Morrissey
Vauxhall and I


3.0
good

Review

by Amanda Murray EMERITUS
April 2nd, 2005 | 23 replies


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist


When it comes to influential recording artists, Morrissey is hardly the first to come to mind. Even the Smiths, Morrissey's former band, lack recognition outside of England. In Morrissey's case, this unawareness has been argued to be justified. As was stated in my review of Your Arsenal, Morrissey is a highly inconsistent artist. He has written and recorded songs which can be judged to be no less than classics; he has also written highly questionable material. Fortunately, Vauxhall and I fits comfortably into the former category. Critically it is almost universally regarded as his best solo work, and fans tend to feel the same way.

When this album was recorded in 1993, Morrissey was at the peak of his career. The highly successful Your Arsenal catapulted him into fame in North America, and controversy surrounding Morrissey's character in Britain kept him in the public eye. And as the saying goes, any publicity is good publicity. Your Arsenal was a highly nationalistic album, and lyrically it focused more on Britain's plight than on personal, universally relatable subjects. Lyrically Morrissey has always rotated between the two settings: political/social matters and human emotions. On Vauxhall and I, he returns to writing more universally relatable lyrics.

It has been stated that Vauxhall feels and sounds like it was intended to be a swansong. A final, epic recording, after which Morrissey could go out on top. Evidently we know now that this was not the case, but the album's honest, confessional lyrics hint towards it.

Like most Morrissey/Smiths recordings, this album is short and sweet. It clocks in at less than 40 minutes, but the individual songs add an epic feel to the album. The album begins with the classic "Now My Heart is Full", which is the first step in a recurring theme on the album: the importance of friends. If one didn't know any better, you would assume that "Darrow, Spicer, Pinkie, Cubitt" were friends of Morrissey's. In a sense it's ironic; Morrissey's ode to his friends is actually an ode to a novel (Graham Greene's Brighton Rock), which he probably spent his youth reading, rather than socializing with others. It should be noted that the song could just as easily elude to the 60s cult film of the same name and origin, but the result is the same. Our favourite loner didn't turn on us, he's just as lonely (and literary) as we always knew him to be. It's unintentionally humorous, but brilliant just the same. This might have been the highlight of the album, but Morrissey's writing skills were just as sharp as ever.

Every song on this album has an interesting backstory, if you're willing to pay attention to the lyrics. Most pop songs don't offer that, and it's a unique aspect to this album that even Morrissey himself doesn't include on most of his compositions. It also helps if you know Morrissey's history and character. Most of the people reading this review are too young to remember much of his character, other than to acknowledge that he is an undeniable prat. Morrissey himself doesn't even deny public perception of him, as noted on the fantastic album closer, "Speedway". ("all of the rumours keeping me grounded/I never said they were completely unfounded"). By the end of the song, he plays the martyr ("I could have mentioned your name/I could have dragged you in"). It may not mean much to us now, but when you understand where he is coming from, and what he is trying to say, it's quite an interesting lyric. As said in the review of Your Arsenal, Morrissey was highly out of public favour in Britain at the time. Yet despite everything, he still held himself in the highest regard.

As stated, this is a highly confessional album. Morrissey (almost) apologises for his character, he tries to repent his wrongs. It is just brutally honest, and it would have been a fitting end to a rocky career. About a good portion of the songs on the album cover this topic: "Now My Heart is Full", "Hold on to Your Friends", "Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself", "Speedway", and others could be construed to be related.

Musically, this is Boz Boorer's show. Alain Whyte (the main co-writer for Your Arsenal) still wrote about half the songs, but the ones that stick out are Boorer's. It's a much more calm and laid-back album musically, toned down from the neo-glam of Your Arsenal.

All in all it's a fantastic album. Once again I think it's the lyrics which bring Morrissey's work above most material, but musically it is also interesting. I'm always undecided on which one I should recommend to listeners as a starter album, this one or Your Arsenal. I suppose the easiest recommendation is to purchase Vauxhall if you like the calmer material, Arsenal if you prefer more energetic music. Both have a mix, but also have a distinct sound.

For fans of Morrissey, 5/5. This is the Holy Grail of Morrissey's career. Your Arsenal is more fun, Viva Hate is more closely related to Smiths music, but Vauxhall and I was Morrissey at his peak.

For fans of the genre, 3.5/5. Nearly essential, especially for the lyrics.

For fans outside of the genre 3/5. Not the best starter album. This is probably his closest to You Are the Quarry, if you are familiar with it. That should give a general idea.

Recommended Songs

The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get
Another contender for longest Morrissey song title, this was the infectious lead single to the album. Great guitar pop, a brilliant track. Clever lyrics as well.

Billy Budd
Another great pop song, nothing great lyrically, but it is good fun to listen to.

Now My Heart is Full
To call it anything short of a classic would be an understatement. Required listening, even if you download only this one song.



Recent reviews by this author
Jonas Brothers A Little Bit LongerThe Divine Comedy Absent Friends
Katharine McPhee Katharine McPheeGwen Stefani The Sweet Escape
The Killers Sam's TownJustin Timberlake FutureSex/LoveSounds
user ratings (154)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Iai
Emeritus
April 2nd 2005


3553 Comments


Great stuff.

AtTheDriveIn198d
November 29th 2005


158 Comments


first time i've heard of this album, good review

morrissey
Moderator
April 23rd 2006


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm adjusting the rating on this too. Besides a few highlight songs (and trust me on this, "Now My Heart is Full" is some kind of brilliance) it isn't a very interesting or exciting record. It is reminding of the same sort of tempered blandness that Ringleaders seems to play into.

morrissey
Moderator
April 24th 2006


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

True true.

I'm surprised you've given this a 4. Is it just "Now My Heart is Full" that raises it so much, or is there some hidden gem I'm missing?

Sepstrup
April 26th 2006


1567 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I think You Are the Quarry beats this album...This Message Edited On 06.02.06

Abaddon2005
August 27th 2008


684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Spring-Heeled Jim is a veeeeery good song. I would say this is (at least) a 3.5 no matter how you look at it, strong songwriting throughout the whole album.

OneManArmy
March 14th 2010


20 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This CD is outstanding! Every song really captures your attention in different ways. Unquestionably Morrissey at his best! Lifeguard Sleeping, Girl Drowning is freaky but every other song really grabbed me! Anyone into jangle pop rock or laid back rock in general should not miss this CD! Better than his Smiths work IMO!

Thunderkat
July 17th 2014


579 Comments


Listening to this for the first time on vinyl, so amazing.

Like always, disagree with the rating though..

ButteryBiscuitBass
July 17th 2014


11151 Comments


Fanny

TwigTW
July 17th 2014


2572 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good enough to deserve more than 9 comments in 9 years.

Digging: Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live at Royal Albert Hall

Thunderkat
July 17th 2014


579 Comments


Speedway , best Morrissey closing track?

TwigTW
July 17th 2014


2572 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Easily best.

Thunderkat
September 2nd 2014


579 Comments


I enjoy this immensely, again I think this reviewer sucks, what indie band doesn't cite smiths as an influence? Review is not bad, but there is a lot of points that I disagree with.

TwigTW
September 2nd 2014


2572 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Closest thing to a Smiths album Morrissey made without Marr.

Thunderkat
September 4th 2014


579 Comments


Viva hate and bona drag!

bach
September 4th 2014


15637 Comments


viva hate and bona drag [2]

Digging: Nine Inch Nails - Add Violence

Thunderkat
September 4th 2014


579 Comments


I say that cause some of the tracks on bona were written by Andy Rourke and played by both Andy and mike like Yes I Am Blind

BigPleb
September 4th 2014


50576 Comments


THUNDERKAT!

Digging: Cradle of Filth - Cryptoriana ? The Seductiveness of Decay

bach
September 28th 2014


15637 Comments


and I just can't explain
SO I WON'T EVEN TRY TO

Thunderkat
October 1st 2014


579 Comments


Alain pretty much goes full marr on this. Amazing



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy