HATEFUL AND HOLLOW

As promised, a bonus posting today, and it’s the first time that Morrissey has been the main feature of a post in more than two years.

Steve McLean, a dear friend of mine and occasional contributor to the blog, writes and performs comedy for a living. He’s very much of the stand-up or compere variety, and although a huge fan of much of the music that features on this blog (we first met at a Butcher Boy gig), he doesn’t really incorporate songs into his act.

Having seen this the other day on Facebook, I might start to encourage him.

I’m starting a new musical project called –
Morrissey Fan’s Stockholm Syndrome.

This song is called Girlfriend In A Coma

https://www.facebook.com/McleanSte/videos/10156908508866360/

Feel very free to share as widely as you like.

JC

GIG REVIEW : MORRISSEY, LONDON PALLADIUM : 10 MARCH 2018

A GUEST POSTING by ROBERT

JC writes………………….

Some of you might accuse me of rank hypocrisy here given that I said a few months back that I was going to make this little corner of the internet a Morrissey-free zone from now on. It remains my intention never to write anything but that won’t stop me accepting guest contributions, such as today’s piece from Robert who last appeared within these pages with his lovely tribute to the late Dolores O’Riordan.

This all stemmed from Robert putting up a Facebook posting late last Saturday evening that simply said “In my 27 years of going to see Morrissey I have NEVER seen him better than tonight!!!”

I responded by saying that I would be genuinely interested to hear why he thought that to be the case given that the new material isn’t (IMHO) a patch on older stuff and as for shows, previous tours taking in small halls in towns across Scotland such as Stirling, Paisley, Greenock, Hawick and Dunfermline surely took some beating. A few private messages later and I’d commissioned Robert to provide me with a review of the London Palladium gig. I think it’s a wonderful piece:-

So I made the statement on social media “In my 27 years of going to see Morrissey I have NEVER seen him better than tonight !!!” Straight after the show.

If I was to write it again today (Sunday) on reflection it would probably be “In my 27 years of going to see Morrissey I can’t recall seeing him better than tonight !!!

Some other points that are worth noting, I’m a fan and Morrissey has been in my life for almost 70% of it. I don’t share every view Morrissey has, I am neither apologist or spokesperson I don’t feel I need to. Morrissey has always been controversial , he has always done things his own way and polarised opinion. This is not new information.

My reflection on the gig was mine and how I felt and while others will disagree by pointing out other moments of glory last night it just felt right in every way for me.

The set list was well-balanced and interesting, the songs were sung with passion and intensity. The love in the room was tremendous and an air of finality, defiance and hope rang in very word sang or played.

I’ve seen Morrissey play some pretty pedestrian shows over the years , going through the numbers , ticking the boxes in small and large venues. I remember seeing him in Hawick to 450 odd people and think while it was great to be so close it was for me uninspired and a little passionless. I’ve seen him play well over a hundred times so think I can call out the good and the not so good.

I can’t remember the last time I saw him (outwith this tour) where I was moved and by fuck was I moved last night. It felt like a mixture of defiance and understanding how important the people in front of him were and giving them something back, something they needed and wanted.

He said “thank you, I honestly mean it, thank you” and I knew that he did. Something has changed with him and it’s been evident over the past few weeks he seems happy and contented every night. The recent shows have been filled with kids wanting to hear his songs not The Smiths, I think that has helped move things on but last night I don’t know if it was the intimacy of the venue in comparison to some of the stadiums earlier in the tour but it was electric and EVERYONE felt it.

Maybe it will be his last ever gig, apart from one show in Mexico, there is nothing else planned or announced so maybe he was bowing out and that was it, after the stretch of this tour I hope this isn’t the case but he has always said it will end one day and as I said he has always done his own thing. I don’t know, but as I said something has changed. If it was the last then I’m glad I was there to see it, if it wasn’t then I look forward to the next one.

ROBERT

Robert is one of life’s genuinely good guys.  Yes, he’s a Morrissey fan but you’ll see him at plenty other gigs in Glasgow by other bands – for instance, he was someone I was alongside at LCD Soundsystem at the Barrowlands last year and he’s a mainstay of the local indie scene championing all sorts of new and emerging bands over the years.  I’ve always valued his views and opinions and I don’t doubt the sincerity and the sentiments behind his review of this particular gig.  Cheers mate.

Oh, and I went online to find the set list:-

You’ll Be Gone (Elvis Presley cover)
I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish
I Wish You Lonely
When You Open Your Legs
Who Will Protect Us From the Police?
How Soon Is Now?
November Spawned a Monster
The Bullfighter Dies
Munich Air Disaster 1958
Home Is a Question Mark
I Bury the Living
Back on the Chain Gang (The Pretenders cover)
Spent the Day in Bed
Jack the Ripper
World Peace Is None of Your Business
If You Don’t Like Me, Don’t Look at Me
My Love, I’d Do Anything for You
Hold On to Your Friends
Everyday Is Like Sunday
Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up on the Stage

Encore:
The Last of the Famous International Playboys

Makes sense to feature this today:-

mp3 : Morrissey – The Last Of The Famous International Playboys

JC

OCD EPs : #5 : MORRISSEY

JC writes….

Another very unexpected e-mail.  Some of you will recall Dave Glickman came up with a great idea in May 2016 for the OCD EPs which he again explains in his intro to today’s piece.

Over the next few months he supplied the blog with such EPs for Father Sculptor, The Smiths, Gene and Joe Strummer, the last of which was some eleven months ago.  He’s come back and decided to feature Morrissey, without doubt the most featured artiste within this small corner of the internet but somone I have been avoiding in recent months as my own silent protest at some of the stupid and offensive things he’s been uttering around politics and race.  But, I’ve always said that guest postings will be taken for what they are, regardless of my own thoughts on the singer/band, and besides, what comes is, again, of a very high quality.  Here’s David to say more…..

OCD #5 : THE RARELY PLAYED SYMPHONIES

Well, after a rather extended hiatus, I am back with another installment in this series. Admittedly, the public clamoring over the past year for more has been less than deafening. However, I have only two more collections in my library that warrant this treatment and, after all, the series is about obsession and compulsion, isn’t it?
For newer Vinyl Villain readers and long-timers for whom the earlier posts had no lasting memorable impact, here’s a bit of repeat from what came before:

“And then one day, you just have to have it all…

I don’t know about you, but every once in a while I come across a band where I eventually decide that I have to get my hands on everything they ever recorded. It usually starts innocently enough – one album purchased on iTunes or a couple of songs downloaded from my favorite indie music blog. Perhaps I’ll find a b-side collection on a fan site and pick out a few favorites or come across a video of a particularly stellar radio or television broadcast. And then suddenly, the obsession kicks in. What else in their catalog is still purchasable? Where can I find the best quality rips of those broadcasts? And, by god, why didn’t I download all those b-sides when I had the chance?
With all this in mind… the OCD EPs are intended to be short collections of the best or most interesting obscure, off the beaten track songs that only the most ardent and obsessed fans might be familiar with and have in their libraries.”

Today’s selection is in honor of the boys and girl from WYCRA and in memory of their dearly departed blog. After all, it was their policy of deducting Saturday Song Challenge points for any and all mentions of The Smiths or Morrissey that finally motivated me to pick up my pen again and get on with it.

 

Side One

1. Striptease With A Difference (outtake)

At an earlier point, there was quite a bit of unreleased material from the Viva Hate and Bona Drag sessions. However, over the years, most of it has been released as b-sides or bonus tracks on album reissues. This would be the exception. Striptease is a rather witty lyric about Moz hoping to lose a game of strip poker over music that, to be honest, is nothing to write home about. Surely though, it can’t be worse than Get Off The Stage, can it?

2. Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself (alternate electric studio outtake)

One of my favorites in the entire solo catalogue, there really isn’t a bad version of this song. While the acoustic album version is in keeping with the overall mood of Vauxhall & I, the band also did a few amped-up takes. There are several electric versions floating around the internet, but this fairly recent leak is my favorite.

3. It’s Hard To Walk Tall When You’re Small (Maladjusted b-side session version)

There is a track of the same name officially released as a b-side to the Irish Blood, English Heart single and later collected on Swords. However, this is something rather different. Apparently, seven years earlier Moz tried similar, though not exactly the same, lyrics over a ballad written by Spencer Cobrin. Quite an interesting find!

For reference: It’s Hard To Walk Tall When You’re Small (official version)

Side Two

4. I’m Playing Easy To Get (BBC Radio Session)

From Passions Just Like Mine: “This song must have been written at some point in 2004. Its only confirmed studio recording is Morrissey’s appearance on Janice Long’s radio programme on BBC2, on 17 December 2004….A proper studio version was allegedly recorded at the end of 2004 alongside material meant to be used for b-sides on the “I Like You” single (which ended up being shelved).”

I absolutely adore this song and its twisted take on playing hard to get. In my view, the track actually has a-side potential, though obviously Moz does not agree as he hasn’t even released this radio session version. Now, if only I could get my time machine to work, I’d be heading back to Los Angeles on November 12, 2004 for its one and only live outing.

5. Sweetie-Pie (Michael Farrell version)

As I understand the story, Morrissey and the band worked on this ballad for quite a while during the Ringleader sessions but were never able to put down something they were satisfied with. Instead, the decision was made to cover it over with noise and additional vocals by Kristeen Young (just another term for “noise”) and release it as a b-side. While some people consider the officially released version to be some sort of avant-garde masterpiece, I am not one of them.

In any case, Michael Farrell took the tapes home, kept working on the song and then played his version on a radio program in 2009. This new version, which I find superior to the official one in virtually every way, was subsequently leaked on the internet.

6. The Bullfighter Dies (promo video version)

In an ill-fated promotional attempt, Harvest produced a number of spoken word videos to accompany the release of World Peace Is None Of Your Business. No doubt, these must have played some role in the subsequent falling out between Moz and the record label which led to the severing of their relationship and the eventual deletion of the album from the catalog.

While the sound from most of these videos is hardly worth your attention, the spoken word version of The Bullfighter Dies is the exception. Backed by muted trumpet and piano, Moz brings out a deeper, more serious emotional tone to the lyrics.

DAVE

BONUS POST : A REVIEW OF ‘ENGLAND IS MINE’

WARNING : Negative words alert!!!!!

What follows won’t really come as a surprise to those of you who are in the unfortunate position of being able to read my Facebook posts.

Within 15 minutes of the credits rolling on England Is Mine, I was back on the train home to Glasgow. The original plan had been to head along to a post-screening reception that Mr John Greer had kindly arranged access to, but I felt I was a bit casually dressed for such a grand occasion and besides, if I had to bow to the decorum expected of such events, I’d needed to have lied through gritted teeth about my views on the film if asked by anyone involved in its making.

Instead I got to work on an instant review as the train headed west. And here’s what I typed.

“Sorry to say, but I thought the film was a real let down. The script, or lack of one, was a shocker. Anyone who went along tonight with no idea of the backstory would have been bemused and not really been able to follow it.

Morrissey was portrayed mainly as a one-dimensional character, with just one short scene with Linder showing any sense of warm humour. The world of work is populated by one-dimensional characters lifted straight from sit-com casting central; nobody understands our would be poet/writer/singer, especially his male colleagues and his boss, while his one female colleague just wants to get inside his y-fronts.

Oh and it constantly rains in Manchester too……

Soundtrack was enjoyable mind you.”

Leaving aside that I repeated the phrase ‘one-dimensional’, it’s not too shabby an instant reaction. A few other folk I know were also at the showing and some of them also gave fairly quick reactions via social media and it’s fair to say they didn’t agree with me.

The first two or three lengthy on-line reviews that followed a few hours later were also quite scathing although later opinions tended to be more favourable and offered various degrees of praise. As far as I can see, however, nobody has come out and said it’s a masterpiece.

Reflecting on things almost 24 hours on and the word I didn’t use in the Facebook review was ‘boring’ because that would have been what I’d have said if I was asked for a one-word reaction. If allowed a second word, it would have been ‘cliched’.

The truth of the matter is that Morrissey, from the ages of 17-24, didn’t lead a particularly exciting life and so a film biopic will always be on a hiding to nothing. The main issue for me was the poor quality of the script, but as was explained in one review, this stemmed from the screenwriters’ inability to quote anything that Morrissey was known to have said in real life for fear of being sued given the whole venture was unauthorised. As such, the few decent lines were given to other characters and Jack Lowden, in the role of our protagonist, has to rely on facial expressions and mannerisms to convince us of the depth of his character (and to be fair, he does a reasonable job). The best performance in the film comes from Jessica Brown Findlay in the role of Linder Sterling, but this is perhaps down to the fact that enough is known about the real life Linder to appreciate that the actress delivers an accurate and sympathetic portrayal of someone who, in real life, is an interesting personality in her own right.

My biggest problem was the way the other supporting characters came across. It was as if the director and scriptwriter had watched The Office and decided that the male characters who worked at the Inland Revenue alongside Morrissey should be as Brent-esque & co as possible. Maybe that was what they were really like in the late 70s but it was really dreadful, unfunny and predictable – as too were the scenes in which our hero finds himself on an enforced date with his flirtatious female colleague.

Much has been written about the influence that Morrissey’s mother had on him growing up, but for all but one scene they barely acknowledge one another. There is also little made of Morrissey’s alleged rapier-like wit that seemingly got him noticed on the Manchester scene – for 80% of the movie he is mostly an incoherent, bumbling individual bar the occasional exchange with Linder, but all of a sudden, after he has come off prescribed anti-depressant medication, only in the final 15 minutes of the movie, in which has also smartened up his dress sense and gotten a fashionable haircut, do the barbed comments start to flow.

The most pathetic scene, however, was when our hero, having had his genius denied just once too often for his liking, goes all Incredible Hulk on us and destroys his previously cave-like bedroom where everything was in a particular place for a particular purpose. Oh, and don’t get me started on Johnny Marr being straight out of the cast of the UK edition of Shameless…….

I don’t like to be negative on this little corner of the internet, but having already posted how excited I was to be going along to the premiere, I don’t think I can avoid sharing these thoughts with you.

And in the interest of balance, if anyone wants to offer a more positive review, I’d be very happy to post it.

Any excuse mind you to post the song from which the film title is taken:-

mp3 : The Smiths – Still Ill

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #97 : MORRISSEY (2)

Oh you’ve come back today?  Pleasantly surprised given that I did warn what to expect.

Volume 2 is every bit as good as Volume 1.  The ten tracks selected yesterday were for a specific one-off record that I thought would flow very well and the concept for today is the same.

Side One

Suedehead from Viva Hate (1988)

The four minutes of music that calmed our fears. and proof that the end of The Smiths was not the last significant statement to be made in rock’n’roll.

You Have Killed Me from Ringleader of The Tormentors (2006)

Another of the more catchy tunes from his long career, it’s of a rockist type that none of us could have ever imagined him tackling back in the 80s.  But it is the sort of sound he has increasingly embraced as the years have gone on, partly as that’s the domain of his backing bands of recent times but also as it suits his more limited vocal delivery the older he gets.

My Life Is A Succession of People Saying Goodbye b-side to First Of The Gang To Die (2004)

As mentioned yesterday, some of the finest songs have inexplicably been relegated to the obscurity of b-sides.  This is a lovely slow/mid-tempo number in which our protagonist, not for the first time, bemoans his lack of luck in the love stakes.

The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get from Vauxhall and I (1994)

The single which preceded the release of the LP and took him back into the UK Top 10 for the first time in six years. It was a pleasant and welcome surprise that, after a run of singles and albums in which he was embracing genres like glam and rockabilly, he was returning to the more gentle almost indie-type of music with which he had first found fame.  Another one which still sounds great all these years later which is testament to the production skills of Steve Lillywhite.

All You Need Is Me from Years Of Refusal (2009)

Originally a new song on a 2008 ‘Greatest Hits’ compilation, it was added to the following year’s studio LP, his ninth in all but what turned out to be his last for five years.  Another rock rather than pop tune, its inclusion is as much to do with the self-deprecating lyric as anything else – something that Morrissey has done to great effect many times over the years.

Side Two

You’re Gonna Need Someone On Your Side from Your Arsenal (1992)

Another of the  glam rock efforts from the album that was produced by Mick Ronson, this is another lyric in which Moz doesn’t take himself too seriously.  Hard to imagine that it was co-written by the bloke resposnible for the ghastly Perfect by Fairground Attraction which went to #1 in the late 80s.

Everyday Is Like Sunday from Viva Hate (1988)

Probably his best known and best-loved song  here in the UK – certainly judging from the mass singalongs it entices when played at outdoor festivals.  Oddly enough, not one that I listen to all that often nowadays but included here as it was the perfect fit between what went before it and what comes next…..

First Of The Gang To Die from You Are The Quarry (2004)

The other song which also ensures a massive singalong when aired lived.  This opened his comeback/birthday gig in Manchester back in 2004 and it is the sole occasion when I have genuinely been worried for my health when watching music thanks to the massive crowd surge at the MEN Arena which lifted both myself and Mrs V clean off our feet; for a few seconds it felt like we were going to fall down and be crushed, accidentally, under hundreds of pairs of feet.  But we were determined to see this particular song through before retreating to somewhere a lot safer and so we held each other as tightly as we could and just went with the crazy flow. It proved to be strangely exhilarating.

Sister I’m A Poet b-side to Everyday Is Like A Sunday single (1988)

Another quality b-side that was superior to many of the songs that made the cut for Viva Hate.  It was exciting to buy the early solo singles with the knowledge that, as with his former band, some of the best stuff was only ever going to be available in such forms. Little did we know that all sorts of re-issuing and re-packaging would entail in the years ahead to make them more readily available.

Tomorrow from Your Arsenal (1992)

Get past the clumsy opening 20 seconds and you’ll come to the excellent ending to Your Arsenal and a song that was remixed for release as a single in the USA. Another of the pleading  lovelorn lyrics for which he is famed, this time over a tune that is reminiscent of The Smiths.

And with that, I’ll sign off and await the criticism for those tunes not included these past two days.

 

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #96 : MORRISSEY

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.

Side One

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.

Side Two

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.

 

TRIPLY DISAPPOINTED

disap

Three different songs that share the same title:-

mp3 : Electronic – Disappointed
mp3 : Morrissey – Disappointed (live)
mp3 : P.I.L. – Disappointed

The first of these the biggest ever hit single for the supergroup, reaching #6 in 1992. The middle track was originally the b-side to Everyday Is Like Sunday but- the live version I’ve shoved up today is from the flip of the 12″ of Pregnant For The Last Time. The final track is the 12″ version of a 1989 single that barely scraped the Top 40.

The Three Johns (Lydon, Marr and McGeogh) along with Moz, Barney and Neil in one posting? Now THAT’S what I call music…..

Oh and the photo used to illustrate the posting was taken moments after my team, Raith Rovers, had won a cup final with a goal two minutes from the end of extra time back in 2014. The look of disappointment and indeed despair on the faces of the opposition players is quite plain to see…..

 

MOZ AND MEXICO

MexMozWeb1

A few months back, a work colleague brought my attention to an article on Page 38 of Volume 416 Number 8949 of The Economist (published since September 1843).  The subject matter isn’t all that new….various t’internet boards have mused on Moz and Mexicio for more than 15 years now…but I thought it was worth passing on to TVV readers.

“The lugubrious strains of Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now waft across a sunny beach in Acapulco. If that song in that setting surprises you, then you do not know about the strange affinity between Mexicans and Morrissey, the morbid, underdog-loving front-man of The Smiths, a British band of the 1980s, who then went solo.

In Mexico City a band called Mexrrissey is hard at work recording an album of his songs in styles ranging from trumpet-blaring mariachi to throbbing norteño.  Its creator, disc jockey Camilo Lara, calls it Girlfriend in a Conga, a play on one of The Smiths’ wickedest songs (which puts the girlfriend in a coma). It’s not a tribute album. Morrissey’s lyrics, dripping with black humour, are translated into the mischievous Spanish of Mexico City. Morrissey’s First of the Gang to Die, about a murdered gangster, fades out in its Mexican version with ay güey, pobre güey (“hey dude, poor dude”).

Mr Lara says the bitter melodrama of Morrissey’s poetry strikes a chord in Mexico, where even in soap operas the poor make it up the social ladder only through lies and deceit. In Mexican street music, the exuberant melodies overlie bleakly funny lyrics about loneliness, depression and self-pity. The jubilant trumpets, like Johnny Marr’s guitar in The Smiths’ heyday, can strike hammer blows to the heart. Among Chicanos in the United States, Morrissey fandom is even more intense.

He returns the affection with almost ludicrous tenderness. Famously, he once described Mexicans as “so terribly nice. They have such fantastic hair and fantastic skin and usually really good teeth. Great combination!” As the son of Catholic Irish immigrants to Britain, he appears to empathise with uprooted émigrés to the United States. In “Mexico”, Morrissey sings of breathing “the tranquil cool lover’s air/ but I could taste a trace/ of American chemical waste/ and the small voice said: ‘What can we do?’” Chicano concert-goers sport “Moz” tattoos.

In his autobiography Morrissey describes the Mexican gait with the bemusing eccentricity that is one of his trademarks: “There is a certain Mexican movement of the head, telling we from elsewhere that they know very well how they are thought not to matter. Because of this they have abnormal strength and love, with anchored hearts beyond the imaginations of royal dictatorships.” That makes Mexicans swoon. “There is this violent country. And then there is this Brit from Manchester who sees us with eyes of love,” Mr Lara says.

Morrissey has not endorsed his album. Nor did he comment on Mexrrissey’s sold-out concerts this year in London’s Barbican theatre and elsewhere, where fans sang along in English over the Latin rhythms.

Lovers of Mexican music hope the album will build an international audience for it, as the Buena Vista Social Club did for Cuban pop. Mexrrissey might be happy with viral Gangnam-style success. Either way, the bond between Mexico and the melancholy Mancunian can only get stronger.”

And with that….here’s some tunes:-

mp3 : Morrissey – First Of The Gang To Die
mp3 : Morrissey – Mexico

Incidentally, I still haven’t gotten round to buying Moz’s debut novel far less reading it.  The various reviews indicate that I’m not missing much.

PS

Quick reminder that I’m looking for readers to e-mail me lists of their Top 10 LPs for 2015 so that I can submit a collective entry for the BAMS 2015.  Click on this post for more background.

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s at 45

119686704_b40e0d01bc

You can blame The Swede for this. The Belle & Sebastian posting a while back led him to leave this comment:-

“Your 45 45s at 45 sounds like fun, but was a bit before my time. Any chance of reposting the list one day?”

So I thought I’d delve into that archives for the entire series which more or less tells the story of the first 45 years of my life between 1963 and 2008. One per week for the forseeable future and with it being a cut’n’paste job it also in some ways gives me a bit of free time. Here’s the preamble to how it all began:-

“On June 18th 2008, I will turn 45 years of age. That’s in just under three months time.

One of my all time heroes, Bill Drummond, marked his 45th Birthday with the writing of a book that was partly biographical, partly philosophical but completely genius.

I’d love to have the talent to do something similar, but instead I’ve decided that I’ll make do by saying a few words on 45 of my all-time favourite 45rpm records.

Actually, that previous sentence is totally misleading. In fact it could even be regarded in the same light as Heather Mills’ evidence in her divorce case – ‘inconsistent, inaccurate and less than candid.’

Here’s why…..

(1) Not all of the songs on the list were released on bits of plastic that spun around your turntable at 45 revolutions per minute.

(2) The list is not my 45 all time favourite singles as I’ve decided to restrict each act/performer to one entry. Otherwise it would have been a chart dominated by a handful of bands such as The Jam, New Order, Orange Juice and The Smiths.

(3) What consists of a list at this particular moment in time could fluctuate on a daily basis. I reckon I’m firm on my all time Top 10…..but what one day might, for example, be sitting at #24, could the very next jump up to #13 or drop down to #33. And at the lower end of the list, some songs which bubbled under may find themselves sneaking in at the expense of something sitting proudly in the 40s or 30s.

(4) The 45 in question had to have been bought by me (or on the parent album as I was sometimes skint) at the time of release – this means that stuff that I grew to love years after it first came out are controversially disqualified.

So, over the coming weeks, I’m going to have a regular series counting down some great singles – and I’m going to also post the b-side as well (or Tracks, 2, 3 and 4 in the case of it being a CD single).

I’m in no doubt that what will gradually be revealed will irritate almost all of you as something you think should appear high up the chart suddenly makes an appearance in the high 30s. Or you’ll be hacked off when I choose a song that you’ll consider can never be regarded as the best 45 he/she/they ever released. Or worst of all, when a band or performer who you would have in your Top 5 doesn’t appear in the list at all…..

To give you an idea of how long this particular exercise took, I started off with a list of almost 300 names. For most of them, it was relatively simple enough to find my one favourite single that they had recorded. For others it was a really tough task. Over the course of a couple of weeks, I whittled it down. Once I was below 100 songs, it became almost impossible.

I hope that this will prove to be a series you find enjoyable enough, and please feel free to come on board with your comments, views and observations and savage attacks on my taste at any point in time. For now, in artistic alphabetical order, here are the songs which came in at Nos. 46-50…

mp3 : Billy Bragg – Levi Stubbs’ Tears
mp3 : Morrissey – November Spawned A Monster
mp3 : REM – Electrolite
mp3 : Stereolab – Ping Pong
mp3 : Violent Femmes – Blister In The Sun

See….I told you it wasn’t an easy task.”

THIS WAS STUCK TO THE FRONT PAGE OF A MAGAZINE (6)

Morrissey-Songs-To-Save-You-314998

Thus far any NME efforts in this series have harked back to the cassette era. This one however, is much more recent.

The NME and Morrissey have had an on-off relationship over the years. Simon Goddard sums up succinctly:-

His history with the NME is a tragicomedy unto itself. In the 1970s, they shunned his attempts to join their exclusive club as a freelance writer, barring him at the threshold of their letter page and the classified columns. Exacting the ultimate revenge, in the 1980s they lauded him as their pop saviour, the would-be critic having transformed himself into the object of their stupified desire. In the 1990s, as if suddenly humiliated by their sycophancy, they would try to destroy him. And in the 2000s they would beg him back on bended knee only to end their affair once and for all with an act of monumental dull-wittedness.

The bended-knee approach incorporated a Morrissey-curated free CD given away with the 19 June 2004 edition of the NME. The editor at the time, Conor McNicholas, penned these words:-

Morrissey hopes this compilation will say everything to you about your life, and maybe a little about his. Over the course of this CD Morrissey leads you by the hand from spiky punk to sun-kissed country grooves via bands he’s influenced and new acts he’s now consciously endorsing as the legacy of his talent and work. It’s a fascinating compilation and we’re very proud to present it. Now it’s all yours.

A wee bit over the top perhaps, but to be fair the 17 tracks are extremely diverse and as a free CD it is better than most. It was certainly unbeatable in terms of value.  As with these sorts of compilations, there really should be something for everyone who reads TVV but at the same time, I’m prepared to accept there will inevitably be stuff that gets on your tits…..

mp3 : Morrissey – The Never Played Symphonies
mp3 : The Killers – Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine
mp3 : Gene – Fighting Fit
mp3 : Sparks – Barbecutie
mp3 : The Slits – Love Und Romance
mp3 : The Ordinary Boys – (Little) Bubble
mp3 : New York Dolls – Vietnamese Baby
mp3 : Franz Ferdinand – Jacqueline (live)
mp3 : Raymonde – No One Can Hold A Candle To You
mp3 : Ludus – Let Me Go Where My Pictures Go
mp3 : Sack – Colorado Springs
mp3 : Remma – Worry Young (Demo Version)
mp3 : Pony Club – Single
mp3 : Jobriath – Morning Star Ship
mp3 : Damien Dempsey – Factories
mp3 : The Libertines – Time For Heroes
mp3 : Sir John Betjeman – A Child Ill

Morrissey would himself record and release a copy of the Raymonde track later that year as a b-side:-

mp3 : Morrissey – No One Can Hold A Candle To You

I should also mention at this point that last Saturday saw Morrissey play the Hydro in Glasgow as part of his latest UK tour.  For the first time ever, I made a conscious decision not to go along, choosing instead to spend my day at an alternative music shindig featuring, among others, Randolph’s Leap.

I do have the very slightest of regrets at missing Moz just in case it does turn out to be the final time he tours this part of the world and judging by the press reviews it was a belter of a gig….but against that, a couple of folk who were there and have been fans for years think that his best shows are long behind him and I didn’t miss out too much.

What I will say is that Randolph’s Leap were magnificent and provided further evidence as to why this, in my opinion, was the best album of 2014.

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

THE MOZ SINGLES (48)

morrissey-all-you-need-is-m-434474mp3 : Morrissey – All You Need Is Me

Not quite true, but an ideal way to end this long-running series which has looked, in what I hope has been an objective way, at all of the singles Morrissey has released during his solo career.

I’ve kept this till last, partly as I thought it was a great title to round things off, but also because of something bizarre that happened about two-thirds of the way through the series when I originally featured it about five years ago on the old blog.

When I started out, I wasn’t sure if I was in fact going to cover every single, mainly as I didn’t have all of them in the collection either on vinyl or CD. As time went on I realised with a little bit of wheeling and dealing on ebay and discogs that I could get a hold of everything and so I went about sorting things out.

I hadn’t bought all three version of All You Need Is Me on its original release in June 2008, going instead for just the CD as it was on offer in the indie record shop. Then maybe two or so months back , I noticed someone was selling both 7″ singles. So I went into make a bid….and discovered that the seller was none other than Rol, who, as well as being a regular reader of The Vinyl Villain, had his own blog called Sunset over Slawit. (sadly now defunct, be Rol is still entertaining us thanks to My Top Ten)

I sent Rol an email asking if, instead of a bidding war on ebay, he perhaps had a price in mind over which we might be able to come to an arrangement. To my delight he said yes. And to my delight and astonishment he said I could have them for free and that he would even pay for the postage.

As I said at the time it’s those sort of gestures and acts of kindness that make all this blogging malarkey so worthwhile.

Rol said that he was happy to do all this as a thank you for all the postings I had done over the years and for giving him the chance to listen to some songs he had either long forgotten about or which were new and enjoyable. I still would have been happy to pay the going rate for the singles…..

So what are the three final b-sides brought forward for your aural pleasure? Well, one is a quite rare live cover version that the great man only ever performed on about seven occasions while the other two are songs that would have improved his last LP if they had been kept back for that:-

mp3 : Morrissey – Drive-In Saturday (live)
mp3 : Morrissey – My Dearest Love
mp3 : Morrissey – Children In Pieces

The more than passable cover of the David Bowie single dates from May 2007 and was part of the encore of the gig held at the Orpheum Theatre in Omaha, Nebraska. It was preceded by Everyday Is Like Sunday and followed up with the last song of the evening, You’re Gonna Need Someone On Your Side.

My Dearest Love is a fabulous song, one that is heavily dominated by the piano and as such a real welcome move away from the brash guitars that have been such a prominent part of most tunes since Jesse Tobias joined the backing band and got involved in writing material.

Children In Pieces may well have been inspired by the 2002 movie The Magdalene Sisters which was written and directed by the superbly talented Peter Mullan, a resident of Glasgow (and with whom I once got drunk at an awards ceremony!!). Morrissey’s song deals with similar themes covered in the movie, and while the lyrics are direct and unflinching, it doesn’t quite work as they are sung over an upbeat and plodding tune that is completely out of sync with the sentiments. Maybe one day Morrissey will return to the lyric and re-record it with a more appropriate tune…but I doubt it.

Both of the two new b-sides were produced by Oscar-winning composer Gustavo Santaolla, who is best known for his score for Brokeback Mountain.

All You Need Is me only reached #24 in the UK charts when it deserved so much better. But as this series has shown, an awful lot of the singles suffered a similar fate.

Morrissey? We’re gonna miss him when he’s gone…….

Next Sunday will see the start of a new weekly series…which coincidentally is also going to have 48 parts.

THE MOZ SINGLES (44, 45, 46 & 47)

Morrissey_World_Peace_Album_Art

And so it came to pass that in the year 2014 AD, Steven Patrick Morrissey released four download only singles, all of which would subsequently appear on his critically acclaimed LP World Peace Is None Of Your Business, the tenth studio album of his career.

I’m not all that convinced that it is the memorable return to form that many people have been raving about this past few months. It does have a number of more than decent tunes, but there’s also a few clunkers in there as well, while the marketing ploy of having ‘a deluxe edition with bonus tracks’ was annoying, especially as the inclusion of a number of these tracks on the ‘official’ album would have made it a far stronger record.

The download singles were, in chronological order:-

World Peace Is None of Your Business : released on 13 May and which reached #83 in the Uk singles chart

Istanbul : released on 20 May

Earth Is the Loneliest Planet : released on 3 June

The Bullfighter Dies : released on 17 June

Each of them came with a music video consisting of a spoken word performance which was a neat twist. I had planned to provide links to said videos but they’re not available anywhere, innocent victims of the spat which broke out between the singer and Harvest Records in respect of the (non) promotion of the new album.  Here’s what Morrissey said about it in an open letter:-

PLEASE CLOSE THE DOOR BEHIND ME: Morrissey statement

In response to 77 million questions I can only say this much on the subject of the Harvest drama. It is quite true that Harvest initially appeared like a saintly beacon of light, and they instantly packed us off to France where we recorded World peace is none of your business. The universe was back in balance, and we all considered this to be the very best Morrissey recording ever, and even the boo-hoo-suck-it-off elements of the press appeared to want to agree. At last I am born.

It all seemed too good to be true. It was. I believed that the rich soil of the album had several strong hit singles. Frayed tempers began when Harvest arranged the ‘spoken word’ films, none of which gave any clue as to what World peace is none of your business intended to be, or is. The films were OK, but they went nowhere and stayed there.

With every nerve alert, we pushed the label for a proper video for Istanbul to precede the album, not least of all because a single ahead of the album release might inch the album to a higher chart position. The label backed off, even though Istanbul received 55 radio plays in just seven days on a major US station. Instead, the label requested a fifth spoken-word film, which naturally had me fumbling around for an axe: no independent thought required. The UK label, meanwhile, created a quite fantastic television advertisement to transmit during the week ahead of the album release. I could taste excitement once again. The TV ad never appeared and my hackles bristled as my bristles heckled. The label responded with frosty aloofness, and I suddenly realized that we were not, after all, of the same species. I ploughed into them insisting upon “proper band videos, where the band play and I sing” – an evidently confusing concept that required seven weeks of explanation, detailed graphs and several drawn up maps.

The label suggested I come to Los Angeles and read passages from Autobiography in front of selected audiences. As frightening as that idea was, I hung on, desperate to believe that Harvest were not as cheap as they now looked. I hope to finish this statement whilst I’m still clean-shaven, so I will jump to the final curtain: during the weeks of the album release, the label were minus one single structural idea, and it appeared evident that each member of the team was acting in separate rooms without doors or windows. Mutual mistrust exploded between Harvest and I, and with fashionable pessimism, the label boss yawned and ordered the surface smartness of dropping World peace is none of your business three weeks after its release. There, now! This would not have happened to the Teletubbies.

Sorrily botched the project may now be, but it’s worth it to get Morrissey out of our Inbox. Yes, I can be intensely persistent, and I certainly have an over-active fantasy-life, but the Harvest experience tells us that despite the blinding flash of teeth and smiles, it doesn’t take much for the coin to flip and suddenly we’re all compromised and shattered. All you need to do is disagree with the vanity of the label boss and your beheading will be slotted in between bottles of the most average champagne on the market. Just one weak-chinned drone can assert the fist of injustice and all of our efforts are flushed away. And thus … they were.

I might be wrong, but I think World peace is none of your business will instantly disappear from iTunes and record stores and every download-upload-offload outlet on the planet, because Harvest technically have no right to sell it.

Most of the Harvest team are very nice, and I sincerely thank them for trying and caring so much – even if their promotional duties were fully undertaken by the Morrissey audience themselves, whose You Tube videos for World peace is none of your business fully provide the art that the label could not muster. The listeners instantly understood how entertainment could also be art.

Staggeringly, I still believe that there’s a label out there with my name on it, and one that will issue World peace is none of your business, and afford it the respect it deserves.

Thanks for reading this (rashly assuming that you have), and thanks once again to the Harvesters who tried.

We are boot-camp ready for Lisbon in October, so with the will of many gods, hopefully at least 38 of you will turn up.

MORRISSEY
20 August 2014

He was right – the album was removed from i-tunes and the various download outlets.

Given that there was meant to be a ‘proper’ release of a new 45, it seems fair to feature it today:-

mp3 : Morrissey – Istanbul

The final part of this series will appear next week after which I’ve a plan for a new Sunday feature. Stay tuned.

THE MOZ SINGLES (43)

R-5309844-1395229367-2734

Now this one I did buy….and it is currently the last Morrissey 45 I bought at the time of release which was January 2014.

The single was a bit of a rush-release, with a digital version coming out just six weeks after the death of Lou Reed. It’s a live cover recorded in November 2011 in Las Vegas but which had been a staple of all the live shows throughout that particular year.

The physical product in the shape of 7″ and 12″ picture discs hit the shops just the other side of Christmas. It was the 7″ I bought on the basis of it containing a live cover version of a great track by Buzzcocks recorded at an outdoor gig in London back in 2008:-

mp3 : Morrissey – Satellite Of Love (live)
mp3 : Morrissey – You Say You Don’t Love Me (live)

I was hacked off that the other track on the 7″ was the studio version of You’re Gonna Need Someone On Your Side, especially as the 12″ and digital versions had other stuff to perhaps get excited about.  I was even more hacked off when I played the two live tracks – having heard Moz give decent performances of both of them at various times at small venues in Scotland I wasn’t prepared for the poor quality of what had been captured and put on the single.  Hugely disappointing stuff and again an example of taking the fans for granted.

Here’s the other stuff that was made available on the download and 12″:-

Morrissey – Vicar In A Tutu (live)
Morrissey – All You Need Is Me (live)
Morrissey – Mama Lay Softly On The Riverbed (live)

All of the above were also taken from the same Hyde Park in London show as the Buzzcocks cover.

The digital single sold enough copies to take it to #124 in the UK singles chart and that is now officially the lowest ever position for any Morrissey single although a number of the limited edition releases didn’t chart at all.