Myrtle Beach drummer breaks down Mary My Hope’s “Museum”

December 4, 2013 

Local musician Tommy Tipton breaks down Mary My Hope’s major label classic “Museum” released by Silvertone Records in 1989. Courtesy photo.

Tipton’s tips:

Local musician takes on “Museum” track-by-track

Mary My Hope’s “Museum” was released on RCA/Silvertone Records in 1989, and my first experience with MMH was the video for “Wildman Childman” on MTV’s “120 Minutes.” It was the summer of ‘89 and I was just discovering new bands such as Soundgarden and Jane’s Addiction, still a couple of years before Nirvana’s “Nevermind” would hit the record stores. I really thought I was watching a video of a new band that was about to be huge. So, I went to Sounds Familiar in Myrtle Beach the next day and bought “Museum”; probably from the late Jeff Roberts.

1. “Wildman Childman” - Opens up the record. One huge single snare hit, followed by an even bigger guitar growl. A simple power chord riff, then James Hall opens his mouth. Very few singers can pull off the rock-god vocal while still maintaining something deeper and darker to keep it from becoming cheesy. Hall nailed it.

2. “It’s About Time” - Another simple progression, but it’s the layers, dynamics, and tones that make or break a song like this. It’s the classic softer verse and huge chorus formula that the Pixies were also doing. Nirvana would later make this format infamous.

3. “Suicide King” - A jangly acoustic guitar introduces the tune. As Hall sings, you feel the darkness starting to come through the record: “I…I have no faith...It keeps me from tasting the joys of the world.” The song closes with a killer outro jam with unbelievable Plant/Cornell vocals that any singer would drop their jaw upon hearing. This tune fades into a minute of a track called:

4. “Untitled” - Which fades to the song on this record that still to this day makes the hair on my arms and neck stand up.

5. “Communion” - This song takes the darkness of Bauhaus, the bluesy side of Pink Floyd, and the sonic roar of Soundgarden and molds it into one song. Effected guitars, huge dynamics, a beautiful cello solo, breathy vocals sing: “Take faith by the throat.” The song suddenly completely changes groove into 3/4 time signature and rides out with counter melodies that you will walk around humming for days after hearing it once. I occasionally hear this song in my dreams.

6. “Hourglass” - This is the last song on Side 1. After “Communion” the band takes it back up for a good pop/rock hook. This song could have fit on any rock station at the time, with a simple, familiar-sounding riff; a good driving rock song about sitting here in the hourglass.

7. “I’m Not Singing” - A driving intro breaks into an acoustic/vocal verse. It then builds into a bluesy feel for the chorus. Why was this band not huge with songs and dynamics like this in 1989?

8. “Heads and Tales” – A little tune about killing your neighbor and having to apologize to Mom and Dad. ‘N’uff said.

9. “Grind” - This one showcases Hall’s vocal chops and the skilled musicianship of the rest of the band. I can see the Chris Cornell comparisons, which I’m sure Hall had to be getting during this time. An awesome break with a killer riff happens in this tune also.

10. “I’m Not Alone” - Another dynamic riff, kind of in the style of “Communion.” Again, Hall belts out those high notes, yet his softer side is still just as powerful.

11. “Death of Me” - The album closer; a dark progression on a reverb-soaked acoustic. The vocalist on this one is guitarist Clint Steele. A nice cello only adds to the ethereal vibe on this tune. Remember later in the ‘90s when all the grunge bands had their cello songs?

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