Yet again, I have MTV to thank for discovering Peter Murphy's Deep. Clearly, my tolerance for cheesy videos was as high as my ear was keen for great tunes. "Cuts You Up" was an alt-rock staple when this album was first released. Silly video aside, Murphy's baritone, sampled viola, and driving bass really made this track an instant favorite.
As much as I'd like to claim enough alt-rock cred to have known about Murphy through Bauhaus, I actually didn't get around to listening to Bauhaus until after discovering Deep – the third solo album from Murphy.
Gather round kids, gramps is going to tell you about the days before you could just pay $10 a month and get all-you-can-eat music from Spotify or Google. Deep was one of those albums I picked up based on the strength of a single song ("Cuts You Up," naturally). More often than not, this led to disappointment with the rest of the album. Not so with Deep.
The album opens with "Deep Ocean Vast Sea," which has groove, an undeniable bass line, and builds to a crescendo just before collapsing and leading into "Shy."
Mad props to The Hundred Men, Murphy's band assembled for this album. Every little bit just falls into place, walking between lush and orchestral to straight-up driving rock in the space of a single song. There's plenty of hooks to hang your hat on, and some blistering guitar that lies underneath the surface. Everything is well-balanced, with Murphy's voice just a little to the front.
"Marlene Dietrich's Favourite Poem" is a beautiful interlude, leading into the up-tempo and vaguely mystical-sounding "Seven Veils."
One of the things I love about this album is that Murphy's lyrics (and delivery) are a cut above your standard rock album. "Marlene Dietrich's Favourite Poem," is poetry in its own right. Plop "The Line Between the Devil's Teeth (And That Which Cannot Be Repeat)" into any book of serious poetry and it'd be right at home. While I loves me some Bat Out of Hell, Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman never quite rose above teenage lust.
I'm not entirely sure when I picked up Deep, but it's been in heavy rotation for at least 20 years. Surely that earns it a spot on my top 100. Some of Murphy's other solo work is worth an honorable mention, particularly Love Hysteria, which is slightly less accessible than Deep. Holy Smoke has some strong moments, but also some duds like "Kill the Hate." If you're new to Peter Murphy, pick up Deep first and work out from there.