohead, The Lemonheads, Hole, and the Pixies), the band released their critically-acclaimed debut, Good, in 1991. When they followed with 1993’s Cure for Pain, their fanbase had grown exponentially, leading to tours across the US, Europe, Australia, and Japan. 1995’s Yes broke the Billboard 200—by then, the trio had scored several hits on college radio, while videos for “Thursday” (off Cure for Pain) and “Honey White” (Yes) played on MTV. At the same time, Morphine’s music was gaining further exposure through synchs in major films, including David O. Russel’s feature debut, Spanking the Monkey (1994), Beautiful Girls (1996), and the GRAMMY®-nominated soundtrack for Get Shorty (1995). Amid the ‘90s signing boom, it was only inevitable that the major labels would come calling. As the trio began work on their fourth studio album, they received an enticing offer from the newly-founded Dreamworks Records. But signing with the LA-based label would be both a blessing and a curse—particularly for Morphine’s supremely independent frontman.
In his liner notes for Like Swimming , Ryan H. Walsh suggests that after years of uncertainties, the band’s newfound sense of security carried over into their songwriting.“ Like Swimming is an album about getting into the flow of things finally going your way, about comfortably making use of your talents and doing it all with confidence, grace, and style,” he writes. That air of lightness marked a stylistic departure for the trio and can be heard throughout the album.
In his notes for the band’s fifth and final studio album, The Night, Walsh writes, “Sandman was determined to prove [the critics] all wrong. He was also hell-bent on turning in an album…which stayed true to his artistic vision but also sold plenty of records.”
With anxieties rising, the trio entered the studio with Kolderie and his producing partner, Sean Slade, as well as with assistant engineer Matthew Ellard. But the mood became increasingly tense—particularly between Sandman and Kolderie. Eventually, as things deteriorated, Sandman took over as producer, setting up shop in his loft, with Ellard at the controls. In addition to the changes behind the console, sessions for The Night were markedly different. Firstly, both Deupree and Conway took part in the recordings, effectively making the trio a quartet. Additionally, the band was joined by an array of guest artists, including the celebrated keyboardist, John Medeski, and a string section, who added lush textures throughout the album.
The writing and recording process was also new for Morphine. For previous albums, the trio was largely familiar with the songs that they would be recording, having performed them ahead of time during shows. Whereas sessions for The Night, recalls Deupree, were “just jamming around…ideas. Mark might have had a sketch of a song, and we would come up with an arrangement and then play it forever…. Then Mark would go back through the tape and find the section that he liked the best and build on top of that.”
Walsh expounds that this is why tracks like “‘A Good Woman Is Hard to Find’ fades in and out, as if it had been going on long before what you hear and that it continued long after the track ended (because it did!).” He continues, “Deupree recounts one session where he began warming up with a spontaneous drum pattern, soon joined by Billy. Sandman came running from the other side of the loft, hit record, and began playing bass…That moment became track two on the record, ‘So Many Ways.’”
Among the other songs on The Night is the Boston-centric “Top Floor, Bottom Buzzer,” featuring an organ cameo by Medeski (who also lends his talents to the menacing “I’m Yours, You’re Mine”). In the upbeat, soulful track, Sandman describes an evening out at a friend’s house party. The enigmatic, Middle Eastern-inspired “Rope on Fire,” meanwhile, features a striking performance on the oud by Brahim Fribgane and accompaniment by cellist Jane Scarpantoni, violist Joseph Kessler, and double bassist Mike Rivard. Scarpantoni, who has appeared on albums by Lou Reed, Beastie Boys, and R.E.M., among many others, also joins the band on the opening title track, which Walsh proclaims to be “among the very best, hauntingly beautiful songs the band ever produced.” Strings also bolster the closing track, “Take Me with You,” a song that feels particularly poignant, given that Sandman would be gone by the time that The Night was released.
“From start to finish, this album would be Mark Sandman’s full creative vision realized,” writes Walsh. Colley adds, “For the first time in many years, I saw Mark satisfied again. He was like, ‘Okay, we did it. This is the record. This is it.’ He was happy with the results.” After Sandman mixed the album, Morphine flew to Europe for a two-week tour. On July 3, 1999, during a concert at the Giardini del Principe in Palestrina, Italy, Sandman collapsed on stage, suffering a heart attack. Hours later, the 46-year-old musician was declared dead.
The Night was released months later, on February 1, 2000. In a sad twist of irony, the album was met with broad critical acclaim—something that Sandman had worked so tirelessly for during his life. Outlets like Alternative Press, Spin, and Rolling Stone all sang its praises, with the latter calling The Night Morphine’s “most painstakingly layered and ambitious album.”
To support the record and pay tribute to their late bandmate, Colley, Conway, and a variety of Sandman’s collaborators and friends toured as Orchestra Morphine. Nine years later, Colley, Deupree, and bassist/vocalist Jeremy Lyons formed Vapors of Morphine. While Deupree retired in 2019 (replaced by drummer Tom Arey), in addition to playing their own material, the group continues to perform Morphine songs through regular concerts and recordings, including a show upstairs at the Middle East Club in Cambridge, Massachusetts on September 24, 2023 to celebrate the release of the vinyl on Mark Sandman’s birthday.
Meanwhile, Sandman’s legacy lives on through Morphine’s music and the many artists the band has influenced and inspired along the way. Fans can visit the Morphine Loft, a virtual space celebrating Mark’s life, writing, art, and music curated from his archives, with exhibitions on Like Swimming, The Night, and Cure For Pain’s 30th Anniversary to come this fall. The site also has a forum where fans can share their own memorabilia and contribute thoughts on what makes Mark and Morphine so unique. Those who want to visit the many landmarks associated with the band, including the building where The Night was recorded and Mark Sandman Square just outside of the famed Middle East venue where Morphine played its first shows, can use Morphine’s map of Cambridge, MA included in the liner notes for The Night.