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Rhythm & Views

Mark Sandman

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Listeners familiar with the low, deep and magnetic rock sound of the Boston trio Morphine may not be familiar with some of the other musical experiments of the late Mark Sandman, the endlessly inventive two-string, slide bassist and vocalist of that pioneering group. This two-CD, one-DVD box set aims to correct that.

The 46-year-old Sandman died in 1999, suffering a cardiac arrest while performing with his band at a music festival in Italy. Sandbox is the result of five years of compiling and archiving by Morphine drummer Billy Conway and saxophonist Dana Colley (now members of the excellent band Twinemen).

The set includes rarities, B-sides, live cuts, outtakes and other artifacts by Morphine; by Sandman's previous band, the swamp-blues Treat Her Right; and by several other less-known entities, including Hipnosonics, the Pale Bros., Super Group and Candy Bar.

Not merely a "best-of" or "greatest hits" collection, this is a celebration of the wide-ranging music that came from this gifted musical visionary. On Sandbox, tunes such as the hermetic, sleepy "Cocoon," the rockin' "Doreen" and such sly, introspective numbers as "Imaginary Song" and "Snow," are highlights, but each of the 31 cuts is a winner. The DVD includes rare and previously unseen footage, filling in the some of the cracks in Sandman's career. It's as essential as the music in defining his singular talent.

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