Over the past few weeks, our favourite mad uncle who smells like boiled veg and has very risqué views Steven Patrick Morrissey has been acting like - and there is no nice way to say this - like a bit of a tit. Having your own views about subjects is fine, not liking meat is fine as well; comparing meat eaters to people who people who should be gassed or have unhealthily desires is not. It makes it hard to listen to the man's music without wanting to smash up the stereo or sound system you are listening to, due to the man's duck egg views. However, due to the demented ranting's in C major (guess what the C stands for) I have been thinking about how to separate his music ventures and his rants. So to do this, I have thought that it is probably best to start at the beginning of his solo career (The Smiths will be dealt with later).
The album starts with the song "Alsatian Cousin", which has a semi guitar solo to begin with and a pounding bass line supplied by producer Stephen Street. Lyrically it is about someone finding out that someone else they care about is a lover. Hearing Morrissey talk about love is like hearing the Pope talk about smoking weeds; it is slightly strange. "Little Man, What Now?" is about a failed TV star that was on TV that no-one recognised on a game show but that he got straight away. It is very minimal and strange, with no real presence at all. But this gives way to one of Morrissey's most iconic songs - "Everyday Is Like Sunday". This is all about what it is like to like and breathe in a dull and dead end seaside town in England. This is one of those moments which will have your running to make your own grave and leaping up in joy. For me, I tend to be in the latter side, but without excitement. I just find it to be a very well written and performed song which is shows when the man is on form he can write a memorable tune.
Next is "Bengali In Platforms" which is all about a Bengali boy trying to fit in the UK and failing. It was written with The Smiths after Johnny Marr had left the band and before they had officially split up. It does not have that striking soul which lots of Marr/Morrissey songs had, it is a little flimsy to be honest and sort of drifts into a vanilla tunnel of sound clips. "Angel, Angel Down We Go Together" is string number and Morrissey has stated that it was written with Johnny Marr in mind. Now I cannot see Johnny Marr taking his own life, but I can see why the singer is saying he wants to be there for his former friend. It is too short to really get a grip on, but for what it is I cannot say that it is awful. Afterwards you have "Late Night, Maudlin Street" which is the longest song on the album. Set in the 1970's it has themes of nostalgia, failed loves, pill taking and not being about to enjoy a single hour of his life; I know how he feels by the end of the song. As well played as it is, it just seems to fall short of the desired effect for this listener.
Afterwards is the debut single from this album and his solo career - "Suedehead". The song is asking why the subject is hanging around the singer and trying to be a good lay. Musically it is iconic and a towering track, perfectly picked as the lead single and just beautiful. Then we have "Breaking Up The Family" which sort of deals loosely with Morrissey moving away from the past and also about the divorce of his family. The lyrics are interesting, but the music is moment of boring noise that does nothing and is just like a lost boat in a placid sea. Then comes "The Ordinary Boys" which describes Steven's ability when he was younger to escape the world of Manchester and how he was slightly in awe of people who could be happy with ordinary. It is a much more interesting and diverse track to most of the rest of the work which has gone on before.
"I Don't Mind If You Forget Me" with its faster drumming, fuzzy guitar and almost fun music, again with the backdrop of Morrissey with his contrary lyrics which talk about the singer not minding being left behind. Which is bollocks as Morrissey seems to crave attention whilst wanting to keep everything private and on show at the same time; an enigma at the best of time. If there was a song which truly personifies what Mr Morrissey is about - that one is it. A bi-polar self loathing and loving ode to himself. Then we have "Dial A Cliché" which seems to sum up some of this record which sounds as if it wants so hard to better Steven's work with the Smiths and falls just that little bit short. But then we have the last track called "Margaret On The Guillotine"; this track took a pounding at the time, it is all about a dream that Morrissey had about the death and public execution of Margaret Thatcher. Now I am thrilled with this song on many levels, lyrically anything that bashes the British Conservative party gets a thumbs up, the fact it is an eerie ending to the album is glorious as well. It is a perfect way to end the record.
Now putting aside the bonkers views of the singer, this album is very patchy at best. It was recorded just six months after the Smiths had broken up and you can tell it was done in a rush without any real focus. Also you can feel that Morrissey has lost his natural yang for his work at that point and it would be a while before he would get back to close to that form. It has not aged particularly well in places (it was not too good in same places), but there are some places it is brilliant. I find it has too much filler in it for it to be essential and you can get the better tracks on one of the many compilations that have been released since. Poor to be honest, a bit too much of dullness.
4 out of ten - Well it is alright, but still......
You can purchase the album from Amazon
There is no official website - thank the deity
You can listen to the album on Spotify here
Here is a live version of the song