After last week’s near centrefold of the great man, there really could only be one song selected today:-

mp3 : Morrissey – The Last Of The Famous International Playboys

This was his third solo single, and was released at the end of January 1989. It was a track that got a lot of radio play and fared well in the charts, hitting the giddy heights of #6.

In the humble opinion of this particular fan, this is one of the best-ever Morrissey singles. Produced by Stephen Street (who also plays keyboards), it has the benefit of having Andy Rourke on bass and Mike Joyce on drums, as well as Craig Gannon on guitar, which makes it as near a Smiths reunion as you can get sans Johnny. (Incidentally, the other guitarist on the record is Neil Taylor, who lists Morrissey alongside Tears For Fears, Natalie Imbruglia, Peter Gabriel, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, The Pretenders, Van Morrison, Holly Johnson, Paul Young, Climie Fisher and Robbie Williams as the acts he has played guitar for over the years…..)

On first listen it seems nothing more than a homage to the 1960s East End gangsters, Reggie and Ronnie Kray (who were immortalised on-screen by none other than Gary and Martin Kemp of Spandau Ballet). But it is also a lyric that links to The Playboy of The Western World a play that caused great controversy when first performed back in 1907….

The anti-Morrissey brigade had a field day when this single emerged, accusing him of glorifying gangsters and violence, when in fact it was an ironic comment on the media’s continual obsession with the twins. And while it is rumoured that Morrissey sent a wreath to Ronnie Kray’s funeral in 1995, I’m sure that this is nothing more than an urban myth, or at worst an ill-conceived media stunt…..

Here’s your rather enjoyable b-sides, neither of which were made available elsewhere:-

mp3 : Morrissey – Lucky Lisp
mp3 : Morrissey – Michael’s Bones

Incidentally, the cover star is Morrissey himself as it is a family photo taken of him at the age of 7 as he climbed a tree (a case of a boy at play……)

Oh and I played a big part in getting the song to such a high chart placing as I bought the CD and cassette versions (and have since picked up the 12″ version)


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