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Blowoff

After achieving prominence in the dance music world during the late '90s through a series of high-profile remixes and his work with Deep Dish, Richard Morel decided to step out from behind the mixing desk to offer his own tunes. But Morel's solo debut, Queen of the Highway, reflected more than just his background in electronica: it gave him a chance to draw off a lifetime of artistic experiences. Growing up outside Boston, Morel was turned on to literary titans like Tennessee Williams, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald by his mother -- while soaking up musical influence from his grandfather, a classical pianist, and getting an education in rock and R&B from his two older sisters. Leaving home as a teenager in the mid-'80s to explore the country via hitchhiking, Morel fell in with artists like filmmaker/photographer Mark Morrisroe, who cast him in the movie Nymphomaniac. He'd also taken up guitar and was beginning to write his own music, although it would be some time before it saw the light of day. In 1998, Morel teamed up with Washington, D.C., DJ duo Deep Dish, engineering the group's debut, Junk Science; the album also featured three songs co-written by Morel, including the homoerotic club hit "Stranded," which also featured his gravelly baritone. Meanwhile, Morel was developing a well-known stable of clients for his remixing services. As Pink Noise, he reworked tracks for such heavy hitters as Tina Turner, Depeche Mode, and New Order. By 2001, Morel had assembled a band -- guitarist John Allen, drummer Rob Black, and percussionist/vocalist Dwayne Tyree -- and recorded his first solo outing, Queen of the Highway. Full of dark lyricism and gay-themed tracks like "All of the Sweet Ones" and "Mean Time," set to a propulsive mix of deep house and guitar pop, the album established Morel as far more than just a studio wizard. ~ Dan LeRoy, Rovi
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