Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Morrissey: Our Frank (1991)

Our Frank is drawn from Morrissey's second LP, Kill Uncle. The b-sides are Journalists Who Lie and Tony the Pony. I have the original UK pressing. I've always felt that Morrissey's second record was his least interesting.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Morrisseey: Sing Your Life (1991)

And make no mistake, my friend
Your pointless life will end

Sing Your Life is one of the better tunes from Kill Uncle. Morrissey's cover version of the Jam's That's Entertainment is on side two, along with a tune called The Loop. Morrissey's version of That's Entertainment is OK, but I prefer the original. I have the US pressing of this 12" single. Prices for this 12" start at $30+ on Discogs. Wow.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Morrissey: November Spawned a Monster (1990)

Poor twisted child
So ugly, so ugly
Poor twisted child

There is a Canadian connection to the title track: Mary Margaret O'Hara sings backing vocals, and is responsible for all of that baby wailing in the background. Once again, a b-side -- He Knows I'd Love to See Him -- appears on Bona Drag. The other b-side is Girl Least Likely To.

From Wikipedia:
"The song tackles the plight of the disabled, an unusual subject matter for a pop single. As ever with Morrissey the tone and sentiments are riddled with ambiguity. His use of words such as 'monster' and 'twisted' creates a strange mix of revulsion, sympathy and black comedy, all used to enlighten, and disturb, the audience. By forcing the ambivalent persona of tormentor and saviour, Morrissey forces the listener to confront their own prejudices head on." [source]
I honestly didn't get that until I read that segment on Wikipedia. I assumed that this song was some sort of bizarre sequel to This Night Has Opened My Eyes. I always thought that a normal baby was synonymous with monster. To some people, I suppose that's the truth. The video is perplexing and has absolutely no bearing on the theme of the song. I do not like this video.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Morrissey: Interesting Drug (1989)

"Most people keep their brains between their legs"

The flip-side contains Such a Little Thing Makes a Big Difference and a rendition of Sweet and Tender Hooligan, a Smiths song. Like so many other b-sides, Such a Little Thing Makes a Big Difference later as well as Interesting Drug appeared on Bona Drag.

Interesting Drug is a good tune.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Morrissey: The Last Of The Famous International Playboys (1989)

Dear hero imprisoned
With all the new crimes that you are perfecting
Oh, I can't help quoting you
Because everything that you said rings true
And now in my cell
(well, I followed you)
And here's a list of who I slew

The Last Of The Famous International Playboys is probably my favourite Morrissey tune. Side b contains Lucky Lisp and Michaels [sic] Bones. I find it surprising that such a strong track never made it onto a studio record, but, instead, was collected on Bona Drag. By the way, Bona Drag is a fine compilation.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Morrissey: Ouija Board, Ouija Board (1989)

OK, I will admit it. I don't really like this song, and neither did the press. One of the b-sides, Yes, I am Blind, is a far better track. The other b-side is a cover of East West, written by Graham Gouldman. Doubts started to accumulate in my mind when I heard this song. Was this the end of Morrissey? Oddly, I had never seen the video until now. At one time, I assumed that this track was a sequel to Girlfried in a Coma. Who knows? Maybe it is. This track ended up on the Bona Drag compilation, a year later.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Morrissey: Everyday Is Like Sunday (1988)

Trudging slowly over wet sand
Back to the bench where your clothes were stolen
This is the coastal town
That they forgot to close down
Armageddon, come Armageddon!
Come, Armageddon! Come!

The Everyday is Like Sunday 12" single contains four tracks:

Everyday Is Like Sunday

Sister I'm a Poet
Will Never Marry

Like the single for Suedehead, there are really strong b-sides, two of which were collected on Bona Drag, as was Hairdresser on Fire. from Suedehead. Again, I have the Canadian pressing of this one. To me, Everyday Is Like Sunday is a top five Morrissey tune. I particularly like the record store scene in the video. It makes me nostalgic for that glorious past.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Morrissey: Suedehead (1988)

Side b of the first Morrissey single (which came out a month before Viva Hate) contains Hairdresser on Fire and I Know Very Well How I Got My Name. I have to admit that the suedehead subculture is something I had never heard of before. Because I am lazy, I have only read the Wikipedia entry, which says:
The suedehead subculture was an early-1970s offshoot of skinhead subculture in the United Kingdom. Although sharing similarities to 1960s skinheads, suedeheads grew their hair longer and dressed more formally.[1][2] Although often working class like skinheads, some had white collar jobs. A female suedehead was a sort. [source]
It goes on to describe clothing and musical tastes and concludes with this statement: "Morrissey made a single called "Suedehead" in 1988, although the lyrics appear to have nothing to do with suedehead subculture." So much for that.

I have a Canadian pressing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Morrissey: Viva Hate (1988)

Here is my full disclosure statement: I am a huge fan of the Smiths, and have been so ever since I heard them for the first time so many years ago. They were the best band of that era, by far. In my opinion, Morrissey's solo years have been less interesting, and a bit uneven. Even so, I have followed it, and have enjoyed some of it very much.

I know that the final Smiths studio record - Strangeways Here We Come - received generally positive reviews, but for me, it was a bit of a let down, though I would rate it higher than Meat is Murder. In any case, I worried about what Morrissey would come up with on his first post-Smiths outing. I was pleasantly surprised. I think Viva Hate is better than the last Smiths record. Imagine, a good record without Johnny Marr. That might sound a bit sacrilegious, but here we are. Spin, it should be noted, disagrees with me: "without guitarist/composer Johnny Marr at his side, the mahatma of mope rock seems to have gone out for a nice depressing stroll without noticing that he didn't have a stitch to wear" [source]

The crowning achievement of this record has to be Everyday is Like Sunday, which I rate as truly amazing. There is also Suedehead, an especially notable track among a bunch of other really strong tracks. I put this LP in the win column. Oh, and Margaret on the Guillotine makes me chuckle out loud every time I hear it.

Now, the interesting thing about Morrissey -- much like the Beatles and, indeed, the Smiths -- was the use of singles. If you wanted copies of tracks following this record, you had to find the singles (either 7" or 12") or hope that they would be compiled. As it happens, compiled they were, though some of the b-sides were not. But, at the time, one never really knew. Sometimes, you just had to buy the single. At least then, you could get some b-sides that might never end up on a compilation.

I have the original Canadian pressing. The median price on discogs is about $25, but if you see a copy in Toronto, you will have to pay at least $50. Such is the fetishization of all things Morrissey and the Smiths in this town.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Van Morrison: Versatile (2017)

I haven't had this record long enough to have a serious opinion about it. I have spun it a couple of times and I can say that I like it. That's it.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Van Morrison: The Alternative Moondance (2018)

The sound on the record is top-notch. It's a must-have for fan, for sure. It's a limited edition of 10000 copies. That might make me rich one day, right? I got this on sale :)

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Van Morrison: The Bang Records Sessions Midnight Special (2012)

This is a limited edition Australian double LP, pressed on translucent blue vinyl in a gatefold sleeve, released for RSD 2018. It was originally released in 2012. I picked this up a couple of weeks after RSD for about half the original list price. I read somewhere, though I am not sure where, that only 1000 copies of these were released.

I'd say that the trouble with any Bang Session release is that there are so many versions, often with the same tracks. The other thing is that, if you already have Blowin' Your Mind (as I do), then the first LP is a repeat of that record in its entirety. The second LP contains alternative mixes and bonus tracks. I guess this is for major Van fans.

I'm happy to have it.