Monday, May 4, 2015


Trawling back thru' the archives of SMM,  I am struck by how little attention has been given to both the band and it's frontman, (Steven) Morrissey, wondering whether it's a brit thing, finding only this, but, nonetheless, I'm sure it is time to set that straight.

This song was first released on their 3rd record, "The Queen is Dead", in 1986, later becoming better known as a posthumous band release, as a single, in 1992, reaching 25 in the UK charts. I don't think it then bothered the US equivalent, but it is, with the passage of time, that both the song and the band have entered a greater consciousness, not least as the cult of Morrissey has been ascending. Indeed, as front men go, I have always seen somewhat of a Michael Stipe-like ambience to this truculent and unapologetic iconoclast, lead singer as totem, if you will.

Steven Morrisey has had a mutual love-hate relationship with the media almost since day one, simultaneously courting and rejecting exposure. His upbringing in Manchester to an emigre irish family and his first hand experience of teenage loneliness and depressive illness, with pop music being his only constant, delivered a keen lyrical attention to urban discontent and disillusion, illuminated by the flickering TV screen in the corner. Obsessed by music, he is documented as an avid devourer of and contributor to the music press of the day. Later, after a brief spell in various punk bands, he wrote several books about maintained passions, James Dean and the New York Dolls, both of whose current listed prices suggest a far greater demand now than when first published!

The Smiths, astonishingly, lasted only five years, 1982 - 87, and, following a boost from legendary DJ, (the late) John Peel, swiftly ascended the british musical meritocracy, becoming a regular on Top of the Pops, the weekly chart round-up programme, exciting and alienating viewers both by his affectations, bunches of gladioli and a (false) old-fashioned hearing aid being regular props. I confess I was an original nay-sayer, feeling the band were let down by this tone-deaf buffoon, hooting out tuneless songs of despair and denigration. But somewhere, around this song, it all fell into place. (OK, this was helped by a contemporaneous interview with guitarist, Johnny Marr, claiming their riffs were all based upon speeded up Fairport Convention songs. I cannot confirm any truth in that, but it was enough for me!) I was now a fan.

I remain one. OK, since then there has been the highs, the lows and the slightly lower-stills of Morriseys solo career; cancelled tours, health scareslitigation, always litigation, dropped by labels, inflammatory remarks offending all, if not now, then undeniably later, yet always, always bouncing back. Bigmouth indeed fights back, every time. Currently is is cresting yet another wave, another tour, another album. His 2013 autobiography , published in Penguin Modern Classics, no less, at his insistence, remains a best seller, and a rollicking read.  May he be definitely not be the first of the gang to die.

More music, to reflect that final statement, although that would finally put to bed any further discussions around the unlikely re-formation ever of his old band.........

What to buy? So much to choose, but you could do worse than this or this, but they will probably prove but starting points. Oh, and the book!

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