The first time I heard this album (posthumously released only in the case of Mark Sandman: Dana Colley and Billy Conway continue with Laurie Sargeant as The Twinemen), I couldn't contain my excitement. Sandman had been dead for a good part of a year, and for a very long time the album's existence was merely a rumor, some vague record collector fantasy whose master tapes where located somewhere on the map in a region marked "Here there be dragons."

I rushed home from Newbury Comics, rushed up the stairs to my apartment, and tore off the plastic wrapping with a practiced motion. With a measured amount of reverence, I placed the CD in the player and watched as it disappeared into the depths of that most holy of temples.

I studied the photo of the night blooming cereus on the cover while listening to the first few notes wash over me, and was utterly depressed after about thirty seconds.

It's hard to explain why to someone who hasn't revered Morphine as one of their musical heroes ever since the band grew out of Treat Her Right, but it basically boils down to this: The Night is easily Morphine's most musically mature work and there will never be another album to follow it up.

This probably isn't my favorite Morphine album (that place in my heart is reserved for the other four), but it's definitely their best, their most intricate, their most textured, their most heartfelt. For long time fans, this is a nugget, the last bit of genius Sandman could give us before passing on. For newcomers to the scene, this is the culmination of a legacy. Savor this one, boys and girls. There won't be another like it for a long time.