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Never Say Never

Elliott Murphy

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Album Review

Except for its earliest period, 1973-1977, Elliott Murphy's recording career has been conducted on small, independent record labels, many of them in Europe, some of them founded by him. As such, Murphy has never had a hit single, but his concerts and recordings have been successful enough to earn him a faithful cult following that allows his career to go on, and he has periodically assembled compilations to sum up phases in that career. Diamonds by the Yard: A Career Retrospective, 1973-1977 cherry-picked the major-label years; Going Through Something: The Best of Elliott Murphy covered the period 1978 through 1991; and now Never Say Never takes the artist from the mid-'90s to the mid-2000s. Murphy is a consistent performer who has hewed to a similar style throughout his career. Strongly influenced by the folk-rock style of Bob Dylan and inspired by his readings in English literature, he writes and performs literate, poetic songs that reflect on life and love, employing rich imagery with an increasingly wry, dispassionate perspective worthy of Leonard Cohen. Blowing on a harmonica, strumming an acoustic guitar, and fronting a rock rhythm section (usually with a second guitar and sometimes keyboards), he sings those songs in a wheezy tenor reminiscent of Tom Petty, but less adenoidal. The ten songs he draws from his albums of the period are typically melodic efforts, leaning toward his more romantic side, and he makes room for a couple of long story-songs (the seven-minute "On Romeo Street" and the ten-minute "Put It Down") that recall such Dylan efforts as "Desolation Row." "Ground Zero" is a heartfelt evocation of 9/11, and the ballad "Everything I Do (Leads Me Back to You)" is a duet with Bruce Springsteen. There are also four previously unreleased tracks, of which the best is the dream song "My Father's House." "Dirty Old Man," on the other hand, may not really belong on an album claiming to contain the artist's best, but it is an amusing change-of-pace novelty. The album comes with a DVD that features five songs drawn from a concert in Ferrara, including such old favorites as "Last of the Rock Stars." There are also two music videos, a discography, and a brief biography.

Biography

Born: 16 March 1949

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A poetic lyricism is wedded to hard-edged arrangements by Long Island-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter Elliott Murphy. Although none of his songs have reached the Top 40, Murphy's influence is reflected through the music of Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed, the Velvet Underground, and Talking Heads. Guests on Murphy's albums have included Shawn Colvin, Phil Collins, Billy Joel, Sonny Landreth, Bruce Springsteen, and members of the Violent Femmes, the Smithereens, Talking Heads, and the Velvet...
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Never Say Never, Elliott Murphy
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