Mercury Rev - The Essential Mercury Rev, Stillness Breathes

What better way to open the parade of musical empiricism and mood setting vocal projection, spanning 15 years by the Jonathan "Dingus" Donahue led expansionists than with the theatrical vocal gripped, atmospheric groove rider of ‘Diamonds’? Despite being from last year’s return to form album ‘The Secret Migration’ it is, in essence, the Rev’s signature tune, featuring everything that they have held dear throughout their career of critic defying consistency. This sits comfortably with the proceeding ‘Everlasting Arm’, released twelve years ago and is a swooning carnival of catchy and longing pop at its freshest and it is very relevant today, having probably been a big reference point for the likes of The Polyphonic Spree and The Magic Numbers. Hardcore fans will no doubt rejoice in the inclusion of a number that was arguably former vocalist David Baker’s finest hour. Not long after this song hit the public domain, he parted company with the band, but they are not ones to gloss over their troubles.

The piano prowess that has been a hallmark of the Mercury Rev right from the start, is celebrated in ‘Goddess On A Highway’ and the relaxing sound oasis of ‘The Dark Is Rising’. It is the end of the 1st CD that shows the mind-expanding nature of the musical evergreens, with the Sonic Youth style atmospheric building concealed in ‘Empire State (Son House In Excelsis)’ and the lush lullaby of ‘A Drop In Time’, we are reminded of the multitude of musical expression that we have been blessed with. Disc 2 is more an exposure of the range of influences that have guided Mercury Rev. Naturally, the cover of Elton John’s ‘I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier’ and The Beatles ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ stand out. ‘So There’ (as read by Robert Creeley) is a fitting inclusion of one of their spoken word forays. Fifteen years, eh? Their sound and impact hasn’t age one bit.

David Adair

Click here to leave your Mercury Rev comments on the Message Board
(NB: The message board opens in a new window so please disable your pop-up blocker to view)