Morrissey A-Z: "Alsatian Cousin"

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member

What are our thoughts on this song? 1988 feels like a lifetime ago now, but as the opening track on the first solo album it still sounds amazing to me...
 

Flibberty

Well-Known Member
A very bold way to kick off Morrissey's debut album, and Stephen Street used sound judgement when he chose Vini Reilly to play guitar. His style is completely different to Johnny's and marks this out as something different to any song that had gone before.

It's not a song where I would routinely quote the lyrics, but they are interesting and the same can be said for many tracks on Viva Hate.

I enjoy the aggression of the song and Morrissey's pained vocal.
 

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member
Agree, it is an aggressive song, much more masculine perhaps than so much of the Smiths' output. I love how Morrissey actually sounds angry, and the bassline too has a real menace to it.
 

spent

Well-Known Member
Love the lyrics to this one, but the overall sound quality is pretty bad on every recording I know, unintentionally shrill and distorted, and it keeps me from listening to it more often, or even enjoy the song, which simply is not possible that way.
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

Well-Known Member
Best opening song (and line!) he could have chosen for Viva Hate and strong contender for best opener on any Morrissey album.

It sounds so different from The Smiths, something that was very important to him with regards to the Viva Hate material, but thematically, it always reminded me of Handsome Devil. The "scholarly room" being mirrored in the "desk" and "leather elbows on a tweed coat" and hints of a (secret) affair.

It's a great example of what I like to call 'Morrissey's effective minimalism'. He only needs very few carefully chosen words to set a scene and a mood and the music and his expressive voice do the rest. Reading the lyrics, there's not much to go by but listening to the song you can't help but feel that there's something meaningful going on.
Anger is a new emotion which we haven't heard on any Smiths studio recording before and it's a very exciting and fitting way to start this solo debut, which is overflowing with raw emotion.

I'm a big fan of the music here as well, unsettling, distorted guitars, cowbells, killer bass. A unique entry in his catalogue (perhaps only comparable to Maladjusted?).

10/10 - would definitely bring home and have it.
 
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GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

Well-Known Member
Love the lyrics to this one, but the overall sound quality is pretty bad on every recording I know, unintentionally shrill and distorted, and it keeps me from listening to it more often, or even enjoy the song, which simply is not possible that way.
That sound is an important part of its strong appeal to me! I guess it depends on your personal preferences and listening habits.
 

spent

Well-Known Member
That sound is an important part of its strong appeal to me! I guess it depends on your personal preferences and listening habits.
This "industrial" sound does not work well together with the lyrics, I think, and I love me some good noisy and industrial tunes once in awhile. THis has nothing to do with my preferences or listening habits.
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

Well-Known Member
This "industrial" sound does not work well together with the lyrics, I think, and I love me some good noisy and industrial tunes once in awhile. THis has nothing to do with my preferences or listening habits.
For me the sound is a key factor in the storytelling of the song. Imagine the same lyrics being sung to a softer tune - wouldn't that change the message?
 

Ben Budd

Well-Known Member
yeah it's really great and intense. Great guitar playing, and those drums! Good lyrics too.

I'm not a huge Viva Hate fan, but this is one of the three/four songs on this I think are classics.
 
D

Deleted member 29235

Guest
I remember the first time I played 'Viva Hate' and hearing this song and thinking, 'I hope the rest of the album isn't like this.' Happily it wasn't.
 

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member
Do I remember hearing somewhere Stephen Street saying the bassline had a bit of "White Lines" in it? (It definitely does.)
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

Well-Known Member
Do I remember hearing somewhere Stephen Street saying the bassline had a bit of "White Lines" in it? (It definitely does.)
Yes.

"Street also snuck a covert hip hop reference under Morrissey’s nose with the song’s bass line, consciously modelled on Grandmaster & Melle Mel’s ‘White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)’. ‘I was seeing how far I could push Morrissey,’ says Street, ‘and I was impressed at just how far he was willing to go and experiment. He was an incredibly inspiring person to work with.’"
 
T

Trans

Guest
For a person like myself that listens regularly to loud fast heavy music it never in a million years occurred to me that people might think of this song in that way. The production is so trebly but that’s just the time period I guess. All that said I do love this song and the way it hints and the guitar line is pretty cool and I agree that it as the opening track could be seen as somewhat different than the smiths though doesn’t the queen is dead open with a bunch of noisyish guitar. What I thought was different from the smiths was the rhythm. It’s got an intriguing rhythm that lends to that dramatic feeling. I remember it being one of those songs where I wanted to figure it out. The it was a good lay always made me think, after it was pointed out that it means poem as well, that it was actually about a person in a study writing a poem in contrast to there own stuffier life
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

Well-Known Member
Although the 2002 live version has nothing on 1991/92, I think the way the dog barking sample that was used is interesting.



On the record the "barking sounds" are not as noticeable, but on my (bad) car stereo they're always very prominent :lbf:
 
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MrShoes

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Sadly another relationship Moz squandered. I heard the dog never received royalties for his vocals.
Here the two were in happier times overlooking their empire...

MrShoes

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Nerak

Reverse Ferret
I like how unglamorous a forecourt, tent & desk is. Also how filthy he manages to make tent-flap sound. And how aggrieved he is about it.
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

Well-Known Member
I like how unglamorous a forecourt, tent & desk is. Also how filthy he manages to make tent-flap sound. And how aggrieved he is about it.
Sex is never glamorous in his lyrics, is it? It's always in some dark alley behind a railway station, on the ((p)leather) backseat of a car, on a beach (but not the glamorous kind), on the streets or in the bushes, amid concrete and clay, stock-yard, church yard, your mammy's backyard etc...
 
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BookishBoy

Well-Known Member
Sex is never glamorous in his lyrics, is it? It's always in some dark alley behind a railway station, on the ((p)leather) backseat of a car, on a beach (but not the glamorous kind), on the streets or in the bushes, amid concrete and clay, stock-yard, church yard, your mammy's backyard etc...

And now you've just reminded me of this choice couplet from last year:

Why can't you bring figs all pulpy and moist?
Roasted in passion and salty in voice?
 
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