Review: Morrissey - This Is Morrissey

Morrissey’s cancelling last month of his UK and European tour to promote last year’s Low In High School album was a fresh nadir for an artist whose career has, for a long time now, looked to be in freefall. While his management cited ‘logistical circumstances beyond our control’, music industry insiders hinted at poor ticket sales.

This would be no surprise. It has not been easy to be a Morrissey fan lately, with the former Smiths singer alienating even his most devoted followers by praising far-right political party, For Britain, and expressing shock at the jailing of ex-English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson.

Is Morrissey racist? He denies it almost constantly, and only he truly knows, but there is no doubt that his divisive comments are casting a sinister shadow over his career and even blighting fans’ enjoyment of the sacred music of The Smiths. He is, as Dave Callahan of 80s art-rockers The Wolfhounds has quipped, the most out-of-touch artist with his fanbase since Donna Summer.

The tragedy is that these considerations are now the first thing that come to anyone’s mind when confronted with this album, a ragbag single-CD compilation put together by one of his many ex-labels.

Yet with his trenchant views on vegetarianism and the monarchy, Morrissey has always been as defined by his opinions as his music. It seems futile to hope that he’ll try to separate pop and politics now.

This is Morrissey is a musical curate’s egg. For completists, the sales point will be the inclusion of two former Record Store Day singles, the Mael Mix of Suedehead and a live take on his 2013 cover of the Velvet Underground’s Satellite Of Love, previously unavailable on CD. Otherwise, it’s a motley selection of tracks from the late 80s and early 90s when he was on EMI/HMV’s books: The Last Of The Famous International Playboys; Ouija Board, Ouija Board; the divine Everyday Is Like Sunday; a live gambol through You’re The One For Me, Fatty.

On purely musical terms, this collection is hit-and-miss but perfectly passable. Sadly, though, nobody talks about Morrissey in purely musical terms any more.

Written by Ian Gittins. Released on Parlophone.

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