"California Son" review by Armond White in National Review

Armond White, always an interesting writer, with a typically provocative and fascinating in-depth reading of the album:

Morrissey’s California Son Makes Protest Music Personal - National Review

"Morrissey proves that what we used to think of as protest songs contain more than virtue-signaling and that they can live past their original moment. On each track, his expressive timbre captures that instant when a listener’s personal responsibility crystallizes — and shines."
 
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If you're the kind of person that slags off the Guardian for coming from a partisan standpoint, then if you don't slag off a right-wing source like the National Review for the same partisanship, that makes you a hypocrite.
 
If you're the kind of person that slags off the Guardian for coming from a partisan standpoint, then if you don't slag off a right-wing source like the National Review for the same partisanship, that makes you a hypocrite.
Oh, the National Review is a totally biased and partisan media source, I agree. Always has been. But purely as a discussion of California Son, this is one of the best, most insightful pieces of writing we've had so far.
 
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This is probably the best and most thoughtful review I've read of this album so far. The worst of them haven't really been music reviews at all: they've been mostly discussions of his recent political controversies, with a one-star rating already decided before even listening to the album. It's a superb album, and White gives it its due here. I would say the same of Morrissey's previous two albums and of White's reviews of those albums as well. He seems to really get who Morrissey is and what he's doing artistically (and what he's doing artistically NOW as opposed to 30 years ago) more than most music critics.

For reference -

https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/12/morrissey-low-in-high-school-album-protest-pop-demagoguery/

https://www.nationalreview.com/2014/07/peace-summit-its-morrisseys-world-we-just-vote-it-armond-white/
 
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Oh, the National Review is a totally biased and partisan media source, I agree. Always has been. But purely as a discussion of California Son, this is one of the best, most insightful pieces of writing we've had so far.
Agreed. I’m not a big fan of the arts section of the guardian music or book reviews. They do some great investigative reporting though. It’s almost as if not everything is so starkly black and white (not a racism dog whistle). The national review is terrible overall imo but at least they ran a review of the record. I’d honestly be really interested in seeing these magazines publishers post retro active reviews of the last couple of albums. It’s be neat to see them try to twist songs about Israel and stupid soldiers into right wing points of view
 
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Interesting that one of the most positive reviews so far is from a black person. Maybe the shrieking white liberals that work for The Guardian et al are afraid their chums will think they don't have the 'right' opinions if they praise 'that nasty wacist' Morrissey in any way. They're too thick to understand nuance so vomit out 'RACIST 2/5' time and time again.
 
Good review. Made some interesting points

"Morrissey achieved a similar unsettling effect in his uniquely stirring “The National Front Disco” (1992), with its haunting refrain “We’ve lost our boy.” Such political daring, tied to humanist compassion, is what’s lost in today’s politicized culture, where division is both blamed and stoked. Morrissey’s Dylan cover points out that aberration. (Every song on California Son has its complement in Morrissey’s own original compositions.) These vintage songs date from what comedian Martin Mull called “the folk music scare of the Sixties,” which was primarily the legacy of Communist sympathizers such as Pete Seeger. But Morrissey rethinks that cultural heritage."
 
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If you're the kind of person that slags off the Guardian for coming from a partisan standpoint, then if you don't slag off a right-wing source like the National Review for the same partisanship, that makes you a hypocrite.
If you're the kind of person that slags off The National Review for coming from a partisan standpoint, then if you don't slag off a left-wing source like The Guardian for the same partisanship, that makes YOU a hypocrite.
 
Well, I’ve now heard California Son. It’s on YouTube if anyone doesn’t want to give Morrissey any money. And, I’m utterly ashamed to say this, it’s not bad. I mean, it’s clearly not great. It starts so well. Morning Starship is a great song and Morrissey’s version is fine. He definitely sings it very well. As the album goes on, it really drags. The first 3 songs have so much hope (in the quality of the production) but it doesn’t hold. Christ, that Phil Ochs cover might as well not exist. No one involved gave it anything. Only a Pawn In Their Game is such a great song and sounds good here but, you know, deeply dodgy. I’ll never hear it again but it’s definitely a 4 or 5 out of 10 album. Better than Low In High School (at least I could get through all of CS) but doesn’t come close to Viva Hate. Or Kill Uncle, for that matter. But I guess I can see why right wingers like this reviewer likes it. Making a playlist of the originals seems a better idea. To be fair to Morrissey, I wouldn’t have made one without him making this album. So thanks for that, Morrissey.
 
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Well, I’ve now heard California Son. It’s on YouTube if anyone doesn’t want to give Morrissey any money. And, I’m utterly ashamed to say this, it’s not bad. I mean, it’s clearly not great. It starts so well. Morning Starship is a great song and Morrissey’s version is fine. He definitely sings it very well. As the album goes on, it really drags. The first 3 songs have so much hope (in the quality of the production) but it doesn’t hold. Christ, that Phil Ochs cover might as well not exist. No one involved gave it anything. Only a Pawn In Their Game is such a great song and sounds good here but, you know, deeply dodgy. I’ll never hear it again but it’s definitely a 4 or 5 out of 10 album. Better than Low In High School (at least I could get through all of CS) but doesn’t come close to Viva Hate. Or Kill Uncle, for that matter. But I guess I can see why right wingers like this reviewer likes it. Making a playlist of the originals seems a better idea. To be fair to Morrissey, I wouldn’t have made one without him making this album. So thanks for that, Morrissey.
You're lame if you feel guilty for enjoying music and what is so "deeply dodgy " about Morrissey covering "Only A Pawn In (((Their))) Game " since you said he does a good job it?
 
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I like how you found a way to virtue signal while defending the term virtue signal. Very meta
Strange times when a "right wing" outlet (is it?)review is so much more thoughtful,insightful and intelligent than the malicious,hateful,dumb review from a left wing(is it?) Guardian.

What happened?
 
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If you're the kind of person that slags off the Guardian for coming from a partisan standpoint, then if you don't slag off a right-wing source like the National Review for the same partisanship, that makes you a hypocrite.
Entirely different point. National Review is a conservative publication and makes no effort to disguise that. Just like The Nation is a progressive publication and makes no effort to disguise that.
 
Great review! Very well thought out, throughly researched and well written. This reviewer definitely listened to the album, several times; imagine that! I was impressed by the (relatively) obscure Art-Hounds lyrical reference. "My Life is Opera!"Indeed!
 
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Armond White, always an interesting writer, with a typically provocative and fascinating in-depth reading of the album:

Morrissey’s California Son Makes Protest Music Personal - National Review

"Morrissey proves that what we used to think of as protest songs contain more than virtue-signaling and that they can live past their original moment. On each track, his expressive timbre captures that instant when a listener’s personal responsibility crystallizes — and shines."
Armond White is a fantastic writer, and one of the only current voices in criticism worth reading. He's certainly a conservative man, and I don't agree with his politics (for the most part), but his perspective is incredibly unique and perceptive. His work with the New York Press was particularly strong.
 
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Entirely different point. National Review is a conservative publication and makes no effort to disguise that. Just like The Nation is a progressive publication and makes no effort to disguise that.
Please don't challenge Peter with logic or facts. It upsets him and he gets a dicky tummy.
 
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Great review. On first listening I thought 'Only a pawn...' was the most striking song on the album, after the Roy Orbison cover. Other songs have grown on me with repeated listens but the Bob Dylan cover remains the outstanding track for me - I love its mixture of anger and melancholy. The album is one of my favourite Moz albums - totally makes up for the relative disappointment of LIHS.
 
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