I have to agree with many of the sentiments expressed here. I can't think of another artist of Morrissey's standing who releases compilations or reissues. I'm pretty sure he's the only one who does so. I don't I've never seen a compilation album without the word Morrissey on it. And the record company don't even want to put these records out. Morrissey forces them to do it.
At the record company meeting
On their hands - a dead star
And oh, the plans they weave
And oh, the sickening greed
At the record company party
On their hands - a dead star
The sycophantic slags all say :
"I knew him first, and I knew him well"
I really don't understand these accusations.
There aren't any "good" pop stars or rock and roll bands out there totally undeserving of criticism. They all do things for cash. They all "sell out". They all compromise their principles. They all besmirch art with commerce.
Instead of looking at the matter with stark severity, holding fast to an imaginary purity, why not gather up the various pieces to the puzzle and see what the picture looks like?
Okay, so Morrissey may have compromised on the principles implied in "Paint A Vulgar Picture". Over the years he's also proven himself fiercely independent and stubbornly unwilling to compromise himself to earn gobs of money. Clearly he has violated the letter of the 'law' in 'Picture', but not its spirit. He's the opposite of a "media whore". Doesn't that count for anything?
Incidentally, one point being missed here is that Morrissey perpetually feels neglected by the music industry and believes that if his records could just get out there and be heard, his audience would grow. He sees every new release, whether it's new material or old, as a chance to put himself in front of people. This goes back to 1987, when he insisted on releasing the final two Smiths singles without suitable B-sides because he thought it was one more chance for the public to hear The Smiths. I don't know what all of his motivations were behind the recent re-leases of "Viva Hate" and others, but I promise you that one of the main ones was a simple desire to be heard again. Even when it seems to be wholly about money, it may not be.
Exploiting dead musicians? Please. That can't happen. Patently absurd.
"Techno whizzes are said to be creating a virtual Michael Jackson, while they have already made one of dead US rapper Tupac.
And Amyís dad Mitch has said he would like to create one of his daughter, who died last year aged 27.
He said: 'The most important thing to Amy was the music and Iím sure a lot of people would like to hear her sing again.'"
I realize Morrissey himself wrote a song about record companies fleecing fans but there must be some difference between the Readers Digest version of Hank Williams 8 greatest hits and a genuine effort to re-release something like Viva Hate. I think Worm is correct that it's not about money because I don't think a whole lot of money is coming in. He wants the music to be heard.
All that aside the problem here is cultural. Unfortunately Rolling Stone magazine's influence, and the type of rock fan-band relationship that it describes is all based on the 1960's ideals where bands live together in the same house like The Monkees, and the promoters are the only ones that ever think about money. The rock stars are shown as being freaky but never flaunting wealth.
The truth is the record companies need someone to record so they find someone that the audience can relate to, but it's all a product. None of these concepts are new, by the way. RCA pressed a record of a man playing fiddle and sold it at a fiddle convention. The original recording was noisy but they sold 5,000 copies before Ralph Peer was embarrassed by the quality and arranged to have a new recording session of the same tune. This was in the early 1920's and is the same concept used today in "remastering" and of course each new format gets it's own new and improved release.
Is it pedantic to point out that Morrissey approved of selling "extra tracks" from day one in The Smiths? They put out a third, "extra track" on every one of their 12" singles. Morrissey, in charge of The Smiths' record sleeves, actually specified that the words "extra track" be printed on the promotional posters. Is it possible he has a different definition of cheap, money-grubbing exploitation than we do? Maybe it's worth looking at things from his point of view, which is easy to patch together from songs and interviews, before calling him a hypocrite.
P.S. I don't like the re-issues, and to date I've bought none of them (aside from The Smiths' remastered LPs, which are worth the expenditure). The fact that they're all first-class fuck-ups really helps prove that Morrissey is not "playing the game" and has no idea how to even if he wanted to play it. Someone in another thread compared Blur's new package with Morrissey's feeble output, in an attempt (I assume) to shame Morrissey by pointing out how a band does right by its fans. It's unbelievable to me that some of his critics will spit at Morrissey for tampering with "Viva Hate" and affixing a dreadful font to the cover, and call him a vile sell-out, without realizing that if Morrissey were greedy he'd have done a Blur-style box-set and fleeced every one of us for hundreds of dollars/pounds/euros each. Again: you can assume a Morrissey re-release is a botched affair from the get-go, practically designed to drop like Kryptonite in the market. It's like calling North Korea a major military threat-- a bastion of Pure Evil-- moments after watching another one of their cruise missiles disintegrate ten seconds after launch and shower spare parts into the sea. The "Viva Hate", "Bona Drag", "Maladjusted" reissues...Jesus, that's what unfettered greed looks like?
Last edited by Worm; August 6, 2012 at 09:56 PM.
Aside from that, I can only repeat what I wrote on the previous page: if he didn't support the re-releasing & repackaging of his music, he could actively discourage people from buying them again (as he did when he discouraged people from buying Smiths releases to deny Mike Joyce the proceeds). I don't recall him doing that.
You see inconsistency, I see hypocrisy.
I mean, you have to clarify your argument here. I assume "Paint A Vulgar Picture" is a song excoriating record company executives who place profit above art and sales figures above basic decency. The sin in question here is greed. Greed, and contempt for the record-buying public. I don't see either in the mix. I don't see an artist whose hands are totally clean, but I certainly don't see anything like greed or contempt for his fans. Far from it.
You can be "a man of principles" and still make mistakes and miscues. You can be "a man of principles" and not always get it right. Above, you chided me for treating this like a court case, demanding total proof. Aren't you doing the same by demanding that Morrissey conduct himself with perfect, unblemished, uncompromising fidelity to his ideals?
Last edited by Worm; August 7, 2012 at 01:57 PM.
To your question about EMI, that's really the big mystery here-- maybe you should tell us why it is that an artist like Morrissey, with a back catalog and pop culture legacy as sterling as he's got, both as a solo artist and The Smiths, can't seem to get his act together and really put out top-quality product which maximizes sales of his older work. A marketing neophyte, right out of school, could have come up with 178 ways to market Morrissey's back catalog better than it's been done to date. When you look at other artists' re-issues, Morrissey's are mostly very pathetic. The best of them, The Smiths' remasters, came out as faithful reproductions of the originals rather than one of those treasure-trove box sets collectors love to fork over mountains of cash to buy. The worst of them-- for me, it's got to be "Viva Hate"-- are so embarrassing that even the hardcore fans sniff at them. Overall they're patchy and wildly varying in quality.
To return to the allegations here, Morrissey has supposedly gone against the "ideals" he implied in "Paint A Vulgar Picture". I submit to you that the character we might imagine to embody the shameless greed depicted in that song would have done a much, much better job squeezing every cent out of his own back catalog.
I'd actually like him to stop pissing about & release a remastered boxed set in the Blur style. For what they've actually put in there (seven double albums, four discs of bonus material, three DVDs, a book AND a code to allow you to download the whole thing on MP3) £140 could very well be a bargain. Although in a Morrissey esque way, the boxed set is frustratingly not quite complete. Ten tracks out of 300, so annoying!
Last edited by Emotional Guide Dog; August 8, 2012 at 10:21 PM.