Pocket Reviews #5 Comment: Bliss have now split and the lead singer Rachel Morrison (she
of the glorious voice) has gone solo - [I'll review her live album next
time]. IMHO, they were probably the best ever British group to have come
and gone with absolutely no UK single or album success (I would say that
Katydids take the runner-up spot). This disc comes with two non-album tracks:
"Life Don't Let Me Down" (wonderfully reflective) and "Love
Song" (beauty personified and some excellent acoustic guitar), plus
the album and extended versions of the title tracks, which is an uptempo
cracker of a track from their absolutely superb second album, although the
"extended version" isn't really different from the album version
[just an extended/repeated instrumental section]. Rating: 10 out of 10. It's the sort of CD that sends you into a deep depression
because they split up after releasing such a stunning album and accompanying
Single: "Watching Over Me" by Bliss.
Details: 4 tracks / Total time 18:16 / Released 1991 on Parlophone.
Parent: "A Change In The Weather" album (10 out of 10).
Siblings: "Crash Into The Ocean" (10 out of 10) and
"I Don't Want To Hurry" (9 out of 10).
Style: Heartfelt pop.
Bought: 1st February 1994 - 99p (second-hand).
Comment: Bliss have now split and the lead singer Rachel Morrison (she of the glorious voice) has gone solo - [I'll review her live album next time]. IMHO, they were probably the best ever British group to have come and gone with absolutely no UK single or album success (I would say that Katydids take the runner-up spot). This disc comes with two non-album tracks: "Life Don't Let Me Down" (wonderfully reflective) and "Love Song" (beauty personified and some excellent acoustic guitar), plus the album and extended versions of the title tracks, which is an uptempo cracker of a track from their absolutely superb second album, although the "extended version" isn't really different from the album version [just an extended/repeated instrumental section].
Rating: 10 out of 10. It's the sort of CD that sends you into a deep depression because they split up after releasing such a stunning album and accompanying singles.Trivia: Despite their brilliance, Parlophone have seen fit to delete their entire UK CD single and album catalogue :-(
CD Single Pocket Reviews #6
"Live At Phoenix" by Rachel Morrison. German CD release. 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") and 5 brand new compositions (which presumably
will appear on her debut solo studio album). The live performance (February
1993 at Phoenix - presumably a German club) is a wonderfully stripped down
acoustic one, allowing Rachel's amazing voice to shine. Of the new songs,
I enjoyed the emotional "The Universe" and the fragile "When
He Left" the most. In general, the mood is one of tenderness and heartbreak,
but we do get a medium tempo chugging number "You Got The Rhythm"
[for once, the guitar backing upstaged Rachel !]. My only complaint is that
I would be upset if a concert lasted only 36 minutes... Rating: 9 out of 10. This begs for 3 or 4 more tracks !
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") and 5 brand new compositions (which presumably will appear on her debut solo studio album). The live performance (February 1993 at Phoenix - presumably a German club) is a wonderfully stripped down acoustic one, allowing Rachel's amazing voice to shine. Of the new songs, I enjoyed the emotional "The Universe" and the fragile "When He Left" the most. In general, the mood is one of tenderness and heartbreak, but we do get a medium tempo chugging number "You Got The Rhythm" [for once, the guitar backing upstaged Rachel !]. My only complaint is that I would be upset if a concert lasted only 36 minutes...
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 courtpotential 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.
perform with bare honesty, with a bucketful of guts, and an astounding barrel-load
"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 glorious voice".
"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).
All-Music Guide (by Jason Ankeny)
Genre - Pop
The ironically-named British group Bliss was founded in Coventry, England in 1986 by vocalist Rachel Morrison and bassist Paul Ralphes. Drawing inspiration from black American folk music, soul, blues and gospel, they soon recruited drummer Chris Baker and guitarist Paul Sirett, and backed by a group of session musicians on organ, piano and brass instruments they introduced their downcast, sophisticated pop with a pair of 1987 indie-label singles, "I Hear You Call" and "Your Love Meant Everything." After signing to Parlophone, in 1989 Bliss issued their debut LP, Loveprayer ; while the record failed in both the U.K. and the U.S., the group became major stars everywhere from Germany to New Zealand to Brazil. After 1991's A Change in the Weather, Morrison took a maternity leave, and Bliss never again reformed; Morrison later resurfaced as a solo performer.
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
Another great Janis Joplin / blues singer
Susan Tedeschi's - Got The Blues
Lots of people ask if I've had a really bad life but y'know most people have bad things happen to them. I just have a means of expressing it, it's my resource. Anyway, a lot of the songs we write are really happy." - Rachel Morrison.
Former singer and songwriter with Bliss (not to be confused with more recent dance act of the same name), Rachel Morrison now performs under her own name, with husband Tom on guitar and (foot operated) bass drum. I believe she also sometimes plays with a full band. Quite well known in France and Tom's native Germany, she's sadly hardly known over here since the Bliss era. Her newer solo material is superb, and benefits from the reduced line-up, bringing the focus more towards her wonderful, soulful voice. She has previously played at the 12 Bar, Upstairs at the Garage (Supporting Cindy Lee Berryhill), and the Camden Falcon. See AMG Bliss info
Rachel's voice was first heard all over Europe when she was singer and main songwriter of Bliss, the british pop band that scored two massive pan-european hits with "I Hear You Call My Name" and "How Does It Feel (The Morning After)" (both composed by Rachel).
When the rest of the band wanted to turn the groups into a kind of dancefloor outfit, Rachel left Bliss (which, un-surprisingly sank into oblivion soon after!). She married and in 1993 followed her husband Tommy to his home country Germany, where she has since build up a new career.
Her first solo album "Live At Phoenix", recorded during an intimate club-gig, shows Rachel true to her folk and classic-soul roots. Wisely Rachel decided against all gimmickry in terms of orchestration, so what we get here is just Tommy's competent guitar and Rachel's unbelievable voice, rendering captivating performances of originals such as "I Hear You Call My Name" as well as breathtakingly powerful cover-versions (namely of Aretha Franklin's "You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman").
A real turn of ?faith? for every lover of timeless, natural, handmade music with a bluesy feeling.
Review of "Save Me" single
Meeker are husband and wife duo Rachel and Tommy, and their debut single appears on Darren Emerson's (of Underworld fame) Underwater label. Tommy is an engineer at Underworld&'s studio and worked with them on Underworld's "Beaucoup Fish" album and met Rachel in mid 90's guitar group Bliss.
For their startling debut they have covered Nina Simone's "Save Me". With Rachel's bluesy vocals and Tommy's rattling acoustic guitar coming up against the bass heavy pulsating throb, messy electronics, together they sound "... not unlike Aretha Franklin cutting with Underworld" (Select magazine). Features a brilliant remix from Future Shock. [Seven "Essential Tune"]
Meeker's 'Save Me', from Emerson's own Underwater stable, is a luscious and thumping trance-garage combination with a relentless groove and a voice that drips with restrained emotion.
Q Magazine - March 2001
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.
ARTIST/GROUP NAME: MEEKER
Tom and Rachel Morrison are really finding a niche for their unique sound and with Emerson reviving his Underwater label,
this features mixes from Darren himself and DJ Lottie. Darrens vocal mix is very good.
of the vocal is great over a dirty, tech funk sound. DJ Lottie also provides
an excellent mix herself.
With more focus on drums she uses some trippy disco'ish noises and small vocal snippets to make a mix that represents her style.
BIB Rating: 3/5
AngloPlugging (Promo single information)
"Mountains" (Radio Edit)
the second single from Meeker, an evolution of the band
Bliss, starring Tom + Rachel Morrison. The first single, 'Save Me'
was B-listed at Radio1. 'Mountains' features mixes by Meeker,
Darren Emerson (whose Underwater label this is released on) and
rising star DJ Lottie. Meeker are currently holed in the studio
putting the finishing touches to their first album.
Date: 5th February 2001
Anglo Plugging: 020 7800 4488 Fax: 020 7371 9490
MasterPiece - written on the back cover
- Meeker Information
the latest evolution of duo Tom and Rachel Morrison, have travelled a long,
serendipitous way from when they first met in the '90s guitar group Bliss.
Rachel Morrison, singer and songwriter released two albums with Bliss through Parlophone in '89 and '91
and her solo album "Liberty" in 1998.
Tom E. Morrison, guitarist, songwriter, producer, engineer and programmer, worked on various projects including Bliss, Twelve Drummers Drumming, Thinkman, Steve McEwan(World Party), Underworld and of course Rachel Morrison.
They first met through their mutual manager and hit it off straight away. Together they released three albums, '93 (Live at Phoenix), '95 (Live) and '98 (Liberty) and toured extensively throughout Europe.
The Underworld connection began when Tommy started to work as an engineer and mixer on the "Beaucoup Fish" and "Everything, Everything" albums as well as various sound design projects for Underworld off-shoot design group Tomato: Sony Playstation, Appollinaris and sound installations.
Meeker is a natural combination of their backgrounds and came about when unknown to Rachel, Tommy took some of the songs they had been working on and applied an electronic twist to their previous acoustic approach.
The results were picked up by Darren Emerson when he decided to revive his Underwater label. The first single "Save Me", heavily supported by Radio 1 was released on February 14th and went in at 60 in the UK singles chart.
single "Mountains" featuring mixes by Meeker, Darren Emerson and DJ Lottie will
be club promoted from the beginning of November and released in February 2001.
The band is currently ensconced in the studio putting the finishing touches to their first album.
The Meeker sound brings together live elements, sublime yet strong vocals with dance floor grooves and their recent live shows, honed over extensive touring through the past decade, show they are more than just the standard studio bound dance act.
- 'MOUNTAINS' (UNDERWATER)
Released on: Mon 15 Jan 2001
release on Darren Emerson's label really delivers raw dirty house at its' best.
A funky, throbbing bass line thunders alongside a funky guitar, while Rachel Morrison's vocal echoes and soars.
There's a deep, raw energy that keeps building to an aching peak, holding on just long enough to please, before letting go.
vocal mix is a superb tech funk workout which should not be missed, and DJ Lottie's
is a mescaline masterpiece for deep tribal dance floors.
This has it away and leaves you gagging for more.
Wed 6 Dec 2000
Meeker - Mountains
"Record of the Month" - Q Magazine March 2001
"Great funky slab of a baseline" - Stewart Dennis @ Victory FM
"Stunning Stuff. This could be a hit" - Clive Craske@Surf FM