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

The men in the middle. Angelic vox ‘Jonathan Donahue’ and musical maestro ‘Grasshopper’

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’

10 Remarkable Albums Turning 20 in 2018!…

1998: A year full of versatile vibrations!
Here’s my selection – 10 remarkable ones!

1/ ‘Deserter’s Songs’ by MERCURY REV
Jonathan Donahue (lead singer/songwriter) said about their masterpiece: “It had the feeling of rebirth, of going down to the grave for quite a while and lying down there in the darkness and the quiet, and then someone pulls you up and shakes the dirt off you and
says ‘no, you thought you were dead, but you’re not.'”

Released: 29 September 1998 – their fourth album
Listen here

2/ ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours’ by MANIC STREET PREACHERS
Pitchfork: “The Manic Street Preachers are one of the few groups capable of integrating orchestral instruments in a way that still produces great rock music. Meanwhile, they
manage to infuse some quite dour lyrics with some of the most haunting melodies.”

Released: 14 September 1998 – fifth LP
Listen here

3/ ‘Good Morning Spider’ by SPARKLEHORSE
Pitchfork: “The album shines an old light on impossible things. He found the purity of
pop music and then lacerated it with the quirks and imperfections he cherished.”

Released: 20 July 1998 – second album
Listen here

4/ ‘Celebrity Skin’ by HOLE
Rolling Stone: “Sprung, flung and fun, high-impact, rock-fueled pop and the album teems with sonic knockouts that make you see all sorts of stars and is accessible, fiery and intimate – often at the same time.”
Released: 8 September 1998 – third full length
Listen here

5/ ‘How to Operate With A Blown Mind‘ by LO FIDELITY ALL STARS
All Music: “With an effortless grace unmatched by even their Skint labelmates, ‘Lo-Fidelity Allstars’ segue between acid house, hip-hop, punk, soul, and disco on their debut album. Previous high-energy singles like ‘Vision Incision’ and ‘Kool Roc Bass’ are included, along with new tracks like the surprising Hi-NRG/electro-fusion on ‘Lazer Sheep Dip Funk’ and early-’80s funk reminiscent of ‘Prince’ or ‘Jamiroquai’ on ‘Battle Flag’ (with Pigeonhed).”
Released: 25 May 1998 – debut longplayer
Listen here

6/ ‘This Is Hardcore’ by PULP
All Music: “The ambitious follow-up to their breakthrough LP ‘Different Class’ is haunted by disappointments and fear. By the realization that what you dreamed of may not be what you really wanted. The shift in direction shouldn’t come as a surprise, Pulp was always an arty band, but even the catchiest numbers are shrouded in darkness. An artistic triumph.”
Released: 30 March 1998 – sixth album
Listen here

7/ ‘Hello Nasty’ by THE BEASTIE BOYS
The Guardian: “It fills a gap created by the current profusion of serious rock bands like Radiohead, elbowing its way up front, and letting rip with adolescent vigour. The perfect
party soundtrack by the perfect party band.”

Released: 14 July 1998 – their fifth longplayer
Listen here

8/ ‘Mezzanine’ by MASSIVE ATTACK
All Music: “Increasingly ignored amidst the exploding trip-hop scene, Massive Attack returned in 1998 with a record immediately announcing not only that the group was back, but that they’d recorded a set of songs just as singular and revelatory as on their debut.”
Released: 20 April 1998 – third full length
Listen here

9/ ‘The Good Will Out’ by EMBRACE
All Mmusic: “One listen to ‘The Good Will Out’ illustrates why the group ingeniously combines the anthemic hooks and monolithic roar of ‘Oasis’ with the sweeping aural majesty of ‘The Verve.’ The record illustrates enough promise and panache to make it a first-rate debut.”
Released: 8 June 1998 – debut LP
Listen here

10/ ’65’ by THE AFGHAN WHIGS
All Music: “With 1965, the band finally made the gritty soul record just always out of their reach seamlessly integrating the R&B aspirations which have textured the band’s sound since the beginning, the music simmers with raw energy, its deep, dark grooves not so much white-boy as simply white-hot.”
Released: 27 October 1998 – sixth album
Listen here

MERCURY REV ! Psychedelic Autumn in Brussels…


MERCURY REV – Botanique, Brussels – November 8, 2015

A majestic venue that suits Mercury Rev’s beauty...
Jonathan Donahue – The King Of Swans…
Grasshopper – Heavenly guitar lines…
They turn grey into a bright color …
They turn autumn into a psychedelic spectacle
They turn symphonies into electrifying jams

The light in them…
M2 (2)-800
Avalanche of hIghlights from…
Deserter’s Songs (1998)
All Is dream (2001)
The Light In You (2015)
Sonic hat-trick
Nobody does it better

Spiritual happening
Mind bending orchestra

Goddess on a Hiway / Dark Is Rising
Songs made for eternity

The new pearl…

(All concerts pics: JL/TurnUpTheVolume!)

Here’s the setlist reproduced on Spotify

Website – Facebook – Twitter


MERCURY REV ! Poetic Beauty in Motion…

6 November 2015

TrackOFday-800 - kopie

Mercury Rev, the symphonic rock orchestra from Buffalo, New York is back.
Seventeen years after their masterpiece Deserter’s Songs later and seven years since their latest work Snowflake Midnight frontman Jonathan Donahue (singer/songwriter) and Grasshopper (guitarist/songwriter), his longtime sidekick & friend created another monument of magical splendor titled the The Light In You with The Queen of Swans
as first single. Poetic beauty in motion…

Next Sunday I will see them perform again in Brussels. In view of that I had the wonderful opportunity to have an interview with Grasshopper for American/Canadian music blog 50thirdand3rd. Enjoy some great stories about now and then, American cars, Mickey Rooney, Tom Verlaine, Jazz icons and lots of music. Click here for the… Interview with Grasshopper

Mercury Rev: Website – Facebook – Twitter

7 Big Album Tracks – Week 42…


1/ ‘Dust Bunnies’ by KURT VILE
Vintage Vile groove – his most enthralling album so far.

Album: ‘b’lieve i’m going down’



2/ ‘No End’ by LOW
Vibrant pop beauty from te harmonies masters.

Album: Sixes and Ones



‘Sympathy for the Devil’ intro followed by some nasty riffage – perfect!

Album: Mirrors



4/ ‘Sunflower’ by MERCURY REV
They’re back and having the time of their lives.

Album: The Light In You



5/ ‘Back In The Box’ (live) by JOHNNY MARR
Electricity on stage – from Marr’s brand new live album.
Album: Adrenalin Baby


6/ ‘I Need To Be Your Only’ by THE STRYPES
New album, new sound, new smoking drive.

Album: Little Victories



7/ ‘Feuiho Boogie’ by SWIM DEEP
Towering eight-and-a-half minute killer jam – titanic!

Album: Mothers



MERCURY REV ! Yesterday’s Infinite Beauty…



Band: Mercury Rev (Buffalo, New York)
Track: ‘Goddess on a Hiway’ – a towering song of infinite beauty…
Album: Deserter’s Songs‘- released in 1998 – a masterpiece of heavenly pop orchestration and symphonic colored rock majesty…
Tomorrow: the band will release, after 7 years, a new album titled ‘The Light In You’
out September 15…

Well, I got us on a highway, I got us in a car
Got us going faster than we’ve ever gone before
I got us on a highway, I got us in a car
Got us going faster than we’ve ever gone before

And I know it ain’t gonna last
And I know it ain’t gonna last
When I see your eyes arrive
They explode like two bugs on glass

Far above the ocean, deep under the sea
There’s a river running dry ’cause of you and me
Far above the ocean, deep under the sea
There’s a river running dry ’cause of you and me

And I know it ain’t gonna last
And I know it ain’t gonna last
When I see your eyes arrive
They explode like two bugs on glass

She’s a goddess on a highway, a goddess in a car
Goddess going faster than she’s ever gone before
She’s a goddess on the highway, a goddess in a car
Goddess going faster than she’s ever gone before

And I know it ain’t gonna last
And I know it ain’t gonna last
When I see your eyes arrive
They explode like two bugs on glass

And I know it ain’t gonna last
And I know it ain’t gonna last
And I know it ain’t gonna last
And I know it ain’t gonna last

It ain’t gonna last, it ain’t gonna last
It ain’t gonna last, it ain’t gonna last


Mercury Rev: Website – Facebook – Twitter