MERCURY REV – Their Symphonic Tour De Force ‘ALL IS DREAM’ Is 20 Today

27 August 2021

Band: MERCURY REV (Buffalo, New York)
Active: 1989–present / 8 studio LPs so far

Anniversary album: ALL IS DREAM – 5th longplayer
Released: 27 August 2001 – 20 years ago today

Pitchfork said: “Mercury Rev’s All Is Dream claims its share of
pop brilliance by taking up this position with enormous reserves
of intelligence, grace, and emotion.”
Full review here. Score: 8.5.

Turn Up The Volume: Along with Deserter’s Songs my favorite Rev album.
A symhonoc tour de force creating a trance-like atmosphere, actually the state
of mind crystal voice Jonathan Donahue loves so much. Orchestral conductor
Grasshopper displays his sparkling vision of how classical music can sound
like pop-ular music once again. A totally terrific accomplishment.

Singles/clips: The Dark Is Rising / Nite And Fog / Little Rhymes




Full album…


A two-man symphonic orchestra (Photo by Michael Bloom)

MERCURY REV – Debut Album ‘YERSELF IS STEAM’ (Was Almost Not) Released 30 Years Ago Today

Back in time…

14 May 2021

Band: MERCURY REV (Buffalo, New York)
Active: Since 1989 / 8 studio albums (so far), including their 1998 masterpiece
Deserter’s Songs – one of the best longplayers of all time in my aural book.

Birthday album: YERSELF IS STEAM (your self-esteem) – debut LP

Released: 14 May 1991 – 30 years ago today

In an interview with Turn Up The Volume (about 5 years ago) Grasshopper (guitarist
and Rev’s musical architect) told me that, after the chaotic recordings, nobody who
was involved, exactly knew how that their far-out musical sessions actually turned
into an album.

Fortunately, a video clip was made for the opening track Chasing A Bee
to give us a clear idea of the state of hazy mind of early Mercury Rev

Also, after all these years, amnesia faded out and some early days memories came to
the surface. So here are some, as told by key members Grasshopper & Jonathan Donahue and producer Dave Fridmann in a 2015 interview with Magnet Classics

Grasshopper (real name: Sean Thomas Mackowiak / Rev’s lead guitarist and musical architect) remembers the memory breakdowns: “In the studio, we switched instruments all the time. I’d play drums, Jimy or Suzanne would play bass. But we couldn’t really do that live. So, we’d have to learn the parts that each of us played, essentially teach ourselves how to play these studio creations in a live setting. We had taken the Brian Eno ‘studio as instrument’ approach to creating these songs, then we’d be like, ‘That’s crazy, I don’t even remember playing that.’”

Jonathan Donahue (co-founder/frontman-voice) about the impact of vocalist and
the band’s spokesman back then, David Baker: “Yerself Is Steam represents a stream
of consciousness, most of that being David Baker’s. He has a timeless delivery and wasn’t operating in the same time/space continuum as you and me. Remember, he’s not a singer,
he didn’t grow up vocalizing, playing in cover bands. His otherworldliness is what leaves the main impression from that album. I can’t stress that enough.”

(Key members Jonathan and Grasshopper – photo by Turn Up The Volume – Brussels 2015)

Producer Dave Fridmann (then-student and part-time recording engineer) looks back too in the same interview: “Nobody was planning or thinking ahead. There was no band, really. It was a recording project that turned into a band. There was no set agenda, no formula—just a bunch of people stumbling around trying to figure out how to write songs, and being recorded while that’s happening.”

The band’s lawyer: “You guys should take press photos with different people in
different combinations, because I don’t know how long you’re going to last together.”

The full steam team:

Jonathan Donahue – Silver pickup guitar, vocals
Grasshopper – Unafon guitar reels
Suzanne Thorpe – Point Red Flute
Dave Fridmann – Bass Explore, Majestic Bellowphone, additional engineering
David Baker – Vocals
Jimy Chambers – Drumming, Blue-Line
C. Gavazzi – Trumpet on “Car Wash Hair”
Dean Wareham – Additional vocals, production on “Car Wash Hair”
Keith Cleversley – Engineer
Kristin Peterson – Photography Mooneyham – Artwork

Stream Yerself Is Steam here…

MERCURY REV: All AlbumsFacebook

One of the best live bands I ever witnessed (17 times)
A Rev gig is a mind-blowing spiritual happening.
Waiting desperately for a comeback.


29 February 2020

THE NATIONAL‘s frontman MATT BERNINGER covered the tremendously moving song ‘HOLES‘ by one of my longtime favorite bands MERCURY REV. He did it for 7 inches for PLANNED PARENTHOOD joining other big-name acts such as Foo Fighters, St Vincent and Bon Iver who also contributed to the cause. Matt Berninger’s version is intimate, tender and just magical. A touching pearl that touches heart and soul.

Capture the magnificence here…

And here the heavenly original by Mercury Rev


MERCURY REV Released Their Symphonic Magnum Opus ‘DESERTER’S SONGS’ 20 Years Ago…

Going back in sonic history looking for memorable albums…

28 September 2018


Album: DESERTER’S SONGS – the band’s fourth album

Released: 29 September 1998 – 20 years ago

ALL MUSIC wrote back then: “Four albums in and ‘Mercury Rev’ remain as surprising and daring as ever, exchanging the volcanic noise and twisted sensibilities of earlier releases for ornate arrangements and ethereal strings, ‘Deserter’s Songs’ unlocks the beauty always hidden just below the band’s surface, its lush harmonics and soothing textures bathing in an almost unearthly light. Complete with its fractured instrumental interludes and odd effects, ‘Deserter’s Songs’ sounds like no other album, for that matter, it doesn’t even sound like Mercury Rev, yet there’s no mistaking the record’s brilliance for anyone else.” – Score: 4.5/5

TURN UP THE VOLUME! says: After hearing Rev‘s masterpiece Deserter’s Songs (thanks
to NME who voted it as their Album Of The Year in 1998) on repeat I discovered a totally other Rev than the chaotic group of the first LP’s. This felt immediately as an exceptional record. A symphonic phantasy from the magical start (Holes) to the playful end (Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp). A bit later, in January 1999 I saw Mercury Rev live for the very first time when they played an indoor festival in Antwerp, Belgium to promote Deserter’s Songs. Their captivating performance blew me away. It wasn’t a traditional concert, it was a spiritual and psychedelic happening. A starry-eyed trance-like event that left a lasting impression on my senses. I’ve seen them countless (about 20 shows if I remember well) times since, with their 2011 show at the Cirque Royal in Brussels as one of the most memorable and unforgettable ones, playing Deserter’s Songs in full. A once in a lifetime band.

The imperishable highlight

The beauty in full…

MERCURY REV: Website – Facebook – Twitter – All Albums

Stunning Singles Turning 20 In 2018 – Here Are TURN UP THE VOLUME’S 10 Picks…

Going back in sonic history…

1998 – Twenty Years Ago
10 Big Singles to Remember…

1/ ‘Celebrity Skin’ by HOLE
Courtney Love‘s best shot…
Album: ‘Celebrity Skin’

2/ ‘Pure Morning’ by PLACEBO
“A friend in need’s a friend indeed / A friend with weed is better…”
Album: ‘Without You I’m Nothing’

3/ ‘A Film For The Future’ by IDLEWILD
Steamy Scottish eruption…
Album: ‘Hope Is Important’

4/ ‘I Think I’m Paranoid’ by GARBAGE
Who is this band?…
Album: Version 2.0

5/ ‘If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’
Anthemic splendour…
Album: ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours’

6/ ‘Goddess On A Hiway’ by MERCURY REV
Epic magnificence…
Album: ‘Deserter’s Songs’

7/ ‘Teardrop’ by MASSIVE ATTACK
Elizabeth Fraser in another galaxy…
Album: ‘Mezzanine’

8/ ‘Battle Flag’ by LO-FIDELITY ALLSTARS
Big beats and a smoking swagger…
Album: ‘How To Operate With A Blown Mind’

9/ ‘Intergalactic’ by BEASTIE BOYS
Robotic hip hop craziness…
Album: ‘Hello Nasty’

10/ ‘The Rockafeller Skank’ by FATBOY SLIM
Dance floor classic…
Album: ‘You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby’