Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Morrissey 1: Viva Hate

With alacrity if not tenacity, Morrissey emerged as a solo artist hot on the heels of the last Smiths album. Obviously, a voice like his is going to be recognizable, and by drafting Stephen Street, who’d worked the knobs on several Smiths albums, he did manage something of a seamless transition with Viva Hate.
That’s not apparent right away, as guitarist Vini Reilly displays none of the finesse or taste of Johnny Marr; witness the insect infestations all over “Alsatian Cousin” and “I Don’t Mind If You Forget Me”. However, the first singles, “Suedehead” and especially “Everyday Is Like Sunday”, rank with the best moments of his former band. “Bengali In Platforms” and “Dial-A-Cliché” are gentle if obscure, while “Margaret On The Guillotine” is one of the most tender-sounding pieces of hate mail ever, right up to the closing sound effect.
Every track sounds different, which adds variety. Even though “Little Man, What Now?”, “Late Night, Maudlin Street” and “Break Up The Family” have all the percussive elements of demos, they do display a good deal of melody and emotion. Just as melodic and emotional is “Angel, Angel Down We Go Together”, a brief track accompanied by a very tense string arrangement.
Viva Hate kept Moz-heads happy, though Johnny Marr and even the Smiths rhythm section are sorely missed. But even the album isn’t the same as it once was. In this century, Morrissey has seen fit to take reissues and repackages to their furthest potential, changing not only his albums’ covers but also their sequences. In this case, the gorgeous track “The Ordinary Boys” has been replaced by the outtake “Treat Me Like A Human Being”, and “Hairdresser On Fire”, which was only on the American version of the album anyway, is not included. For a man from whom the word “stubborn” is an understatement, it’s just one example of his pathological need to finesse his own legacy and image.

Morrissey Viva Hate (1988)—3
2012 Remastered Special Edition: “same” as 1988, plus 1 extra track (and minus 2 tracks)

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