Recent Mojo article on the making of Viva Hate.

B

Benton

Guest
I don’t think this has been posted already – could be wrong.

All the Morrissey quotes are old, but some of the other stuff is quite interesting.

The single life

After The Smiths' demise in 1987, Morrissey began work on Viva Hate.
Country walks, charades, all looked rosy. Then the disappearances started... Story by Roy Wilkinson.

IN AUGUST 1987, THE NEWS broke that Johnny Marr had left The Smiths. Suddenly, the most productive, celebrated British rock band of the 1980s was thrown into flux. For one thing, Strangeways, Here We Come, The Smiths' last studio album, became a posthumous release, appearing just weeks after Marr's departure. The remaining three Smiths seemed to be willing the return of their inspirational guitarist and co-songwriter. After it became clear that Marr wouldn't be reappearing, Morrissey, Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce attempted to launch a Smiths MkII.

The musician selected as Marr's putative replacement was Ivor Perry, recently of politically charged Manc indie-rockers Easterhouse. The man who would test-record the new line-up was Stephen Street. This trusted studio facilitator had first worked with The Smiths, as engineer, on the Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now single. He'd gone on to co-produce Strangeways.

The trial session took place at the Power Plant studio, in Willesden, north-west London, but things did not go well. Morrissey signalled his dissatisfaction with his own form of peculiar semaphore. He walked out.

The Smiths would not be reborn, but Morrissey would return with a victorious solo album. Co-written and produced by Stephen Street, Viva Hate entered the UK charts at Number 1 in March 1988. Morrissey had installed musical foils of appropriate flamboyance. There was Vini Reilly, a guitarist renowned for his beautiful meditative playing and a mainstay of Manchester act The Durutti Column, named after the Spanish Civil War anarchist Buenaventura Durutti. There was also the session drummer Andrew Paresi, a man who had played on Bucks Fizz's New Beginnings album, but who would end up writing comedy for Radio 4 and playing the role of anal militarist Captain Carne in the Doctor Who story Death Comes To Time.

Viva Hate would lead to a protracted dispute between Morrissey and Street over production royalties. But it will be best remembered for its startling, hugely successful music. Not to mention a behind-the-scenes story - as unfolded on the following pages by its main characters - which involved Joni Mitchell, saunas and a nice round of charades in the evening.

Stephen Street (producer): I'd been working on these 4-track demos at home, just for my own pleasure. I'd sent Morrissey a tape of these, saying, Please don't think I'm being presumptuous, you probably won't like these, but if there's anything you think could be turned into a B-side for any singles off Strangeways... I then got married and went on honeymoon. I came back to a find a postcard from Morrissey, saying, "I love what you sent me. I'm going to make a solo record, are you interested?" Of course I was interested.

Vini Reilly (guitarist): Stephen Street asked me if I would attend a meeting in London with him and Morrissey, whom I'd never previously met. We met up and listened to some demos that Stephen had recorded. They suggested I might play guitars and keyboards on an album. Stephen told me later that he'd been really nervous before this meeting, because Morrissey was a quite volatile person and I was quite volatile myself. But the atmosphere at the meeting was lovely. I'd wanted to work with Morrissey for a long time.

Stephen Street: We'd recorded Strangeways at the Wool Hall, near Bath, because Morrissey felt comfortable there. So, we decided to go back there. They had a very good chef. He liked his creature comforts.

Morrissey: The album title was absolutely how I felt, post-Smiths. I find hate omnipresent, and love very difficult to find. Hate makes the world go round.

Andrew Paresi (drums): I thought it was quite interesting that Morrissey was recording at Wool Hall, because it was owned by Tears For Fears. Here we were in the belly of everything that Morrissey hated about '80s pop music.

Vini Reilly: The surrounding area was lovely. Me and Stephen and Morrissey used to go for long walks in the countryside. The food was wonderful. All these lovely dishes with these intricate vegetable florets and so on.

Gail Colson (manager): I remember driving down to The Wool Hall with Nick Gatfield, who had been in Dexys Midnight Runners and then become a senior A&R guy at EMI. Nick was very excited, but also very nervous about meeting Morrissey. He loved the recordings we heard.

Morrissey: It was a very peculiar time for me, making that record so suddenly. I wanted to try something different. Because of the particular status I have, where people concentrate over every comma, I reached a stage where I wanted to be entirely spontaneous, without writing the words down and memorising them. Rather, just step into the vocal booth and sing it as it comes.

Vini Reilly: There was constant silliness in the studio. I remember having a wrestling match in the corridor with Morrissey. We just fell over in a heap on the floor. Morrissey's humour is very childlike in its innocence, but it's also razor-sharp. We would play charades in the evening and Morrissey was always furious with me when I was on his team, because I was useless.

Andrew Paresi: Morrissey was very good at charades. But, he would often pick obscure films like The L-Shaped Room or Playboy Of The Western World. He did this to make sure he won. We'd all go the gym - to swim, do a few weights, go in the sauna. Morrissey loved the sauna.

Vini Reilly: The sessions were very intense and there were many moments when the hair stood up on your neck. The recording I remember most was Late Night, Maudlin Street. It was actually late at night when we recorded Morrissey's vocal. Morrissey just came in and sang. It affected everyone there because it was so right, so astonishing.

Stephen Street: I was still writing music during the sessions at The Wool Hall. I remember Morrissey asking me to come up with something a bit like Joni Mitchell. He wanted this long, rambling structure, so I came up with something that was kind of inspired by Joni Mitchell's The Hissing Of Summer Lawns. That became Late Night, Maudlin Street.

Vini Reilly: Morrissey would sit unobtrusively in the control room reading a book. While he was doing this he was also absorbing the music, trying out vocals in his head. When he came to do his vocals it was all extremely surprising. Where we had heard a middle-eight, he would sing a chorus and vice versa. You never knew how he was going to phrase it. On Late Night, Maudlin Street he immediately put down what was meant to be a rough guide vocal. This is a long song with lots of words and none of us had heard him sing any of it before. But this take was just perfect. There was complete, stunned silence after he'd finished. We didn't play charades that night.

John Metcalfe (cello, string arrangements): I ended up overseeing the strings on Viva Hate, because I'd previously played on The Durutti Column album The Guitar And Other Machines, which was produced by Stephen Street. The mood at the Wool Hall was very un-rock'n'roll. It was all very intent on the work. Morrissey was certainly not some miserable figure. He seemed very pleasant and well adjusted.

Andrew Paresi: The first track I can remember working on was this lovely thing. There were no vocals at this stage, but it was so pretty that I began to make up some lyrics for it in my head. I just started singing something along the lines of, I can see through a hole in the fence, playing with your brother... or is it your mother? I thought it would be some light, gentle song. Then I came in the next morning and heard this voice proclaiming, "Bengali, Bengali... shelve your Western plans." Hmm, yes, Bengali In Platforms.

Vini Reilly: I'm not quite sure what Morrissey was getting at with Bengali In Platforms. Whatever he was trying to say, I don't think that was the best way of saying it. But I do know that Morrissey is not racist, not in the slightest.

Morrissey: There are many people who are so obsessed with racism that one can't mention the word Bengali. It instantly becomes a racist song, even if you're saying, "Bengali, marry me." I still can't see any silent racism there.

Andrew Paresi: There was sometimes disagreement in the studio. Of any of the people there, Vini was by far the most finely tuned musician. He also had a volatile temperament and he wouldn't try to hide his contempt for anything he thought was below him. Stephen's songs were just right, but they did sometimes have very familiar popchord sequences. Vini would just shout, "I'm not playing these bloody boring chords for one minute longer!" and walk out. But, it was all manageable. Vini himself pinned up this notice of instructions titled "What to do when Vini throws a wobbler".

Stephen Street: Everyday Is Like Sunday was one of the oldest pieces of music I brought to Morrissey. With that song, I was thinking along the lines of Echo & The Bunnymen. But, as soon as Morrissey put the vocal on, it became something different altogether. Vini turned his nose up at the chord sequence on that song. He also refused to play the guitar solo on Suedehead. I had to do it myself

Morrissey: The song Break Up The Family is strongly linked with Suedehead and Late Night, Maudlin Street, that whole period in 1972, when I was 12, 13. Break Up is about a string of friends I had who were very intense people. At that age, when your friends talk about the slim separation between life and death, and when you set that against the fact that this period of your youth is supposed to be the most playful... well, if you utilised that period in a very intense way, that feeling never really leaves you.

Vini Reilly: One night Morrissey wanted to play me a CD. He put it on at extremely loud volume and I was a little bit surprised to find it was Rickie Lee Jones. It was one particular track called The Last Chance Texaco. The only stuff I'd heard by Rickie Lee Jones was this awful jazzy, funky stuff, but this track was wonderful. This was a subtle guide from Morrissey for a mood he wanted on a track.

Andrew Paresi: The track Suedehead immediately hit me. It was just so funny. It's just him. It's like (drops into Morrissey's rumbling speaking tone) , 'Why do you come here when you just know it makes it very difficult... so, are you going to take your clothes off, or what?"

Morrissey: Angel, Angel, Down We Go Together was written with Johnny Marr in mind and it is the only song that I have written with him in mind, post Smiths. I saw him in the music industry being used and being manipulated and I felt I was in a similar situation.

Stephen Street: I was quite proud that I got Morrissey to sing on something vaguely funky with Break Up The Family. Also, the bass line on Alsatian Cousin was a kind of close relative to White Lines by Grandmaster Flash.

Andrew Paresi: I really liked Hairdresser On Fire, which was a B-side to Suedehead and was recorded at The Wool Hall. I think it did stem from a real incident. I think Morrissey had been to Toni & Guy and hadn't quite been shown enough respect. You can imagine all kinds of interesting hairstyling ideas being discussed over Morrissey's head as he sits mumbling, "Well, actually, no, I just want to keep me quiff."

Vini Reilly: One night we were down at the local pub and Robert Plant was there. I think he had friends in the area. Seeing Morrissey and Robert Plant together was quite unusual, but they seemed to get on well. Sandie Shaw came down to the studio and we went to the disco. Morrissey was dancing, which actually wasn't too much of a surprise to me by this point, because he seemed such a natural, unpretentious man. He was also a very good dancer.

Stephen Street: Viva Hate happened so fast. We started on October 5. The whole thing was finished and mixed by December 21. Then we went home for Christmas and then Morrissey went incommunicado for a few weeks. That was the frustrating thing with Morrissey. One moment, he was saying I was "a rock to cling to". Then, once the album was finished, he just disappeared. When Viva Hate came out I still didn't have a production contract. He was a perfect gentleman on the songwriting front, but the issue of production royalties turned into a nightmare. He offered me one per cent, which is what I was getting when I was engineering the earlier Smiths stuff. That was where the problems started for me.

Andrew Paresi: By the end of these sessions, I knew that I'd played on something of tremendous merit. I also played on Morrissey's' Kill Uncle album, but Viva Hate is easily the most profound album I've ever worked on.

Morrissey: Viva Hate was more of an event than an achievement. I think the audience was simply relieved that I was still living. I've always been fiercely self-critical and it wasn't perfect. And it wasn't better than Strangeways. There are at least six tracks I'd now willingly bury in the nearest patch of soil.

Gail Colson: In those days you would get the chart positions at 8am. Well, Viva Hate went in at Number 1, so I thought Morrissey would definitely want to know about this. I rang him at 9.30am. He just said, "Oh, thank you, can I ring you back? " I never heard from him for a month.

Vini Reilly: Afterwards, Morrissey would occasionally visit me in Manchester. I didn't drink wine. So, instead, he would bring presents of eco-friendly toilet-cleaner. I remember going for a drive in this immaculate 1960s saloon car he'd got from somewhere. He'd just passed his driving test and he was terrified in case he ran over these small birds that were flitting across the road.

Stephen Street: My lawyer told me that the only way I could sort out my production royalty situation was to get an injunction that would delay the release of the Interesting Drug single, which I'd worked on, after Viva Hate That did happen, but I thought it was making me look so bad that I relented and let them release the single. In the end it did get sorted out and I was given two-and-a-half points. I think my legal action left a bad taste with Morrissey. I remember the final postcard I got from him. It just said, "Enough is too much" (laughs). That was the end of things, but I look back on that time very fondly. I'm very proud of those recordings. I was working with someone who, melodically and lyrically, is a genius. Morrissey gets a lot of recognition for his lyrics, but his way with a melody line is just as unique. It was a memorable time, to say the least.

Morrissey quotes taken from interviews in Melody Maker, Sounds and The Face 1988, 1990 and 1992. Andrew Paresi is currently preparing a one-man show called I Was Morrissey's Drummer.




 
F

Fan

Guest
> Vini Reilly: I'm not quite sure what Morrissey was getting at with
> Bengali In Platforms. Whatever he was trying to say, I don't think that
> was the best way of saying it. But I do know that Morrissey is not racist,
> not in the slightest.
> Morrissey: There are many people who are so obsessed with racism that
> one can't mention the word Bengali. It instantly becomes a racist song,
> even if you're saying, "Bengali, marry me." I still can't see
> any silent racism there.

Perhaps the pain and damage of racism in some people's lives is so big that the only way to react is with obsession. I was reading Toni Morrison, and I felt so very touched with that sentence:
"The most fragile creature in the world is a black girl"
 
L

LoafingOaf - All praise to Allah

Guest
> Stephen Street: Then, once the album was finished, he just
> disappeared. When Viva Hate came out I still didn't have a production
> contract. He was a perfect gentleman on the songwriting front, but the
> issue of production royalties turned into a nightmare. He offered me one
> per cent, which is what I was getting when I was engineering the earlier
> Smiths stuff. That was where the problems started for me.

> Stephen Street: My lawyer told me that the only way I could sort out my
> production royalty situation was to get an injunction that would delay the
> release of the Interesting Drug single, which I'd worked on, after Viva
> Hate That did happen, but I thought it was making me look so bad that I
> relented and let them release the single. In the end it did get sorted out
> and I was given two-and-a-half points. I think my legal action left a bad
> taste with Morrissey.

Has anyone else been getting the impression that Morrissey is rather shady in his business dealings?
 
O

Observer

Guest
> Morrissey: Viva Hate was more of an event than an achievement. I
> think the audience was simply relieved that I was still living. I've
> always been fiercely self-critical and it wasn't perfect. And it wasn't
> better than Strangeways . There are at least six tracks I'd now willingly
> bury in the nearest patch of soil.

which tracks do you suppose Moz is referring to? 7 of the 12 (8 of 13 if you include 'hairdresser') have been played in concert by Morrissey as a solo artist. So, by logic, he has had a change of heart about at least one of the songs that he claimed to dislike.
 
M

Mindy

Guest
> which tracks do you suppose Moz is referring to? 7 of the 12 (8 of 13 if
> you include 'hairdresser') have been played in concert by Morrissey as a
> solo artist. So, by logic, he has had a change of heart about at least one
> of the songs that he claimed to dislike.

moz changed his mind about something? that's a first. he's said to hate "i don't mind if you forget me." for the life of me i don't understand why. it's a personal favorite of mine. i love the rhymes and i love the vocal melody. i think it's safe to say that he's probably had doubts about "bengali in platforms" over the years too, since he got so much criticism over it. i kind of like "dial-a-cliche," but it almost seems like filler type material, so i'd guess that one as well. also, i'd like to say "margaret on the guillotine," but he seems to like that one -- or to at least be glad he made the statement.
 
J

Johnny

Guest
> moz changed his mind about something? that's a first. he's said to hate
> "i don't mind if you forget me." for the life of me i don't
> understand why. it's a personal favorite of mine. i love the rhymes and i
> love the vocal melody. i think it's safe to say that he's probably had
> doubts about "bengali in platforms" over the years too, since he
> got so much criticism over it. i kind of like "dial-a-cliche,"
> but it almost seems like filler type material, so i'd guess that one as
> well. also, i'd like to say "margaret on the guillotine," but he
> seems to like that one -- or to at least be glad he made the statement.

I'd agree with all of that except the part about "I Don't Mind". I thought at the time that was by far the weakest tyrack and time has not made me change my mind.

Brilliant article though.
 
H

Harsh Truth

Guest
I've forgotten "I Don't Mind if You Forget Me"

its just so poppy. It sounds 80'ish. I know, I know... it was recorded in the 80's...but most of the Smiths/Morrissey stuff DOESN'T sound like other 80's crap.
 
S

slim shady business productions

Guest
> Has anyone else been getting the impression that Morrissey is rather shady
> in his business dealings?

He is a genious but I the more I read the more I know that he can't be trusted in a business relationship (well and personal relationships). I am sure he would want to wiggle his way out of any written contract if it does not please him at some given time.
 
J

Johnny

Guest
Re: I've forgotten "I Don't Mind if You Forget Me"

> its just so poppy. It sounds 80'ish. I know, I know... it was recorded in
> the 80's...but most of the Smiths/Morrissey stuff DOESN'T sound like other
> 80's crap.

yep. It's a bad 'un alright. But hey! someone likes it so each to their own. The only other song I didn't like was "Margaret" which was such a pity as I despised Thatcher
 
J

jenny

Guest
Thanks, that was very interesting. 1% to Stephen Street? Yikes!!! Morrissey is a genius and irreplacable, but that screams unfair! Wouldn't I have loved to have been a fly on the wall during one of the charades or sauna sessions???
The thought of Morrissey playing charades or dancing at a disco is just too sweet to imagine. And he loves the sauna? Well, nevermind that (whew!) Late Night, Maudilin Street is probably my favorite Morrissey song and I was pleased to see they were so fond of it. It was also wonderful to picture how it was recorded. I'll bet they were stunned when he finished putting the track down! That experience would have floored me for all eternity. It's funny that Morrissey said that there are six tracks he'd like to bury on the album, I'll bet I can guess which ones (ha ha Dial a Cliche). But overall I do think Viva Hate is my favoirte Morrissey album with Vauxhaul and I being a close second. I think that the gems on Viva Hate are among the finest written songs of all time. That imagery of that article made me shiver with delight.
 
D

david

Guest
songs on Viva Hate not up to scratch

> which tracks do you suppose Moz is referring to? 7 of the 12 (8 of 13 if
> you include 'hairdresser') have been played in concert by Morrissey as a
> solo artist. So, by logic, he has had a change of heart about at least one
> of the songs that he claimed to dislike.

Little Man, What Now?
Bengali In Platforms
ordinary Boys
Dial A Cliche
Margaret....

are all pretty poor

Which is bizarre, as "Hairdresser", "Everyday is like Sunday", "Break up the Family", "Alsation Cousin", "Suedehead" are some of the best songs of his career
 
T

the boy with the thorn in his side.........

Guest
Re: songs on Viva Hate not up to scratch

what absolute twaddle.viva hate is mozs best album by the proverbial kilometre,with vauxhall trailing behind.as someone once said,"its not the artist who knows his finest hour,but the fans".........
 
B

Benton

Guest
I’m glad that many of you thought it was worth posting. When it was mentioned on the main site it got precisely one (negative) comment and I half wondered whether this was all well-known stuff that I’d somehow managed to miss over the years.

I’ve posted the text of the accompanying short tour article in another thread.




 
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