Morrissey: Years Of Refusal

One of the deep philosophical questions that has divided the musical press for years, was eloquently phrased by Viz magazine many years ago thus:

Morrissey, pop genius, or twat?”

I took an early childish stance against The Smiths in the mid eighties when the quality of the popular music scene was so low, it caused me to stick my head so far up Jimmy Page’s arsehole that I survived on a simple musical diet of Zeppelin and very little else. This caused me to either ignore, or treat with contempt, almost all contemporary artists of the time. I maintained this stance for so long that it became hard to back down and admit that perhaps the Smiths weren’t actually that bad. So when it comes to answering the question posed above, I may have an inbuilt prejudice to opt for the later possibility posed by the question. I shall however do my best not to play to these prejudices and attempt a fair and balanced review of this album based on its musical merits and the quality of the lyrics.

As usual, for reasons of brevity, I have cherry picked some choice tracks:

“Black Cloud” has a guitar introduction that would feel perfectly at home on an early Robert Plant solo album and a bass line similar to Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” overlaid with an ornate vocal performance.

“When I last Spoke To Carol” has a more Mexican feel to it with its acoustic guitar and trumpet. In fact I can almost picture Morrissey with a band of mariachi fully garbed out in charro outfits pestering holiday makers at an Acapulco bar.

“That’s How People Grow Up” has the stereotypical Morrissey/Smiths vocal style full of despair and wailing. The tragic and miserable lyrics will no doubt still appeal to the now grown up angst riddled teenagers he originally courted 25 years ago.

So, after careful consideration and the weighing up of many critical factors and empirical facts embedded within the lyrics, I am confident that I have reached the undeniable truth and am in a suitable position to answer the question: Morrissey, pop genius or twat? Well sadly not a genius, but certainly a clever twat.


Jack of Kent said...

But, when with Marr, there was genius.