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Posts Tagged ‘Morrissey’

 

AND SO HERE WE COME, to a time of consumerism and a mythical figure from a frozen land who is on the dole 11 months of the year. If Christmas is getting to you, relax, put on your slippers, tuck into a chocolate ginger, stick the music mags in the recycling bin and wallow in the Ultimate Guide to 2014 … Porky’s choicest cuts of the past 12 months, in no particular order. Oink oink.

Bill Pritchard: A Trip to the Coast Pritchard 1

We said: Bill Pritchard, English eccentric extraordinaire, the Midlands equivalent of Morrissey and the Go-Betweens with songs about “tea on a Friday morning” and “watching the sun leave the sky”. A pleasantly endearing record that my local library saw fit to buy.

Morrissey: World Peace Is None of Your Business Morrissey

We said: There are snippets of The Smiths, and of Morrissey in his embryonic solo days, but I can safely say this is a typical Morrisssey album, scathing, insightful, illuminating, occasionally humourous, but rarely dull. I’m trying hard to think of other albums released this year, or the past four, that would elicit the same emotions. I fail. Morrissey is an enigma.

Bis: Data Panik bis

What we would have said: Bursting with juicy, punky, in-yer-face, indie disco floorfillers, bis return after a sabbatical or a dozen, with an instant masterwerk that keechs all over their wannabe pretenders. Bouncy, pacy, sparkly, cutting edge and contemporary … if bis were a football team they would be Glasgow Celtic FC.

Gold Medal Famous Free Body Culture (Powertool records)

Gold Medal FamousWe said: Agitating for a vote against the odious National Party at this year’s election, You’re So Outrageous tackles the affronts against the constitution the ruling junta (surely democratically elected government? – ed) has carried out, by using urgency in parliament to push through bills deemed essential, and thus avoiding public scrutiny. Using a hypnotic dance beat and eerie vocals, Gold Medal Famous prove there’s a way of make a political point in this drab cultural era. Free Body Culture, named after a German nudist movement, is varied, playful, angry, and esoteric; it is the band’s finest effort yet.

xBomb Factory: No NO

We said: There is no escaping our dark world, where the worst type of unemployment is the unemployment of the mind. “They’re on the sofa, my life is over,” is the eerie revelation of how the Idiot Box has taken over. NO is not an easy ride, but it is a fulfilling one. The clatter can be overwhelming, and the bleakness stultifying. But I often felt like that after the Gang of Four’s Entertainment. Among the anger and the cynicism is a manifesto for a better lifestyle and an empowered mindset, the two precursors for a better world. Free your mind and your ass will follow someone once sang (it wasn’t Justin Bieber).
Towns: Get By

TownsWe said: Get By doesn’t fit in with the terribly pompous and, quite frankly, staid British music scene of the moment. For one thing, there’s a bit of a swagger about them; not for them the mean and moody look, with songs about lost love and how their beard is growing because they’re too miserable to trim it. There’s a lot of guitars, and effects, and yes that old chestnut, shoegazing is being trotted out by lazy, hazy journalists. Is it 1990 all over again? Well yes, to an extent but it could also be 1967.

Pete Fij and Terry Bickers: Broken Heart Surgery Broken Heart Surgery

We said: It’s Porky’s personal desire for an album to be upbeat, jaunty, to contain songs I can hum or whistle along to while making breakfast; so slower, more intense tracks like Sound of Love don’t quite catch the ear in the same that Breaking Up would. But one man’s meat etc, and I know a man in East Anglia who would say the exact opposite to me.

Broken Heart Surgery is a touching critique of modern love, noting the distractions technology and communication can have, removing some of the personal aspects of an affair. It’s written in the manner of the mood swings that love brings and takes, but often with delectable irony.

The Moons: Mindwaves

The MoonsWe said: Mindwaves is an attempt at the Great British Album, hence the deft psychedelic touches of Syd-era Pink Floyd, the overblown orchestration, reminiscent of ‘about to call it quits’ Beatles, and, of all things, glam rock. Fever begins with a rehashed riff from a long-forgotten Sweet single, and Heart and Soul oozes Ziggy Stardust period Bowie, with dutiful drops of mash-up-the-beats Kasabian circa 2004. There’s something for everyone.

 

The Primitives: Spin-O-Rama Primitives

We said: The opening title track sets out its stall early: pounding riffs, gorgeous vocals and the sound of a band glad to be together again; there’s hints of Crash in the pace and jollity of it all and it shouts for attention from the roofs. Hidden In the Shadows has the trashy, edginess of one of the 1986/87 singles, complete with frenetic verses and a rousing chorus. This is pop at its finest.

 

Trick Mammoth: Floristry (Fishrider records)

Trick MammothWe said: The opening tracks, Baltimore and Pinker Sea, have Millie Lovelock’s dreamy voice at the forefront, but by the third Adrian Ng is sharing vocal duties, and takes on more of such responsibilities as the album progresses. It’s a combination I am unsure of; Lovelock alone gives a breathy atmosphere to Baltimore; Ng’s soft but forceful timbre is apt for Days of Being Wild, but sometimes I am left with the feeling that he should be doing this, and that she should do that, and maybe both of them should be doing the same thing. Or differently.

Trick Mammoth are strong believers in love, happiness, the beauty of flowers, the glory of youth and a deep devotion to music, and its role in the hearts and knees of the world’s pre-middle agers.

 

 

 

 

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WHEN THE CRITICS SAVAGE their prey, they often hit the mark. I can think of oodles of stinkers that took a nasty uppercut from a pissed-off hack, and it was delivered for all the right reasons.

But sometimes the scribblers took umbrage at an album that went on to sell millions, and rank up there in the all-time greatest album lists. The thing is, they might actually have had a point. Here we look at some of those floggings written at the time of release that are now generally regarded as out of touch.

 

Led Zeppelin — Led Zeppelin

By John Mendelsohn of Rolling Stone Led Zep

“In their willingness to waste their considerable talent on unworthy material the Zeppelin has produced an album which is sadly reminiscent of Truth. Like the Jeff Beck Group they are also perfectly willing to make themselves a two- (or, more accurately, one-a-half) man show. It would seem that, if they’re to help fill the void created by the demise of Cream, they will have to find a producer (and editor) and some material worthy of their collective attention.”

This review pissed off Jimmy Page so much he refused to speak to Rolling Stone for many years.

 

The Rolling Stones — Exile on Main Street

By Lenny Kaye of Rolling Stone Stones

Exile On Main Street spends its four sides shading the same song in as many variations as there are Rolling Stone readymades to fill them, and if on the one hand they prove the group’s eternal constancy and appeal, it’s on the other that you can leave the album and still feel vaguely unsatisfied, not quite brought to the peaks that this band of bands has always held out as a special prize in the past. Hopefully, Exile On Main Street will give them the solid footing they need to open up, and with a little horizon-expanding, they might even deliver it to us the next time around.”

‘Vaguely unsatisfied’ is perhaps not the harshest words dished out, but this is The Stones and they weren’t often give a back-handed slap.

 

 

Neil Young – After the Gold Rush

By Langdon Winner – The Rolling Stone (boy, did they have some real rottweilers on the staff back in the day). Neil Young

“Neil Young devotees will probably spend the next few weeks trying desperately to convince themselves that After The Gold Rush is good music. But they’ll be kidding themselves. For despite the fact that the album contains some potentially first rate material, none of the songs here rise above the uniformly dull surface. In my listening, the problem appears to be that most of this music was simply not ready to be recorded at the time of the sessions. It needed time to mature. On the album the band never really gets behind the songs and Young himself has trouble singing many of them. Set before the buying public before it was done, this pie is only half-baked.”

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

By Ben Edmonds – Rolling Stone Floyd
“Wish You Were Here is about the machinery of a music industry that made and helped break Syd Barrett. Their treatment, though, is so solemn that you have to ask what the point is. If your use of the machinery isn’t alive enough to transcend its solemn hum — even if that hum is your subject — then you’re automatically trapped. In offering not so much as a hint of liberation, that’s where this album leaves Pink Floyd.”

 

Lou Reed — Berlin

By Stephen Davis of Rolling Stone Lou Reed

“ …. Berlin takes the listener into a distorted and degenerate demimonde of paranoia, schizophrenia, degradation, pill-induced violence and suicide. … There are certain records that are so patently offensive that one wishes to take some kind of physical vengeance on the artists that perpetrate them.”

The Ramones: The Ramones

By Steve Morrissey (aye, him), Melody Maker July 1976 enhanced-buzz-10425-1348238921-9

“The Ramones are the latest bumptious band of degenerate no-talents whose achievement to date is to advance beyond the boundaries of New York City and purely on the strength of a spate of convincing literature projecting the Ramones as God’s gift to rock music.

“They have been greeted with instant adulation by an army of duped fans. Musically, they do not deal in subtlety or variation of any kind, their rule is to be as incompetent as possible.”

Young Stephen Patrick Morrissey may have missed the point perhaps in reviewing this, but I have to admit that I find the Ramones debut somewhat disappointing though I accept why it is now highly regarded.

Morrissey’s hope that their debut “should be rightly filed and forgotten,” has not been followed through.

 

And finally, one from one our own archive, a review I am extremely proud as it truly slayed a sacred indie cow. There was blood.

The National: Trouble Will Find Me

Headline: A National Disgrace National

“It seems an appropriate time to pierce the bubble of a band who have seduced cloth-eared critics and music fans forced to feast on a steady diet of tripe and cold chips for years now.

Now, we have to endure another round of half-considered reviews, as critics become immersed in the stupifying thought-process of ‘never mind the quality feel the width’.

Listening to Trouble Will Find Me is a turgid exercise in self-flagellation. The proverbial terms paint and dry are most appropriate as singer Matt Berninger punishes the ears. I Should Live In Salt is a monotone dirge that remains at the same pace throughout. Another uphill stream, Demons, would be ideal for a road trip along a straight motorway with a 30km/h speed limit for its entirety.”

 

 

 

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AND SO, MORRISSEY’S second comeback begins, five years after his last effort, Years of Refusal. While that was universally considered a somewhat lacklustre effort, it was saved from the savagery afforded Maladjusted, which was followed by a seven-year hiatus for the artist.Morrissey

Will this comeback album World Peace Is None of Your Business be his You Are The Quarry, the excellent collection that saw him back in the public showroom, in 2004? Before I do dissect World Peace .. it’s noteworthy to highlight the cover, whereby Moz is facing a dog holding a pen, the one he has just used to daub the wall behind him with, an allusion I would assume to our hero attempting to alert a dumb animal to the proverb about the pen as a weapon.

Let’s dip in. The title track is a sad indictment of the world we live in, adopting his favoured third person narrative style. “You must not tamper with arrangements/ Work hard and sweetly pay your taxes/ Never asking what for.”

Yes, Stephen it’s a grim world, and the masses have long been ‘encouraged’ to think little of the world at large, and just get on with it. Well said. But what about this ‘big statement’ chorus? “Each time you vote you support the system,” and then he tries to link the democratic process with hotspots where repression, riots, environmental destruction and uprisings have been the headline banner acts – Ukraine, Brazil, Bahrain and Egypt.

Of course, Morrissey could be continuing the external narrative, but given his previous pronouncements on politicians of all colours, this seems too much like a thought from within.

Apathy allows the criminal classes who control most governments more control, it gives them a free hand to push through bills that should bring people onto the street. Yes, democracy is flawed, enormously so, but the alternatives – military, religious or business-led autocracies leave most people cold.

THE MANCUNIAN tackles machismo on I’m Not A Man (“cold hand/ ice man/ warring cave man”), and the fatalistic pressures imposed on a female student to get three As by her father and her boyfriend (Staircase at the University). But a new man consciousness hasn’t entirely taken over, as Kick The Bride Down the Aisle examines the matriarchal dynasty, its target a woman who wants a slave “so that she can laze and graze for the rest of her days.”

As for The Bullfighter Dies, there’s little need to delve into the lyrics here; Morrissey bellows “hooray, hooray” as the bull turns on its tormentor. The tormentor, meanwhile, in Mountjoy – named after an Irish institution – is the prison guard, “Where victims speak in whines/ And where the hardened cried.”

In an album containing the famous Morrissey peotical lines that drip from every song, this particular track possesses a typical Moz put-down, dispersing the perfect riposte to the man who would judge him: “I was sent here by a three-foot halfwit in a wig”.

And if you feel this is getting all a little worldy-wise and impersonal, Kiss Me A Lot is a healthy reminder that Morrissey, bless him, is actually quite a romantic sort.

For ten paragraphs this reviewer has focused on the words, as if World Peace … was merely a book of poetry, a testament to the dying art of the lyric as weapon, inspiration and comforter. There is music as well, 54 minutes of it in fact. Long gone are the days when a Moz album would be done and dusted in just over half an hour.

The gang’s all here, longtime collaborator Boz Boorer, master of the three-chord riff and co-author of five tracks, Jesse Tobias (guitars, also a co-writer), Solomon Lee Walker (bass), Matthew Ira Walker (drums), and Gustavo Manzur (man of many talents), and yes there are two brothers among them. They are pictured, sans the Mancunian, in the inside of the gatefold sleeve, adorning American college sports gear.

Morrissey 2

The title track’s fullsome symphonies conflict with the cynicism and anger of the message; Neal Cassady Drops Dead contains some of the most grungy riffs ever heard on a Stephen Patrick Morrissey record; and I’m Not A Man opens with Eno-esque ambient symphonies.

There are snippets of The Smiths, and of Morrissey in his embryonic solo days, but I can safely say this is a typical Morrisssey album, scathing, insightful, illuminating, occasionally humourous, but rarely dull. I’m trying hard to think of other albums released this year, or the past four, that would elicit the same emotions. I fail. Morrissey is an enigma.

 

 

 

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What a Bona Drag

Who? Morrissey

Title: Bona Drag
Label:
EMI
Tell me more:
Bona Drag was the working title of Morrissey’s second album, around 1989, but for reasons never truly explained – though a lack of material has been suggested – failed to see the light of day and instead his second album was the poor Kill Uncle, three years after Viva Hate. Some of the tracks earmarked for the original Bona Drag appeared on singles. When it came out in 1990 Bona Drag featured several singles and B-sides, but nothing new. At this time I was collecting all Morrissey’s solo output so didn’t bother with this release. The selling point now is the six unreleased tracks, four of which have not been heard before, other than on bootlegs.
The Lowdown:
After splitting The Smiths in 1987, Morrissey produced some incredible singles, starting with Suedehead, one of his finest songs either as a solo artist or with The Smiths, followed by Everyday Is Like Sunday, Interesting Drug and Last of the Famous International Playboys. All were big hits in the UK but the slide began with Ouija Ouija Board at the end of 1989, followed by November Spawned a Monster and Piccadilly Palare. These three were all endearing in their own way but not quite to the standard expected from Morrissey. As with The Smiths, Mozza kept some of his best works up his sleeve, letting them slip on to B-sides, so it’s remarkable that stunning songs like Hairdresser On Fire, Disappointed and Will Never Marry were omitted from Viva Hate or Such A Little Thing Makes Such a Big Difference had no studio album to feature on.

Listening to Morrissey at that time, as someone leaving their teens, was not only a treasureable event but a necessity. This was a time of varying standards in British music. There were bands such as Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine, that would be hailed as the spark for shoegazing; the burgeoning Madchester scene with Happy Mondays and Stone Roses; and various pop and indie bands such as the House of Love, the Wedding Present and Cud, who didn’t really fit easily with any particular scene but were among those who could lay a claim to providing a platform for a music scene that would really come alive in the early 90s.

It wouldn’t be until the end of 1991, after Kill Uncle was released and then carefully placed on a shelf, that Morrissey re-discovered his form with the rockabilly-esque Pregnant For The Last Time and the eerie My Love Life and the year after he would release Your Arsenal.

Bona Drag, which was compiled primarily for the American market, is a pretty decent summation of this period, although there are some inexcusable omissions such as Sister I’m A Poet, but that and others can be found on Singles 1988-1991.

As for the selling point, the six new songs, Let The Right One Slip One, is longer, by 46 seconds, than the one that would feature as the B-side to 1992’s Tomorrow but otherwise is barely changed; the same applies for The Bed Took Fire, which became At Amber, another B-side, and a song I didn’t recall being especially wonderful.

The four unheard songs are all excellent. Happy Lovers At Last United from 1988, is a tale of someone helping to reunite a couple, but finding they then don’t want him (or her) around; Oh Phoney contains the wonderful line: “Who can make Hitler sound like a bus conductor? You do!” and has a rather abrupt fade out, to end at two minutes. Lifeguard On Duty, which is not a variation on a track from Vauxhall and I, has that Viva Hate, post-Smiths feel to it but I can see how it could not be included on the debut. And that leaves the jaunty Please Help the Cause Against Loneliness, which is not strictly unheard of, as it was given to Sandie Shaw, and appeared as a single in 1988. This is probably the best of the six but the other three new tracks all have merit and are certainly worth hearing.

The artwork features a slightly different cover, with Morrissey’s jacket in black, rather than red, the sky blue background being replaced by a cream-coloured one and a different font and placing for the artist’s name and the title. Inside, there’s pictures of Morrissey beside dilapidated buildings. All this is unavailable, of course, to the downloader.

Anything else? The Smiths are responsible for the Porky Prime Cuts name, the writer spotting these three words on the runout groove of some of the later singles.

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