Is Morrissey in a massive phase of musical diversity?

Maurice E

Junior Member
If we ignore the plodding 'People Are The Same Everywhere', could it be argued that Morrissey is embracing musical diversity more now than he has for a long time?
OK, so The Kid's A Looker will never feature in a fan's top 10 but it's his first rockabilly sounding song since the early 90s.
'Action' isn't particularly inventive but does have a splendidly pleasing chorus melody.
However, Scandinavia is a different thing altogether - there's something quite unusual and unsettling about the arrangement. With any luck, the recorded version will have the power and otherwordliness of Boz's first two magical co-writes from the early 90s (You've had Her and Jack the Ripper)
And, as for, Art-Hounds, well the lyrics aren't great but the music is extremely uplifting, and, arguably, unlike anything he has ever done before. Some fantastic guitar lines, a lovely clarinet part in the middle eight, and a ridiculously catchy chorus. Even from just hearing the intro, you know you're in for a musical treat.
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
I don't think it's diversity, it's just grasping at straws because Boz & co are running out of ideas. The new songs range from mediocre ("Action") to just plain embarrassing (the rest) - and if they have any redeeming feature it is that Moz is still a fantastic singer with an ear for a good vocal melody, and does his best to pull even the worst tunes out of the gutter and shape them into something half-listenable. To my ears, "Scandinavia" is the best of the new batch because it really does sound different - not especially tuneful or memorable, but different at least. I don't understand any of the fuss surrounding "Art-Hounds" - it wouldn't have even made a B-side from the Quarry era.
 

Maurice E

Junior Member
Well, if you don't understand the musical appeal of Art-Hounds, you're in a very small minority. People here (and over at 'All You Need') voted it the best song of the new batch, and it's only been played live once so most of them would have only seen it on You Tube. Also, the consensus appears to be that Action is a very catchy song, especially the chorus and the pre-chorus. Personally, I thought the radio version was ok but I loved hearing it live.
There is clearly a huge stylistic diversity between Action, Scandinavia and Art-Hounds - why is that grasping at straws?
The main problem with the songs is the lyrics. A table for fat Aunt Mable could be the very worst thing he's ever written, and 'hours of fun with tongue against tongue' sounds like a really bad Tina Turner song.
So, the music clearly isn't spellbinding - but it's ok and (I'd say) pretty good in places, which has been the case ever since the mid-90s. The lyrics though are definitely way below par. The humour, subtlety, charm and observation rarely seem to surface these days. But the idea that he's suddenly found himself in a musical rut is nonsense. Things are as bad, or as good, musically as they have been for years.

I don't think it's diversity, it's just grasping at straws because Boz & co are running out of ideas. The new songs range from mediocre ("Action") to just plain embarrassing (the rest) - and if they have any redeeming feature it is that Moz is still a fantastic singer with an ear for a good vocal melody, and does his best to pull even the worst tunes out of the gutter and shape them into something half-listenable. To my ears, "Scandinavia" is the best of the new batch because it really does sound different - not especially tuneful or memorable, but different at least. I don't understand any of the fuss surrounding "Art-Hounds" - it wouldn't have even made a B-side from the Quarry era.
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
Well, if you don't understand the musical appeal of Art-Hounds, you're in a very small minority. People here (and over at 'All You Need') voted it the best song of the new batch, and it's only been played live once so most of them would have only seen it on You Tube
The only reason "Art-hounds" seems anything like a decent song is because the others in the batch are so awful.
The quality of the new songs is especially disappointing when you consider that Moz has multiple musicians in the band writing songs for him, and yet this is still the best they can come up with. Alain could write better songs in his sleep.
 

MozIsGod

Active Member
No disrespect to Maurice for always referring to the song database statistics, but just because a lot of people like something doesn't mean everyone will. Heck, two of my top five favorites (or top ten, more like it) are Have-a-go Merchant and Heir Apparent, and I know for a fact that those songs don't bode very well on polls around here. You wouldn't even know those songs existed it seems!

So I'm not saying Art Hounds is a bad song because it isn't. I just find it to be a bit overhyped ,but your mileage may vary.
 

Peterb

Well-Known Member
If we ignore the plodding 'People Are The Same Everywhere', could it be argued that Morrissey is embracing musical diversity more now than he has for a long time?
OK, so The Kid's A Looker will never feature in a fan's top 10 but it's his first rockabilly sounding song since the early 90s.
'Action' isn't particularly inventive but does have a splendidly pleasing chorus melody.
However, Scandinavia is a different thing altogether - there's something quite unusual and unsettling about the arrangement. With any luck, the recorded version will have the power and otherwordliness of Boz's first two magical co-writes from the early 90s (You've had Her and Jack the Rippe
And, as for, Art-Hounds, well the lyrics aren't great but the music is extremely uplifting, and, arguably, unlike anything he has ever done before. Some fantastic guitar lines, a lovely clarinet part in the middle eight, and a ridiculously catchy chorus. Even from just hearing the intro, you know you're in for a musical treat.
Hey Maurice E, this thread is a neat retort to my thread about Moz being in a rut.
Look, whilst I may concede that saying he is in a rut may be overdoing it, after all that was the point of the discussion, I think it's wildly over the top to suggest that he is trailing blazing diverse musical styles. For gods sake, just listen to the last album. You say yourself, "Things are as bad, or as good, musically as they have been for years". Damn right, things have been the same for years.
But, I have not heard decent recordings of the new songs yet (apart from the Janice long sessions) so maybe the new stuff is a departure. I hope so.
 

Maurice E

Junior Member
the polls just give a consensus - of course they never reflect any individual's point of view. for instance, I've never liked Speedway, but I can see why other people do. I think Come back to Camden is just ghastly (horrible arrangement, duff lyrics, dreary, plodding tempo) but I can (just about) see why people like it.
Art Hounds is clearly not an amazing song - nowhere near the quality of the primetime Marr/Street songs but, for a 21st century Morrissey song, it's quite a bit better than most (my opinion and, it seems, consensus).

No disrespect to Maurice for always referring to the song database statistics, but just because a lot of people like something doesn't mean everyone will. Heck, two of my top five favorites (or top ten, more like it) are Have-a-go Merchant and Heir Apparent, and I know for a fact that those songs don't bode very well on polls around here. You wouldn't even know those songs existed it seems!
So I'm not saying Art Hounds is a bad song because it isn't. I just find it to be a bit overhyped ,but your mileage may vary.
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
the polls just give a consensus - of course they never reflect any individual's point of view. for instance, I've never liked Speedway, but I can see why other people do. I think Come back to Camden is just ghastly (horrible arrangement, duff lyrics, dreary, plodding tempo) but I can (just about) see why people like it.
Art Hounds is clearly not an amazing song - nowhere near the quality of the primetime Marr/Street songs but, for a 21st century Morrissey song, it's quite a bit better than most (my opinion and, it seems, consensus).
I think those are quite possibly my two favourite Moz songs, ever. I'm misty-eyed at the mere mention of them :blushing:

Edit: I know you said "Come Back..." is plodding, but I'm wondering what your thoughts are on "Late Night, Maudlin Street"? The musical arrangement is... well, sparse to non-existent but the lyrics are incredible.
 

Peterb

Well-Known Member
I think those are quite possibly my two favourite Moz songs, ever. I'm misty-eyed at the mere mention of them :blushing:

Edit: I know you said "Come Back..." is plodding, but I'm wondering what your thoughts are on "Late Night, Maudlin Street"? The musical arrangement is... well, sparse to non-existent but the lyrics are incredible.
The problem with Come Back to Camden is the cheap keyboard strings sound he uses. Maybe he would have used proper strings had he a recording contract at the time.
 

King Leer

Leering since '97
This was brought up in another thread, but I don't think Moz has ever used real strings on a track, Smiths or Solo (happy to be corrected). My theory is that he doesn't like the catgut etc. still used in higher quality instruments. Maybe why he cut all those Morricone strings out of the final verision of Dear God? But yes, Camden could've been improved upon production wise. Great song, but not quite as strong as some other ballads such as Late Night, I've Changed My Plea or I Know it's Gonna Happen...

I think Art-Hounds is as good as any of the *decent* (but not brilliant) tracks of the post-wildnerness era. I like the urgency of the vocal melody on it. It'll sound great with the right producer, as will Action. The other two I'm not sure about yet.


The problem with Come Back to Camden is the cheap keyboard strings sound he uses. Maybe he would have used proper strings had he a recording contract at the time.
 

Peterb

Well-Known Member
This was brought up in another thread, but I don't think Moz has ever used real strings on a track, Smiths or Solo (happy to be corrected). My theory is that he doesn't like the catgut etc. still used in higher quality instruments. Maybe why he cut all those Morricone strings out of the final verision of Dear God? But yes, Camden could've been improved upon production wise. Great song, but not quite as strong as some other ballads such as Late Night, I've Changed My Plea or I Know it's Gonna Happen...

I think Art-Hounds is as good as any of the *decent* (but not brilliant) tracks of the post-wildnerness era. I like the urgency of the vocal melody on it. It'll sound great with the right producer, as will Action. The other two I'm not sure about yet.
King Leer, Moz has never used strings? What a shame, his wonderful voice with an orchestra would be tremendous.
 

King Leer

Leering since '97
As I said, I could be wrong but it seems that they've always been artificial.
The funny thing is nobody has ever complained about the synth-strings on the likes of Will Never Marry, because they sound fantastic. It works with the whole Viva/Bona era production sound.
But they do sound "cheap" on Camden.

The live orchestra idea has been floated a lot but I don't think Morrissey will ever do it because it would be cutting out the pop music element that gives him the energy to sing (not to mention an audience that would surely be seated and more sedate in that context).

King Leer, Moz has never used strings? What a shame, his wonderful voice with an orchestra would be tremendous.
 

Orson Swells

Well-Known Member
As I said, I could be wrong but it seems that they've always been artificial.
Nearly always. They used a string section around the time of Viva Hate and its b-sides. Hairdresser On Fire and Will Never Marry are certainly "real" strings.

Richard Koster — violin
Fenella Barton — violin
Rachel Maguire — cello
Mark Davies — cello
Robert Woolhard — cello
John Metcalf — viola
 

King Leer

Leering since '97
Okay, I stand corrected.
The strings on Will Never (which I just listened to) sound "treated" to blend with the rest of the track, maybe that's why I thought they were synths.

Hairdresser - definitely sound real as.
Edit: just noticed a funny comment on Youtube vid of Hairdresser about the "hair dryer solo" in the middle of the song. Never really occurred to me that that's what the sound was.
I like realizations like that...20 years later.



Nearly always. They used a string section around the time of Viva Hate and its b-sides. Hairdresser On Fire and Will Never Marry are certainly "real" strings.

Richard Koster — violin
Fenella Barton — violin
Rachel Maguire — cello
Mark Davies — cello
Robert Woolhard — cello
John Metcalf — viola
 
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smiler

Junior Member
Hey Maurice E, this thread is a neat retort to my thread about Moz being in a rut.
Look, whilst I may concede that saying he is in a rut may be overdoing it, after all that was the point of the discussion, I think it's wildly over the top to suggest that he is trailing blazing diverse musical styles. For gods sake, just listen to the last album. You say yourself, "Things are as bad, or as good, musically as they have been for years". Damn right, things have been the same for years.
But, I have not heard decent recordings of the new songs yet (apart from the Janice long sessions) so maybe the new stuff is a departure. I hope so.
what do you want exactly? what is a departure?

i only ask because I think the styles and flavours of the songs in recent years has been very diverse, the sound has changed alot and it makes me wonder if you really even know what you want? Morrissey doesn't feel the need to keep up with current trends like say bowie and paul weller apear to, his sound(s) goes in and out of fashion all the time. Some of the fundementals of Morrissey's sound are likely to stay the same. His is the voice and that voice is mostly likely going to sing a pop song to a recognisable structure. It will likely contain guitar(s) and drums. So given those fundamentals what do you want?
 

Peterb

Well-Known Member
what do you want exactly? what is a departure?

i only ask because I think the styles and flavours of the songs in recent years has been very diverse, the sound has changed alot and it makes me wonder if you really even know what you want? Morrissey doesn't feel the need to keep up with current trends like say bowie and paul weller apear to, his sound(s) goes in and out of fashion all the time. Some of the fundementals of Morrissey's sound are likely to stay the same. His is the voice and that voice is mostly likely going to sing a pop song to a recognisable structure. It will likely contain guitar(s) and drums. So given those fundamentals what do you want?
Hey Smiler, Look, I love the guitar band format. And to ask me what I want Morrissey to do is daft, are you expecting me to write the songs!? All I want is a few good albums. The last album I thought was awful. Bowie and Weller are not , I think old chaps trying to keep up, they are interesting artists who keep pushing the envelope (and I am not a fan of either).
Getting down to basics, I hate it when I think the stuff Moz produces is rubbish and I thought the last album and the new songs are really dull. So, what does one do, one moans and this is me moaning. If you like it all then great but I think he should be doing great things.
 

smiler

Junior Member
Hey Smiler, Look, I love the guitar band format. And to ask me what I want Morrissey to do is daft, are you expecting me to write the songs!? All I want is a few good albums. The last album I thought was awful. Bowie and Weller are not , I think old chaps trying to keep up, they are interesting artists who keep pushing the envelope (and I am not a fan of either).
Getting down to basics, I hate it when I think the stuff Moz produces is rubbish and I thought the last album and the new songs are really dull. So, what does one do, one moans and this is me moaning. If you like it all then great but I think he should be doing great things.
Like all great artists Morrisseys aim is timelessness - always being of the moment,
where as bowie and weller are often found chasing a moment that has already past in a vain attampt to gain a "current" fan base. Morrissey has constantly purposefully avioded that route often to his own detriment, its part of what makes him great
 
G

goinghome

Guest
Okay, I stand corrected.
The strings on Will Never (which I just listened to) sound "treated" to blend with the rest of the track, maybe that's why I thought they were synths.

Hairdresser - definitely sound real as.
Edit: just noticed a funny comment on Youtube vid of Hairdresser about the "hair dryer solo" in the middle of the song. Never really occurred to me that that's what the sound was.
I like realizations like that...20 years later.
:D It clicked with me only in the past few days that the version of Reel Around The Fountain on The Smiths includes some lovely piano glissandos that are absent from the Hatful of Hollow version -

The Smiths: [youtube]yxLFav1Z9EY&feature=related[/youtube]

Hatful of Hollow: [youtube]tuWZEhbe8x8&feature=related[/youtube]

Live video 1983 - [youtube]jmNRvlhCFV8&feature=related[/youtube]

Troy Tate version: [youtube]2G-uO_ZPa2Y&feature=related[/youtube]

The sound of strings and the rhythm on Scandinavia inject a passion that I would associate with that part of the world, bringing to mind the bracing but tender music scores of composers like Edvard Grieg - [youtube]bR3N1yBEGbw&feature=related[/youtube]

and Sibellius - [youtube]afUFvbVwq-I&feature=related[/youtube]

He is stretching, still taking roads less travelled, bushwhacking his way into a future that is his oyster, music-wise. :)
 

Maurice E

Junior Member
I love Maudlin Street - oh truly I do! It's in me top 10.
On the face of it, it may seem like a sparse arrangement but I think it's a terrific piece of music.
Like most of the Street compositions it's based around a very pleasing chord sequence (Em, Bm, D x2, then E, then C, G x2) which is great to strum along to (do you play an instrument?). There are also tons of subtle changes to the music as the song progresses. My favourite bit is around the 2.30 mark when Street introduces a gorgeous tinkling piano into the mix. It's just sublime!

but I'm wondering what your thoughts are on "Late Night, Maudlin Street"? The musical arrangement is... well, sparse to non-existent but the lyrics are incredible.
 
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