Album Review – You are the Quarry – By Morrissey (2004) (Attack Records)

Morrissey proclaimed in numerous pre-release promotional interviews that this was definitely his ‘best ever’ album, stating that it had absolutely nothing to with any of his previous works – it was ‘completely different’. As such I was expecting a release as revealing and innovative as it was marvelous, affording us an insight into exactly what state of mind our beloved icon was now in and just how he had been bearing up in his seven years of self imposed exile in Los Angeles.

Of course my justification for such exuberant expectations was well founded inasmuch that much of his previous body of  inextricably connected work (albums such as The Smiths, Meat Is Murder, Vauxhall And I and subsequently Ringleader of The Tormentors, which I purchased before You Are The Quarry’ were all superb examples of insightful Morrissey introspection…and I virtually hung on their every word.
With You Are The Quarry, I still devoured every word only to find that most of them, despite Morrissey’s insistence to the contrary, had all been said before? For instance recurring themes from the mid 80’ds and early 90’s just keep popping up. The lovable rogue of ‘Dagenham Dave‘ from the Southpaw Grammar album is now the intriguing ‘Hector‘ in the superb  ‘First of The Gang to Die(see below). Whilst the lush production presents it in a different format, the theme is the same, but is now being ‘developed’ as opposed to being the promised ‘different’.

First of the Gang to Die

Similarly the suburban decay of ‘Come Back To Camden‘ may as well have been copied and pasted from ‘Everyday Is Like Sunday‘ (From the Bona Drag album). Even the imagery of wooden benches and greasy tea receive a new airing… Same song different tune. The ‘nobody understands me stuff’ is still prevalent too, most obviously in the albums stand out track, The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores (see below) which, whilst still repeating a much Morrissey-ed theme, at least has the appeal of accentuating what he is best at in terms of his self deprecating humour.

The World Is Full of Crashing Bores

Perhaps the only difference thematically is his treatment of racism. Previously it was the superficial sarcastic support of such idiots, as seen in National Front Disco and Bengali In Platforms. Such tracks were great inasmuch that they were beguilingly sardonic towards the meatheads who took him for face value and celebrated his ‘honesty’, not realizing this was exactly the kind of reaction he wanted to achieve in order to show just how stupid the racists actually were.
Unfortunately the average British journalist is also a meathead and latched onto such tracks and the fact that he waved a Union Jack at a Madstock concert (apparently not the national flag anymore as the racists parties of Britain have adopted it?) whuch effectively made him a cultural leper among the very left.
To me his treatment of racism in this album was selling out just a little bit…it is far too obvious and very untypical for the man as he takes his first steps into returning to British mainstream. Initially the first two tracks bemoan the fact that, at the time, there had not been a black American president and the fact the British hierarchy (especially royalty) still insidiously ‘salute’ Oliver Cromwell. Hopefully now we have the message Mr Morrissey is not a racist.

However anyone with an ounce of intelligence knew this anyway and pandering to the meatheads which helped expedite his cultural exile is just not the Morrissey I know and loved…he survived though and is as strong influence as ever in the British independent underground, so perhaps his move through different approaches to racism was another of his carefully orchestrated publicity stunts that that manipulate the media. An earlier form of his recent HarveyWeinstein comments perhaps, if considerably more elongated?

Despite all of this, you just cannot seem to pick up a Morrissey album without finding a bag load to  love or inspire interest and personal mental debate. This album is absolutely no different and despite the recurring themes, his lyrical complexity and intricacies are probably still unsurpassed in the last 20 years and this remains an incredibly worthy addition to an impressive body of work.

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