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P.M. Dawn’s ‘The Bliss Album…?’ Turns 20

P.M. Dawn the Bliss Album
Gee Street

P.M. Dawn’s ‘The Bliss Album…?,’ a record on which the group blurred the lines between hip-hop and soul even more than on their star-making debut, was released on March 23, 1993.

The brotherly duo of Atrell “Prince Be” Cordes and Jarrett “DJ Minutemix” Cordes exploded on the music scene in 1991 with their first album, ‘Of the Heart, of the Soul and of the Cross: The Utopian Experience.’ The record was revolutionary in the way it blended hip-hop beats with silky soul vocal hooks and unexpected pop touches. (As you’ll see, P.M. Dawn never met a long album or song title they didn’t like — their second album’s full title is ‘The Bliss Album…? Vibrations of Love and Anger and the Ponderance of Life and Existence.’)

Most famously, the smash hit single ‘Set Adrift on Memory Bliss‘ was built on a sample from Spandau Ballet’s 1983 ballad ‘True‘ — delivered without any degree of irony. For their sophomore album, the group tilted their sound much more towards R&B and soul. This approach was previewed the year before with the release of the delicate piano ballad ‘I’d Die Without You’ from the soundtrack to the Eddie Murphy movie ‘Boomerang.’ The song reached the Top Five on Billboard’s singles chart and went on to become the closing track of ‘The Bliss Album…?’

Although a look at the album’s credits indicates the bulk of the music was created using traditional instruments, the group once again crafted an infectious mid-tempo smash by sampling an unlikely song — in this case, borrowing from George Michael’s 1988 chart-topper ‘Father Figure‘ to create the Top 10 hit ‘Looking Through Patient Eyes.’

The group showed their range by delivering both an unexpected and pleasantly surprising cover of the Beatles classic ‘Norwegian Wood‘ and a handful of rap-based tracks. The most successful of the latter, ‘Plastic,’ was a biting response to a handful of peers who had criticized the group’s “soft” sound and hippie-ish lyrical messages.

Still, the bulk of ‘The Bliss Album…?’ found P.M. Dawn confidently tossing any concerns about genre restrictions aside in favor of delivering ridiculously catchy numbers like ‘So On and So On‘ and ‘About Nothing (For the Love of Destiny).’ The LP became the group’s second straight major chart success, and seemed to herald bigger things for the future.

Two years later, the duo followed their instincts even farther from the mundane with their sublime, Marvin Gaye meets Portishead masterpiece of a third album, ‘Jesus Wept.’ Sadly, the mass audience didn’t come along for the ride on that one. The group released only one more official studio album, 1998′s ‘Dearest Christian, I’m So Very Sorry for Bringing You Here. Love, Dad,’ before fading away and ultimately splitting up after an extended period of rumored albums and random singles.

Complications from a pair of strokes have now reportedly left Prince Be in rather poor health, partially paralyzed and with an amputated leg. After the first stroke in the mid-2000s, he remarkably resumed touring under the P.M. Dawn banner without his brother and with cousin Doc G., who carried on performing under the band’s name by himself when Be suffered his second stroke.

Watch P.M. Dawn Perform ‘Looking Through Patient Eyes’

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