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I've come to wish you an unhappy birthday
May 24, 2009 1:49 PM   Subscribe

May Spawned a Monster Moz turned 50 (or forty ten, as he put it) last Friday. Whether you think he's a light that never goes out, a charming man, the last of the famous international playboys... heck, even if you think he's evil and he should die, raise a glass to one of the most influential UK artists of the past three decades. I, for one, will be taking the opportunity to further indoctrinate my children to the glory that is Louder than Bombs.
posted by bpm140 (51 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
or forty ten, as he put it

"Wilde plus four" would sound so much better.
posted by felix betachat at 1:51 PM on May 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hah! I'm actually listening to Louder than Bombs right now. I thought I grabbed the Shins and instead got the Smiths. Good stuff, the lot of 'em.
posted by aniola at 2:02 PM on May 24, 2009


I'd never like to meet him, I don't even have any interest in who he is, what he does, or what he has to say, or his solo career, but he and Marr combined made some unique music and they were only getting better before Moz's utter nonsense destroyed it.
posted by juiceCake at 2:09 PM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's something truly tragic...the other day I was talking about Morrissey at work.

My coworker (who's 23): who's Morrissey?
Me: *gasping*: you know...the lead singer from the Smiths?!?
My coworker: Who are the Smiths?
Me: (speechless)
Nearby coworker (27): I've never heard of them either...

AUGGGGGH!!!!
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:11 PM on May 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Incidentally his solo album You are the Quarry was fantastic, IMHO. Very catchy!
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:15 PM on May 24, 2009


If this tread doesn't bring jonmc out of hiding, nothing will.
posted by echolalia67 at 2:21 PM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll be they'd recognize How Soon Is Now if you fired it up. Still, 1984 is a long time ago. I'm 34 and I was 9 when Hatful of Hollow came out. The good old days are long behind us, man. I was playing Nevermind the other day and realized that it was released 18 years ago. Consider it your duty to educate.
posted by jimmythefish at 2:24 PM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


i know him and he cannot sing.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:24 PM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Then you're my fact-checking thing.
posted by item at 2:33 PM on May 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well focus on the quasar in the mist
The kaiser has a cyst
posted by juiceCake at 2:36 PM on May 24, 2009


I have to add that I always hated There is a Light that Never Goes Out and still do, but I do like the music of it, and danielearwicker does a great rendition, though people are spilling their issues with him over in Marr's Guitarchestra.
posted by juiceCake at 2:36 PM on May 24, 2009


So, one thing I love about Morrissey's endlessly entertaining nonsense -- which is a large part of the reason that I'm a big fan of his, the rest being the music he makes -- is this weird revisionist thing he does with his back catalogue. Twice, he has released best of albums (The Best of Morrissey and Greatest Hits), which in total I think have like, four actual radio hits on them, the rest of them are just mostly recent songs you presume he thinks should have been hits, or he just likes a lot or something. It's funny, really. You pick up "Greatest Hits" expecting to hear all of his radio singles, and it's like, 70% stuff from his last three albums.

Also, Related, and kind of interesting.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 2:41 PM on May 24, 2009


I have to add that I always hated There is a Light that Never Goes Out and still do, but I do like the music of it...

You should check out Schneider TM's version. Might not be your thing either, but Ive always been a huge fan of it.
posted by bpm140 at 2:45 PM on May 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


I, for one, will be taking the opportunity to further indoctrinate my children to the glory that is Louder than Bombs.

Yes, but you haven't lived until you've seen preschoolers writhing around in imitation of Morrissey's performance in the "November Spawned A Monster" video.
posted by padraigin at 2:52 PM on May 24, 2009


he and Marr combined made some unique music and they were only getting better before Moz's utter nonsense destroyed it.

Because of course, Johnny Marrs' post-Smiths career has been an epic series of successes.
posted by panboi at 2:52 PM on May 24, 2009


"Marr's".

I'll take Mindbomb and Dusk over any of Morrissey's increasingly-embarrassing tosh any day of the week, thanks.
posted by genghis at 3:12 PM on May 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yes, but you haven't lived until you've seen preschoolers writhing around in imitation of Morrissey's performance in the "November Spawned A Monster" video.

Or singing "Hairdresser on Fire" into their toothbrushes before school. I wonder if the performance ever shows up on the playground... ;>
posted by njbradburn at 3:18 PM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Because of course, Johnny Marrs' post-Smiths career has been an epic series of successes.

I know of no one who has implied or stated that Marr has been more successful, musically or not, after the Smiths. He seems happy about that though.
posted by juiceCake at 3:20 PM on May 24, 2009


Oh DADDY!
posted by njbradburn at 3:22 PM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


... the glory that is Louder than Bombs.

Louder Than Bombs was by The Smiths.

Viva Hate is probably the best Morrissey solo album, and it's been a long slow decline since. I still like the guy and would pay (oh, $20-25 or so) to see him in concert any day of the week, but c'mon.

Be honest. The Smiths had more good songs in their 5-6 years than Morrissey has had in over two decades.

(Ditto on Mindbomb and Dusk, though I would go as far as to call Morrissey's solo output tosh. I like most of it in its own moderately forgettable fashion.)

...they were only getting better before Moz's utter nonsense destroyed it

Mostly true, but Marr was also quite full of nonsense at the time.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:24 PM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


i know him and he cannot sing.

That's nothing, you should hear him play piano.
posted by permafrost at 3:32 PM on May 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Because of course, Johnny Marrs' post-Smiths career has been an epic series of successes.

This is the best dismissal of the 'oh well, Marr didn't really do much after The Smiths hem hem' argument I've come across, although, to be honest, it might just be a tie with shrieking something about how the hell anyone could be expected to keep on knocking out tunes the equal of How Soon is Now?, This Charming Man and Sheila Take a Bow on a regular basis and then storming out of the pub in a huff.
posted by permafrost at 3:47 PM on May 24, 2009


His Hairdresser on Fire is what lead me to alternative music - it wasn't good, but it was funny. I only saw one video by him where he was wearing a blue tuxedo and looking tortured. Since then, I've thought of him as the Lounge Singer in hell. Yeah, I know that every band I ever liked probably sucks, but I don't understand Morrisey's attraction.
posted by path at 3:48 PM on May 24, 2009


You are the Quarry is an odd album. It starts out OK with America Is Not The World (our president is Black, now what?), Irish Blood, English Heart really swaggers well, but then we get to I Have Forgiven Jesus ... and I stop listening to the album. Every time.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:50 PM on May 24, 2009


Incidentally his solo album You are the Quarry was fantastic, IMHO. Very catchy!

My kids love the song they call "I've Been Dreaming of a Time When"
posted by stargell at 3:54 PM on May 24, 2009


His 20 year solo career has been wholly unremarkable (if he hadnt been in The Smiths he would have been universally ignored for the last 18 years of it and you know it) and save for the odd single here and there, tepid as fuck. Maybe one full album's worth of great material and terabytes of Bland (if nicely titled) Blandness.

The Smiths were of course revolutionary, but Moz was so boring and unfussed with even that material when I saw him at Coachella last month that I actually now am actively hoping against a Smiths reunion.

He's become precisely the sort of bloated, posh British twat he would have written scathingly against in 1984.

BTW, I realize that it's a somewhat meaningless comparison but the last Nick Cave record is eons better than Morrissey could ever dream of being at this stage.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:26 PM on May 24, 2009


I'll take Mindbomb and Dusk over any of Morrissey's increasingly-embarrassing tosh any day of the week, thanks.

Mindbomb is the bomb. In about 1991, I went into a record store, grabbed something I'd never heard, by a group whose name I was only vaguely familiar with, and after asking to listen to it on the headphones, was ripping them off and charging at the register about 2 seconds after the first snare beat of Good Morning Beautiful.

That album, and David Baerwald's Triage are the two things that allowed me to keep my sanity for 8 years after the lights went out in Nov. 2000.

Marr is simply masterful on Mindbomb.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:31 PM on May 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm 34 and I was 9 when Hatful of Hollow came out. The good old days are long behind us, man.

I'll be 35 next month.

I command you sir to seek out the following....

Friendly Fires
Foals
Late of the Pier
Working for a Nuclear Free City
The Young Knives
These New Puritans
shoot, even the new Silversun Pickups and Kaiser Chiefs (I know) records were pretty amazing.


Nab these records off these intarnetz and look forward happily and not back sadly.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:33 PM on May 24, 2009


BTW, I realize that it's a somewhat meaningless comparison but the last every Nick Cave record is eons better than Morrissey could ever dream of being at this stage.
no way was that going unfixed.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:42 PM on May 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Because of course, Johnny Marr's post-Smiths career has been an epic series of successes.

Dude, have you heard We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank?
His current work with Modest Mouse a)totally revitalized that band and b)may just be his best work since The Queen is Dead
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 5:17 PM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


His current work with Modest Mouse a)totally revitalized that band and b)may just be his best work since The Queen is Dead

It's brilliant and it's also some of the most Smiths-y stuff he's done in ages. People look wistfully back at Marr's jangle and 12-string stuff, but often overlook the massive doses of funk that were in Smiths songs. It was quite thrilling when I heard that sort of guitar playing come back with the Modest Mouse record.
posted by bunglin jones at 5:32 PM on May 24, 2009


I'm still pissed Morrissey canceled all of his FL dates.

With that said, all you Moz haterz can suck my balls.
posted by photoslob at 5:54 PM on May 24, 2009


Metafilter: All you _____ haterz can suck my balls.
posted by cazoo at 6:11 PM on May 24, 2009




the last Nick Cave record is eons better than Morrissey could ever dream of being at this stage.
I got into the Smiths and Nick Cave around about the same time and, now twenty-something years later, I still buy everything that Nick Cave puts out, but I don't even know how many Morrissey solo records have been released (and I was madly in love with Smiths and Moz - hunting down bootlegs, going to the library to look at photographs of Manchester, memorising the little phrases that had been scrawled into the run-off bit of the records, buying dreadful Easterhouse cassingles because of some tenuous connection, reading and re-reading A Taste of Honey and By Grand Central Station..., getting a very silly haircut). I was talking about this with a friend and wondering why one part of my adolescent musical life should endure and not the other. He was completely correct, I think, when he said "It's because Nick Cave makes records for grown-ups."
posted by bunglin jones at 6:32 PM on May 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have a mixed relationship with Louder Than Bombs. I love the music, but the photo of Shelagh Delaney on the cover looks so disturbingly like me at seventeen that it kinda freaks me out. I eventually settled on cutting out some construction paper and putting it over the insert.

Morrissey is Still Good. He's not as fabulous as he was with The Smiths. Sometimes I just go hunting down very strange Smiths covers so I can have a fresh take on the material, because I will not be getting any more new Smiths material, ever. I do not buy every album he puts out. About two out of five are fairly solid. But when I am a little drunk and feeling fey and dejected, the Smiths CDs come out, not the Morrissey. I do go see him when he comes through town. He does his retro schtick beforehand, playing video footage of Shocking Blue (what was that woman on?) and has a PETA table next to the merch table. He takes off his shirt more or less on cue. He's lightened up and will perform Smiths tunes. Musically, he's still struggling to find something as good as what Marr could make to back up the lyrics, and I do not think he ever will.

That's probably worth a Morrissey song of its own.
posted by adipocere at 7:09 PM on May 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


I will forgive the Mozzer for any of his solo transgressions because of "Nobody Loves Us" and "Sister, I'm a Poet".

So there.
posted by black8 at 7:48 PM on May 24, 2009


For me, the best thing about the Smiths (and by extension, Morrissey) is t.A.T.u.'s cover of How Soon is Now?
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:34 PM on May 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Obviously you all have no taste. So let me set you straight.

1)Yes, Mozz was best with the Smiths.

2)However, he was very good solo too. "Viva Hate" and "Kill Uncle" - what can you say against them - most of the stuff on that is very, very, very good. Also most of the things compiled in "Bona Drag", and a lot of singles - excellent.

3)"Your Arsenal" and "Vauxhall and I" - he's struggling. Not hateworthy, but not very good either.

4)Starting with "Southpaw Grammar" - he's gone downhill, not really listenable. Zero evolution. The occasional single is passable, barely.

5)It takes two to tango. Marr was as guilty as Mozz for the Smiths breakup.

6)There is absolutely no chance we'll ever hear anything musically interesting out of Mozz - unlike the long shots of f.ex. Bowie (I admit, Bowie post heat attack is a very long longshot).

7)Just based on his accomplishments with the Smiths, and at least his first couple of solo albums and a ton of great singles, Mozz deserves our love and eternal gratitude.

So, happy b-day Mozz, we love you!

P.S. Nick Cave vs Mozz - apples and oranges. But if you must, yes, Nick Cave did good work, but you're batty if you think at his best he was ever better than Mozz - please don't make yourself look foolish with such claims. Mozz was a far more of a novel force in music compared to NC (and I like Cave, especially early w/ the Birthday Party), if you don't understand that, put on a very small hat and stand in the corner until you figure it out.
posted by VikingSword at 9:02 PM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mindbomb is the bomb

I really liked Dusk and Mindbomb, but I had no idea what these albums meant to people until I had a summer fling with an Irish girl in 1994. Mindbomb was a *statement* to her, a gigantic "fuck you" to the Church, rebellious music. Living in staid, sleepy, secular Canada, I had no idea music could be dangerous until then.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:11 PM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I got into the Smiths and Nick Cave around about the same time (etc)

i could just about have written that comment, word for word. apart from the bad hairstyle bit, of course.

i even went to manchester at age 17 - as part of a post high school backpacking trip around europe - specifically to hunt down places like the salford lads' club, or the roadsign with strangeways on it.

i eventually found the lads' club after a day of trudging all over salford, and was about to have my photo taken in a mozza pose when a burly old roughneck told me to piss the fuck off before he ground me into a pulp, because the club had had nothing but trouble "ever since those damned smiths nancyboys used the club in their album photo".

i scarpered off up the road, and, heart in my throat, snapped a shot of the club at a distance, from behind the cover of a pile of gravel.

to this day, i still think of that guy as one of the greatest prime fucking cunts i've ever encountered - fancy hassling a skinny little teenaged australian fanboy over measly photograph like that...
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:23 PM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Smiths...they were that band with the song in the Labatt Ice Beer commercial, right?

/ runs and hides
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:20 PM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


At friday in Helsinki there was Morrissey's birthday party at the old student house, with speeches and discussion panel with parliament members, writers, playwrights and such discussion about what Moz meant to them. And several cover bands and swooning people with flowers. I can't think of anyone else who inspires such events.

I think that for fans evaluating Morrissey's records as music in the contemporary music scene and comparing him to other bands/artists is like trying to evaluate the Bible or the Koran as self-help books and cataloging them as such. It can be done, but it misses the point.

My personal take on the importance is that he sings both from the id and the superego, but not so much about the ego. When his lyrics are about needing or wanting, it lays things more bare as any music I had heard at that point. I remember how embarassing it was to listen The Queen Is Dead for the first times, kind of acknowledging that yes, but not me, not like that. Until I gave up and admitted that yes, this speaks to me. He is still singing me from the id. It is like the inner monologue from American Psycho, you don't want to admit anything like that, but there is something terribly familiar explicitly put out. The superego comes to play in that he consciously takes the ugly needy parts of life and makes them beautiful and tries to have some artistic integrity in choosing almost only ugly needy parts as subjects. The quality of the songs is only a small part of the experience, the songs that speak you the most can easily come from the crappiest records he made.

At this point, I like Ammunition. Which is maybe not a good song, but what's that got to do with anything important?
posted by Free word order! at 1:09 AM on May 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, just to add to Free word order's commentary, it wasn't so much the music per se that drew me to the Smiths and Morrissey. The music is pop...I'm not expecting anything complex or intricate!

The thing that drew me to the Morrissey, at least when I was young, was was the fact he is one of 2 or 3 artists that ever made me give a shit about lyrics.

Even to this day I could give a rat's ass WHAT somebody is singing. It's mostly nonsense anyway.

At least the Smiths opted to be clever. So thank you very much for that.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:52 AM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Smiths were of course revolutionary, but Moz was so boring and unfussed with even that material when I saw him at Coachella last month that I actually now am actively hoping against a Smiths reunion.


Pretty much this. Though I suspect the real problem is that he's backed by a gang of pub-rock hacks like Boorer, rather than Marr etc. The original line-up would hopefully make a better fist of things. But yeah, I saw him at Benicassim and I couldn't even be bothered getting up and dancing, even when he played the Smiths tunes. He just seems like a total self-parody, in a world that's moved on - for example, his earnest declarations that basically, it's OK to be gay or straight or whatever. I'd say the number of people in the crowd who disagreed with that would be vanishingly small.

Still, Strangeways Here We Come got me into alternative music, aged 14 or so, and the Smiths material still stands up today. So for that, Moz, I salute you.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:57 AM on May 25, 2009


Lighten Up, Morrissey.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:16 AM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Still, Strangeways Here We Come got me into alternative music, aged 14 or so, and the Smiths material still stands up today. So for that, Moz, I salute you.

*salutes*

other than maybe midnight oil & the violent femmes, the smiths would've been my first intro to indie music.

I'm eternally grateful
To my past influences
But they will not free me
I am not diseased

posted by UbuRoivas at 4:44 AM on May 25, 2009


*sniff* Louder than Bombs was only a compilation, you know.

I bought Years of Refusal a few weeks ago. Happy to spend the $25. Certainly not his best, but not crap like Ringleader of the Tormenters or Maladjusted.

I thought You are the Quarry was almost as good as Your Arsenal, while Viva Hate and Kill Uncle were mighty fine albums, just as good as the relatively weak Strangeways here we come.

Comparing artists that are vaguely in the same genre and approximately the same age is effing pointless. Why would you bother trying to compare Morrissey and Nick Cave? What's the reference point to judge them? Your own opinion and that's it. I'm happy enough liking them both.
posted by wilful at 8:22 PM on May 25, 2009


Morrissey is God. Happy birthday, God.

I've always said that I would buy anything Morrissey does. He could record himself gargling, and it would be a masterpiece.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:40 PM on May 25, 2009


Why would you bother trying to compare Morrissey and Nick Cave?

OK then - Education in Reverse is better than Viva Hate.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:03 PM on May 25, 2009


Ubu - I went there in 2006, pretentiously waving my half-read copy of Ulysses. Two ten year olds came up to me and my friend.

'Is that your boyfriend?'
'No.'
'Is that a book you've got there? Why have you got a book with you? I wouldn't be readin' a book in the 'ouse, never mind in the street.'

Then two scallies came over, offered to 'take a picture of yer with that camera' (no chance) and tried to sic Rottweiler puppies on us when we declined. They just sniffed our feet and licked my shoelaces.
posted by mippy at 9:13 AM on May 26, 2009


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