Saturday, January 24, 2009

Morrissey - Years Of Refusal

So when did Morrissey start making good records again? I liked The Smiths as much as the average guy trying to get laid in college and followed the careers of the members in passing as they splintered, but in my heart I was always a Johnny Marr man, although his dalliance with Modest Mouse has tested that devotion in a way that has gone untested since the days of Electronic. I can only pray for a The The reunion tour and/or incarceration of the retarded guy that fronts that nightmare. 

Morrissey has lived in L.A. since the late part of the last millenium and his tenure in the City Of Angels has ingratiated him to the East LA set. It also fostered a good working relationship with the late producer Jerry Finn. Much has been made of Morrissey's recent work, and the word renaissance has been bandied about with greater accuracy than in recent years. I know that he's having sex again (openly, and assumably with a gentleman) and that change has revitalized his career more than Latin Americans have, but I never thought Years Of Refusal would be even close to this good. 

Jerry Finn (with help from long-time cohort Roger Manning) manned the producer's chair for the last two Morrissey releases. I'm not sure how Finn managed to do it, but he seems to have gotten the notoriously single-minded Manc to experiment with sounds and textures, especially with the vocals, and all the tracks were recorded live. I hope that it's not telling that Finn died soon after these recordings. After nine solo records, it's nice to hear a little bit of change in The Miserable One. Granted, there was the rockabilly turn that served as a simultaneous artistic demarcation and death knell for The Smiths era. That turn was spearheaded by Boz Boorer and current ex-Moz band Alain White, both of whom weigh in heavily as regards co-writes on Years Of Refusal. Current second guitarer (and ex-Red Hot Chili Pepper) Jesse Tobais cleans up the rest. Regardless of the six-string foil, Morrissey jumps all over the song and makes the track shine here. I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris is the first single, a Boorer co-write that Morrissey's been joking is his Eurovision entry. It's not quite that pop, but it sure is a great tune. 

Wonderfully enough for us, Years of Refusal is full of quality tunes. There are a dozen on the record, plus a couple ancillary b-sides that will pop up on singles and whatnot. Morrissey's on Lost Highway in the States, now, serving to show how Peter Jesperson continues to be a quality set of ears for that franchise. Plus, I would venture our Steven isn't hounding him for Bob Stinson stories.  Morrissey drops this record state-side on February 16 and is allegedly headlining Coachella, if you're into such things.  Keep track on all your Mozzer related stuff, including live dates here. Maybe there will also be active discourse as to why Morrissey is cupping the kid's nuts-to-be on the cover.  Barring Blind Faith-ian issues with cover art, you can get Years Of Refusal from the good folk of Lost Highway here on the 16th.  If you're over the moon about the Moz, get the import with a DVD here. I sure would.


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