Tuesday, 7 June 2016

My Week with Morrissey begins

For my first "My Week With" of 2016, I have chosen Morrissey, he of The Smiths fame and also solo. I grew up with The Smiths, and later Morrissey's unique brand of music, so I am really looking forward to this.

So before I choose my first of 7 songs from this great British artist, lets go behind the man, find out where he came from, how he started and have a closer look at his musical output. Here we go then.

Morrrissey's real name is Morrissey!! Who knew? Specifically Steven Patrick Morrissey. I don't know why, but I think I assumed it was a nickname or something. He was born in May 1959, and comes from Lancashire here in the UK.

Obviously The Smiths and our Mozza became known as a Manchester band, and that's because he grew up there. He got involved in music back in the 70's joining two punk bands that I have never heard of as their lead singer. One called The Nosebleeds, and the second called Slaughter and The Dogs. From all accounts, including his own, he was a bit of a loner when he was young, but clearly his childhood led to the basis of many of his later musical outputs.

I had no idea that one of his first jobs was as a clerk in the civil service, and then working for the Inland Revenue amongst others. Those are jobs I would never have imagined him doing.

In 1978, Morrissey met Johnny Marr for the first time. 4 years later, Marr asked Mozza if he was interested in forming a band. And so The Smiths began, and so Morrissey decided that he would be known as such and not by his first name. Quite why he hated his name I have no idea, but so the legendary band began.

After a rocky start, The Smiths formed, were signed, and began to release their first singles. The first to chart were 'This Charming Man' and 'What Difference Does it Make'. Their debut album followed in 1984 - 'The Smiths'. The album reached number 2 in the UK albums chart. What I did not know, was that it was Morrissey who gave the band their name.

1984 also saw them release 2 more singles in the form of 'Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now'  and 'William, it was really nothing'. My dad was a fan of 'Heaven Knows' or rather not! He used to do an impression of it, being all miserable and melancholy that used to make me and my friends laugh!! Mozza would've been proud.

Late in 1984 came their compilation album 'Hatful of Hollow'.  1985 saw them release their second album 'Meat is Murder'. Their second album hit the number one spot in the UK albums chart.

They followed their second album release with the singles 'That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore' and 'How Soon Is Now'. They used the rest of the year touring, and also to record their third album, 'The Queen Is Dead' which was released in 1986 and reached number 2 in the UK albums chart.

'86 also saw them release the singles 'Bigmouth Strikes Again', 'Panic' and 'Ask'. It was also the year the band started to fall out with each other and their label rough Trade. They parted ways and were signed by EMI.

In 1987 they released one of my favourite Smiths' singles 'Shoplifters of the World Unite'. They followed it with compilation albums 'The World Won't Listen'. which reached number 2 in the UK albums chart, and 'Louder than Bombs' which reached number 63. They also released the single 'Sheila Take a Bow' that same year.

The Smiths' fourth album was released later in '87. 'Strangeways, Here We Come' reached number 2 in the UK albums chart. By the time it was released, the band had split up. 1988 saw the last release from The Smiths 'Rank', which was a live album and it reached number 2 on the UK album chart.

Mozza wasted no time though. In 1988 he released his first solo album 'Viva Hate', which reached number 1 in the UK album chart. In 1989 he followed it with the compilation of singles and B sides in an album called 'Bona Drag'. It reached number 9 in the UK albums chart, and spawned the release of another one of my favourites 'Piccadilly Palare'.

His next album 'Kill Uncle' was released in 1991. It reached number 8 in the UK album chart. In 1992 he released the amazing 'Your Arsenal' , which reached number 3 on the UK album chart. It included the infamous single 'You're the One for me Fatty'. Only Morrissey could get away with that one!

Mozza was always political and out there with his opinions and image. Not least his gladioli swinging stage persona. As a solo artist though, he evolved over the years.

In 1994 he released the album 'Vauxhall and I'. This was another hit for Mozza reaching number 1 in the UK albums chart. In 1995 he followed it with 'Southpaw Grammar' which reached number 4 on the UK album chart.

1996 was the year that Morrissey got taken to court over shares of recording monies. It was 1997 when he released his next album, 'Maladjusted'. It reached number 8 in the UK albums chart.

He took a bit of a hiatus after that album, doing some touring, but mainly away from the scene. In 2004 he released what was considered a come back album, with his seventh album release 'You are the Quarry' which reached number 2 on the UK album chart.

Album number 8 was released in 2006. 'Ringleader of the Tormentors' reached number 1 in the UK album chart. In 2007 he released his 'Greatest Hits' album, which reached number 5 on the UK chart.

Morrissey released his ninth studio album in 2009. 'Years of Refusal' reached number 3 in the UK album chart. He also released a B sides collection that year called 'Swords'. 2011 saw the release of another compilation album 'Very Best of Morrissey' It reached number 80 in the UK album chart.

Morrissey had a few health issues following the tours he completed. It was 2014 when he released his tenth studio album 'World Peace is None of Your Business'. 

I think its fair to say that Morrissey is and always has been controversial. There has been much publicity over his lyrics and politics and sexuality, and yet the man himself has kept his private life private, fuelling much more interest in him than had he been overtly open. I admire that.

Love him or hate him, Morrissey is an icon. He represents one of the greatest British talents of all time, is unassuming and yet extrovert, private yet in your face. He is a one off and I am looking forward to listening to seven of his songs over this next week. The difficult part is choosing those 7. Its going to be emotional this time. One thing you can rely on with Mozza is that he makes an impact with his music.

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