OK…..time to own up.
A fair bit of the factual information that has accompanied this series doesn’t sit permanently in my brain. I’ve long relied very heavily on a wonderful fan site called Passions Just Like Mine, something that can truly be described as a work of art….
It really has just about everything you would ever want to know about The Smiths and Morrissey, including an incredible live history, which I can look back on and see that I’ve seen the great man play on 18 occasions, including 4 gigs with The Smiths:-
March 2nd 1984 – Glasgow Queen Margaret Union
September 24th 1985 – Edinburgh Playhouse
September 25th 1985 – Glasgow Barrowlands
July 16th 1986 – Glasgow Barrowlands
July 28th 1991 – Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
December 16th 1992 – Glasgow Barrowlands
February 3rd 1995 – Glasgow Barrowlands
February 4th 1995 – Motherwell Civic Hall
December 5th 1999 – Glasgow Barrowlands
May 22nd 2004 – Manchester Arena
August 31st 2004 – Edinburgh Corn Exchange
September 2nd 2004 – Paisley Town Hall
April 23rd 2006 – Stirling Albert Hall
April 26th 2006 – Greenock Town Hall
February 2nd 2008 – Edinburgh Playhouse
May 7th 2009 – Glasgow Barrowlands
June 20th 2011 – Dunfermline Alhambra Theatre
July 30th, 2012 – Edinburgh Usher Hall
While I’m quite proud of that number, it pales into total insignificance alongside the many fans who somehow manage to make the time to follow him across the UK, Europe and indeed further afield on tour. Nor is it a list containing every gig he’s played in my home city as I’ve missed at least three over the years. Two of the gigs turned out to be flukes – the Royal Concert Hall in July 1991 was when someone who had tickets for the original date in May 1991 couldn’t go to the re-scheduled gig, and then the 45th birthday gig in Manchester only came my way as a friend’s football team reached the Scottish Cup final that day, and he just couldn’t miss that for anything…so myself and Mrs Villain landed very lucky. (So if you’re reading this Aldo……thanks for being so wonderful. I’m still not sorry your team lost that day tho’).
All this is just background to this week’s single offering – one released back in March 2005 with a track taken from the LP Live At Earl’s Court and a track from the Manchester gig played on 22nd March 2004.
mp3 : Morrissey – Redondo Beach (live)
mp3 : Morrissey – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (live)
There has long been an argument a live recording can’t ever match the excitement of actually being there. For a while, I wasn’t sure if this was something true or a mere myth, but my mind was made up the day I bought Dig The New Breed by The Jam which contained two tracks recorded at gigs at the Glasgow Apollo that I had been lucky enough to have tickets for.
That was the day I learned its no myth….
Morrissey has released a fair number of live albums in his career, and in addition, a number of the b-sides of singles have been taken from live performances. Most of the time, the live versions don’t add anything to the previously released versions, although I will hold up my hand and admit that I prefer the version of Disappointed recorded in Utrecht, Holland in May 1991 that can be found on the Pregnant For The Last Time single as being better than the original. And does anyone really think that the solo performances of any of The Smiths back catalogue have been anything other than a letdown?
Please…..I’m not advocating that Morrissey shouldn’t sing any of the songs that helped establish him, but it really is the musical equivalent of a masterpiece painting being reproduced by a talented but well-meaning copyist….
So you can guess my views on There Is A Light…..
As for the cover of the Patti Smith song, well I need to put it into perspective that I don’t own a copy of the original. I’ve certainly heard it as I’ve been in someones room when the Horses LP was played, but here’s another admission that will get me drummed out of the indie-kids club……I think that’s an LP that’s well over-rated, and thus I’ve never bought a copy. Now if Redondo Beach as performed by Morrissey was something that excited me, I might have maybe gone back and listened again. But no.
The CD single came with a previously unreleased extra track:-
mp3 : Morrissey – Noise Is The Best Revenge
Recorded for a BBC radio session back in 2004, it’s a reasonable song but nothing special. If it had ever been placed on an album in recent years, it would most certainly have been considered by most as one of the weaker tracks.
There was also a DVD single released which also had a track this from the same radio session on it.
mp3 : Morrissey – It’s Hard To Walk Tall When You’re Small (radio session)
The original version appeared on the b-side of Irish Blood, English Heart and is one of the best vocals he’s recorded over the past few years…..and part of the tune reminds me of the magnificent Sweet And Tender Hooligan.
Live singles don’t normally do all that well in the charts, but this reached a more than respectable #11, although this might have had a lot to do with fans buying the different formats to get all the different versions (but hey….Morrissey and his record label are far from the worst offenders in that regard). The photo was taken in a cemetery in Hollywood by Sasha Einmann, and the sleeve notes advise that the ‘Johnny Thunders teardrop guitar is courtesy of the Morrissey archive.’