Morrissey and the Kill Uncle/rockabilly era

Maurice E Maher

Well-Known Member
Looks like this could do with its own thread.
Some thoughts - Morrissey was strongly associated with the musical genre of rockabilly in the Kill Uncle era. People kept banging on about it as if his songs back then were exclusively rockabilly when the reality was hardly any were. I remember a quote by Moz at the time that went something like:
"All I ever hear these days is that I'm working with a young rockabilly band - they're not young and they're not rockabilly". But the label stuck.
I think one of the headlines for a 'Vauxhall and I' review said 'Farewell, then, crap rockabilly'.
I don't have a great understanding of the genre but I think the only rockabilly songs he's ever really sung are; Pregnant for the last time, The Loop, Vicar in a tutu, Sing your life (live version), You're gonna need someone on your side, and possibly (career nadir) The Kid's A Looker. Any others?
I heard there was a plan to record a rockabilly album soon after Kill Uncle but that obviously never happened.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Certain people I know has a certain rockabilly sound to but the whole thing is rather superficial. The haircuts, bozs old band and the stand up bass etc all kinda lent to this idea. Mute witness and our Frank are hardly anywhere near rockabilly.
 
U

URBANUS

Guest
Never saw the rockabilly link in the music but they dressed like that and I know that people in the rockabilly scene laughed at Morrissey and his band cause no one took them seriously among real rockabilly musicians and fans.

Not that Morrissey has ever been really well known or famous other than within his little group of fans who tend to over value him on a whole.
 

Orson Swells

Well-Known Member
Thinking about it, Rusholme Ruffians, Nowhere Fast, Shakespeare's Sister and Death At One's Elbow all verge on the rockabilly side of things. Also, King Leer when performed live.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Looks like this could do with its own thread.
Some thoughts - Morrissey was strongly associated with the musical genre of rockabilly in the Kill Uncle era. People kept banging on about it as if his songs back then were exclusively rockabilly when the reality was hardly any were. I remember a quote by Moz at the time that went something like:
"All I ever hear these days is that I'm working with a young rockabilly band - they're not young and they're not rockabilly". But the label stuck.
I think one of the headlines for a 'Vauxhall and I' review said 'Farewell, then, crap rockabilly'.
I don't have a great understanding of the genre but I think the only rockabilly songs he's ever really sung are; Pregnant for the last time, The Loop, Vicar in a tutu, Sing your life (live version), You're gonna need someone on your side, and possibly (career nadir) The Kid's A Looker. Any others?
I heard there was a plan to record a rockabilly album soon after Kill Uncle but that obviously never happened.
Rusholme Ruffians and Death at One's Elbow.
 

Calamine Lotion

Well-Known Member
I don't think Morrissey was associated with rockabilly but rockabilly was associated with Morrissey. Rockabilly influenced his music but I don't think the reverse was true. Those people like obscure music from the past.
Kill Uncle is a good record, though. I thought it was great at the time.
 

roky

Well-Known Member
The would of been Rockabilly Mini Album that was gonna be released was half recorded, but shelved for the Pregnant 12" single. Born To Hang, and I think Oh Phoney and maybe Striptease would of been on the mini album.
Looks like this could do with its own thread.
Some thoughts - Morrissey was strongly associated with the musical genre of rockabilly in the Kill Uncle era. People kept banging on about it as if his songs back then were exclusively rockabilly when the reality was hardly any were. I remember a quote by Moz at the time that went something like:
"All I ever hear these days is that I'm working with a young rockabilly band - they're not young and they're not rockabilly". But the label stuck.
I think one of the headlines for a 'Vauxhall and I' review said 'Farewell, then, crap rockabilly'.
I don't have a great understanding of the genre but I think the only rockabilly songs he's ever really sung are; Pregnant for the last time, The Loop, Vicar in a tutu, Sing your life (live version), You're gonna need someone on your side, and possibly (career nadir) The Kid's A Looker. Any others?
I heard there was a plan to record a rockabilly album soon after Kill Uncle but that obviously never happened.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
The would of been Rockabilly Mini Album that was gonna be released was half recorded, but shelved for the Pregnant 12" single. Born To Hang, and I think Oh Phoney and maybe Striptease would of been on the mini album.
"Would have" or "would've", not "would of".
 

Old Mathew

Well-Known Member
The would of been Rockabilly Mini Album that was gonna be released was half recorded, but shelved for the Pregnant 12" single. Born To Hang, and I think Oh Phoney and maybe Striptease would of been on the mini album.
Striptease was part of the Bona Drag sessions, before Kill Uncle. Bona Drag was never released as an album, of course, and instead became the compilation. I think Oh Phony was part of the same sessions.
 

Maurice E Maher

Well-Known Member
Interesting thoughts from anonymous poster on the Andrew Perry thread. Clearly has a much more thorough understanding of rockabilly than me!

"there were still rockabilly elements on Vauxhall & I. It doesn't mean that it was a fully blown rockabilly album, or that it was as "rockabilly" as Your Arsenal. Your Arsenal wasn't an entirely rockabilly oriented album either. You're taking this too literally.

"The Lazy Sunbathers" was really just a slowed-down Buddy Holly style song. It had the progressions, and the tone of the genre, similar to what Chris Issaks was doing around the same time, and what Richard Hawley, a rockabilly oriented artist, does on his albums. It was his rockabilly crooner album, or Elvis pulling away from his Sun years album.

The slide breakdown on "The More You Ignore Me" was another example. You could even hear the rockabilly crooner angle in Used To Be a Sweet Boy; it's just slowed down. "Hated For Loving" was another classic rockabilly influenced track. The slides, the scales, the bends, and the overall production of the track contain the spirit. Even some of the lead guitar passages on Hold On To Your Friends have a bit of rockabilly DNA in them that comes through nicely."
 

Maurice E Maher

Well-Known Member
Thinking about it, Rusholme Ruffians, Nowhere Fast, Shakespeare's Sister and Death At One's Elbow all verge on the rockabilly side of things. Also, King Leer when performed live.
Good point. They're probably as rockabilly as most of the Morrissey examples. It's odd though - I don't think I've ever heard the word used in a review of a Smiths album, or in anything Johnny Marr's ever said e.g. in relation to his musical influences.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Looks like this could do with its own thread.
Some thoughts - Morrissey was strongly associated with the musical genre of rockabilly in the Kill Uncle era. People kept banging on about it as if his songs back then were exclusively rockabilly when the reality was hardly any were. I remember a quote by Moz at the time that went something like:
"All I ever hear these days is that I'm working with a young rockabilly band - they're not young and they're not rockabilly". But the label stuck.
I think one of the headlines for a 'Vauxhall and I' review said 'Farewell, then, crap rockabilly'.
I don't have a great understanding of the genre but I think the only rockabilly songs he's ever really sung are; Pregnant for the last time, The Loop, Vicar in a tutu, Sing your life (live version), You're gonna need someone on your side, and possibly (career nadir) The Kid's A Looker. Any others?
I heard there was a plan to record a rockabilly album soon after Kill Uncle but that obviously never happened.
Journalist's Who Lie sounds rockabilly-ish
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Good point. They're probably as rockabilly as most of the Morrissey examples. It's odd though - I don't think I've ever heard the word used in a review of a Smiths album, or in anything Johnny Marr's ever said e.g. in relation to his musical influences.
The allmusic review of meat is murder refers uses it
 

soloyan

Member
If I remember things accurately, Morrissey recorded Kill Uncle with studio artists, then met the band that would tour Kill Uncle with him. I saw the 2nd show of the Kill Uncle Tour in Paris and you could tell the band was struggling. They were trying to figure out songs they had not written, and they clearly had a tendency to play things rockabilly-ish or punk-ish. It wasn't very good, musically speaking, to be honest.
However, they made progress quickly and by the time they recorded Your Arsenal they had improved a lot. That said, I have to say I was very pleased when the rythm section changed for Vauxhall and I...
 

Famous when dead

Vulgarian
Moderator
From Mozipedia:
"Morrissey first met Boorer in the winter of 1990 when planning his aborted ‘rockabilly mini-album’ having just finished KILL UNCLE. ‘I brought Boz and Morrissey together,’ explains mutual friend Cathal SMYTH. ‘Clive [LANGER] told me Morrissey wanted to put a rockabilly band together so asked me as the only person he knew who was into
rockabilly. I told him, “I’m not the man for the job. That man is Boz.” Which changed Boz’s life.’
Boorer’s first session with Morrissey was in December 1990 for ‘PREGNANT FOR THE LAST TIME’, invited as a guest to add some 50s guitar licks alongside those of writer Mark NEVIN.4 It was purely by default that Boorer later became Morrissey’s permanent guitarist when Nevin proved unavailable to undertake 1991’s KILL UNCLE tour. Of the four young rockabilly musicians recruited, Boorer was the oldest and most experienced; not quite 29 but with nearly 14 years of touring and recording under his belt. As Smyth attests, ‘Boz is a concerned, hard-working and talented bloke.’
In concert, Boorer’s well-practised rockabilly poses, sprints and duck-walks brought a vim and vigour to the Kill Uncle tour, as captured on the LIVE IN DALLAS video. As a co-writer, Boorer was dormant for his first Morrissey album, 1992’s YOUR ARSENAL, making his composer debut with the two B-sides to its final single, ‘CERTAIN PEOPLE I KNOW’, among them the brooding ‘JACK THE RIPPER’.
He fully came into his own on VAUXHALL AND I, supplying its pivotal bookends ‘NOW MY HEART IS FULL’ and ‘SPEEDWAY’, and the hit single ‘THE MORE YOU IGNORE ME, THE CLOSER I GET’."


As someone who still goes to Hemsby and regularly attends Rockabilly gigs, I liked the addition of slap bass and the hint of Gretsch guitar 'twangs' coupled with the turn ups.
It was a mild 50's nod. Nitpicking: there are many threads to the Rockabilly scene and both Boz/Polecats & Gaz/Gazmen fall more towards 'neo rockabilly' and psychobilly in Gary's case (although Boz will default to 'classic' when solo). So I'd argue that any 'proper' rockabilly album would have always been filtered through their desire to play faster than is accepted by purists.
It was a phase of the band I enjoyed, but probably won't surface again.
Regards,
FWD.
 

Sidnettle

Death to Racists
I made a compilation of this period a while back, because it's always fascinated me.


Born to Hang

I’ve Changed My Plea to Guilty (Johnathan Ross 10th December 1990)

Sing Your Life (KROQ)

Pregnant for the Last Time

My Love Life ( KROQ)

That’s Entertainment

Trash (Live)

Cosmic Dancer (Live Utrecht 1st May 1991)

I’ve Changed My Plea to Guilty (Live Utrecht 1st May 1991)

Pashernate Love (California Oct 1991)

The Loop (Hammersmith 4th Oct 1991)

Pregnant for the Last Time (Hammersmith 4th Oct 1991)

That’s Entertainment (Live)

There’s a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends (KROQ)

I’ve Changed My Plea to Guilty

Let the Right One Slip In

My Love Life

The Loop

Skin Storm

Pashernate Love

There Speaks a True Friend


Of the studio recordings, the 4 lads line up only plays on the last 2 tracks. Boz appears on the studio versions of That's Entertainment, The Loop, Pregnant for the Last Time and Born to Hang. Alain Whyte is believed to have played guitar on Born to Hang and harmonica on Pregnant (although the latter was not used on the version released.)
 
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Quando quando quando

Well-Known Member
It absolutely was a great period and I quite liked the rockabilly influence as I didn't know much about that music.
It felt like he dived in, nose forward, completely absorbed by the energy, the more or less restricted style using it to his own advance and of course in the beginning relying heavily on his friends, as they were to him like that. Boz, Gary and Alain.

I disagree with some other posters saying the sound was watery and thin during the Kill Uncle tour.
I saw Moz and the band live in Utrecht and they were tight, energetic and giving all they had.
The first song, " Interesting Drug" set the tone. It was great.
Don't remember anymore how many life concerts were done before that and if Paris was before or after Utrecht.
But it was a great concert despite Moz having some throat troubles.
They really gave all. Maybe because they were more or less surprised by the great reception from the audience.
By the way, I think in hindsight "Certain People I Know" is one of his best rockabilly songs.
But at the time I missed that. That one was a grower. :thumb:
 
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