As 1992 beckoned, Beggars Banquet were understandably anxious for the follow-up to Deep. Sessions began in early spring with Mike Thorne signing on as producer. If successful, this album could catapult Murphy into mainstream success in the United States, which of course could mean several changes for how he would have to approach his art moving forward. The necessity of perfection led to the dragging of the recording sessions. Finally, in mid-April, Holy Smoke was released. The results, unfortunately, were very disappointing, moving only 100,000 units in the United States, a major disappointment compared to the 350,000 units that Deep had shifted in the same time period.
The reasons for Holy Smoke’s flop are numerous and go beyond Murphy and the Hundred Men. While not as solid in single worthy numbers as Deep, Holy Smoke still showcased a commercially accessible pop rock bravado that Murphy had come to champion throughout the early years of his solo career. But, by 1992, the music industry had shifted far from the pop rock sentiments it once embraced and now craved a new genre taking the world by storm – grunge. In having waited so long to create the follow-up album to Deep and feeling the immense pressure to match (at the very least) his previous album, Murphy’s work was no longer the “in” genre people were looking for. Furthermore, the album cover art work incorporating photography by Anton Corbijn led to numerous false rumors that Murphy was recovering from a heroin addiction, doing little to entice consumers to purchase the new album.
A tour of the US was booked for June and July to support Holy Smoke, the end result of which was the dissolution of the Hundred Men. This would be the last time, for a while at least, that Murphy would have a true band, opting instead to recruit musicians suitable for the sounds he desired as he needed them. 1992 would finish quietly and disappointingly, almost a step backwards in Murphy’s evolution as a solo artist. What would the next move be?