Cure for Pain

Cure for Pain

Wasting no time after their 1992 debut Good hit college radio airwaves and raised eyebrows everywhere, the Boston trio released this collection, which many fans claim as the band’s recording pinnacle. Refining what was to become their signature blend of blues, jazz and alternative-adult rock (guitars nowhere to be heard, everything driven by saxophone and bass and the late Mark Sandman’s brooding vocals), songs like “I’m Free Now,” “All Wrong,” “Let’s Take a Trip Together,” and the title track, “Cure for Pain,” are sinewy, stripped-down musical excursions that take the listener along on dark and forlorn rides to the author’s regret-filled soul. You almost feel guilty, dancing — reluctantly — to the sound of personal despair.  Sandman rousts enough energy to be a bit pissed off in the adulterous tale “Thursday” and the sax works up a froth on “Mary Won’t You Call My Name?” A whiff of hope lifts “A Head with Wings” into a lighter stratosphere, and the beautiful and spooky “In Spite of Me” floats, like a precursor to Iron & Wine, on frail mandolin and barely sung vocals. A classic example of truly “alternative” music from the 1990s.

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