While on the subject of great college musical discoveries, Morrissey qualifies as one of those artists who although not new to me thanks to The Smiths, his solo work would cap the end of my musical adventures in college.
Hardly 6 months went by after the split of the Smiths before Morrissey would emerge with his first solo album Viva Hate. In those days before the internet, seeing a Morrissey album so soon was quite a surprise.
It was a bit odd hearing Morrissey without Johnny Marr backing him on guitars, but the Smiths sound was still very much intact if only in spirit. In Marrs place was Stephen Street who also produced the album and Vini Reily on guitars.
Morrisseys wit and sarcasm was turned up a notch with controversial songs like “Margaret on the Guillotine” and “The Ordinary Boys”. In fact some tracks were removed on early releases due to the ruckus Morrissey must have orchestrated perfectly.
In his typical way he tackles difficult subjects with humor and biting observation as in England’s racism towards Indians and Pakistanis on the somber “Bengal in Platforms”. The albums most notable track “Every Day is Like Sunday” establishes an overall tone heightened by a big sounding jangling guitar based production. In some ways it reminds one of the 1960s without being too nostalgic. Any backward sentiments were dashed with the inclusion of synthesizers, a no-no with The Smiths. They were used in such a way as to be almost unnoticeable.
Morrissey in continuing with his campy wit on songs like “Hairdresser on Fire” and countless sexual innuendos, may have rekindled speculation about his sexuality, but there was no question he could stand out as an artist on his own and would have a successful solo career to prove it. After awhile missing the Smiths did not seem like such a bad thing afterall, as Morrissey continued making music the band’s spirit.