'High School' / 'California' / 'Dog' trilogy of albums

AtImber2022

Member
Can we discuss these three albums as a form of trilogy please? I also view them that way anyway, and I am not sure if I am alone in that.

Anyway, I do feel that, interestingly, Low in High School is actually the weakest of the bunch. Many of the additional tracks (i.e. covers) were actually better than the main album - which seamlessly lead to California Son - which I do feel is actually somewhat underrated by the fans. I think it has some of his strongest vocals in his entire career.

Which then brings us to I Am Not A Dog on A Chain - which continues to unfold its charms and weave itself into my Moz album rankings to the top half really. The first 7 tracks on the album are literally one punch after another. It suffers a bit towards the final third and 'The Secret Of Music' is one of his worst recordings in my opinion.

I used to think whether combining the three into one album would have made one killer M album, but actually I think that I Am Not a Dog on A Chain is by far the strongest of the three, and it is interesting how in that short burst of creativity he was clearly on an upward swing.

Which, of course, means that I am super excited for Bonfire of Teenagers.
 

Gregor Samsa

I straighten up, and my position is one of hope.
I spit in the direction of anyone criticizing “The Secret of Music”. It is a daring, weird and phenomenally hypnotic song, with great lyrics as silly as they are deeply profound. Top 3 Dog songs, no question. It has much more in common with “The Teachers Are Afraid of the Pupils” than it has with “Kiss Me A Lot” or “Fatty”, which I guess is what irks some people.

Regarding the alleged trilogy, I just dunno. If it is a trilogy, it is a trilogy that is two thirds weak. LIHS is his worst ever album, CS is mostly plain boring and a missed opportunity, and Dog - despite bottom-of -the-barrel crap like “Bobby”, “Love Is”, the title track and “Ruth” - is a return-to-form. All three albums also suffer from too much makeup production wise. Albeit Dog less so. Joe C needs to learn that sometimes, less actually is more.
 

Bonaparte Shandy

Active Member
LIHS would surely be shunned by any right-thinking points 2 and 3 of this imagined trilogy: it's truly a career low-point being almost completely devoid of tune, wit or insight. Wrap that up in a cover that would struggle to get a pass grade in GCSE art and you have a product best forgotten.

CS is an odd one, isn't it?

The choice of songs miss more often than they land although LW showcases a great, late vocal performance which goes some way to proving the point about the voice rising to meet a golden melody in that transcendental union of passion and knowledge. The main problem with CS is the half-hearted attempt at a portmanteau collaboration album.

The idea is interesting yet the collaborators rarely seem to be completely on board with only LP appearing to take the opportunity to push and prod to places new. As for the rest of them: pay per-minute celeb karaoke swamped by the later peripheral whining from the very same people when the woke trials arrived.

IANADOAC is, we feel, a late career return to form. Apart from the twee tippy-toeing of the title track and the phone-it-in boredom of LIOIWO and KW the album has genuinely strong moments of brilliance. BDYTTK is off-scale bonkers and all the better for it as is the provocation of JJF and the SOM. MHDAD is, we think, one of the better out-track of a Morrissey album: a nod to ageing, the passing of time and the life-experience of the Anglo-Irish diaspora in late 20th, early 21st century pukeK.

Finally, (and we may have regaled you with this previously) a personal note regarding OISTRC. In Lockdown One, him (the other Mr Shandy) took all ill and deathly-like with the 'rona and I had to take him to the hospital to prepare for death.

Anyroads - he lived and two months later was back at our Angel Meadow apartment (this was now the mid-summer of 2020). He was resting on the balcony, still ill, and I had IANADOAC playing in the background. As OISTRC came in, Mr Shandy muttered in his delirium about 'the years slipping away'. At that moment, I understood the album perfectly. It revisits many of the obsessions and desires of those of us born in the late 50s and does so with a beautiful lyricism and nodding wink to the grimness and possibilities of the era.

Trilogy? Not really: 3 late period albums - one duffer, one difficult and one delight.
 

SuedeMoz

Well-Known Member
I see your point, but I would tend to view the trilogy as WPINOYB, LIHS, and IANADOAC since California Son is a covers album. In that case, LIHS would still be the weakest effort, IMO. But if we get past the trilogy idea and rank them as an era of work as they all have the same producer, it would be this for me:

1.) IANADOAC - Best thing since YATQ, IMO

2.) WPINOYB - Really liked it initially, but overall it has not aged as well for me... save for the Deluxe Edition tracks which are wonderful

3.) California Son - Vocals are stellar, but IMO, a lot of odd song choices... generally it plays well as an album

4.) LIHS - A disappointing follow-up to WPINOYB, aside from a couple of tracks I just did not connect

EDIT: On further thought, I've reversed my original #2 & #3.
 
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Janice

Well-Known Member
Certainly not a trilogy but, LIHS is a low point in Moz world for me. Shocking from start to finish with the odd exception. With the bad being very bad.
CS is rubbish and should be deleted with immediate affect.
Dog will always remain surreal due the state the world was going into at the first hearing of those songs live, then the actual release a fortnight later.
 

Ketamine Sun

You're not right in the head, And nor am I, And …
I see your point, but I would tend to view the trilogy as WPINOYB, LIHS, and IANADOAC since California Son is a covers album. In that case, LIHS would still be the weakest effort, IMO. But if we get passed the trilogy idea and rank them as an era of work as they all have the same producer, it would be this for me:

1.) IANADOAC
2.) California Son
3.) WPINOYB
4.) LIHS

It’s a tetralogy or quadrilogy, guess the op blocked WPINOYB out of his mind, lol.
 

Aubrey McFate

Lonely in Barcelona
But if we get passed the trilogy idea and rank them as an era of work as they all have the same producer ...

Yes, I think of it more in terms of the "Joe Chiccarelli / Gustavo Manzur" era. Alain Whyte is gone, Boz Boorer contributes only sporadically after World Peace, and Tobias and Manzur become the primary songwriting partners. Jesse Tobias has a splendid Aztec profile, but your face cannot always save you, and he comes with the ignominy of having been in both the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Alanis Morrissette band. Unsurprisingly, his ratio of good songs to bad is poor. The Bullfighter Dies, Israel, and What Kind of People are among the good ones, but there is a ton of dreck with "Tobias" in the credits.

World Peace is the best record of the four by far, but you can readily hear the busy-ness and the bombastic electronic flourishes favored by Joe Chiccarelli. Morrissey had already had some occasional beeps & bloops on his albums beginning with Quarry, but with Joe Chiccarelli things are increasingly amped up out of all proportion. I sensed with horror that things might slipping out of control when I first heard Earth Is the Loneliest Planet: the jazzy, Latin-dance guitar line, and the garish Eurotrash adornments. Vade retro Satana. A wispy, 60s piece like Julie in the Weeds, which could have been a breezy spring afternoon of chamber pop, is inexplicably intro'd and outro'd with brutal electronic throbbing, and three albums later you have Jim Jim Falls sounding like the awful industrial assault of a Prodigy number when it opens. This era of Morrissey doesn't burn down the disco; it is the disco.

1. World Peace Is None of Your Business (6/10)
2. California Son (2/10)
3. Low in High School (1/10)
4. I Am Not a Dog on a Chain (1/10)
 
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Surface

Vegan Cro’s parents regret the condom splitting
I like 30% LIHS and 60% of Dog but I detested California Son. I bought it just to keep my collection of all his albums up to date but I've never taken it out of its cover. For me it was a opportunity missed. I appreciate he's his own man etc and does what he wants but if he'd done
a covers album of songs he had previously played live, it could have been magical, for example:

1. You say you don't love me - Buzzcocks
2. Redondo Beach - Patti Smith
3. Back On The Chain Gang - The Pretenders
4. Judy Is A Punk - The Ramones
5. You'll Be Gone - Elvis
6. Satellite Of Love - Lou Reed
7. Moon Over Kentucky - Sparks
8. Human Being - New York Dolls
9. Cosmic Dancer - T. Rex
10. My Insatiable One - Suede
11. Street Life - Roxy Music
12. A Song From Under The Floorboards - Magazine
 
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spent

Well-Known Member
Can we discuss these three albums as a form of trilogy please? I also view them that way anyway, and I am not sure if I am alone in that.

Anyway, I do feel that, interestingly, Low in High School is actually the weakest of the bunch. Many of the additional tracks (i.e. covers) were actually better than the main album - which seamlessly lead to California Son - which I do feel is actually somewhat underrated by the fans. I think it has some of his strongest vocals in his entire career.

Which then brings us to I Am Not A Dog on A Chain - which continues to unfold its charms and weave itself into my Moz album rankings to the top half really. The first 7 tracks on the album are literally one punch after another. It suffers a bit towards the final third and 'The Secret Of Music' is one of his worst recordings in my opinion.

I used to think whether combining the three into one album would have made one killer M album, but actually I think that I Am Not a Dog on A Chain is by far the strongest of the three, and it is interesting how in that short burst of creativity he was clearly on an upward swing.

Which, of course, means that I am super excited for Bonfire of Teenagers.
So what is the connecting element between the three, besides Joe Chiccorelli? Any topical or musical similarities that you see?
 

AtImber2022

Member
I see & accept all points about it being a tetralogy (not of Fallot) - however, I think temporally that tight frame between those three records and the creative thread that runs along them (particularly the B-sides and then the covers album) supports my hypothesis.

But as I said it is just a hypothesis of mine - feel free to reject or accept or burn me at the stake.
 

Mike Rourke

Well-Known Member
I think an argument can certainly be made for considering World Peace, High School and Dog on a String as a trilogy but I wouldn't include the covers album. All produced by the same person with a fairly consistent songwriting and musician team. I'm a big fan of this era although High School was let down by career-worst lyrics. Dog is flipping great. I hope the imaginative arrangements continue on the new stuff. The last thing we need is a return to the plodding, meat-and-potatoes indie chug that typified so much of the 95-2010 material.
 

AtImber2022

Member
The last thing we need is a return to the plodding, meat-and-potatoes indie chug that typified so much of the 95-2010 material.
I think that's a bit harsh. I accept it for, say, some of Madaljusted and Years of Refusal (both of which I love) but I'd never describe, say Ringleader as indie chug.
 

Mike Rourke

Well-Known Member
I think that's a bit harsh. I accept it for, say, some of Madaljusted and Years of Refusal (both of which I love) but I'd never describe, say Ringleader as indie chug.
Well it's all obviously a matter of opinion but I think Ringleader was as dull as anything he's ever done. Songs like Father Must Be Killed and On The Streets I Ran are just plain awful. The arrangements may not be entirely to blame but they certain don't help. I'm a huge fan of what Joe C has done. Bright, sparkling, imaginative arrangements reminiscent of the Bona Drag era. I really hope he sticks around although it sounds like someone else produced Bonfire.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I seriously do not get all the love for Dog on a chain. To me it’s mediocre. I’ve been a fan since being a teen in the 90’s. I am old enough to have purchased all the classic 90’s releases on either the day or week they were released. And I have to say I just have never really connected to any of the Joe C. Produced releases. To me they just do not live up to the typical high Moz standards of any of his previous solo work,(exception being a good deal of The Kill Uncle Lp).
 

spent

Well-Known Member
I see & accept all points about it being a tetralogy (not of Fallot) - however, I think temporally that tight frame between those three records and the creative thread that runs along them (particularly the B-sides and then the covers album) supports my hypothesis.

But as I said it is just a hypothesis of mine - feel free to reject or accept or burn me at the stake.
I like the idea of a trilogy hypothesis, mostly because it is promising something different to the ubiquitous bombast of the "My judgement and I"- comments, that we already know inside out, don't we?

So, one of your arguments is that the three albums were released within a tight timeframe. 2017, 2019 and 2020. To include World Peace into your hypothesis would kind of blow up your whole argument, which is, I guess, the reason why you left it out, and that's fine with me. For the time after Maladjusted this is indeed a noticeable short sequence of releases.

Now, of course, this argument alone does not suffice to support your hypothesis of a trilogy. There are trilogies that were released within a very wide timeframe, like The Godfather trilogy which was released between 1972 and 1990, if I got that right, or The Cure's trilogy (Pornography/Disintegration/Bloodflowers) which ranges from 1982 to 2000. Curiously enough, David Bowie's tight-framed "Berlin trilogy" also begins with a "Low" album.

Your second argument are the B-Sides on LIHS and CS as a cover album. As far as I know, the additional covers were only released on the deluxe album much later in 2018. Would this still support your hypothesis? Maybe his record label, or whoever, wanted to see how the fans would react to a disc with only M covers before they got ready to launch CS?

To conclude, there is something intriguing about your hypothesis, but you need some more evidence. Usually a series or, in this case, a trilogy, is connected by its content, it can serve as a loose frame for all the loosely connected, individual parts, or even make all parts strongly dependent on each other. I cannot see any evidence for one or the other at the moment. Would you say that the three albums are concept albums?
 

Dirk Blaggard

Well-Known Member
Erm, I don't see the 3 LPs as a trilogy, though I can understand your thought game. I do see LIHS and Dog as a kind of double act
Though I think that's because the production seems alike. I have no idea why people dislike LIHS so much.

The first cover was awful, shit, an utter disgrace but some of the songs are brilliant.
It's true as an LP it's loaded top-heavy, it packs its talent into side A, leaving side B floundering. However, apart from Viva Hate and Vauhaull nearly every M LP is kind of one-third brilliant, one-third nice enough and one-third filler.

I think the initial run of songs on Low in High School is one of his most thrilling runs since Vauxhall and I. There aren't many M LPs that have a better first 5 songs as LIHS . I know these things are a matter of taste, maybe I am in the minority

As for Cali Son, the cover isn't great- its a shame they didn't use the design they used for the tour at the time, the kind of orange and beige colour with the Cali Son M picture in black and white - its like they gave him a turtle neck top or something
The songs are sung very very well, his voice is simply beautiful.
The trouble is the music that backs and production kill the LP. I like the songs of choice, I just feel the musical interpretation is dull and the production sucks the life and energy from the songs. Lady Willpower should have been huge sounding, instead, it's muted and lifeless. Sometimes when the band do it live it has the right amount of energy, but often they just seem bored. its a shame
As for Dog on a chain, the cover art is charming, I think. It has a kind of 70s feel. As for the songs, its a patchy affair but its a strong LP and River Clean is of course, Prime M. Its up there with his best-ever songs, solo or smiths
 

SuedeMoz

Well-Known Member
I seriously do not get all the love for Dog on a chain. To me it’s mediocre. I’ve been a fan since being a teen in the 90’s. I am old enough to have purchased all the classic 90’s releases on either the day or week they were released. And I have to say I just have never really connected to any of the Joe C. Produced releases. To me they just do not live up to the typical high Moz standards of any of his previous solo work,(exception being a good deal of The Kill Uncle Lp).
To each their own of course... I definitely don't regard IANADOAC anywhere near albums like Viva Hate, Your Arsenal, or Vauxhall And I. It has its cringe moments like when he sings, "Why can't you give me some physical love?" Also not so fond of the "Bobby..." song. But he's been at this a long time and if I expected the same standard as his late Smiths/early solo years, I would only be disappointed. Not to say I think he's incapable of better... but for where he's at now in his career... I do find the album enjoyable. BTW, I would rank it above ROTT and YOR.
 
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Mike Rourke

Well-Known Member
To each their own of course... I definitely don't regard IANADOAC anywhere near albums like Viva Hate, Your Arsenal, or Vauxhall And I. It has its cringe moments like when he sings, "Why can't you give me some physical love?" Also not so fond of the "Bobby..." song. But he's been at this a long time and if I expected the same standard as his earlier years, I would only be disappointed. Not to say I think he's incapable of better... but for where he's at now in his career... I do find the album enjoyable. BTW, I would rank it above ROTT and YOR.
Yeah, the physical love thing is a bit of cringe. Best imagine he's saying 'fizzy cola'!
But I love the diversity of the album. There are some really cracking pieces of music. And Bobby is like nothing he's ever done (in a good way IMHO), Knockabout World is sublime, River Clean is wonderful, Love is on its Way Out is a corker, Hurling Days is a beautiful piece of chiming guitar pop (like a long-lost Sundays song) although the lyrics are patchy, and Jim Jim is powerful although not my cuppa tea. The title song is awful, though, Secret of Music should have been an experimental b-side, and Ruth is also a bit duff.
 
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Dirk Blaggard

Well-Known Member
I te
Yeah, the physical love thing is a bit of cringe. Best imagine he's saying 'fizzy cola'!
But I love the diversity of the album. There are some really cracking pieces of music. And Bobby is like nothing he's ever done (in a good way IMHO), Knockabout World is sublime, River Clean is wonderful, Love is on its Way Out is a corker, Hurling Days is a beautiful piece of chiming guitar pop (like a long-lost Sundays song) although the lyrics are patchy, and Jim Jim is powerful although not my cuppa tea. The title song is awful, though, Secret of Music should have been an experimental b-side, and Ruth is also a bit duff.
Whatever floats your boat.
I tend to think, IANADOAC , is good but not quite as good as people make out. I liked it when It came out and listened every day for a few weeks. 4 months later, apart from River Clean and Jim Jim Falls and love is on the way out. I never listen to any of it.
His words remain "iffy" for most of the LP and yes "Why can't you give me some physical love?" is a case in point
I thought I Am Not A Dog On A Chain the song and What Kind Of People Live In These Houses are pretty embarrassing Houses is like the Simpsons doing The Smiths, its the music more than M himself. that is the issue
But an M lp I'm not overjoyed with is still better than most
 
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