Saturday, 20 December 2014

My Top Ten Albums of 2014 - #4

4. Morrissey - World Peace Is None Of Your Business

And so, the inevitable Morrissey review. It's been another horribilis annus for the Mozfather, although it started out pretty well. Riding high on the critical acclaim of his Autobiography (which I still haven't read: I'm ashamed to admit I've read three books in total this year and those I have managed to get through had CHAPTERS and PARAGRAPHS) with a new two-album record deal signed, the release of World Peace... was met with uniformly glowing reviews and all seemed rosy in the Mozcamp. 

We knew it couldn't last. Within ten seconds of his album crashing into the charts at Number #2 (held off by Dial-A-Cliche Ordinary Boy Ed Sheeran... oh, the indignity!) Moz had dumped his new record company, slagging them off to all and sundry for not promoting the album correctly, not spending any money on any decent videos and making him stand on top of the Capitol Records building at sunrise... with Pamela Anderson. Then, just as the Mozzosphere was reeling from that body blow, our hero announced he was having treatment for cancer: “If I die, then I die. And if I don’t, then I don’t." After that, his questionable dalliances with the utterly loathsome Russell Brand, his refusal to trade blows with The Queen on Christmas Day, and his announcement that he was off to write a novel next (hopefully, this time, with CHAPTERS)... well, it may have been business as usual, but it was all tinged with worry. Imagine a world where Morrissey wasn't here to spark outrage by talking equal parts nonsense and common sense. It'd be a much less interesting place.

Anyway,enough with the preamble... what about the record itself? Well, first off, you have to buy the Deluxe Edition. Because Morrissey being Morrissey, a couple of the best tracks are on the b-sides (now that b-sides are a thing of the past, that's Disc 2 of the Deluxe Edition). Particularly the hilarious Art-Hounds in which Moz lets rip with his very best Alan Bennett putdowns...
Art-hounds in a restaurant
They bring along
Their loving aunt
But when they can't find a table
For their fat aunt Mabel
They stamp their feet and cry
Bonus disc dealt with then, the album proper is so close to being classic, I think we can call it. I don't think I liked it as much as the critics who declared it a glorious comeback, his best since You Are The Quarry (or even, in some reviews, his best since Vauxhall & I) but then most critics tend to forget that every Morrissey album (with the possible exception of Maladjusted) is described as a comeback by somebody.

It starts with a typical Morrissey rant about rubbish politicians which I wholeheartedly agree with... until he sides with the aforementioned blight on society, Russell Brand ("Each time you vote you support the process") at which point he loses me slightly. The second single, Istanbul, is this album's First Of The Gang To Die (although not quite as poppy), a stark tale of a father scouring the streets of one of Moz's favourite cities in a desperate attempt to find his "blue-eyed son". It's a heavy song, though 6Music A-listed it (after ignoring the title track)... perhaps because the riff owes something to The Smiths. Curiously, that station went on to A-list the camp and poppy Kiss Me A Lot which wasn't released as a single. Iffypedia tells me that Earth Is The Loneliest Planet (great title; swirling I Know It's Over style histrionics) and The Bullfighter Dies (a 2 minute accordion-laced "ha ha" that's somehow much more satisfying as an animal rights anthem than Meat Is Murder ever was) were released next: I never heard either of these played from the radio-box.

Elsewhere, Moz shows sympathy for stressed students driven to drastic measures when they fail their exams (Staircase At The Museum)...
"If you don't get three A's"
Her sweet daddy said
"You're no child of mine
And as far as I'm concerned 
You're dead."
...and surprises us with a love of Jack Kerouac (Neal Cassady Drops Dead) that punningly makes explicit one of the album's recurring themes (Morrissey is not a well man)...
"Everyone has babies
Babies full of rabies
Scarlett has a fever
Ringlets full of ringworm
Angel of distemper
The little fella has got rubella
Nipper full of fungus
Junior full of gangrene
Minor's melanoma
Tyke full of grippe
Whippersnapper scurvy
Urchin made of acne

Get that thing away from me!"
The album's stand-out track, however, is the scathing 8-minute assault on masculinity I'm Not A Man.
Ah, but lonely
Well, if this is what it takes to describe...

I'm not a man."
As I said earlier, a world where Morrissey is no longer around to write such things... now that really will be the loneliest planet.

Which three records were better than Morrissey? Well, to start with, the worst parts of any plane journey - enjoyed with a Gee-Gee. 

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