Head Up High – Morcheeba

Head Up High

All right…. so this album from Morcheeba falls right smack in the middle of Skye’s third solo album “Back To Now” from 2012 and their “reunion album” “Blood Like Lemonade.” It was originally released in 2013, three years after the aforementioned “Lemonade.” Unlike its predecessor, this one was actually recorded with Skye in mind, whereas the last one was already completed before she went into the studio and added her bit. So, then, without any further ado…. here’s some commentary on each song:

Gimme Your Love: What better way to begin an album than with Skye in total seductress mode? “Turn the light off, switch your mind off make it right for me….” Those lyrics definitely set the mood perfectly. Even though it’s quite a sexy song, they also managed to make it slightly funky, so you could even get up and dance to this… perhaps quite suggestively with your partner. Nothing is mentioned the CD booklet but it features turntable scratches and a female voice saying, “I feel so much better!” Was that a tongue in cheek thing? For all we know it could have been.

Face Of Danger: Next up is much more of a straight ahead dance number. In typical Morcheeba fashion, the subject matter is somewhat dark, then again they are singing about being put in a dangerous situation. At the end of each chorus, Skye sings: “I’m going to spill your blood.” The lyric: “I don’t need religion or a self help sage” makes you wonder whether or not Morcheeba are Atheists. On another note, The Verbal Herman Munster himself, Chali2na from Jurassic 5 drops by to bust a rhyme on this track. And it’s FIRE. It was even cooler when he ran out and dropped this rhyme at the Metro in Sydney in 2014. He and his other group (not Jurassic 5!) were the support act that night.

Call It Love: At this point, Skye’s been handling all the vocal duties. This time around, she takes more of a back seat and a man by the name of James Petralli steps in. Unfortunately he sounds just a tad bit annoying to this particular listener. That aside, it’s not a bad track musically, it’s certainly a lot closer to the original Trip Hop sound that they were best known for back in the day. Onto the next song.

Under the Ice: Phew! Now isn’t this more like it? An acoustic based pop tune with a beat that makes you step to the rhythm. Somewhat reminiscent of that Drum N Bass sound from way back when. Thankfully, nobody else is on lead vocals except for Skye. So then, how does one interpret these lyrics? Is it a love song? Kind of. Except it’s definitely not a happy love song, going by lines like: “You were my only love in life, now you’re gone… it’s like I’ve been trapped under the ice, leave me here…” Sounds more like lost love… perhaps even DEATH. Dammit, More Cheeba, why do you guys always have to be so dreary?

I’ll Fall Apart: Now this right here is pure bliss. Segues perfectly from the previous song. Better still, it’s very stripped down featuring a piano, acoustic guitar, lead vocals from Skye, her husband Steve Gordon is in the background singing along with the two brothers in the band, Paul and Ross Godfrey. Andy Nunn on piano… wow, this is an absolutely perfect combination. Come to think of it, a certain artist who wears high heels and mascara would have sung this song perfectly in that incredibly high falsetto of his. What could be better? How’s about another verse from James Petralli? Actually, to put it bluntly, it’s more like he bleats like a sheep. As soon as that happens, yep, you guessed it! SKIP!!!

Make Believer: At this point it’s midway through the album and Morcheeba are coming at you with a killer slice of Dub/Reggae. Not only will this song have you dancing around the room, you’ll be mentally transported to Jamaica. Sun is definitely shining and the weather is sweet. Absolutely. Skye’s vocals are nice and jazzy: “I love my make believer, take me on a trip from fantasy to fever.” Best song on the album. No doubt.

Release Me Now: Really weird intro that’s been spun backwards. When played forwards it’s clearly a cymbal crashing, followed by the sounds of something trickling. Introductions aside, it’s another dance orientated type of tune with a stuttering type of beat that, once again you could describe as Drum & Bass or Jungle. Skye is really riding the groove vocally. A very British rapper by the name of Nature Boy Jim Kelly is featured and he fits the track well. Clearly this is where they got the album title from, as it features the phrase, “Hold your head up high.” Damn! Why is this song not getting played on commercial radio?

To Be: “I want to feel untouchable like Eliot Ness.” Now there’s a name that’s not been uttered in music for years! Probably not since the ‘90s when the dude’s name was all over rap songs from around that time. What a blast from the past! Aside from that, this is a collaboration with a rapper named Rizzle Kicks, who also provides backing vocals. Really, man just turn this up loud in your car and cruise around. Feel the bass, this da bomb!

Hypnotized: Sounds like there’s a sample of an old funk song that runs throughout this one, but it can’t really be placed. Possibly a live version of “Papa Was A Rolling Stone.” Possibly a metaphor for somebody who has done somebody wrong. In this case the person is being compared to a snake, which explains the references to shedding skin and venom. Yet another collaboration with a rapper, this time a female by the name of Ana Tijuoux, who raps entirely in Spanish! It would have been nice if we had a translation in the lyrics sheet. EDIT: There’s also a reference to “speaking in tongues.” Aha! That must be the reason why we have a whole entire rap verse in Spanish.

To the Grave: Here comes that stuttering beat again. This time out it’s a lot closer to what Timberland may have done in his earlier days. In typical Morcheeba fashion the subject matter is a tad on the dark side of things, “I’ll take it to the grave,” meaning this person will NEVER tell their secret to anybody and they’ll keep it till they die. Some dark & brooding shit from Morcheeba. For real!

Do You Good: Much more of a straight ahead pop tune with a bit of rock guitar in the chorus. Very much a dance number overall. Skye is playing the role of heartbreak healer here, she sees a young fellow drowning in his sorrows and bawling his eyes out, so she steps over to him and says, “My love will do you good.” Oh, if only! That’s the whole point of songs though isn’t it? So you can escape.

Finally Found You: That whole notion of finding love when you least expect it appears right at the end of this album. James Petralli is on backing vocals once again, but he’s not exactly doing a bad job… even if the chorus somewhat conjures images of Simpsons characters holding hands and singing together in harmony. No, I’m just playing, it’s not a bad closer.

Verdict: Right before this album was released, Skye said that it would piss off a lot of stoners. Good! That’ll teach them. Or rather, as those old Warner Brothers cartoon characters would say, “That’ll learn ya!” Clearly this is a much more upbeat type of album even though there are indeed dark undertones. Overall quite an enjoyable album from Morcheeba (except for the bleating like a sheep and what not)