Morphine's fourth studio release, 1997's Like Swimming, was a bit of a disappointment when compared to such stellar earlier releases as Cure for Pain and Yes. After singer/two-string bassist Mark Sandman died of a heart attack on-stage in 1999, many Morphine fans assumed that Like Swimming would be the band's swansong thankfully, it wasn't. The Boston trio completed their fifth album just prior to Sandman's untimely passing, entitled The Night, and it's definitely an improvement over its predecessor. Whereas many of the songs on their previous album sounded unfinished and rushed, The Night sounds like a fully realized work.
Morphine leader Mark Sandman was the inventor of a sound called "low rock" — the distinctive blend of sonorous saxophone, bass and deep grooves that, along with Mark’s lyric poetry, propelled Morphine to fame. But Mark created much more than the brilliant music of Morphine. He was a tireless musical experimenter who wrote and recorded constantly throughout his life. Although Morphine and the seminal swamp-blues quartet Treat Her Right became well known and successful, much of his work was never commercially released and remains unheard — except by his large circle of friends, who he regularly commandeered to critique his latest, usually over a bottle of Patron.
Morphine's discography was cut tragically short, but with Rykodisc holding the keys to the vaults, and with a heck of a lot of unissued material (at least 60 tracks), the label released a second compilation of Morphine B-sides to mark the ten-year anniversary of the unexpected death of singer/slide bassist Mark Sandman. Like 1997's B-Sides & Otherwise, At Your Service is more abstract and challenging than the other studio releases available. Many of the songs here take a more free-form approach, potentially because they were never completely finished. Even so, the songs sound great, and with 35 previously unreleased songs, there's a lot to sort through and a lot to like.
Pay attention to the dates in the title of The Best of Morphine 1992-1995. That chronological spread means it's not a career-spanning best-of, but only covers their early career, with nothing from their final albums for the DreamWorks label.