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Mark Sandman - Sandbox


By Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck

Because of my love for rock and jazz, Morphine grabbed my attention immediately when I first heard them. I remember the day in 1999 that I read the story about Mark Sandman dropping dead on stage of a massive heart attack. I was mortified. I had just begun my exploration of their unique brand of rock music a few years prior to his passing. Mark Sandman was a brilliant musician; he was one of the few that played bass as the lead instrument in a group and he had one of the most entrancing and extraordinary vocal styles I had ever heard. He could make his bass sound so powerful and dominant; much like a lead guitar. He also had a lot of music in the can before he left us.

Sandbox is a collection of some of the best music Mark recorded outside the realm of his group Morphine. Most of it does sound like Morphine so it was easy enough to find a common denominator in a matter of moments. This is the pre-release two-disc set, minus the DVD (if you order it now you can get the complete set). I am very happy to have this in my possession even though the DVD is missing. There are 31 tracks of prime Sandman low-fi rock on this set. 

The bass is predominant, although some tracks have some great guitar parts, which Morphine did not have. The trademark bass and vocals make each song a rock gem to hold and cherish in Mark’s memory. I have always loved Morphine because they were so different. Sandman’s interesting vocal style, in the groove thumping bass lines accompanied by the sexy saxophone, drove this music right along on its own private road. 

I really enjoyed the tracks about women; they have so much energy and atmosphere, “Doreen,” “Monas Sister” and “Justine.” Then to take things in a different direction with a more progressive harder edged path, “Good Time Last Night” is a brief sojourn into a drone like state, with bass parts that pull you through right through until the end, setting you up for the second disc. I loved the way disc two opened with “Riley the Dog.” He has a dog talking and howling to kick things off. It is quite funny and heartwarming, showing what kind of person he was in real life. His foundations hold firm but this is unmistakably Mark Sandman. Do not fret Morphine fans this music rocks, as you would expect, just with some different flavors-rock, pop, jazz, he even sings in Spanish on the track “Hombre.” If I had to pick one song that clearly defines the Mark Sandman sound, it would be “Livin With U,” what a great tune. There are many outstanding songs on this comprehensive set besides what I already mentioned. “Snow” and “They Bent Me” are real ear catchers.

Now we have another reason to continue to celebrate the life and art of Mark Sandman. I do hope more of this great music is uncovered soon. This was a definitive set; surely, this will be a revelation to so many fans that have not discovered Sandman’s legacy on CD.
 



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CD Info 

Mark Sandman - Sandbox
Label: Hi-N-Dry
Rating
 
Disc: 1

01. Double Stripper Double Sax        
02. I Can Do That        
03. Tomorrow        
04. Patience        
05. Cocoon        
06. Imaginary Song        
07. Goddess        
08. Jealous Dream        
09. Justine        
10. The Phone        
11. Devils Boots        
12. Born Again        
13. Wig        
14. 51%        
15. Good Time Last Night
 

Disc: 2

01. Riley the Dog        
02. Some Other Dog        
03. Snow        
04. Doreen        
05. Get Along        
06. Monas Sister        
07. Hombre        
08. Hotel Room        
09. Lets Not Talk        
10. Bathtub        
11. I Wanna Go Home        
12. Deep Six        
13. Livin With U        
14. They Bent Me        
15. Middle East        
16. Early Man  

 

Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck is a veteran syndicated music critic, his reviews appear in over 35 publications world-wide. To read more of Keith’s work visit muzikreviews.com
 

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