Seven years in the making, 'You Are The Quarry' has a wealth of animosity, acrimony and ill feeling to draw on. High Court Judges, Accountants, Taxmen, Reality T.V. Pop stars, Ex-Band mates and world leaders are all fair game. Infact the only person to come out of this offering relatively unscathed is Jesus - who himself is slated for deserting our host in his hour of need. However, that doesn't make this a bitter, hateful record. The overall feeling is one of joyous relief; it's as though the Moz has spent the last seven years basking in the Californian sun of his adopted home exorcising his demons. He just cannot resist having one last dig at those hangers on who expect just that little bit too much from him. We've known for a long time that he doesn't suffer fools gladly; here he makes it clear that he doesn't suffer them at all.
Kicking off with an open letter to the Bush Administration in 'America Is Not The World' may not be the way to instill admiration amongst the good old boys of the biggest market in the world, but with the mood changing and more and more people becoming frustrated with Bush and Blair this could become a soundtrack to many a Newsnight piece. Keep an eye, and an ear on B.B.C. 2, it won't be long now.
'Irish Blood, English Heart' is one of the obvious corner stones of the piece. A scathing attack on accusations of jingoism and racism. A call to arms for the people of England. A plea to the masses, be proud of what you are without fear of its consequences. Interestingly he slates Oliver Cromwell, and I understand why considering his antics in Morrissey's ancestral Ireland - but don't forget Cromwell was a parliamentarian, a republican and considering his well documented anti-royalist stance it's blurring the boundaries a little for the man himself.
If 'Irish Blood...' is a corner stone then the mighty foundations are the central pair of 'The World is Full of Crashing Bores' and 'First of the Gang to Die'. An awesome combination and certain to provide the follow up single for the album. '...Crashing Bores' is an epic. If it was the last Morrissey song you ever heard you wouldn't complain. It sums up what he has been trying to say for the last 20 years. And don't believe a word of it when he aches '..and I must be one, because no-one ever turns to me to say "take me in your arms and love me"..' This is a man well aware of the adulation bestowed upon him by the faithful. Similarly 'First of the Gang..' is a musical pillar of strength, with a more chart orientated soundscape which could possibly, and dare I say it, provide the man with his first number one single. The feeling amongst those in the know is that it should be a single. However, what others think has never influenced Morrissey when it comes to picking singles. A legendary obstinance that lead to 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out', 'You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby' and 'Still Ill' remaining as album tracks. It'd be a shame if the Gareth Gates and Britney generation didn't get to hear him swoon 'You have never been in love, until you've seen the stars reflect in the reservoir...', it would surely change some lives.
Closing the set is 'You Know I Couldn't Last'. A tirade against former band mates Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke, and the well documented court case against Morrissey. It's a shame it has come to this, and fans desiring a reunion will have to realise now that there is simply no way back. The old days are gone, consigned to the history book. Those of us who were there have the memories, and those of us who were not there will have to put up with our stories of the way it once was...'Daddy, what did you do during The Smiths?'...'Well Son, it was like this...’ Indeed, when he sings about the Northern leeches whose royalties bring them luxuries you know it's all over.
And with that, so is the album.
There is no feeling of crescendo, neither is there a fizzle out. The album makes its way to completion without losing form. It is perhaps the first time since The Smiths split in 1987 that a solo record can be held up in comparison to their back catalogue. And I think that Morrissey knows it. Admittedly, in press he is bound to say that it's a great album, but the extensive press,T.V. appearances and a series of live dates tied into this release is something he hasn't been involved in for many years. His recent interview with Jonathan Ross was his first T.V. interview for 17 years. That is either testament to having a good press officer, or to his total belief in this record, and I favour the latter.
And seemingly, it's not just the star of the show who is convinced. The entry into the charts at number three for 'Irish Blood, English Heart' is itself an indication of what may happen. This chart placing was achieved without the aid of the Radio One playlist - formerly the most important piece of paper in popular music. Perhaps it's time for the programmers to listen to what the young bands of today are saying about The Smiths and Morrissey when it comes to naming influences. At a time when most of his fans should be middle-aged, album buying, coffee table magazine reading professionals Morrissey hit the charts and gave the foul mouthed Eamon and his belligerent former beau Frankie a run for their money. That in itself is worth the admission price alone.
This is why I like you...because we're both not right in the head.