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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Enhanced CD contains "a live performance of Joe Henry on Sessions at West 54th Street and a comedy sketch with Billy Bob Thorton. Use it to access the Mammoth Records' website"--Insert.
No Track Information Available
Media Type: CD
Title: FUSE
Street Release Date: 03/09/1999

Joe Henry has the instincts of a good storyteller--he can capture a lifetime of small victories and even smaller defeats in a few seemingly offhand phrases--paired with a sensualist's delight in sonic pleasure. Recorded with help from producers Daniel Lanois and T Bone Burnett, Fuse is an atmospheric marvel, full of heavy-lidded grooves, lonesome trumpets, and desiccated lust. "Want Too Much" captures that moment when desire curdles into despair, and "Beautiful Hat" offers the stately elegance of a Crescent City funeral march. But the album's greatest marvel is "Great Lake," which begins, "Terri comes in laughing, shakes her coat off, and I just can't bear to look." The song only gets better from there, thanks to a liquid bass line and Henry's ability to squeeze four conflicting emotions from the repeated use of one key word. If Raymond Carver had written songs instead of stories and enjoyed life as much as he suffered, he might have sounded like this. --Keith Moerer

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Monkey
  2. Angels
  3. Fuse
  4. Skin And Teeth
  5. Fat
  6. Want Too Much
  7. Curt Flood

Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 9, 1999)
  • Original Release Date: March 9, 1999
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Fontana Mammoth
  • ASIN: B00000I8B7
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #206,587 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Abernathy on December 16, 1999
Format: Audio CD
One of the professional reviewers revealed how utterly out of it he--like most mainstream pop critics--is when he said of this album,
Joe Henry lacks the killer instinct of a great songwriter. For all his atmospherics, he's yet to compose a song worthy of propelling him into the mainstream. This sixth album seems mostly to be a sulky reaction to its predecessor, 1996's Trampoline, which was a blatant attempt to crossover.
I don't know where to start with my objections to such idiocy. Somebody tell this cat to stick to reviewing Brittany, or Christina, or, for that matter, Madonna (with apologies).
Joe Henry writes lush, literary music that sounds like it was made on Mars. I've heard nothing like it before. None of his work is an attempt at crossover, blatant or not. The critic has it exactly wrong: it's the mainstream that's not worthy of Joe Henry, and we can count ourselves blessed that Henry hasn't flattened out in order to sell. This is his best album, a brilliant, thoughtful, often comic take on the modern world. Would that more songwriters would take such risks.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Gianmarco Manzione on March 11, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I walked into a Ben & Jerry's one night and heard the pounding guitar of 'Monkey' busting out of speakers in the ceiling. I immediately demanded to know who was singing. After making a killer milkshake for me, the guy behind the counter brought out the CD case, smiling like a little kid who was delighted that someone else wanted to play. I wrote the album name down and bought it within a matter of minutes.
A new language is needed to describe the ethereal soundscape of this album. While "Monkey" is likely to immediately impress the most stubborn listener, the rest of the album will slowly sink into your mood; and then it will sink YOU.
Heavenly songs like "Skin And teeth," "Want Too Much" (produced by the brilliant Daniel Lanois) or "Fat" sound as if Joe Henry stuffed the night sky into a silk bag, moon and all, and ran off into the studio with it. Fuse is the result.
The lonely trumpets, thumping bass and funky, echoing guitar licks sound like they were played by musicians who just happened to pass by Henry as he was singing in a dark alley at night. There is desperate solitude pervading every layer of this album, right to its core.
I haven't a clue as to why brilliant tracks like 'Monkey' or 'Like She Was A Hammer," containing the most brilliant lyrics put to tape since Pink Floyd's last album with Roger Waters, didn't assault the charts. Though I doubt that is of serious concern for Henry. I hope to God that it stays that way. Henry is a private treasure for anyone who buys this album, or 1996's "Trampoline," which is equally as indescribable. So, to hell with the critics who see only black and white, successor failure. Maybe this album should have been released 20 years from now, when the world might be ready for it.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Doig on July 5, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Trying to throw adjectives at Joe Henry is a difficult proposition - Henry is an elusive talent, a wordsmith, with a very diverse style. Perhaps you could think of Henry as Tom Waits' slicker more urbane nephew - perhaps I could be way off the mark, in any case what we have here is another great record to enjoy from Joe Henry. Expanding on his excellent '96 album 'Trampoline' and it's forays into more urban, sampled territory from his previous leanings, 'Fuse' finds Henry even more at home in a dark, brooding, smoky jazz club, than the twang of a small town bar&grill. Ever the inventive lyricist, Henry clearly enjoys wrapping his lips around evocative phrases - take "... her fingers on your lips are like a penny for a fuse" from the delicious title track, or "rolling over granite there's a smell like plums and clay" from 'Angels'. Not to forget the songs - simultaneously taut and multi-textured grooves that are beautifully composed, very catchy and blessed with the perfect companion in Henrys deep, one of a kind voice. Standout tracks would have to be 'Fuse', the delightful 'Skin And Teeth' and 'Great Lake' all ruminations on fragile relationships carried off with an effortless cool.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 16, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Bob Dylan once said something to the effect that the key to being a great band leader is to surround yourself with musicians so good that you are the least talented player in the band. And on Fuse, Joe Henry takes a giant step forward because the musicianship is so remarkably strong. The hallmarks of Joe's best earlier work are still present - intelligent literary lyrics, creative song structure, impassioned singing and wonderful phrasing. But Fuse is stunning in its original sound. People are calling it folk "hip hop" but I'd argue that term is misleading. This is live musicianship that recalls the best of early 70's Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield in its ambitious soulfulness. Yet it is thoroughly modern in production sound and use of beats. Of course any record that Daniel Lanois and T Bone Burnett both worked on has to sound great. I'd call Fuse urban contemporary folk music. This record will appeal to any music lover ranging from fans of Lauryn Hill to Lucinda Williams. I've turned a lot of people on to this record (many of them musicians themselves) and every one of them has been as enthusiastic as I. The best record of 1999.
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