British pop icon Morrissey reached the heights of music royalty when he fronted The Smiths, the band which catapulted him to fame in the late 80’s. After the band’s demise, the much-loved ringleader of the outcasts embarked on a solo music career, which has (so far) spanned an impressive four decades.
With classic tracks such as Everyday Is Like Sunday, Suedehead, The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get and Spent The Day In Bed, Morrissey has certainly proven his credentials time and time again as one of the greatest wordsmiths of a generation. A relentless talent, the singer refuses to rest on his laurels, prolifically moving forward with exciting new works as opposed to cashing in on the nostalgia gravy train of his legendary back-catalogue as so many of his contemporaries have.
Whilst many music lovers will continuously praise the genius of his albums such as Viva Hate and You Are The Quarry, here are five Morrissey albums that you may be guilty of overlooking, and they each deserve your reappraisal…
Since the days of The Smiths, Morrissey has been renowned for his quality B-sides and this collection (which spans his output from 2004 to 2009) shows that the artist has lost none of his quality control over the years.
Released by Polydor in 2009, this album contains a treasure trove of recordings that sit up there easily with the artist’s best.
From Ganglords to Munich Air Disaster, this 18 track compilation is not simply for completists — it features some of his most compelling work to date. Shame Is The Name -featuring guest vocals by Chrissie Hynde- is one of many memorable standouts that helps make this album more than worthwhile for any music fan.
At the time of its release, Morrissey condemned the music industry’s obsession with marketing and campaigns rather than with the music itself. On a statement made on his own website, he said, “Even though you see the death of culture all around you, you also want to raise whatever it is you do to a higher plane, yet there is no one, it seems, who can inch the Morrissey thing forwards.”
Despite his break with his then record label, Universal, and the problems he perceived with promotion, Swords stands up as a testament to an artist who never lost his vigour for artistic growth.
The third release from the Brit icon landed in the hands of his eager fans back in July 1992 from record label HMV. Although it was still early days for Morrissey, he was already stretching his wings as a solo artist and proving his worth through tracks such as You’re Gonna Need Someone on Your Side and Seasick, Yet Still Docked — a dark, sombre tale that truly captivates.
Few artists find their works covered by the music elite such as David Bowie, but this is exactly what happened in 1993, when the singer released his own version of Your Arsenal’s I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday.
It’s a fascinating rendition and a highlight of Bowie’s uneven release Black Tie, White Noise, but few could contend that it stands up to the masterful original, which is quite simply the crowning jewel of Morrissey’s 1992 album.
This album, produced by Mick Ronson, is almost 30 years old yet still sounds bold and fresh.
I AM NOT A DOG ON A CHAIN
This is Morrissey’s latest release, having landed in March of 2020. Yet the strength of the eleven tracks on this tight, flavourful album give us more than enough reason to boast it’s worth here. Morrissey’s vocals in this eclectic collection of songs — along with the deeply poignant lyrics and heartfelt sincerity — make this not only a moving, personal album, but a bloody good listen.
The title track could serve as an anthem to the singer’s outlook on life, as he defiantly sings about his refusal to conform.
“I raise my hand, I hammer twice, I see no point in being nice…”
With tracks Once I Saw The River Clean and My Hurling Days Are Done, we find the singer in an introspective mood, singing about his grandmother, his experiences of growing up, nostalgic memories and his mother, whom he sadly lost earlier this year. “Mama, mama and teddy bear, were the first full firm spectrum of time,” he sings, his voice bold but the softness of his love for the woman who raised him more than evident.
Never one for overly-saccharine, maudlin songwriting, the reflective moments are almost always tinged with his trademark dry wit: “Time will mould you and craft you / But soon, when you’re looking away it will slide up and shaft you.”
His sixth solo studio album - released August 1997 with Island records- is a masterful journey from beginning to end. If you’ve never heard Wide To Receive, Trouble Loves Me or Alma Matters, then you have some catching up to do. By this stage in his solo career, Morrissey more than owns it.
Produced by Steve Lillywhite and with several tracks co-written with his long-time guitarist, Boz Boorer, the album came when the landscape of the alternative music scene was largely dominated by Britpop bands. As always, Morrissey’s sound remained uniquely his own, competing with no one. The album may have slipped under the radar for some, but time has proven Morrissey right for holding his own, with many of his contemporaries from 1997 slipping into relative obscurity, whilst Maladjusted sounds better than ever.
WORLD PEACE IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS
2014’s release from Morrissey almost sounds like a prophetic soundtrack to these unsettled, troubling times. Dark, political, critical and powerful, World Peace Is None of Your Business packs a powerful punch.
His sole released with Harvest Records, World Peace has a distinctly world music flavour; a rich and varied collection of songs that highlight the diversity of the artist’s sound.
Not a weak track to be found amongst the album, the sonic treasures includes Mountjoy, Smiler With A Knife and I’m Not A Man. One of the standouts-the title track itself- is a scathing criticism of our modern world and the way in which we are enslaved by governments we no longer trust. It’s very Morrissey, and makes a bold and engaging start to what is, essentially, one of the artist’s best records.