August 2001 saw the release of an album full of orchestrated wonderment, thoughtful compositions with a voice like no one else of the period. Mercury Rev All Is Dream is now getting the deluxe treatment with Cherry Red releasing a 4 CD + 7” box set featuring demos, sessions tracks and a previously unheard live set.
A dramatic opening to proceedings The Dark Is Rising passionately enters with a full on orchestra blast before the dust settles for Jonathan Donahue’s brittle and broken vocals to enter stage left. I don’t think I’ve heard a voice quite like this before, high pitched with a certain similarity to Robert Smith of The Cure, Donahue’s range fits perfectly here.
There appears to be a pattern of romance amongst the set. Nite And Fog utters the words ‘If God moves across the water/Then the girl moves in other ways/ And I’m losing sight of either’. With a melancholy swirling back beat this is utterly delightful listening material. With an appearance on Jools Hollands Later programme at the time they delivered a mean live version of this fluttering even more heart strings with their emotion lead concepts.
There are a further flurry of different emotions. A Drop In Time has a nod towards Leonard Cohen, but with playful riddles and creaky fairy tales of ‘covets like a dragon’ on Lincoln’s Eye’s. Chains takes on a deeper and darker edge to the rest of the album, cutting to the chase with dramatic strings that Beethoven would be proud of. Spiders and Flies is a specially carefully laid out masterpiece with Donahue’s spine tingling vocal, final track Hercules delivers the final dreamy verdict that this album would be best listened to whilst the rising of the sun on a new day dawns.
Of the extras the outtake of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds doesn’t have the tripped out similarities of The Beatles original rather delivering the bone shaking delicate treatment as you might expect from Mercury Rev whilst a Peel Session of Spiders And Flies buzzes and creeps around the speakers showing an even more brittle nature than the album version. The live set is a collection from a number of concerts from around the world including Copenhagen, Munich and Los Angeles including a cover of Bowie’s Jean Genie. All in all a splendid set which will entice new and experienced fans alike.
All Is Dream can be purchased from the Cherry Red website.