Little bit of a spurt on the ICAs as Badger has sent in one with a request that it be #100 in the series. Given how much he and his sidekick have contributed to this place over the years then I feel to not concur with his request would be very rude – but with no others in the pipeline it has meant me having to get my finger out.
I thought by now someone out there would have had a go at pulling together an ICA by our favourite miserablist and least favourite political commentator. I’ve thought about a few times but shied away from the challenge involved. But it’s time to man up.
Now please remember, these aren’t what I consider to be the best 10 Morrissey songs. It’s simply a go at creating what I think would make a fabulous and consistent LP.
And while I’m here, I’d like to dedicate this post to Robert, Hugh, Carlo and everyone else who has made Strangeways one of the best and friendliest club nights going and proving how much fun can be had from dancing the hours away to Moz and The Smiths in the basement of a very good bar in Glasgow. This coming Friday marks the end of six years of the night in its current format and I want to wish all concerned the very best.
Now My Heart Is Full from Vauxhall and I (1994)
Nowadays, I get angry and embarrassed by much of what Morrissey says in public, particular when he muses on what he believes has gone wrong with society in the UK and that certain right-wing ideas seem to be the best fix, and in all honesty it is becoming increasingly difficult to enjoy the music in the way I used to. And then I play this. And just about everything is forgiven.
Glamorous Glue from Your Arsenal (1992)
The most perfect tribute, musically, to the era when Bowie, Bolan and The Sweet dominated the UK singles charts in the early-mid 70s. No surprise given that Mick Ronson was on production duties.
The Last Of The International Playboys single (1989)
Just about the nearest thing we ever got to a Smiths single post break-up with Andy Rourke, Mike Joyce and Craig Gannon all playing on this wonderful ode celebrating an 80s Billy Liar.
Ganglord b-side to The Youngest Was The Most Loved single (2006)
As with just about all other artistes whose career spans such an extended period, there will be exceptional songs which, for some inexplicable reason, were thrown away as b-sides. This one was even more bizarre in that it wasn’t the b-side to the 7″ vinyl nor was it on the more promoted CD1 of the second single lifted from Ringleaders of The Tormentors but was only on CD2 where it was accompanied by a more than passable cover of A Song From Under The Floorboards.
Worth mentioning in passing that co-writer Alan Whyte, who achieved more than 80 writing credits with Morrissey between 1992-2008, has enjoyed continued success at the pop-end of the market with hits for Madonna, Black Eyed Peas, Cheryl Cole and Chris Brown among others.
Late Night, Maudlin Street from Viva Hate (1988)
With its tale of adolescent humorous self-pity this is something of a precursor for the autobiography that would hit the shelves in 2013. It is interesting to listen to how much Moz’s voice has changed over the years – it’s gotten deeper and the range of his youth is no longer here – and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’d ever be capable delivering a vocal this fragile and haunting nowadays. One of the few songs from the solo canon that would not have been out-of-place on any record by his former band.
Irish Blood, English Heart from You Are The Quarry (2004)
Seven years absence from the recording studio was always going to make the eventual comeback LP seem very special. Much of You Are The Quarry hasn’t dated too well and its initial fawning reception is evidence that many fans, myself included, failed to cast a proper critical look at things. Having said that, the comeback single remains a belter thanks to a hard-hitting tune and ridiculously catchy sing-a-long chorus.
Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself from Vauxhall and I (1994)
Another, thanks to the tune, that could date from the very beginning of the career when Johnny Marr was riding side-saddle with him. One of the many highlights from what, I think most fans consider, is the best album of his career.
November Spawned A Monster single (1990)
Few, if any, would have dared to write a lyric which challenged people to think about how they looked, and by that I mean literally look, at people with severe disabilities. Not only that, but have it set to a disturbingly uneven but somehow catchy tune in the middle of which you invite a guest vocalist to come in and basically make the sounds she imagined would come from the delivery of a difficult and painful birth.
Quite simply, one of the most astonishing records ever made by anyone.
Girl Least Likely To b-side to November Spawned A Monster single (1990)
If the subject matter of the single was too much for you, then, if you had the 12″ vinyl or CD version you could always listen and dance instead to another of the lost gems from the solo career. There’s some who argue that the lyric is completely autobiographical and has Moz hinting at his hidden sexuality although he himself has said it was written about a particular female friend whose ambition to succeed was insatiable.
Speedway from Vauxhall and I (1994)
It’s a very fine finish to a very fine album. Just seems appropriate to close this ICA in a similar vein. In my own strange way, I’ll always stay true to you dear readers.
So many songs that I wanted to include have been left off.
Only one thing for it – Volume 2 will be coming your way tomorrow.
Look on the bright side, that’s a day nearer you getting to read Badger’s latest tome.