Review Summary: The first and best compilation of Morrissey's early career of singles and b-sides. There are some throwaways and notable exclusions but it captures Morrissey better than Viva Hate.
The Smiths split in late 1987 and Morrissey, hurt and confused, threw himself into his work and it is best heard on this compilation from 1990.
is a swaggering pop song with confident vocals from Morrissey and a strong opener. Interesting Drug
is a standard song spoiled by its controversy regarding its co-writer, Stephen Street. The pair never worked together again despite being Morrissey's second-best songwriting partner. The album really gets going with November Spawned A Monster
, the hardest-rocking song on the album and its longest at 5:25. The subject, a disabled child, is another example of Morrissey's recklessness regarding subjects. The key lines are saved for last, "oh, one fine day, let it be soon, she won't be rich or beautiful, but she'll be walking your streets in the clothes that she went out and chose for herself." The switches between revulsion, sympathy and black comedy force the listener to confront their prejudices. The disturbing gurgles and howls from Mary Margaret O'Hara say everything Morrissey doesn't need to sing.
Will Never Marry
is a self-explanatory string-laden ballad and Such A Little Thing Makes Such A Big Difference
is nursery rhyme-like song about random acts of kindness and simple pleasures, before building up to a plea for tolerance to a chain-wielding thug before sighing in resignation and flatly observing "most people keep their brains between their legs." A sweet, short throwaway. One of Morrissey's masterpieces is next, the chugging glam-rock of The Last Of The Famous International Playboys
is his most controversial song as most people believed he was a sociopathic, serial killer-worshipping lunatic. You can't miss the song's major point when he sings "in our lifetime those who kill, the news world hands them stardom" and in the context of Peter Sutcliffe or Ian Brady it is not exactly a love letter to Ronnie Kray. Ouija Board, Ouija Board
is a below-standard whine about a departed friend, the funny bit coming when he sings "it spells S-T-E-V-E-N."
Hairdresser On Fire
is excellent and amazingly, a b-side. It starts as a piano-and-strings ballad about London before turning into a chiming mid-tempo pop song about London. The follow-up, Everyday Is Like Sunday
is even better, a gorgeous, melodic, well-arranged farewell to the British tradition of the seaside. A genuinely lovely song and strangely universal, it's an example of Morrissey's exceptional ear for melody and lyrics, which is rarely said about him.
He Knows I'd Love To See Him
is a ballad about the end of the Morrissey/Marr partnership, singing "he knows I'd love to see him happy or as close as possible" and is a strong vocal performance as he sighs at the end "he doesn't know". Yes, I Am Blind
is a clue to what the sound of a post-Marr Smiths might
have sounded like, co-written with Andy Rourke, it's an account of someone doomed to only see life's injustices and pleas for a saviour as he sings "God come down if you're really there, well you're the one who claims to care."
is another short, sweet b-side but debut single Suedehead
is next and it's simply the loveliest melody Morrissey sang over, The Smiths notwithstanding. Morrissey states the song is about his life circa 1972. The ending is rather controversial, is he singing "good lay, good lay" or "bootleg, bootleg"?
is a superb closer, the shimmering riff is perfect for Morrissey's offhand magic as he sings "to say the least, truly disappointed" and harsh truths like "don't talk to me, no, about people who are nice, for I've spent my whole life in ruins because of people who are nice." The funniest Morrissey moment ever is at the close, when he claims "this is the last song I will ever sing" the crowd cheers before he sings "no, I've changed my mind again!" the crowd "aahs" in disappointment before Morrissey gleefully takes his bow - "goodnight and thank you!"
is an excellent compilation and a must-buy for fans of Morrissey and pre-Britpop indie.
Everyday Is Like Sunday
The Last Of The Famous International Playboys
November Spawned A Monster
Hairdresser On Fire