The rhythm section during the Vauxhall and I era

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Flibberty, Aug 13, 2019.

  1. Flibberty

    Flibberty Well-Known Member

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    I hope someone can answer this query.

    I don't have the Mozipedia book with me right now, but I was trying to remember exactly what happened with the rhythm section during this time.

    I know that Bridgwood and Taylor played on the album itself, but my memory is that Morrissey then tried to bring back Day and Cobrin for a b-sides session (Moonriver maybe???).

    That didn't go well, so Bridgwood and Taylor were then reinstalled for the Boxers single.

    Am I close?
     
  2. marred

    marred Member

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    Yeah I'm still in the dark as to why Spencer didn't play on Vauxhall And I. I never noticed just how big a gap there is with Gary Day on albums from Your Arsenal to Quarry. Yes I am aware I have been of no help whatsoever to your cause.
     
  3. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Spencer and Gaz were fired through Jo Slee in 1993 (supposedly due to "unruly behaviour" on tour).

    In early 1994 they were called back in for Moonriver and A Swallow On My Neck but there were technical issues and they were out again (so they didn't play on Boxers; also Mozipedia kinda speculates if Gaz might have carved the words "Die wanker" into Morrissey's front door at that time which is kind of funny, I think).

    After the first Southpaw sessions with Taylor in France were aborted Spencer was back in and stayed until after the Maladjusted tour. And that's when the weird stories about financial disputes and abusive faxes start...

    Bridgwood quit at the end of 1997 and that's why Gaz returned on bass for the 1999 tour and stayed until 2006.
     
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  4. Famous when dead

    Famous when dead Vulgarian Moderator

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    Full text for Vauxhall... from Mozipedia:
    Vauxhall And I, Morrissey’s fourth solo album, released March 1994, highest UK chart position #1. Tracks: ‘NOW MY HEART IS FULL’, ‘SPRING-HEELED JIM’, ‘BILLY BUDD’, ‘HOLD ON TO YOUR FRIENDS’, ‘THE MORE YOU IGNORE ME, THE CLOSER I GET’, ‘WHY DON’T YOU FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF’, ‘I AM HATED FOR LOVING’, ‘LIFEGUARD SLEEPING, GIRL DROWNING’, ‘USED TO BE A SWEET BOY’, ‘THE LAZY SUNBATHERS’, ‘SPEEDWAY’. Produced by Steve LILLYWHITE.
    Summing up the events of 1992, the year of YOUR ARSENAL, Morrissey described it as ‘the most exciting year of my life and the most fruitful’. By contrast, 1993 would be one of the most emotionally taxing for the singer, overcast with the deaths of loved ones and a ‘long phase’ of depression during which he locked himself away in his house in Camden unable to leave or take visitors. ‘It doesn’t really matter how people try to uplift you,’ he’d later explain, ‘within me it’s an immovable, strange, genetic medical condition that I have never escaped from.’ Yet from out of this dismal darkness came the album which Morrissey has yet to surpass. His defining ‘solo masterpiece’, Vauxhall And I.
    The year began with the death of his manager, Nigel Thomas, who died of a heart attack in January. Morrissey praised Thomas as ‘completely instrumental’ in all his recent success and was devastated by the loss of that rarest of beings, a ‘very dignified’ and ‘very optimistic’ manager whom the singer had absolute faith in. Thomas’s death returned Morrissey’s business affairs into their more familiar state of uncertainty as a replacement was sought. His anguish was swiftly compounded by the death of his friend and video director Tim Broad and lastly, in late April, Your Arsenal producer Mick RONSON whom Morrissey had already asked to record the follow-up. In the space of four months he’d lost a trusted manager, a close friend and a valued musical mentor. Struggling to cope with the sudden collapse of his very private world, the sense-wracking depression he’d later discuss was understandable.
    Preparations for his fourth album had already begun before Morrissey’s grief-stricken spring of ’93. Guitarist Alain WHYTE, a proven star collaborator after his work on Your Arsenal, hoped to better himself on the sequel though he now faced serious competition from fellow guitarist Boz BOORER, also supplying Morrissey with material. There were other personnel issues with the rhythm section. Disorderly behaviour on the Your Arsenal tour had raised concerns in some quarters close to Morrissey about the ‘professionalism’ of bassist Gary DAY and drummer Spencer COBRIN who would both be replaced. As the more experienced musical director, it was left to Boorer to find substitutes in two old friends from the north London rockabilly circuit, bassist Jonny BRIDGWOOD and drummer Woodie TAYLOR. Ronson’s death saw the producer’s job offered to Steve Lillywhite, another acquaintance of Boorer’s who, more significantly, had previously worked for Morrissey in 1986 when asked to remix The Smiths’ ‘ASK’.
    After a brief band rehearsal at Nomis studios in Shepherds Bush to ensure Bridgwood and Taylor were up to scratch, the real work began on 1 June 1993 at Hook End Manor outside Reading, Morrissey’s favourite residential studio and scene of the BONA DRAG and KILL UNCLE sessions. Still reeling from his triple bereavement, the singer would later reflect upon what he termed an ‘odour of retreat, of departure’ from the outset. ‘I was aware of this end-of-reign atmosphere,’ he explained. ‘It was no problem for me. I was even quite happy about it. The album wasn’t as fiery or as passionate as its predecessors but it seemed a bit resigned, which quite pleased me.’
    Bridgwood’s working cassette of preparatory demos from Whyte and Boorer (marked simply ‘NEW LP’) reveals the 12 main contenders Morrissey had chosen prior to the session. Eight were to make the final running order: ‘Billy Budd’, ‘Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself’, ‘The Lazy Sunbathers’, ‘Now My Heart Is Full’, ‘Spring-Heeled Jim’, ‘The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get’, ‘Lifeguard Sleeping, Girl Drowning’ and ‘Hold On To You Friends’. The remaining four were all Whyte tunes of which only one, ‘BLACK-EYED SUSAN’, would be salvaged as a later B-side. Both the kitschy ‘SHARP BEND, FAST CAR, GOODBYE’ and the slow, waltzing ‘STAY AS YOU ARE’ would be scrapped before Morrissey got round to adding vocals, while a similar fate befell the up-tempo rocker ‘HONEY, YOU KNOW WHERE TO FIND ME’, the lyrics of which would later be revived for a different tune by Boorer circa 1995’s SOUTHPAW GRAMMAR.
    In its split allocation between Morrissey’s two new co-writers, Vauxhall was the first album to highlight the inevitable artistic rivalry between Whyte and Boorer. ‘There was definitely competition there,’ notes engineer Chris Dickie. ‘Like when it came to recording Alain’s songs, Boz tended to stay off them a bit more. They were both more concerned about their own tracks they’d written, which is understandable. But it was very subtle. It wasn’t like some big face-off. Just little things you noticed where you could sense a bit of rivalry going on.’ Although Whyte ended up claiming just over half the album, arguably his tender and often Marr-esque contributions were outshone by Boorer’s bigger, bolder strokes, especially the two confessional epics bookending the running order. The sweet, exhilarating ‘Now My Heart Is Full’ and the bitter, agonising ‘Speedway’ were not only the best of Boorer but the best of Morrissey. Without them, and Boorer’s other thumbprints on the album, Vauxhall would have been a far pastier affair.
    Recorded over the summer months from June through to August, the good climate and relaxed surroundings of Hook End offered Morrissey a peaceful, meditative environment to take his mind off the year’s earlier traumas. ‘[Vauxhall] was a way of getting everything out there,’ he’d explain. ‘Everything had come to a head for me … personal life, private life … the usual.’ The therapeutic effects of this psychological spring clean would inevitably show in the album’s lyrics.
    Away from the recording booth, Morrissey found equal comfort in various indoor and outdoor pursuits with his band and crew, from five-a-side football to his favourite dice game, Perudo. Among the more frequent visitors to the studio who’d both be thanked on the album credits were Debbie Dannell, his hairstylist with impeccable taste in retro 50s fashions, and Morrissey’s new personal assistant, photographer Jake WALTERS. Engineer Danton Supple and Walters were known to stage ‘diving contests’ in the studio pool while Morrissey also tried to coerce them into staging a boxing match. ‘He said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we got some boxing gloves?”’ recalls Supple. ‘I thought that could be fun, taking Morrissey on. But then he said, “Oh, no, no. You fight Jake.” He just wanted to watch Jake punching somebody else for his own amusement. Funnily enough, I declined.’
    Originally scheduled for an autumn release, Vauxhall And I was delayed until the new year, partly so as not to clash with Warners’ first CD reissues of The Smiths’ back catalogue in November 1993. The title, seemingly modelled on Bruce Robinson’s 1987 comedy Withnail And I, namechecked the area of London opposite Pimlico on the south bank of the Thames, part of the borough of Lambeth. Many eyebrows were raised over the fact that Vauxhall was one of the capital’s gay hotspots (famed for popular venues such as the Royal Vauxhall Tavern) though Morrissey specified the title referred to ‘a certain person I know who was born and braised in Vauxhall’. Jake Walters would appear the likeliest contender, hailing from south London and the recipient of Morrissey’s ‘very special thanks’ on the record itself. Just as intriguing was Walters’s ambiguous back cover of (presumably) the singer’s hands, complete with fake swallow tattoo, his thumbs running beneath a 1’OZ (one ounce) pendant. Asked to explain its significance, Morrissey laughed, ‘That’s my secret.’
    Not for the first (nor the last) time, Morrissey trumpeted Vauxhall And I as ‘the best record I’ve ever made’. The strength of the material and the beauty of its execution convinced many critics to concur.
    ‘It is a beautiful record and I set out that it should be so,’ said Morrissey. ‘I thought it was time to put lots of things away in their boxes and their cupboards, and allow age to take its natural toll, for better or worse.’
    Beyond a clutch of third-person character sketches – ‘Spring-Heeled Jim’, ‘The Lazy Sunbathers’ and ‘Lifeguard Sleeping, Girl Drowning’ – and the deliberately playful romances of ‘Billy Budd’ and ‘The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get’, it was evident that Vauxhall was an exorcism of many demons: parental disappointment (‘Used To Be A Sweet Boy’); the betrayal of loved ones (‘Hold On To Your Friends’); an unshakable persecution complex (‘Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself’, ‘I Am Hated For Loving’); and the letting go of nostalgic obsessions (‘Now My Heart Is Full’). Most sensational was the closing ‘Speedway’ in which Morrissey seemed to confess all only to emerge at the end somehow doubly inscrutable in the process.
    ‘Before [Vauxhall And I], I’d never known this feeling of fulfilment,’ he enthused. ‘An album on which not a track goes out of tune, on which every title is a perfect success. It was a new and terribly exciting emotion. Even on Your Arsenal, which I loved, there were one or two weak tracks. Vauxhall And I fits my idea of perfection. I couldn’t make better.’
    Other than the music of Whyte and Boorer, equal credit for this ‘perfection’ must go to Lilly-white’s production. Taking Morrissey’s specific brief not to repeat the heavy guitar sound characterising Your Arsenal, Lillywhite introduced a uniform textural softness which glazed nearly every track with a poised classicism.
    Six years after VIVA HATE, Vauxhall And I became the second Morrissey album to enter the UK charts at number one. Referring to the NME’s character assassination after the 1992 Madstock incident 18 months earlier, Morrissey would later cite the victory of Vauxhall as his proudest moment, ‘coming in at number one in the midst of all the Morrissey-is-a-nasty-racist-hoo-hah’. Perhaps to his detriment, he failed to fully capitalise on the album’s success at the time by touring, instead restricting promotion to a couple of signings at HMV stores in London and Manchester, both of which witnessed Beatle-mania-style scenes of fan hysteria. Ironically, by the time he did tour again in February 1995 the critical tide had turned and his umpteenth press backlash was already under way.
    Vauxhall And I is still widely regarded as Morrissey’s greatest solo album. Taken as a whole, it probably is. More so than his work with The Smiths, it has become the yardstick against which all subsequent Morrissey albums must be judged and to date, none has quite surpassed it. Yet, being objective, it is also true to say that to some extent Morrissey’s musical evolution halted with Vauxhall And I. For better or worse, it set a blueprint which has since been tweaked and teased to varying degrees but which still acts as a strict stylistic bible decreeing the ‘ideal’ he continually strives for. Then again, the Morrissey album that does manage to outstrip the magnificent Vauxhall And I would have to be very special indeed. When he said he ‘couldn’t make better’, maybe we should take him at his word.
    Regards,
    FWD.
     
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  5. marred

    marred Member

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    Thanks for the thread. It's a reason to put on one of Morrissey's greatest albums ever.
     
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  6. Flibberty

    Flibberty Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your reply.

    Do you have any memory of whether Day and Cobrin briefly returned for one of the b-side recordings? Maybe Moonriver or something like that?

    I'm sure I read this somewhere, but I'm not sure in which section of the book.

    Edit: Ah, apologies. I see that another poster has already answered the question.
     
  7. Flibberty

    Flibberty Well-Known Member

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    Thanks very much. This was the info I was looking for.
     
  8. GodEmperorMorrissey

    GodEmperorMorrissey Well-Known Member

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    V&I is pretty incredible. Billy Budd is probably my least liked song on here, more due to the production which reminds me of U2. Rest of the tracks are all killer
     
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  9. Jamie

    Jamie Bluff, Ardour & Assoc.

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    While there may have been reservations about the touring behavior of Day and Cobrin, I think it has also been said elsewhere that Spencer didn't have the right feel for the quieter, more acoustic direction much of Vauxhall took. He was still developing as a drummer and was more suited to the rockier material, as seen by his work on Your Arsenal and Southpaw. This might have been the case where it would have been useful for Morrissey to utilize both Woodie Taylor and Spencer, depending on the feel of the material. Spencer certainly added heft to "Billy Budd" and "Speedway" in a live setting. I don't think his approach on the latter was ever bettered by any subsequent Morrissey drummer.

    I believe "Moonriver" and "A Swallow On My Neck" were recorded in March 1994, on the cusp of Vauxhall's release. This would also coincide with Gaz and Spencer appearing on the TOTP performance for "The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get." Then they were out again.
     
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  10. Musician

    Musician Guest

    Great thread!

    While they were good live, I think Taylor's drumming is near essential on Vauxhall. He plays so much more finesse.
    And Bridgwood was the best bass player Morrissey ever had...
     
  11. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Yes, that is correct. Forgot to mention the TMYIMTCIG TOTP performance in my original reply (I'm the same anonymous who wrote the first lengthy reply). And yes, the abbreviations are horrible but I am very lazy.
     
  12. marred

    marred Member

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    Yes Billy Budd is the Roy's Keen of Vauxhall & I but I still like those two songs anyway.
     
  13. MozIsGod

    MozIsGod Active Member

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    Agreed. Gary Day vastly improved as a bass player during his second stint with The Lads (1999-2006) but I'm a huge fan of Bridgwood's playful bass lines on tunes like Spring-Heeled Jim, I Am Hated for Loving, Boxers, Reader Meet Author, and Alma Matters.

    Mando Lopez is no slouch, either, and I especially like how he stays true to the older songs more than Solomon Walker did.
     
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  14. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    It's this right here that separates me from the nerds.
     
  15. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Mando doesn't get enough praise (of course he doesn't. Everyone is too busy slagging the band off). He even co-wrote two of my favourite songs on LIHS (HIAQM and Never Again Will I Be A Twin, I'm not too fond of My Love...).
     
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  16. Flibberty

    Flibberty Well-Known Member

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    Yes. He's certainly one of the most creative bass players Morrissey has had and he should be proud of Home is a Question Mark and the fact that My Love, I'd do Anything for You was used by the BBC.

    Am I right in saying that Billy Budd was recorded right at the start of the session and worked on before Steve Lillywhite arrived? This may account for the production not quite hitting the mark.
     
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  17. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Yes, you are correct.

    Am I the only one who is not a fan of the samples on Vauxhall, though? It's just too damn much. I love the chainsaw sound in Speedway but that's about it.
     
  18. Ben Budd

    Ben Budd Well-Known Member

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    I find this post interesting. Would you happen to have any examples of this? I do recall Stephen Street praising Mondo for sticking to the original Suedehead bassline in it's current live incarnation, but Solomon always struck me as a good bass player and aesthetically fit into the mold of the band. What did he particularly do wrong?

    Can I also vouch the above post about only Spencer getting Speedway "right" live. The version on Introducing is full of such power and energy, compare to this drab makeover on 25 and it's almost tragic. Matt is clearly a fantastic drummer and I've no beef with him but it just lacks that unpredictability and eratic-ness that came from Spencer's performance. And don't get me started on the instrument swap....!
     
  19. drag me down

    drag me down Active Member

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    I had a soft spot for Spencer Cobrin. He could have written more great songs with Morrissey. He had spunk. I believe he Co wrote 'Lost' and 'Now I Am A Was' He struck me as a singular talent, much in the same way as Marr.
     
  20. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Most importantly he co-wrote "Wide To Receive" which is a standout track from the Maladjusted era. (He was also very handsome. (But Matt is, too.))
     
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