My wee girl likes Hannah Montana, High School Musicals 1, 2 and 3 and all that sort of pre-teen garbage. A particular favourite of hers at the moment is Camp Rock, the story of a poor girl who finds herself at a summer school full of rich, beautiful and talented teenagers all intent on making their mark in the business of show. But you don’t need to know that. However. ‘Camp Rock’! I always have a wee snigger at that title. In my head I can picture Freddie Mercury in a puff-sleeve blouse singing “Scaramouch scaramouch do the fandango.” Camp rock. Hee hee. But from today that’s all changed.
Ooh! You are awful!
Morrissey played an intimate show for Radio 2 a couple of nights ago. I missed it at the time but caught it on the iPlayer last night. Initial reactions were….well…..I dunno. His new stuff sounds OK. Just OK. Not the triumphant return to form that you either a) secretly hope for or b) that the arse-licky journalists are required to write in order to have an audience with the grumpy old so-and-so. Highlight for me by a country mile was when he sang ‘This Charming Man’. I don’t have my Smiths history books to hand at the moment, and the old Smiths hardrive I keep somewhere in my brain is playing up, so I can’t tell you exactly when the last time he sang this song, but it was a long, long time ago.
The version he did the other night had me pining for the chiming guitars of Johnny Marr. This version was so LA rock it hurt. Devoid of any subtlety at all, the twin guitars bludgeon the chords to death and it ended up sounding like the bastard offspring of ‘Lust For Life’. If you are in the UK, you can watch it here. See Morrissey in all his barrel-chested, receding hairlined glory. Who ate all the (vegetarian) pies? If you are not in the UK, he looks a bit like Peter Mandelson. Go and google him. As he said himself on Wednesday night, “Life, in all it’s disgusting glory, goes on.” Yeah, so it’s not The Smiths. That’s obvious. But (whisper it)…………I quite like it. Camp rock indeed. I prefer this version though…
At the end of his set he also did a version of old Smiths’ b-side ‘I Keep Mine Hidden’, from the ‘Girlfriend In A Coma’ single if my afore-mentioned hardrive is correct. All tumbling piano riffs and power chords, I also (cough) liked this one (a lot, if truth be told after repeated plays) even if he didn’t do any of the whistling that he does on the original version. If you’re interested in the whole show, it’s here.
So. Not sure what to make of the latest version of Morrissey. I want to like him. I think I like him. But I’m not sure. If he was an artist I didn’t have any history with I’d not even bother with him. But if you are a music lover of a certain vintage (approaching 40 (fuck!)) you have to afford him some of your time. You might not be too keen on Morrissey the musician anymore, but we all still need Morrissey the popstar. “This Charming Man is about being charming, which so few people are these days. I think it’s nice to install these words into people’s brains and who knows, it might rub off on a new generation. We don’t have to be violent, or ugly, or arrogant, just be charming. And what a pleasant world that would be.”
*Bonus track. Stars verion of ‘This Charming Man’. I heard this in Gap a few years ago and spent ages tracking it down. I think you’ll like it.
And another thing. If you’re a fan of all things Morrisseyesque, you could do worse than add The Vinyl Villain to your favourites. Every Friday VV puts up a Friday I’m In Love…With Morrissey post. I’m sure today will be no different.