Morrissey
Viva Hate


5.0
classic

Review

by Tokyochuchu USER (22 Reviews)
December 10th, 2009 | 10 replies


Release Date: 1988 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Quite frankly one of the best albums of all time.

'Viva Hate' is, in my opinion, the best album that Morrissey has ever been a part of (yes, that includes The Smiths)... But I must admit that it's partly (or maybe even mostly) due to my own personal experiences and troubled youth. You see, like a lot of people, the ages of 15-18 (1996-1999 in my case) were a really difficult time for me, and I went through a very dark period of family-related strife and a severe case of heartbreak via a nasty break up with my first 'proper' girlfriend. Oh the tears I cried....

But in all that darkness and dispair there was one lone beacon of true comfort. And that was my first ever taste of Morrissey in the form of 'Viva Hate'.

Words cannot describe how much this LP meant to me. It was like someone was there in my room beside me, holding me and whispering that everything was going to be alright. This album hit my heart like an arrow and changed everything; the way I dressed, the music I listened to, my goals for the future... I even sported a giant quiff for a few ill-advised months. I did, of course, go digging through the Morrissey archives, discovering the joys of The Smiths and 'Vauxhall & I', but I never found another Morrissey album that contained as much catharsism as 'Viva Hate'.

But then that's probably how Morrissey meant it. 'Viva Hate' was his first solo record, and one which was recorded a mere six months after The Smiths hit the bricks. He was hurt and betrayed, hence the album's title 'Viva Hate'... But rather than fill the record with spite, Morrissey instead retreated into his past, back to his own poverty-stricken teenage years in 1970's Manchester. Because of this, the whole album seeps with nostalgia and the sepia visions of a long lost verdant England.

Being an Englishman myself, this was both very alluring and oh-so-true. The album's great single and undoubted highlight 'Everyday Is Like Sunday', with it's breezing synth strings and references to "cheap trays" and "grease tea" feels comfortingly familiar to anyone who has ever had the misfortune to spend a family weekend at Bognor Regis. Likewise, the seven minute moan of sadness that is 'Late Night, Maudlin Street' perfectly drags up images of the uniform rows of terraced council houses that make up the urban greys of England's bigger cities.

Elsewhere, the sadness becomes universal, devoid of location but still aching from every pour. 'Break Up The Family' is obviously about The Smiths, with Morrissey concluding "Let me see all my old friends / Let me put my arms around them / Because I really do love them / Now does that sound mad?", which makes for a stark contrast to his later, bitter lyrics on the subject. But the song can very easily be connected with on a personal level. We all have old friends. We all have overbearing gym teachers. We all have crazy car rides through hailstorms with no brakes... Actually, scratch that last one. But what I'm getting at here, is the ease of first-person connection. 'Angel, Angel, Down We Go Together' is about star-crossed lovers and disaproving parents. 'Suedehead' is about diary stealing romantic obsession. 'Dial A Cliche' touches on sexual confusion and (once again) disaproving parents, and 'Margret On A Guillotine' is about how much of a c**t Margret Thatcher was. All universal topics.

And the musical contributions suit the album perfectly. They're simple and basic, yet still embrace the very same monochrome feeling as the words they frame. A lot of them feel like they've been ripped strait from a sixties pop record, with the likes of 'Little Man, What Now?', 'The Ordinary Boys' and 'Dial A Cliche' all bristling with retro cool. There are even some great flourishes here and there, with 'Bengali In Platforms' having a delicious accoustic backing (no... I'm not going THERE), whilst 'Margret On A Guillotine' features some beautiful spanish trills running all through it's outro. The only musical mis-step on the whole record is the psychotic hair metal guitar riff that rampages all over 'I Don't Mind If You Forget Me' to annyoing effect.

In the end, 'Viva Hate' is Morrissey's most moving album, made when he was at his saddest and most unsure of himself. It's a brilliant, towering classic and an album that will forever sit in my top ten albums of all time.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
illmitch
December 10th 2009


5429 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great review! i absolutely love morrissey, although i think i'll always prefer the smiths to his solo stuff.

RobotFrank
December 10th 2009


344 Comments


Nice review. For some reason I don't own this, but you've helped me realize the glaring omission in my collection. +1

STOP SHOUTING!
December 10th 2009


631 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I liked the personal aspect of your review, which made it interesting.

I agree songs like Alsatian Cousin, Suedehead, Late Night Maudlin Street and Every Day Is Like Sunday are brilliant.
But then there is stuff like The Ordinary Boys, probably the worst song I've ever heard, and Bengali In Platforms which, if not racist, is pretty stupid.

illmitch
December 10th 2009


5429 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

really? ordinary boys is one of my favorite Moz songs. bengali in platforms - despite the questionable lyrics (although Moz has defended them by saying that "if you went to live in yugoslavia tomorrow, you would find you didn't really belong there") - is a great song too. idk, i'm probably just a fanboy.

Tokyochuchu
December 10th 2009


63 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks for your comments. It's immpossible for me to divorce the music from the memories with 'Viva Hate', so I had to go that way. It's a record I still turn to when I'm feeling down.

I like 'The Ordinary Boys', it really reminds me of my dead-end hometown. I'm not as keen on 'Suedehead' as a lot of people, which always made me feel a bit odd within the Morrissey 'circle-of-trust'....

'Bengali In Platforms'.... Yeah. Well, I love the song with it's catchiness and excellent backing. The lyrics are a little ill-advised, but I think people make too much of them. It's just a slightly poorly worded song about dislocation. I live in Japan at the moment, and sometimes I feel like I don't belong!

cbmartinez
December 10th 2009


2525 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sweet album, though I feel like the (imo) better songs (suedehead, everyday is like sunday, i dont mind if you forget me) overshadow the rest of the tracks. I do dig late night, maudlin street, dial-a-cliche and margaret on the guillotine too. i dont mind if you forgot me might be my favorite song on here, I'm surprised he didn't release it as a single because its just so 80s and good. that bouncy bass line is like quintessential 80s. the lyrics to the chorus are some of my favorite lines by him also. good review.

STOP SHOUTING!
December 11th 2009


631 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Vini Reilly and Stephen Street help to set a haunting musical backdrop to the nostalgia of this album and deserve a mention.

But it is the lyrics that are disappointing for me, full of spite and disdain (thus "viva hate"). The Ordinary Boys belittles everyone apart from himself. Angel Angel promotes suicide. Little Man, What Now is condescending, just from the title alone. Bengali In Platforms is much more than a "slightly poorly worded song about dislocation", but I won't go on about it. I Don't Mind If You Forget Me publicly calls Marr a fool. Margaret On The Guillotine asks people to assasinate Thatcher.

But then there are songs of subtle brilliance, such as Alsatian Cousin, where he deadpans "were you and he lovers, on a groundsheet, with your tent flap open wide", which no other lyricist could come up with.

Tokyochuchu
December 11th 2009


63 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Hmmm... I disagree about 'The Ordinary Boys'. I think it's pointed toward the type of people that hang around on street corners and have no ambition. I've never felt affronted by that song.

'Little Man, What Now?' is a title ripped from some famous novel or other. But I don't feel it's full of spite. In fact, it has a nostalgic love for the object of the song (a failed British TV actor) and I feel it's indicative of Morrissey's fear of being forgotten himself.

'Angel, Angel...' is about Marr. Or so I read in an interview. But it is still spitefull; "When they've used you / and they've broken you / and wasted all your money / and they've made your parents cry... I will be here. BELIEVE ME."

But the line in 'I Don't Mind If You Forget Me'... I've never thought about it that way, but I guess you're right. But then, Marr did break up a great band in it's peak only to slide into relative obscurity. Maybe Morrissey was onto something.

You're right about Reiley and Street. They did a great job, although this LP made them have a falling-out with each other over song credits.

STOP SHOUTING!
December 13th 2009


631 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Hmmm... I disagree about 'The Ordinary Boys'
No point disagreeing, it's been officially proved by scientists that it's an awful song!

morrissey
Moderator
December 28th 2009


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review. Like illmitch I much prefer the Smiths catalogue but this is one of about two and half objectively good Morrissey albums, rather than the ones I like just 'cause.



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