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Album Review

"What I wanted was to do the equivalent of a double album with a simple yet provocative production," writes Elliott Murphy in the liner notes to his twelfth record release. Though it appears on a single CD released in Europe and Japan, 12 is the length of an old double LP: 21 tracks in more than 78 minutes. And, like an old double LP, it sprawls, the songs ranging from reminiscences of childhood and Murphy's days as a minor-'70s rock star in New York City, to a brief ditty in which he recites the names of Japanese corporations. There is also plenty of room for Murphy to reflect on his career as a journeyman singer/songwriter. "Some say my songs are long and much too complicated," he sings in "Sicily (Tropic of Separation)," "but they're highly personal / I say they're underrated." They are also under-produced on this record as compared to some of his earlier albums, which gives them a more direct appeal. "I doubt if anyone but me can listen to all of this in one sitting," Murphy writes, and while that may constitute an admission that this album would be better if it were shorter by a third, still it contains some gems. (Originally released outside the U.S. by New Rose in 1990, 12 was released in an abridged, revised, and re-sequenced form under the title Unreal City in the U.S. by Razor & Tie in March 1993.)


Born: March 16, 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 Underground....
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