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