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Morrissey - maintaining the controversial outlook


Feature: Jack Foley

YOU Are The Quarry, the seventh solo studio album from Morrissey, will be released on the singer’s own Attack imprint, via his new deal with Sanctuary Records, on Monday, May 17.

Recorded with producer, Jerry Finn, in London and Los Angeles, the eagerly-anticipated album is the singer’s first new work for seven years, and is hotly-anticipated following airing of some of the material on his triumphant homecoming UK gigs, late in 2002.

It is being touted as Morrissey’s most essential work since, at least, Vauxhall & I, if not his debut, Viva Hate, and marks his first (including The Smiths albums) to be recorded in the studio as a band.

The change was wrought by Jerry Finn (Blink 182, Green Day and AFI), who comments: "Instead of trying to create the music around Morrissey's vocals, which is how it used to be done, we had everyone in the studio at the same time, which made the creative process much easier."

You Are The Quarry is also the first Morrissey album to be written since the singer, who boasts a perennial sense of not-belonging, moved to California, and this sense of alienation almost inevitably crops up from the outset.

Album opener, America Is Not The World, is billed as a conflicted love letter to his new home, using four verses of hilarious and heartfelt character assassination directed at all-points West, and taking in cultural imperialism, over-consumption and racial/sexual intolerance.

It is quickly followed by the two-and-a-half minute single, Irish Blood, English Heart, a steel-toed kicking directed at the powers that be this side of the Atlantic.

As controversial and fearless as ever, Morrissey dreams of time when ‘To be English is not to be baneful / To be standing by the flag not feeling shameful / Racist or partial’, before going on to berate politicians of every hue, as well as the man who started it all, Oliver Cromwell, and, of course, her indoors at the palace.

Next under the Morrissey microscope is religion, with the emotive track, I Have Forgiven Jesus, in which he claims to forgive JC ‘for all the desire he placed in me / When there’s nothing I can do with this desire’.

The song goes on to relate a diary, which reads: "Monday: humiliation / Tuesday: suffocation / Wednesday: condescension / Thursday: is pathetic / By Friday life has killed me".

Of the other tracks, The First Of the Gang To Die highlights the artist’s two-way fascination with California’s Mexican youth culture.

Hailed in the publicity as ‘an obvious single’, it details the demise of its impetuous anti-hero, Hector, and contains lines such as: "He stole from the rich / And the poor / And the not very rich / And the very poor."

For much of the album, Morrissey is backed by long-time collaborators, Boz Boorer and Alain Whyte, on guitars, and newer recruits, Gary Day and Dean Butterworth, on bass and drums, respectively.

All songs are written by Morrissey/Whyte.

Attack Records, meanwhile, is a Seventies reggae imprint acquired by Sanctuary along with their purchase of Trojan.

Explains Morrissey: "I've been a fan of the Attack label for quite some time. I have a Gregory Isaacs seven-inch on my refrigerator. I told Sanctuary that I wanted to re-launch the label and have You Are The Quarry released on Attack and they agreed."

Never one to rest on his laurels, Morrissey will also recruit and sign new talent to Attack, as well as accepting the role of artistic director for this year’s Meltdown Festival, on London’s South Bank.

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