"Live At Phoenix" by Rachel Morrison. German CD release.
Details: 8 tracks / Total time 36:10 / Released 1993 on Anderland.
Style: Heartfelt pop.
Received: 9th April 1994 - from Germany.
Comment: This is an extremely rare CD only available in German WOM stores and it's the first CD release I know of from the ex-Bliss lead singer. In this short set we have Bliss songs ("I Hear You Call" and "Gotta Give Up"), a cover ("Natural Woman")
Rating: 9 out of 10. This begs for 3 or 4 more tracks !
How Does It Feel (The Morning After) 10" Promo - Inner Sleeve text
In the current musical climate Bliss are unique.
They neither fall comfortably into the camp of the hollow-
cheeked elite, nor do they feed the multi-coloured pop machine.
Bliss can be bright but never disposable, serious but never
as a posture of credibility. Bliss travel a path of heart felt
lament with a strident clarity of purpose. Their intentions
aren't to languish in a pool of sadness but to relate real life
with honesty and to spring forth through an uplifting fountain
of optimism. Scars are bared proudly as the proof of experience,
but with a vulnerability which lets the future hold secrets
untainted by lessons learnt.
Bliss certainly have a broad appeal, but they are also at odds with the common perception and the subsequent expectations of contemporary pop music. Indeed, pop is a far too narrow frame of reference. It neglects the importance of the influence of Gospel music upon the band, ignores their rubbed raw and invigorating,
soul power and takes little account of the fact that they mix and match rinses of different shades of the blues. The euphoria, the bruises and the occasional conflicts make for an instantly endearing and irrefutably durable proposition.
The promise and the appeal of Bliss lies partly in their frequent
and resolute displays of both courage and honesty and their determination to court potential danger is obvious from their
live performances. The rhythms veer from a gently lilt to an
emphatic tug, and, either way, the sweep and swerve of a Hammond
organ, the prick of notes fingered from a piano, the swathe and
sting of strummed and picked acoustic and electric guitar strings
ripple beneath, swashes above. At the centre of it all is the
bittersweet swell of Rachel Morrison's voice.
Tormented and delighted, her spirit is ever abandoned to the cause
and a spontaneous combustion of emotions flows alongside the instrumental improvisation.
With "Loveprayer", the band's debut LP which was released
earlier this year, the musical and lyrical plurality is
more refined but it is no less intense. There are songs of
suffering and songs of pure celebration, passages of
discontent and others of tranquility, pangs of loneliness
and calls for unity. There is pride and humility and
anguish and ecstasy. There are reliefs and there are regrets,
often within the grooves of a single track. All and nothing
is sacred and each sensation, each sentiment, is not only
confronted, but borne up on high. Throughout, an optimism
prevails, an irrepressible belief that every snap, whether
it be of a twig or of a vein, can be repaired.
Somehow, sometime, somewhere.
"How Does It Feel The Morning After?", the result of a fatal
attraction, is an accurate articulation of pain, a beautifully
simple revelation of a dreadfully complicated situation.
It is Bliss at their most overtly traumatic and yet even here,
in the cold, clammy grey of dawn, there is still a glimmer of
hope. It matters little how faint that glimmer might be nor
that it takes the form of sore-eyed stare and a series of
awkward questions with equally different answers. It's a song
which gracefully and passionately expresses a grim grasping
at straws. It is, of course, all that any of us can ever do.
In praise of humanity and of the accompanying tribulations
and palpitations, Bliss are the purveyors of a soul music
with the vitals still very much intact. They represent a
blessed triumph. Take flight, and take heart. Rise.
PUSH. July 1989
"Bliss perform with bare honesty, with a bucketful of guts,
and an astounding barrel-load of emotion".
"Rachel Morrison has one of those voices which stands out
like a granary loaf among all the Mother's Pride".
"Rachel knocks spots off most other female contemporary
female vocalists with a blistering, gospel oriented performance".
"The record is a veritable corker, turning our preconceptions
just like that Seventies footballer Rodney Marsh could turn
on a sixpence".
"Beautiful, airy and bending around the notes, hers may be
the best new female voice this year".
"Morrison's swoon-and-croon of a voice sounds like it's
truly testified to the blues of soul and the soul of gospel.
If emotional candour, guts and good tunes count for anything,
then LOVEPRAYER should light candles for the devoted".
You could be forgiven for thinking that Bliss are merely a
vehicle for Rachel Morrison's powerful, expressive voice.
If that were true they would not have produced a debut
album as good as LOVEPRAYER. Their real strength lies in
the quality of their blues-based songs couple with Paul
Ralphes' economical production and the band's love of their
chosen musical direction".
MUSIC AND MEDIA
"Loveprayer... a most accomplished debut packed with some
excellent songs, most of which are just begging to become
hit singles, and all of which are topped by Rachel Morrison's
"It's disturbing, it's terrifying. It kisses the end of my
nose and starts World War 3 behind my back. Shivering the
timbers it's what I call a miracle".
"Singer Rachel Morrison is blessed with a voice that rivals
anything you will have heard since Lone Justice's Maria McKee".
"LOVEPRAYER boasts some rare heights".
"Bliss are going to be very big. Catch them before they're
so big they have to go and live on another planet".
PROMO CD INSERT
It has been said that Rachel Morrison, singer of Bliss, doesn't just sing a song, she lives the bloody thing, embarking on an emotional roller-coaster seldom travelled by a white female singer since the halcyon days of Dusty Springfield.
The journey continues with the release of the band's second album "A Change In The Weather" in May 1991.
Bliss were formed in Coventry by Rachel and co-writer/bassist Paul Ralphes, their first two independent singles gained a favourable critical response and the release of their debut album for Parlophone, "Loveprayer", in 1989, led to major chart success in countries as diverse as Germany, Italy and Brazil (where they were voted International Act of 1989).
The group took their live show around the world, heading festivals and concerts from Sicily to Rio and earning a support slot with Van Morrison, the performances were powerful and intense, with Rachel receiving comparisons to everyone from Janice Joplin to Anita Baker.
Pared down to the nucleus of Morrison and Ralphes, Bliss recorded "A Change In The Weather" with producer Rupert Hine. The album features instrumental contributions from Paul Carrack and Liam O'Maonlai (Hothouse Flowers).
Ankeny, All-Music Guide
Bliss are Rachel Morrison on vocals and Paul Ralphes on guitar. Rachel has a beautifully clear, lilting voice on this, their second album. Singles included "Crashing Into The Ocean", "I Don`t To Hurry" and "Watching Over Me", all excellent tracks with
with non-album material on the CD singles.
Consisting of the beautiful vocals of Rachel Morrison and the fine guitar playing of Paul Ralphes, Bliss only survived a few years (initially as a group and then pared down to a duo) - Rachel is now solo. Their debut album Love Prayer was a bit patchy
February's Best Buys
Remix Of The Month
Meeker - Mountains (Darren Emerson Remix)
Husband-and-wife vocal techno duo Tom and Rachel Morrison
get a percussive tech-house reworking from their label boss
and it's the best thing he's done since leaving Underworld.
Perhaps because it sounds just like them.
Q Magazine - March 2001