"Viva Hate" EMI (20 tracks / 70
Re-package! Re-evaluate the songs.
Double pack with a photograph.
Extra track (and a tacky badge)"
from Paint A Vulgar Picture" - The
All were missing here is the badge,
although this is probably not Morrisseys
fault. In fact I would be very surprised if he
was even given the opportunity to sanction this
release, having parted company with EMI a good
few years back.
I am, however, confused by two things: Why on
earth EMI have chosen to re-release this album to
celebrate their centenary, and who is going to
buy it? Is it not normal for an album to be
re-released and subsequently held aloft for
reappraisal after some recent success? With no
offence to the Mancunian miserabilist / miser /
master (delete where applicable), he has not just
gone gold in the US, had a career rebirth at home
or suddenly become every Japanese girls
In 1988, the original release of Viva
Hate held the hopes of every Smiths
devotee, while also threatening to break
Morrissey into new ground. Would the voice that
jumped from the speakers and hugged every
disillusioned British teenager be turned into
worldwide alternative superstar? It seemed
possible at the time for Morrissey to become the
natural successor to Lou Reed and David Bowie.
This first solo album not only gives evidence as
to why this is a distinct possibility, but also
why Morrissey is now seen as the epitome of a
bygone, and rarely respected, musical age.
First out in his defence comes the bold opener
Alsatian Cousin. It appears as a
genuine statement of intent, an entrance into a
brave new musical era and an indication that
Morrissey intends to leave his room, sell his
furniture and move into a 20,000 seater arena.
Suddenly, second thoughts. The subject matter of
track two Little Man, What Now?, a
past-his-sell-by-date Sixties celebrity going
unrecognised on "an afternoon nostalgia
televison show", is let down by the leaden
delivery and the heartless nature of the lyric.
Where is the incisiveness? Where is the
worthwhile comment on the human condition? This
laziness is mirrored on the rambling,
Morrissey-by-numbers Late Night Maudlin
Street and the sadly irony-free Dial
But then saving the day and keeping those Wembley
dreams alive comes the era-defining
Everyday Is Like Sunday. The call for
implentation of NATOs full nuclear arsenal
on Southend, Weston-Super-Mare, Blackpool and the
like is made to sound like a celebration of life
and love itself.
The aid of retrospect casts a new light on most
of the songs here, none more so than The
Ordinary Boys. Here Morrissey dismissed the
"Ordinary boys, happy knowing nothing /
Happy being no one but themselves" as
"empty fools". Are these not the very
same people he celebrates later in his career on
Boxers and the sinister
Well Let You Know? What caused
this change of tack is anyones guess, but
it does seem at odds with an artist who always
had such a clearly defined musical and lyrical
Elsewhere, Suedehead always raises a
smile and Break Up The Family
deserves a mention. As do At Amber,
Girl Least Likely To and the simply
beautiful Michaels Bones, three
of the otherwise superfluous extra tracks that
have seemingly been selected at random.
Viva Hate is by no means
Morrisseys best solo offering:
Vauxhall And I takes that crown
comfortably. It does show flashes of genius and
yet it infuriates more than it inspires and
leaves a feeling of disappointment.
But as someone once said, "Its so easy
to laugh / Its so easy to hate / It takes
guts to be gentle and kind".
return to Morrissey-solo