Welcome to my blog!

UPDATE: Mediafire have suspended my account and locked my downloads. Having endured the tedium of re-uploading everything I had previously hosted on Mega Upload onto Mediafire earlier this year, I can't be arsed re-uploading everything again.

So please don't ask for things to be reuploaded!

I undertake this venture knowing that I don't have the spare time to do it, but feel that these artists NEED TO BE HEARD (please excuse my shouting!). Or is that I think I need to be heard? Or that there are (or have been) some great music blogs that have inspired me to wanna jump on the bandwagon? Probably all of the above??I hope you enjoy the blog. If I turn one person onto these bands that turned me on then it will all have been worth it!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Mary My Hope - Museum/Monster is Bigger Than The Man

Like Sea Hags, Mary My Hope were a band you've probably only heard about if you had your ears to the ground at the right time. They emerged in the brief interlude between the hair metal and grunge eras. They were part of what I (pretensiously?) thought of as a new-wave of "intelligent" rock bands, including Jane's Addiction, The Big F, The Buck Pets, Green River and Soundgarden. I felt Jane's Addiction and Mary My Hope led this pack, and was convinced they both had enough talent to be successful without necessarily becoming mainstream. I was wrong on both counts!! While Jane's Addiction were spectacularly successful, Mary My Hope produced two masterpieces,  Museum and the Monster is Bigger Than The Man EP, before disappearing in a puff of smoke and apathy.

Despite their talent, Mary My Hope had some things going against them. They were not easily categorisable, and had no obvious ancestors. They were a post-punk rock band with a psychedelic streak, and sometimes referred to as gothic – a cringeworthy kiss-of-death if ever there was one. And vocalist James Hall’s reputed moody and sullen behaviour did not endear him to the music industry movers and shakers. Some years later Hall admitted that being a teenager at the time, he was too young to appreciate what he had. 

James Hall has a versatile classic rock voice, handling anything from a whisper to a scream with panache. It's hard to pin his vocals down, though there is a definite Jim Morrison influence. Guitarist Clinton Steele, bassist Sven Pipien and drummer Steve Lindenbaum had a knack of understanding what the songs needed, and understood the quiet-loud-quiet dynamics later used so effectively by Nirvana. Mary My Hope were more a chord based band than a big riff band. They were more about feel than flash, but were capable of producing a dense and claustrophobic wall of sound. They were more a “listening in a dark room with headphones” type of band than a “driving on a sunny day with the wind in your hair”.

So onto the Museum album. Opener Wildman Childman is a workman-like driving rocker, competent but unremarkable, giving little indication of what is to follow until the outro, where the band start to flex their muscles. It's about time is more intriguing: two verses built around a subtle funky bassline, followed by two meandering instrumental breaks.

Suicide king is where things really take off. The song starts with subdued clean-guitar minor-chord strumming through the first verse and chorus, and then takes off in response to Hall’s rallying cry of “lift me up". This structure is repeated, leading into a heavy rock psychedelic freak out filled with oohs and aahs, demonic screaming and wailing and spooky minor chord piano. Fantastic stuff. Communion follows a similar template to Suicide King, before changing tempo midstream, and leading into an adventurous instrumental break with neat soloing.

I'm not singing and Heads and tails both have a subdued, bluesy feel, the
former with unsettling The Wall era Pink Floyd vocals, the former with a
Stones influence. These are followed by Grind, a crunchy mid-tempo rocker,
with some resemblance to Pink Floyd's Run Like Hell.

I'm not Alone is the second great song on the album, following the Suicide King quiet-loud-quiet template with another psychedelic freak out at the end. Death of me is subdued, with psychedelic effect laden vocals by guitarist Clinton Steele, and a haunting violin solo. A perfect song to end an album.

The Monster is Bigger Than The Man EP is a hodgepodge of material from different sources, including two songs from Museum, a Museum outtake, three new tracks and two live tracks. It starts with the title track, another quiet-loud-quiet epic along the lines of Suicide King, except with a longer, slower build. The song starts with psychedelic effects laden guitar and subdued vocals, before taking off at around the three minute mark with oohs and aahs, distorted vocals, and a guitar orchestra - more psychedelic guitars, guitar solos and feedback awash in reverberation – fantastic stuff. Brian Eno’s Needles in a camel's eye won't go down in the list of great rock covers but is interesting nonetheless, owing to the heavily chorused guitar effect.

Salvation Bus inverts the quiet-loud-quiet structure. It starts "loud" with a great opening riff and settles into a nice groove, before entering a "quiet" pre-chorus (almost the musical equivalent of the floor falling from under your feet!), and a "loud" chorus. This structure is repeated, followed by a mesmerizing chord sequence, a tasteful melodic solo, and then back to the pre-chorus/chorus and outro. A songwriting masterclass. Seven minutes in length, but not a second too long.

The live tracks I’m not alone and It’s about time don't reveal anything not apparent on the Museum versions, but clearly show the band could cut the mustard live.

I've also included the only unreleased Mary My Hope material I've ever located - from so many years go I've long forgotten where! It is an incomplete version of Monster is Bigger Than The Man from the LA Roxy in 1989. If anyone has the complete version, or any other unreleased Mary My Hope material they want to share, please (please!!) contact me ASAP.

James Hall later went on to a solo career with albums My love sex and spirit and Pleasure club, before forming the band Pleasure Club and releasing Here comes the trick and The Fugitive Kind. Clinton Steele later joined Swans, and Sven Pipien joined The Black Crowes – both quality bands, attesting to the musical talents of members of Mary My Hope.


  
Mary My Hope - 1989 - Museum

1. Wildman Childman
2. It's About Time
3. Suicide King
4. Untitled
5. Communion
6. Hourglass
7. I'm Not Singing
8. Heads and Tails
9. Grind
10. I'm Not Alone
11. Death Of Me




Mary My Hope - 1989 - The Roxy, LA

1. Monster is Bigger Than The Man




Mary My Hope - 1990 - Monster is Bigger Than The Man

1. Monster is Bigger Than The Man
2. She Will
3. Needles in a camel's eye
4. Salvation bus
5. Wildman Childman
6.  Hourglass
7. I'm Not Alone (live) 
8. It's About Time (live)

21 comments:

  1. Great post! Thanks so much. I'm a big fan as well. Here's their myspace fan site which posts demos, rarities, unreleased live tracks etc etc. You might find some cool stuff there. thanks again for your posts here! http://www.myspace.com/marymyhope

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the comment mauro, and for the heads-up on the myspace page.....I'm heading there RIGHT NOW!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Man Oh Man ! I've been looking for such a long time for MMH and today it happens but the links are for a closed site ! Could you re-upload Museum somewhere ?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Maha, I'll look at re-upping this in the next week. Stay tuned!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Maha, the new links are up - I'll also look at posting some other MMH material I've scavenged off the interweb shortly.

    ReplyDelete
  6. ThanX a bunch, Ralph. You make my day! About 19 years I haven't hear this record of them.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I really love your concept . I am all about the Lost . The forgotten and the Neglected ..Though My forte is the early 70's I thank you for your uploads of Mary My Hope . That is one of those bands I didn't know but would like to..

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks IndigoShades. Can you make any recommendations of early 70's bands to checkout? I figure if you like MMH you must have pretty good taste! I've found some good early 70's stuff on "365 bands in 365 days" but would like to hear more.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Awesome music - Thanks for keeping this alive and accessible to the world! BY the way, I think Frank Black is a fan!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Loved it. But have to set the record straight. The quiet loud dynamics are a Frank Black Black Francis God Pixies innovation. Nirvana Kurt wanted to write a pixies style song and came up with "smells like teen spirit". But thanks for posting all this great music ;D

    ReplyDelete
  11. On that note, how come Pixies and Mr. Black are not included in this blog? They should have really been extremely HUGE, espcially as their music influenced so much the music in the 90s and beyond. No pressure, dude, just my humble opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for the comments Anon.

    The original idea for this blog was to publicize great bands that people may not have heard of. The Pixies may not be huge, but they are pretty well known - at least in the Indie/Alternative world - and there is plenty of their material available on the interweb - so I hadn't considered posting them.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Awersome band. Got this CD over a couple decades ago and could never understand why they didn't make it...a lot of great music at the timne probabaly contributed but Museum is one of my favorite albumsof all time... Vocalist James Hall had a great solo career too although very few have ever heard of him.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks J Callen, couldn't agree more.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hourglass live at Birmingham hummingbird 1989

    http://snd.sc/ZjHyFq

    ReplyDelete
  16. http://youtu.be/EFwtFU7SGlE
    MMH spinoff band

    ReplyDelete
  17. Will always be glad for the time I spent working for Mary My Hope as part of their road crew. Its was great to watch this young band come about and quickly gain momentum. Good times and great music.

    - Randell Gillespie

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hey I am listing some RARE unreleased Mary My Hope demo tapes on ebay- check em out

    ReplyDelete
  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi!Could you re-upload =Museum= and =Monster is Bigger Than The Man= somewhere?Thanks in advance!

    ReplyDelete