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.
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.
2. It's About Time
3. Suicide King
7. I'm Not Singing
8. Heads and Tails
10. I'm Not Alone
11. Death Of Me
Mary My Hope - 1989 - The Roxy, LA
Mary My Hope - 1990 - Monster is Bigger Than The Man