Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Desert Island Discs 45 Viva Hate by Morrissey

45 Viva Hate by Morrissey 1988

I think the Smiths broke up at their absolute peak but in doing so Morrissey let go a once in a lifetime partnership.

Viva Hate came out when arguably Morrissey was at his highest profile, simply in terms of everyone watching what he would do next and thinking it would answer the question of whether the greatness of the Smiths song writing was more Morrissey than Marr or Marr than Morrissey. I guess the answer was a bit of both.

Before he surrounded himself with people less talented than himself , he replaced one great guitarist with another , Vini Reilly of the Duritti Column. His smartest move was to keep on board later day Smiths producer Stephen Street but this time as co writer as well as producer.

The result is an lp that I think captures Morrissey's voice at its best. The work of Street and Reilly (who did a lot of the arrangements) produces a  crisp sound that sparkles. Even the fuzzy guitar of the opening single has a sharpness about it

The lp doesn't start that way. Crashing drums and wailing guitar provide a sound scape of pure jealousy. The subject matter of other songs swing from potentially autobiographical to portraits of minor characters be it the forgotten child star of Little Man What Now or the Bengali in platforms.

As ever with Morrissey's lyrics half the fun is spotting the influences. Second single pulled on the mood of Betjeman's Slough and its Come friendly bombs invitation , all backed by a wall of sound with some soaring strings

Reilly , Street and Morrissey have at one point fallen out over who wrote what and song writing credits (all the more sadder considering Vini Reilly's current situation). It is shame that this combination wasn't allowed to flourish as although Morrissey has touched other great heights he hasn't produced a more consistent lp since.

The only track that doesn't really work is the final Margaret on the Guillotine. No matter how good the sentiment is feels an almost pastiche of his former band

The heart of the lp is the 7+ min of Last Night, Maudlin Street. I've read somewhere it is autobiographical but with Morrissey who knows.

This is one of those songs that if you don't like Morrissey it probably highlights all the reason why. For me though it has all that is great about him , great lyrics full of surprising turns of phrase , a wicked sense of humour but awash with melancholy. A vocal that is either a whine or soars with emotion depending on your point of view .. I love it

Late Night , Maudlin Street- Morrissey

A re release has recently come out (kind of  a Morrissey director's cut) with the above track edited down with the lengthy fade removed and therefore reducing the power of the track , one track omitted and  an inferior one included. Also for some reason a change of type face (a change for the worse) . Stick to the original which you can get here


  1. Viva Hate is very special. Along with Queen Is Dead, this is Morrissey at his peak. It's such a personal feeling album and I never tire of hearing Suedehead.

    1. agree echo these are some of his most personal lyrics - also before he thought the whole world was against him

  2. - Good pick... Mozza's best by far. The singles are absolutely outstanding; so much so that (for me) the rest of the album pales in comparison and I suppose that's why it just missed my list.

    #45 - STEVE WYNN - Kerosene Man/Dazzling Display (1990)

    - Former Dream Syndicate leader of LA's "paisley underground" reknowned for blistering feedback and endless guitar jams, but Steve Wynn's first two solo albums are mostly literate jangle-pop with Joe Chiccarelli's wall-of-sound/kitchen sink production and featuring an all-star cast of players (Peter Buck, Howe Gelb, Fernando Saunders, others). I've got this album as a 2fer (truly sister albums) so it's a cheat, but I really adore both of 'em...

    - I suggest you go to SPOTIFY to sample. Amazing... we finally have it in Canada!!! I'm frustrated by the horrendous quality clip selection on Youtube. I can't find "Kerosene Man", "Something To Remember Me By", "Tuesday", "Close Your Eyes","Dandy In Disguise", "Dazzling Display" and several others which are my favorites from this album. But "Carolyn" & "Tears Won't Help" are good tasters. You'll have to crank the volume way up to hear the first clip...

    Carolyn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4MqxuEykiM
    Tears Won't Help: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7mRpu6ePp8
    Bonnie & Clyde: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPo1LZchLZ0

  3. This blunted the disappointment of The Smiths breakup. The three songs you mentioned are the ones that have stayed with me. Still listen to this every now and then. A contender for my list.
    @ Tim - God, when Ireland got Spotify a few months back I thought we were late - can't believe it's taken so long to make it to Canada. Here's hoping it starts to generate more money for musicians as it spreads.

    1. By the way, When You Smile by The Dream Syndicate is one of my (many) favourite songs from the early eighties.

  4. Seamus, awhile ago we had an interesting chat here in the margins concerning the merit/harm of Spotify. I don't know if we ever came to any conclusions, did we? Wonderful search tool as it is, it seems artists still get the dirty end of the stick. And it sure takes the adventure out of record buying...
    Constantly amazed at the breadth of your musical tastes. Dream Syndicate a difficult chew for most. Enjoy following Vapour Trails. When you and Trev get into some of those erudite pow-wows I feel like a kid eavesdropping on scientists discussing molecular biology...

    1. Glad you enjoy Vapour Trails, Tim. Yes, Spotify certainly removes what was often a 'leap of faith' involved in buying a record but I think it had largely been removed. My daughter's generation simply weren't buying much music in any form. Being broke has largely taken me from the marketplace although I still buy the odd cd, usually directly from the artist.
      I think, as a listener, that the worst thing is that if you haven't invested in something it's too easy to turn it off. When you've saved up for something for a few weeks, as my teenage self often did, you will keep listening even if you don't like what you hear at first, almost willing yourself to like it. It allowed time to appreciate more difficult listens. (Although perhaps it's led me to liking stuff that's no good?)

    2. Hi Tim and Seamus agree Spotify has removed that sense of risk. I use it entirely for try before you buy which has removed part of the thrill or music buying. However for me it has meant I'm buying more as I had fallen into the trap of only buying stuff from bands I knew and spotify along with the various blogs got me out of that rut. For me the rate should be the same as if a record is played on the radio as in effect that is what it is. However I cant see the artist rate going up or if it does it may break from a std approach and pay more for more plays ie benefit the big guys which will be a travesty.

      on a sep note going to have to differ on the dream synd - really didn't get that phase of American bands at all

    3. Seamus brings a bit to much reality to the picture (that I can relate to), especially the part about being broke...
      DA: What a great observation about using these methods to get out of that rut that I had surely fallen into. I hadn't realized it! And re: Dream Syndicate, I'm with you. That Neil Young Crazy Horse squalling jam style not my bag. But Steve Wynn's early solo stuff very accessible pop music once you get past the sinister sounding vocals.

    4. I'm with Seamus; easy choices from ipod/spotify means that there is no 'investment' in the process. That goes for shelling out AND the actual listening process. In my day you never lifted the stylus mid track just in case you scratched the precious thing. The track you didn't get on the first listen was often your boz eyed favourite by the 13th go...

  5. Seems like I'm in the minority, picking 'You are the quarry'.Love this album too though.Picking a favourite album by Morrissey and The Smiths were two of the more difficult choices. So much great music in his back catalogue, but 'Quarry' is certainly the album that gets the most airing.
    #45 Edwyn Collins - Hope and Despair. Another hard choice but I think this has Edwyns stongest set of songs.'Pushing it to the back of my mind' is my favourite song penned by him and it also includes 'Coffee table song' and '50 shades of blue'
    Oh, also has Roddy on guitar!

  6. Another great choice. I hadn't noticed the edit to Late Night Maudlin Street on the reissue, but I hated the edited version of Ouija Board on the new version of Bona Drag - they / he cut out the whole S-T-E-V-E-N reply, which is the funniest bit of the song.

    1. Hi Rol

      I'm not quite sure why Morrissey is tinkering around it is all a bit repackage repackage from paint a vulgar picture

  7. I loved the Smiths, 'The Queen is Dead' and 'Hatful of Hollow' were my most played by a mile.
    The band (Marr) tempered Mozza's temper and Wilde tendancies; I was a little overwhelmed by the 'cleverness' of the early solo stuff and have kind of put fingers in my ear 'lalalalala' style ever since.
    Seems that I have missed a lot...


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