Monday, 20 October 2014

Morrissey 'The Last Of The Famous International Playboys'

Chart Peak: 6
His 3rd solo single since leaving the Smiths... followed 'Suedehead' and 'Every Day Is Like Sunday' into the 10 making No. 6 in February 1989.
This could be interesting - last time I wrote about this chap on the blog I got my first and so far only DMCA takedown notice (for a post with no media content at all, just a link to the YouTube video). I've linked to an official EMI upload so fingers crossed.

Three Top 10 hits out of three for the solo Moz (which is more than the Smiths had managed in their entire career, though they did sneak a third Top 10 with a re-issued single in 1992), and three Now appearances out of three too - again, that's more than the Smiths but possibly explained by the fact that he was now signed to EMI. Or was it? Although he continued to add to his tally of Top 10 singles until as recently as 2006, he's never been back on a main-series Now album, perhaps he thinks he's too important for them. At least we can savour what we have though because at the risk of posting a spoiler for anything I might write about Now 11, these first three Morrissey singles represent a run of brilliance he hasn't come close to since. Continuing to write with Stephen Street, he also assembled a partial Smiths reunion for the backing group: no Johnny Marr of course, but rhythm section Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce and sometime rhythm guitarist Craig Gannon. Excellent playing of one of his most perceptive songs, which seems almost to anticipate the gangster chic trend of the 1990s, with its tale of a criminal idolising the Kray twins (both still alive in 1989 of course). Apparently not everyone at the time understood the satire (and I was ten years old when this came out, so I didn't even know what a playboy was, but I remembered the chorus) and some might find it ironic in the light of the hero-worship Morrissey himself sometimes garners, but at least his fans don't kill people.

And this is about as close as I think I've come to understanding a fan's love for the man. Obviously, it wasn't as modern as some of the rock tracks on this side, although the synthesiser solo (played by Street) is a surprise from Moz, much as it's more Ziggy Stardust than Paradise Garage. There may be a parallel universe where he carried on in this vein and at this level instead of falling out with people and descending into pointless arrogance. But like I said, let's savour what we have, at least as long as this post stays up.

Also appearing on: Now 11, 12
Available on: Brits In The 80s

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