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Michael Hutchence: Michael Hutchence
Michael Hutchence: Michael Hutchence
turnover time:2024-06-25 03:45:43

When musicians die, their unreleased work is bound to be seen differently way when it surfaces, whether as a sad last gasp (Freddie Mercury's The Great Pretender), a tragic reminder of lost potential (Jeff Buckley's Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk), or a predictable attempt to milk a dry cash cow (much of Tupac Shakur's prolific post-death output). Other works, like Hole's Live Through This, which was released less than a week after the death of Kurt Cobain, seem to foreshadow grief that hadn't yet been felt. Regardless of the events surrounding his death—he hanged himself, though there's some dispute whether the act was deliberate or an accidental byproduct of autoerotic asphyxiation—you'll never hear INXS singer Michael Hutchence's first solo album the way you would if he were still alive. Frankly, you probably wouldn't have noticed it at all: It's got its moments, but Hutchence spends most of it searching for an identity in unengaging songs that tend to sound like INXS outtakes (the vamping "Let Me Show You," the ballad "Possibilities") or limp funk workouts ("Get On The Inside"). That's not even getting into "A Straight Line," which, oddly enough, sounds like a Black Crowes B-side. Bono's appearance on the album-closing "Slide Away" conveys the tragedy that frames Michael Hutchence, but it doesn't make the album connect as anything other than a disappointing final chapter to a career with some underrated highlights. Far more successful is Morphine's The Night, recorded shortly before frontman Mark Sandman collapsed and died on stage in Italy last July. Morphine's unique ingredients—the former Treat Her Right singer's distinctly deep voice and handmade two-string slide bass, Dana Colley's baritone sax—have always been both a trademark and a limitation, but The Night finds the trio expanding its sound beyond its periodic tendency to fall back on noirish shtick. "Top Floor, Bottom Buzzer" is pretty standard Morphine fare, with its dusky sound and chugging pace, but it eases nicely into the creepy, whispered "Like A Mirror," which recalls, in its own way, the works of Tricky. From the beautiful title track to the knowingly cynical "The Way We Met," The Night ends Morphine's career—and Sandman's life—on a marvelous high note. The singer's death was a terrible shock, a fluke heart attack at 46, and it provides a strange sort of consolation that Sandman saved some of his best work for what no one knew would be his last.

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