Morrissey “Vauxhall And I”


Today’s Cool Album Of the Day (#354 in the Series) is Morrissey, Vauxhall And I

Morrissey is, for many, the best singer and lyricist to emerge in the last 30 years. And Vauxhall And I is his greatest album.

“How can you tell?” I hear you cry, “They all sound the same!”

That’s a pretty common accusation from non-Moz fans and, to be fair, there’s a grain of truth in it. Stylistically, he doesn’t change things too much, he’s found his groove and he’s staying in it. There’s been the occasional foray into experimental territory (almost exclusively confined to extra tracks on his singles) but, by and large, his stuff sounds pretty much the same as it did way back when. You get the odd album that’s dominated by a somewhat tougher guitar sound but that’s about it. As a consequence his best albums become so simply by having better songs on them than the others and that’s what sets “Vauxhall And I” apart. It’s the most consistent, high-quality group of songs he’s ever assembled.

The lead up to this one had been tough. The deaths of three close associates (one of whom, Mick Ronson, had produced his previous album “Your Arsenal”) within a year had hit him pretty hard. A period of deep depression followed. His two main songwriting collaborators, guitarists Alain Whyte and Boz Boorer, were left to get some music and a new band together. Morrissey hid himself away for a while.

It’s apparently because of this that the final album has a distinct feel of melancholy hanging over it , a kind of beautiful sadness which lends an air of doomed romance to proceedings . But there’s sunshine behind those clouds and, frequently, it breaks through in glorious fashion.

Never more so, in fact , than on the very first song “Now My Heart Is Full” , not only the best thing on the album but possibly the best song of the great man’s entire career .

As the title implies, it’s a declaration of love, although in typical Morrissy fashion the recipient of his ardor remains a mystery. No matter though, as it’s sung with such heartfelt emotion, such joy for the power of passion that you’re too busy getting swept away to care who it might be about. The perfect opener.

Further on, “The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get” is simply brilliant, a stern rebuke to those who would dare get into his bad books. He’s on their case and he isn’t letting it go: “Beware, i hold more grudges, than lonely High Court judges” indeed!

On it goes; the quality never letting up “Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself” is a great little acoustic number, superbly sung.

We could be here for a while, every song has its strengths and there really isn’t a weak spot on the entire album.

“The Lazy Sunbathers” is a caustic put-down of the idle rich, basking in their wealth, oblivious and uncaring.

Then there’s “Lifeguard Sleeping, Girl Drowning” which comes to us in a malevolent hiss/whisper, an experiment in delivery which works gloriously.

Ending proceedings, “Speedway” is utterly magnificent. The theme is, again, the man’s apparent betrayal by someone close to him. As ever, the rumour mill went into overdrive as people tried to find out who the song was about. Top candidates were the usual suspects, former Smiths comrades Mike Joyce and Johnny Marr. In the long run , it’s irrelevant , what we’re left with is a brooding masterpiece which grows gently , building towards a thrilling climax , the passion and controlled fury finally reaching a peak with the declaration , over a booming drumbeat : “Guilt by implication , by association…………..in my own sick way , i always stayed true to you ”

A fitting way to end the album of his career. He’s made many a great song since this album but if you could only take one Morrissey disc to a desert island with you, this would be the one.

Superb.

— Stephen Dalrymple, Glasgow, Scotland

Track listing

Side One

  1. “Now My Heart Is Full” – 4:57 (Morrissey/Boorer)
  2. “Spring-Heeled Jim” – 3:47 (Morrissey/Boorer)
  3. “Billy Budd” – 2:08 (Morrissey/Whyte)
  4. “Hold on to Your Friends” – 4:02 (Morrissey/Whyte)
  5. “The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get” – 3:44 (Morrissey/Boorer)

Side Two

  1. “Why Don’t You Find Out for Yourself” – 3:20 (Morrissey/Whyte)
  2. “I Am Hated for Loving” – 3:41 (Morrissey/Whyte)
  3. “Lifeguard Sleeping, Girl Drowning” – 3:42 (Morrissey/Boorer)
  4. “Used to Be a Sweet Boy” – 2:49 (Morrissey/Whyte)
  5. “The Lazy Sunbathers” – 3:08 (Morrissey/Whyte)
  6. “Speedway” – 4:30 (Morrissey/Boorer)

Personnel

  • Morrissey – vocals, main performer
  • Alain Whyte – guitar
  • Boz Boorer – guitar
  • Jonny Bridgewood – bass
  • Woodie Taylor – drums
  • Greg Ross – art direction
  • Dean Freeman – photography
  • Chris Dickie – producer, engineer
  • Steve Lillywhite – producer
  • Danton Supple – assistant engineer

Listen to Morrissey via the Cool Album MySpace Page

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Posted by Stephen Dalrymple
I was so much older then , i'm younger than that now.........

3 Comments

  1. Stephen McCormack (25 Apr 2011, 5:16)
    Reply

    An album which I constantly go back to for listening pleasure. Appears to me to get better with every listen. So many great tracks.

  2. mark (25 Apr 2011, 15:43)
    Reply

    I can’t say I disagree w/ this choice as his best album. As the author said, all of his solo records really are consistent and excellent. I have to say, though, his last few records have been beyond excellent and every bit as good as this one – ringleader, years of refusal, you are the quarry – its like he’s getting BETTER w/ age. How many artists his age do THAT?!??

  3. Stephen dalrymple (26 Apr 2011, 11:35)
    Reply

    I agree Mark and in fact my very favourite Morrissey song “Come back To Camden” is relatively recent – i would never have predicted that 10 years ago !



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