Album review: Morrissey

Morrissey - California Son (Etienne/BMG)



SUPPORTING BREXIT and UKIP, and making sympathetic comments about far-right figures have left Morrissey fans disgusted, in despair, and in denial - often, with long term fans like myself, feeling all three at once.

So is including two 1960s protest songs on his new covers album about making amends or an act of cynical irony? One is Bob Dylan's 'Only A Pawn In Their Game', a song with disturbingly renewed relevance: "The South politician preaches to the poor white man/'You've got more than the blacks, don't complain!/You're better than them, you've been born with white skin' he exclaims/and the Negro's name, is used, it is plain, for the politician's gain, as he rises to fame."

It needs conviction to deliver, and Morrissey does not disappoint, while the martial rhythms and subtle Cajun backing build in intensity, giving the song power and momentum. The second cover is Phil Ochs' 'Days Of Decision', again newly relevant, and we can only hope this song signals a political re-think by Mozzer.

After that, the album is often fun and upbeat: 'Wedding Bell Blues' is sunny, swinging, soul pop, and the closest thing to an openly gay love song the man has yet delivered; 'Lady Willpower' revels in its showbizzy melodrama; while 'Morning Starship' is how any future band on an intergalactic cruiser should sound. On the darker side, Mozzer's take on Tim Hardin's 'Song for Lenny' is a heartbreaking, vulnerable, Gothic lament, and a true highlight.

Die-hards like myself will find much to enjoy here. Everyone else will withhold opinion until Morrissey's next political pronouncement to see if he has really changed or not.


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