Tag Archive: NME


ENGLAND IS MINE directed by Mark Gill (UK, 2017)

England_is_MineIn the British Indie music scene the meeting of Marr and Morrissey is comparable in importance to that of Lennon and McCartney. Nevertheless, this biopic of Steven Patrick Morrissey is not about this alliance or indeed any aspect of the music the two made together with The Smiths.

Instead, the movie seeks to piece together the details of Morrissey’s life before he became famous. It explores the surroundings and events that inspired his amazing songs and made the band so unique. The title comes from the lyrics to the song ‘Still Ill’ : “England is mine, it owes me a living, ask me why and I’ll spit in your eye”.

We see the young Morrissey as a shaggy-haired lost soul sucked into deadend jobs and living in the grey suburbs of Manchester, a city significantly drabber and less dynamic then than it is now. The early 1970s was a grim period and that’s just the way it looks.

The key relationships for Morrissey were with strong women – a platonic girlfriend named Angie, budding artist Linder Sterling and his mother. When he complains that he can’t fit in anywhere his mother wisely advises him to “Create your own world”. Continue reading

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EARTHBOUND by Paul Morley (Penguin Books, 2013)

By common consensus Paul Morley is a pretentious tosser and, moreover, he knows it.

He was a weekly source of irritation during his tenure at New Musical Express from 1977 – 1983 but somehow his pieces were impossible to ignore.

His self-consciously provocative style was exasperating but I have to concede that the man can write. With the benefit of hindsight, I think he was providing a valuable service to NME readers by making the point that writing about music is always subjective and personal.

When we listen to recordings or find bands, we bring our own baggage which includes plenty of prejudices and preconceptions. We can never hear these sounds in a vacuum; our responses are coloured by our mood, background and the space in which we experience the music.

In Earthbound, Morley admits that his articles would “seem to be about one thing and then half way through, start to be about something else altogether” and this book follows much the same pattern.

The book is one of twelve pocket-sized Penguin paperbacks inspired by a different tube line to celebrate 150 years of the London Underground. They are intended to illustrate how, although we are all connected in some way, the space we live in shapes our imagination in different ways. Continue reading

MORRISSEY ON SUCCESS AND SELF TORMENT

MORRISSEY AUTOBIOGRAPHY (Penguìn books, 2013)

"There is no self-discovery in a safe life"

Steven Patrick Morrissey has, to some extent, always courted equal measures of praise and ridicule. The mean-spirited criticism by the NME and other hacks within the music press was less evident while The Smiths were still together mainly because only those with cloth ears would have dared criticise the band’s four magnificent studio albums and peerless run of singles.

As a solo artist, however,  he has become fair game for the haters so he is not exaggerating too much when he complains that “all I ever read about myself is one of intolerable egocentricity and dramatized depression”.

Carole Cadwalladr’s ridiculous Guardian article (‘Morrissey, You’re A Fraud’) exemplifies the kind of feeble-minded reporting he tends to generate these days. Cadwalladr effectively blames him for all the ills of modern Britain and writes that “he is the very definition of old news”.  If this were true, character assassinations like hers would be rejected as irrelevant but the reality, as she well knows, is that the man remains newsworthy and, moreover, is still greeted with adulation from millions of fans.

Of course, for someone with such a well-developed martyr complex, Morrissey sets himself up to be knocked down.

Morrissey’s outspoken opinions have always been designed to grab headlines and ruffle feathers so he rarely troubles to use temperate language. Likening the treatment of animals to child abuse and their slaughter for food to the holocaust is deliberate exaggeration for effect. The mass media are only too happy to rise to the bait presenting these statements with fake outrage while attracting a sizeable readership in the process.

Just one of Morrissey’s excellent solo albums.

One might argue, with some justification, that his best work is behind him but too many are quick dismiss all Morrissey’s post-Smiths work as second-rate. This judgement is one of blind (deaf?) prejudice which ignores the consistently high quality of his song writing. Morrissey acknowledges that Kill Uncle (“recording something for the sake of recording”) was a mistake but his evident pride in fine albums like Vauxhall & I, Your Arsenal and You Are The Quarry is wholly merited.

There is a rush to dismiss his autobiography in the same terms that I went out of my way to avoid reading any reviews or spoilers before reading and I think long time fans or foes should make up their own minds before being so hasty in their criticism. Continue reading

MANCUNIAN MADNESS

Today was a day for Mancunians who, in the immortal words of Vic Reeves, “wouldn’t let it lie”.

First there was the announcement of The Stone Roses’ third coming with the announcement of gigs and a ‘possible’ new album.

The ‘Madchester’ days are long gone and to reform now may please retromaniacs but I can’t summon up any enthusiasm for the prospect of the hype and hyperbole that will undoubtedly surround these shows.

Morrissey is another who should learn to let bygones be bygones. His decision to renew his feud with the NME over accusations of racism looks to be a PR gaff of the first order.

Hasn’t he got any mates who could advise him against this course of action?

I don’t believe that he harbours strong racist views but when his ‘big mouth strikes again’ words are printed in black and white (excuse the pun) it is not surprising that he is portrayed in these terms. Also how does he realistically intend to prove that he is not? Quotable lines can also be thrown at him from songs like Bengali In Platforms, Asian Rut and National Front Disco and I can’t think of one track where he offers a positive view on immigration.

BACKTRACKING #9 : VANILLA FUDGE

Bite-sized posts about 7″ singles I own – shameless nostalgia from the days of vinyl.

Vanilla Fudge – You Keep Me Hangin’ On b/w Take Me For A Little While (Atco Records, 1967)

Not too sure how this one landed in my single’s box. It was probably nabbed from my elder brother although it doesn’t sound like his usual taste.

He was a fan of Motown though so maybe he was swayed by the fact that the A side is a slowed down and metalized version of the hit by The Supremes. He probably threw it out after hearing what they did to the original.

The B-side it more melodramatic fluff with false histrionics as Mark Stein dwells on lines like “I need you – it ain’t funny”, which it decidedly ain’t.

Both are produced by Shadow Morton famous for introducing the world to The Shangri-Las. Continue reading

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