THE MOZ ALBUMS…IN PREFERENCE ORDER

mozz

One of the oldest acquaintences of the blog – Friend of Rachel Worth – mentioned the other week that he’d be interested in hearing how I would rank the order of each of the ten studio albums released by Morrissey over the course of his now 27 year solo career. I’m never one to resist a challenge, and so here in, descending order:-

10. Southpaw Grammar (1995)

I have tried really hard but there is very little that I can bring myself to love on this album. I never imagined Morrissey recording and releasing songs that were in excess of ten minutes in length nor did I ever imagine that large parts of the songs would comprise instrumental solos from his band members. Oh and the two singles lifted from the album were really poor efforts.

There is no doubt that the release of this album challenged Morrissey fans to broaden their horizons and there were some critics who thought it a brave, bold and ambitious move. Not me.

9. Kill Uncle (1991)

This suffers from being released on the back of an outstanding debut album and a whole range of mostly tremendous non-LP singles which very few of the Kill Uncle songs come close to matching. Quirky is a great word to describe the record but sadly, the dull parts far far outweigh the really good parts. And the best songs were the two singles…

8. Years Of Refusal (2009)

There are some really good moments on this record with some cracking lyrics but overall I find this just a bit too bombastic for my tastes. It’s a record that provided Moz with some of the most positive reviews of his entire career but I can’t help feeling that such critics, younger than myself for the most part, will have taken satisfaction from a record which sounded like something they had grown up with in the 90s as opposed to us sad old gits who yearned for lighter sounding material

7. Maladjusted (1997)

This could have been one of the greatest albums of his career as there are a number of outstanding songs on it, but it is very badly letdown by some of the worst things he has ever recorded – those of you who have followed the singles rundown will know where I’m coming from. The title track remains a live tour de force.

There was of course a very interesting re-release in 2009 with two of the weakest tracks being taken off and six additional songs (many of them very good b-sides plus the held-back scathing attack on Mike Joyce) – if this had been the original release of the LP then it would certainly have been in the Top 5.

6. World Peace Is None Of Your Business (2014)

In a few years time this might rise up the chart as it is growing on me a fair bit. There’s a lot of great music on this album which is let down by some of the most cringe-worthy lyrics that Moz has penned as he seeks to ram many of his personal views and beliefs down the throats of listeners. I find some of it quite distressing.

Like Malajusted, this could have been a tremendous LP if some of the songs on the bonus disc/record had been included within the main release at the expense of what I feel are some of the weaker and most cringe-worthy songs. It would have been fascinating to hear the songs played live as I’d be very interested to see if his band, with all their rock-edges and constant abilities to butcher some of the great Smiths singles, can capture the lovely moments that this record provides – there is a chance to do so in Glasgow on 21 March but I have decided to give the gig a bodyswerve.  Tickets ranged between £50-£72 plus booking fee and handling charges and I can’t bring myself to pay that for an arena that holds 12,000 fans – especially when just a mile or so up the road there’s this even more attractive gig.

5. Viva Hate (1988)

The solo debut which suffered at the time from being a record without the talents of Johnny Marr. It was tough getting over the break-up of The Smiths but the release of the single Suedehead provided great hope for all fans. Sadly, very few of the tracks on Viva Hate matched its brilliance but on the other hand a couple of songs surpassed even the majesty of the debut single. For that alone, it holds a high place on my rundown although there are some songs I just don;t listen to all that often nowadays.

4. You Are The Quarry (2004)

The comeback album after a seven-year absence which proved he hadn’t lost it. For a while I thought this was my favourite solo album, largely on the basis of the cracking singles that were lifted from it but also because it was so exciting to hear new material after such a long time. However, as time has marched on there’s a few songs which I feel haven’t aged all that well – even in such a short period of time – and so it has slowly slipped down the list.

3. Ringleader of the Tormentors (2006)

The proof that the comeback was going to be sustainable. Soundwise, this was every bit as unexpected and surprising as Southpaw Grammar had been but this time in a good way. There were all sorts of weird and wonderful sounds spread across the album from all-out rock numbers to material that lended itself to being recorded and performed by a full orchestra. An unexpected joy at the time made all the better by the fact that it was toured initially through gigs at some very small and intimate venues normally off the beaten track which made the songs all the more memorable. I don’t expect to hear him record anything like this again.

2. Your Arsenal (1992)

Kill Uncle had seen many folk write off Morrissey – I was one of them if truth be told. I didn’t see how he could possibly make me feel excited about music again when there was so much great stuff to listen to out there and when my musical tastes were broadening considerably to take in, for instance, grunge and rap along with a new-found appreciation for country. But I hadn’t counted on the biff bang pow factor of this record albeit I was uncomfortable trying make sense of some of the lyrics which initially made me feel Moz was sympathetic to right-wing Nazis and football hooligans. A record that still sound fresh all these years on.

1. Vauxhall And I (1994)

Opening with what I feel is the finest solo song of his career (and I still will never fathom why it wasn’t a single….I can imagine it still today being lauded by millions and given the awful cover-version treatment on ‘talent’ shows) and closing with a track that many fans rate as one of the best things he and his band ever do on the live setting. This is as flawless a studio LP that he has ever released and one of my favourite albums, by anyone, of all time.

So there you have it folks.

mp3 : Morrissey – I Will See You In Far Off Places
mp3 : Morrissey – Seasick, Yet Still Docked
mp3 : Morrissey – Speedway

18 thoughts on “THE MOZ ALBUMS…IN PREFERENCE ORDER

  1. Great piece jc. Viva hate still number 1 for me. World peace swapped with ringleaders and I’ve got a strange soft spot for kill uncle that I cant really explain.
    Great series and really looking forward to see what is coming next , although hoping it isn’t the fall!

  2. you can always, with lists like these, argue over details – but I totally agree; Vauxhall and I is the best the man has done, in my book even by far the best.

  3. here are mine
    Viva hate
    Vauxhall
    Your Arse
    Quarry
    World Peace
    Kill Uncle
    Ringleaders
    Maladjusted
    Year of Refusal
    Southpaw Grammar

  4. Undoubtedly Vauxhall & I is his best, I’d really struggle to put the rest in order though I do agree with many of your comments (particularly about last year’s effort – Art Hounds should have been on the main disc!). I was disappointed to see you disqualified Bona Drag though… I know, strictly speaking, it wasn’t a real studio album, but many of the tracks were resurrected from his aborted second album and I still treat it as a “real” album myself. That would be my #2.

  5. Rol…if Bona Drag was eligible it would have been #1 on my list. It takes the best of Viva Hate and adds in some ridiculously good songs (Hairdresser, Playboys, November and Disappointed) while only really being let down by Ouija Board.

  6. Vauxhall and I is the correct No1 and for me is up there with my all time favourites (Technique, Power Corruption and Lies, The Clash {1st US Import} and The Stone Roses).
    Re. the upcoming Morrissey concert at the Hydro, after much contemplation, all to do with the price, I just felt what probably will be the last chance to see him live about a mile from my home was too much to miss. Dunfermline in 2011 was the same, better go could be the last. £51 for a standing ticket is taking the piss.

  7. If I may be so bold and completely contradictory, here’s my rundown:
    10. Maladjusted – The Original release
    09. Kill Uncle
    08. Ringleaders Of The Tormentors
    07. Your Arsenal
    06. World Peace Is None Of Your Business
    05. You Are The Quarry
    04. Southpaw Grammar
    03. Vauxhall And I
    02. Years Of Refusal
    01. Viva Hate
    In the past 5+ years Years Of Refusal has been the Morrissey album I have most listened to. Viva Hate is just a masterpiece for me.

  8. Always a tough one really, but I can’t help thinking Southpaw Grammar is unfairly slated. But you are right about Ringleader, the best of his records since his comeback. I do think some of the best songs were left off Quarry though – ‘Never Played Symphonies’ is one of the best tracks he ever recorded. Like ‘Scandanavia’ should have been on World Peace.

    The best? It’s between Vauxhall and Arsenal for me, but having trouble deciding which…

  9. Gordon…I too was at Dunfermline but also got along to the Usher Hall in Edinburgh the following year. I’ve also been lucky enough to see him relatively recently in Paisley, Greenock and Stirling and feel he’s at his best when he plays such old-fashioned and intimate venues…..I know the Hydro will be a very special night and if there hadn’t been an alternative and attractive option on the same date then I would probably have forked out the big bucks.

    Echorich…..would you fancy making a guest contribution in defence of ‘Southpaw Grammar’? You’re someone whose views and opinions I’ve long appreciated and admired and so I’d be very interested in reading in some depth your thoughts on said LP.

  10. For what it’s not really worth (1-10):

    Hate
    Quarry
    Arse
    Kill
    I
    Maladjusted
    Torment
    Refusal
    Grammar
    Peace

  11. Controversial call Jacques…..you’re clearly not convinced by the new material…and one of the few fans of Kill Uncle. Also interesting that Vauxhall and I is, relatively speaking compared to most, well down the list.

    But then again, I’m one who puts Strangeways at the top of the rankings when it comes to Smiths LPs

  12. Given I was 7 when the Smiths split, I came to the solo stuff from a completely different angle – the release of Maladjusted being the first Moz album I was aware of. Thus approaching the albums in retrospect I was well aware of what previous releases were ‘rated’ – hence Southpaw and Kill Uncle didn’t get much attention from me.

    As with most of the other replies, Vauxhall is the stand out. Quarry is a particular personal favourite, and probably my most listened to Moz album, and its release also coincided with the first time I’d seen him live – I guess that gives that album a special resonance for me. In order:

    10. Southpaw
    9. Kill Uncle
    8. Maladjusted
    7. Refusal
    6. World Peace
    5. Ringleader
    4. Arsenal
    3. Quarry
    2. Viva
    1. Vauxhall

  13. So you never got to see The Smiths play Aldo……I never knew that (!!!!!!!)

    (Sorry folks…..just couldn’t resist having a wee in-joke with my amigo)

  14. I love this post! Fascinating how all Morrissey fans come away with their favorites. You really backed up how you came to your conclusions. Excellent.

    My favorite album is Bona Drag, which really couldn’t make your list as it is a compilation. Every time I listen to it, though, I remember the thrill of those first 500 listens. And it was the 3rd CD I ever bought after Viva Hate and Disintegration.
    xoT

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