Review : Morrissey - Viva Hate
PitchforkOn producer Stephen Street's website there's a fascinating Morrissey letter from 1987 and the birth of Viva Hate. It's a reply to Street's unsolicited offer of demos as possible backing tracks for a post-Smiths B-Side or two. Morrissey writes that he's done with the Smiths, that he's keen for his solo career to start as soon as possible, and could these demos perhaps form the basis of a full album?
The letter shows a hungry, impatient Morrissey, ambitious for more than just artistic success-- he also frets over the marketing and midweek chart position for "Girlfriend in a Coma". After 20 years of stalled comebacks and scorned collaborators it seems odd to think of Morrissey as a mainstream contender, but in 1988 he was, and he had a record label willing to throw serious money at making the idea stick. The result was one of Morrissey's most energetic and prominent phases: an acclaimed album, singles thick with new tracks, and a year-end surprise gig at Wolverhampton which saw him mobbed by his delirious cultists. The perfect subject for a deluxe reissue package, you'd say, and that's just what EMI announced last year, a remastered Viva Hate filled with bonus material and the Wolverhampton gig in full....full text
BbcIt’s said that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. But what if you want to rewrite history? Not for the first time (see 2009’s Maladjusted and Southpaw Grammar reissues) Morrissey has got out the red pencil. For this version of his first solo album, released in March 1988 just six months after The Smiths split, he replaces The Ordinary Boys with the demo of Treat Me Like a Human Being, a track first aired as a B side to the Glamorous Glue seven-inch released to promote a Very Best of… compilation in 2011. As Morrissey’s old friend Lady Bracknell might have said as she opened a crate of ale, to tinker with imperfect Moz albums is arguably forgivable, but to tamper with what is arguably still his freshest, most innovative album is a crime; less painting a vulgar picture than desecrating it.
At least Morrissey has restored Viva Hate’s original cover, which disappeared when the album was first reissued in 1997. And there’s no doubt Treat Me Like a Human Being’s gaunt for-whom-the-bell-tolls movement and mood could have been a contender – so why wasn’t it worked up then?...full text
AllmusicFollowing the breakup of the Smiths, Morrissey needed to prove that he was a viable artist without Johnny Marr, and Viva Hate fulfilled that goal with grace. Working with producer Stephen Street and guitarist Vini Reilly (of the Durutti Column), Morrissey doesn't drastically depart from the sound of Strangeways, Here We Come, offering a selection of 12 jangling guitar pop sounds. One major concession is the presence of synthesizers -- which is ironic, considering the Smiths' adamant opposition to keyboards -- but neither the sound, nor Morrissey's wit, is diluted. And while the music is occasionally pedestrian, Morrissey compensates with a superb batch of lyrics, ranging from his conventional despair ("Little Man, What Now?," "I Don't Mind If You Forget Me") to the savage political tirade of "Margaret on a Guillotine." Nevertheless, the two masterstrokes on the album -- the gorgeous "Everyday Is Like Sunday" and the infectious "Suedehead" -- were previously singles, and both are on the compilation Bona Drag....full text
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