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Digital Subscriptions > Classic Pop > Apr-18 > THE LOW DOWN

THE LOW DOWN

HE WAS THE BEDSIT BARD WITH A NEAT LINE IN WITHERING ONE-LINERS, WHO DISSOLVED THE SMITHS – THE TRUE GODFATHERS OF BRITPOP – FOR A SOLO CAREER THE BACKBITERS SAID WOULD NEVER LAST. HOW MORRISSEY HAS REVELLED IN PROVING THEM ALL WRONG.
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MORRISSEY

Whatever the reasons for The Smiths’ demise in 1987, eyebrows were arched at the prospects for an enduring Morrissey solo career without the musical nous of Johnny Marr. Yet, 30 years on from the release of Viva Hate, Moz continues to confound the critics – occasionally appearing to go out of his way to piss them off – by metaphorically waving his gladioli for perennial outsiders everywhere.

Morrissey initially wrote with Stephen Street, the duo of Alan Winstanley and Clive Langer, and even Fairground Attraction alumnus Mark Nevin, before Boz Boorer, formerly of rockabilly outfit The Polecats, became something of a regular collaborator. The pair’s apotheosis was arguably 1994’s Vauxhall And I, with Boorer contributing to five out of the 10 tracks, including Spring-Heeled Jim, Now My Heart Is Full and the hit single, The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get.

On the whole, Morrissey’s post-Smiths career could hardly be called prolific – 11 studio albums in all, some of variable quality. However, when he’s good, he’s great – especially on the aforementioned Viva Hate and Vauxhall And I, alongside 2004’s You Are The Quarry.

Controversy has remained a constant, whether it’s provocatively draping himself in a Union Jack during his 1992 Madstock performance at Finsbury Park, bemoaning Britain’s loss of cultural identity or slagging off a procession of bêtes noires in his 2013 autobiography, prosaically titled Autobiography. Former bandmate Mike Joyce, who famously won a 1996 court case against Morrissey and Marr over unpaid earnings, is described as: “A fiea in search of a dog.” Elsewhere, the staunch animal rights activist slams David Bowie for feeding: “on the blood of living mammals.”

But still, you’ve got to love the curmudgeonly eccentric who, whether his detractors care to admit it or not, has been a fascinating figure in British pop culture.

THE MUST-HAVE ALBUMS

VIVA HATE

1988

There is life after The Smiths

Morrissey enlisted the help of Stephen Street, engineer on The Smiths’ Meat Is Murder and The Queen Is Dead, and producer on Strangeways, Here We Come, and The Durutti Column’s Vini Reilly on his first album since the break-up of Manchester’s finest.

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