Back in 1990 there was a bit of a sharp intake of breath when the great man revealed that as a follow-up to his single about disability – November Spawned A Monster – he was intending to deal with another taboo subject matter, that of male prostitution.

Given that I was expecting some sort of gloom-ridden lyric over an equally downbeat tune, I was quite astonished to hear such a jaunty tune coming out (so to speak) over the speakers of an Edinburgh record shop one lunchtime:-

mp3 : Morrissey – Piccadilly Palare

Of all the singles he’s released over the years, this is the one that has unquestionably grown on me more than any other. My initial reaction was that it would be a great record if it had been released by Madness, but I really wanted Morrissey to be much more than a tribute artiste. But after a couple of plays and a close listen to the these lyrics I realised that this was one of the finest records he’d recorded up to that point:-

Off the rails I was
And off the rails
I was happy to stay
Get out of my way
On the rack I was
Easy meat, and a reasonably good buy
A reasonably good buy

The piccadilly palare
Was just silly slang
Between me and the boys in my gang
So bona to vada. oh you
Your lovely eek and
Your lovely riah

We plied an ancient trade
Where we threw all life’s instructions away
Exchanging lies and digs (my way)
Cause in a belted coat
Oh, I secretly knew
That I hadn’t a clue

(no, no. no, no, no. you cant get there that way. follow me…)

The piccadilly palare
Was just silly slang
Between me and the boys in my gang
Exchanging palare
You wouldn’t understand
Good sons like you
Never do.

So why do you smile
When you think about Earls Court ?
But you cry when you think of all
The battles you’ve fought (and lost) ?
It may all end tomorrow
Or it could go on forever
In which case I’m doomed
It could go on forever
In which case I’m doomed

Bona drag …

The song title refers to a slang language first used by Victorian-era male prostitutes, so the near music-hall tune really is a touch of genius. I suspect Morrissey was really disappointed that this only reached #18 in the UK charts, which at the time was the poorest performing 45 he’d yet released, for within a month of its release he was dismissing it in an interview with a UK music magazine as ‘not a particularly strong record’.

I wonder how Morrissey feels about the b-sides…

mp3 : Morrissey – At Amber
mp3 : Morrissey – Get Off The Stage

The former is a reasonable enough song that turned out to be on a par to quite a few that would appear on the LP Kill Uncle,  released just a few months later, which means in the overall scheme of things is quite disposable.

The latter however, (co-written with Andy Rourke), is the sort of thing that many of today’s young turks would probably revel in singing at Morrissey himself, with its barbed lyric about pop stars who have gone on too long and who release song after song after song which all sound the same. If, as is rumoured, it was written as an attack on Mick Jagger/Keith Richards, it is interesting to note that when it was released they were both 47 years of age and regarded by many as well past their prime.

Morrissey is still going strong in 2014 at the age of 55…….. he’s never performed Get Off The Stage live, and I imagine that he now never will.

Oh and trivia fact….the sleeve photo was taken by Anton Corbijn, one of the best known music photographers from the late 70s onwards, and more latterly a move director.


One thought on “THE MOZ SINGLES (31)

  1. Not sure that ‘still going strong’ is apt for Moz in the week that he revealed he’s had repeated treatments for cancer, but good to hear these again. ‘Get Off The Stage’ was the 7″ B side, making it a very music hall single.

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