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Morrissey

Morrissey is one of the greatest singers and lyricists of our time. I know it's customary not to feed the trolls/gorillas, but for all his self. indulgence he's actually got better justification than most. As leader of the Smiths, Morrissey helped revolutionise British alternative rock, paving the way for bands like the Stone Roses and, later on, the Britpop era. In the post-disco era of pseudo-disco, the Smiths and their kin were a breath of fresh air, a genuine guitar-based rock band with their own veritable guitar hero Johnny Marr and the type of enigmatic, troubled frontman for which ...read more

Morrissey is one of the greatest singers and lyricists of our time. I know it's customary not to feed the trolls/gorillas, but for all his self. indulgence he's actually got better justification than most. As leader of the Smiths, Morrissey helped revolutionise British alternative rock, paving the way for bands like the Stone Roses and, later on, the Britpop era. In the post-disco era of pseudo-disco, the Smiths and their kin were a breath of fresh air, a genuine guitar-based rock band with their own veritable guitar hero Johnny Marr and the type of enigmatic, troubled frontman for which the very term "stereotype" was coined. Morrissey had everything: big hair, a big head (in both - often in all three senses), all the wit in the world; he wasn't afraid to tackle a controversial issue head on and, most importantly, for all his flaws he was somebody teenagers could relate to.

At the time of the band's formation, Morrissey was an unemployed writer and founder of the UK branch of the New York Dollsfanclub. He'd previously tasted brief success with the Nosebleeds, a punk band that also included future guitarist withSouthernDeath Cult (later The Cult), Billy Duffy. He was also a closet homosexual, but that's nobody's business but his own;and Elton's,apparently. Johnny Marr, on the other hand, was of a similarly shy and retiring demeanour, but instead channelledhis energy intobecoming a guitar virtuoso and a talented songwriter. The one thing they had in common was Irish parentage,which anyone willtell you is a necessary pre-requisite for being from Manchester and a musical success. Together they beganwriting songs, or atleast Morrissey began applying his poetry to Marr's music. They recruited drummer Mike Joyce and bassistAndy Rourke andbegan gigging around Manchester.

1982: The Smiths are born.

Though many theories exist as to the origins of the name, the most plausible is that offered by Morrissey: "Smith" is themostordinary name going, and they just wanted to emphasise their ordinariness. They signed to indie label Rough Trade andissued acouple of singles (and not just any singles; they released "Hand In Glove" and "This Charming Man") which piqued theinterest ofDJ John Peel, renowned for giving breaks to future stars, including the Undertones, the Sex Pistols, Joy Division andthe Cureand is considered to have contributed immensely to the development of punk, reggae and dance music in Britain. By1983, theirprofile had risen to the point where a full-length album was commissioned. They would release four studio albums inall, plus anumber of live and compilation albums as the label resolved to squeeze every penny from the band's catalogue.

The Smiths, released in February of 1984, was on the whole a more sombre affair musically to the singles which precededit.Lyrically, Morrissey didn't shy away from controversial social and political topics, causing uproar over perceived promotionofpaedophilia ("Reel Around the Fountain" and "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle") and "Suffer Little Children," a song he wroteinsympathy for the child victims of the notorious Moors Murders. The same year saw the release of Hatful of Hollow, avastlysuperior collection of re-recordings, b-sides and those Peel sessions, including b-side to "William, It Was Really Nothing,"the nowlegendary "How Soon Is Now?" The latter was re-released as an A. side in preparation for the release of Meat IsMurder in 1985.Although a more accomplished affair all-round, Meat Is Murder only warranted the release of one single, "ThatJoke Isn't FunnyAnymore".

Inner tensions began to mount hard and fast at this point. Morrissey developed a romantic case of alcoholism andRourke'sheroin dependency resulted in his sacking from the band, which Morrissey in typical Morrissey fashion relayed to thebassist via aPost-it note pasted to his car windscreen. He was reinstated soon after and recorded The Queen Is Dead,generallyacknowledged as their crowning achievement, harbouring the classic title track and the suicidal love song "There IsA Light ThatNever Goes Out." A couple more compilations followed before 1987's Strangeways, Here We Come was unleashed,the band'slast album together. Truly an album of two halves: the first includes "Girlfriend in a Coma" and the second doesn't.

1988: The Smiths Is Dea.

After the demise of the band at what was arguably their peak (commercially, anyway), Morrissey intended to capitalise onthatsuccess with his first solo release. He retained Smiths producer Stephen Street and brought in Durutti Column guitaristViniReilly, perhaps the only guitarist of the era skilled enough to match Marr, and produced Viva Hate; essentially a Smithsrecord forSmiths fans. It spawned the classics "Suedehead" and "Everyday Is Like Sunday" and earned himself a police raid(for real thistime) after penning the anti-Thatcher (then Prime Minister) anthem "Margaret on the Guillotine," which containedthe pricelesslyric: "When will you die?" The fact it was released just six months after the final Smiths album suggests he mayhaveanticipated the group's demise and held back his best material, a notion certainly backed up by the lacklustre display,but it's alljust idle speculation. In any case, Viva Hate was a success for Morrissey, proving he was capable of both successand criticalacclaim without Marr to back him up.

Never one to hold back on releasing a compilation album when the option of not releasing one comes up, MorrisseyreleasedBona Drag, a critically acclaimed collection of four hit singles, b-sides and new material. In addition, the album helpedMorrisseyachieve his first taste of success in the US. It was now that Morrissey would embark on his divine calling never togiveconsistency two fingers wherever it dare appear before him, and 1991's Kill Uncle suitably borders on the worst thing tohappensince the CIA began persecuting Mancunians. Thankfully, 1992's Your Arsenal redressed the balance somewhat,spawning thedelightfully provocative "National Front Disco," which brought with it accusations that he was a white-supremacists (Morrissey'sflirtations with irony/seriousness inevitably seem to outflank mainstream thought and land him in hotwater), the unsurpassably-titled "You're The One For Me, Fatty" and "Tomorrow".

The excellent Vauxhall And I became Morrissey's most successful release in 1994, containing an opening track ("Now My HeartIsFull") so unbelievably brilliant that I won't even use words to describe it. Please just take five minutes out to visualise mesittingin front of the computer with my hand on my heart, beaming. It's one of the few albums where Morrissey's musicalinput seemsto surpass the effort he puts into his song titles, and it shows as this is considered by most his best solo release.And thought ithardly needs it, the Withnail & I reference in the title is enough to tip it over the edge should a misguided judgescrew up hisscoring card somehow. Southpaw Grammar and Maladjusted followed as Morrissey turned his attention fromsaving endangeredMalaysian oxen calves to engage in the second arena of his war with consistency. As ever, Morrissey cameout on top and musicwas defiant in defeat.

In the late 1990s, Morrissey left the notorious tax-haven of Dublin for another tax haven, Los Angeles, where hereportedlyconnected with the Latino community while he devoted every other to not getting a record deal. In 2003, hereturned to fold,signing with reggae label Attack Records and the following year released the smash hit You Are The Quarry,which at times gavethe impression he'd never left with already-classics "Irish Blood, English Heart" and "First of the Gang toDie". Rediscovering hislove of attention and controversy, Morrissey patched things up with the NME and became politicallyinvolved in another country'selection when he endorsed John Kerry in the US presidential race of 2004 and showed off hisbeautifully cliched hatred of GeorgeBush.

Ringleader of the Tormentors is Morrissey's eight studio solo album and the third to debut at #1 in the British charts. It wasledby the hit single "You Have Killed Me" and follows in roughly the same vein as Viva Hate and You Are The Quarrywithoutmatching either in terms of musical or lyrical quality. Opening track "I Will See You In Far-Off Places" is an(intentionally?)Eastern-tinged tirade against America and its war on terror, apparently expressing sympathy for victims ofwestern bombingcampaigns. Although as blunt as ever, the lyrics here and on the album as a whole are sadly bland andderivative, typified by theline: "If your god bestows protection upon you/And if the USA doesn't bomb you/I believe I will seeyou somewhere safe".

































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Similar Bands: Billy Bragg, Aztec Camera, The Smiths, Johnny Marr

LPs
World Peace Is None of Your Business
2014

3.2
75 Votes
Years of Refusal
2009

3.4
111 Votes
Ringleader of the Tormentors
2006

3.4
146 Votes
You Are the Quarry
2004

3.8
214 Votes
Maladjusted
1997

2.7
61 Votes
Southpaw Grammar
1995

3.4
57 Votes
Vauxhall and I
1994

4
138 Votes
Your Arsenal
1992

3.9
125 Votes
Kill Uncle
1991

2.9
76 Votes
Viva Hate
1988

4
195 Votes
EPs
Satellite of Love
12/02/2013

3
2 Votes
Rare Tracks
1998

3.5
1 Votes
Live Albums
Live at Earls Court
2005

4
39 Votes
Beethoven Was Deaf
1993

3.6
21 Votes
Compilations
Very Best of Morrissey
2011

4.1
4 Votes
Swords
2009

2.9
18 Votes
Southpaw Grammar (Legacy Edition)
2009

2.9
10 Votes
Greatest Hits
2008

4.2
5 Votes
The Best of Morrissey
2001

3
1 Votes
My Early Burglary Years
1998

3.6
11 Votes
Suedehead: The Best of Morrissey
1997

4.5
3 Votes
World of Morrissey
1995

2.5
3 Votes
Bona Drag
1990

4.2
113 Votes

Contributors: Divaman, SylentEcho, aaronrkc, iGuter, OscarWilde1900, Mikesn, RandyfromPennywise, Two-Headed Boy, morrissey, Dave de Sylvia, Alex101, Iai, Maladjusted, tommygun, Voivod, Havey, Titan50, jamiecoughlan,

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