Thursday, 10 July 2014
Day 1030 - The Rat's Review of World Peace is None of Your Business
After five long years of waiting, at last, at last, at last, the new Morrissey LP has arrived. Having waited for so long, absorbing 80 minutes and four seconds of brand new Morrissey songs is not something to try and do whilst going about the normal routines of everyday life, so instead, I downloaded the deluxe 18 track version of the album onto my MP3 player, and headed off to the Spanish island of Lanzarote, which is where I am now.
I am writing this having spent the past five days listening non-stop to the 56 minutes of the 'official' twelve songs on World Peace is None of Your Business LP, plus the 24 minutes and four seconds of the six bonus tracks, and my verdict is... this album is simply MESMERIZING. It is a work of art. It is a masterpiece.
I suppose, as I have spent the past three years writing a daily blog about Morrissey, I would be expected to fawn all over this new album, but my praise ISN'T fawnification, it is genuine love of a great record. There is in fact one song on the LP that I really can't stand, but that aside, I believe this LP is one of the best albums EVER recorded.
It would be completely unfair whilst writing about World Peace is None of Your Business, not to mention the Morrissey band of Boz Boorer, Jesse Tobias, Gustavo Manzur, Solomon Walker and Matthew Walker, all of whom deserve huge praise for playing their parts in the creation of this masterpiece.
Personally, I think it is absolute bollocks that Morrissey was unable to get a new album deal as he consistently claimed over the past five years, he was simply making us wait, after all, he is the Ringleader of the Tormentors, and on the evidence of what I have been listening to over the past five days, Morrissey was right to make us wait. If World Peace Is None of Your Business doesn't return Morrissey to Number 1, then.... then nothing, this album WILL be Number 1, not only on the German College Radio Chart, but in the mainstream UK album chart; it HAS to be.
Reviews are ultimately a complete and utter waste of time, because the like or dislike of a song or album is all down to individual taste, but this is my blog, and so for the record, here is my song-by-song review of the greatest album since, well, since Years of Refusal.
1. World Peace Is None of Your Business. The title track is Morrissey's protest song of the new millennium; although just as with Meat is Murder, it is actually more a case of Morrissey pointing out the obvious rather than a protest as such. In this song Morrissey takes up the position of 'Mocking Leader of the New World Order'', as he tells us that " world peace is none of your business" and that we "must not tamper with arrangements". The song goes on to have Moz inform us that "each time you vote, you support the process". Again, as with Meat is Murder, the song leaves us the listener to ask questions of our own lives, and leaves us to make our own decisions as to whether we want to change our lifetime habits. Meat is Murder has been responsible for turning thousands away from meat eating, so will WPINOYB turn people away from voting in an inept political system , or will the masses continue to do as they are told by the powers that be? The truth can be a dreadfully hard pill to swallow, but Morrissey is happy to ram the pills down our collective throats, and if we refuse to swallow, then I expect he hopes we choke on them. A monster of a song. Killer lyric: It's a toss up between "Oh oh, you poor little fool" and "Each time you vote, you support the process", so I'll call it a tie.
2. Neal Cassady Drops Dead. Only two songs in and we're into the surreal. If this song were a painting, it would be described as abstract art. In fact forget paintings, this IS abstract art! The song starts with a sprinkle of dreamy intro music before Morrissey enters the scene, informing us that Neal Cassady has indeed dropped dead and that Alan Ginsberg, the love of Cassady's life, "shampoos his beard with his tears". After the shampooing of the beard, the song shoots off at a tangent, first of all listing all sorts of childhood diseases and then asking the listener, " victim or life's adventurer, which of the two are you?" The next phase of the song features some beautiful flamenco guitar playing before we head into a marvellous finish of "li-de-de-di-da-de-di-do's". Bizarre, bonkers and brilliant... I think! Killer Lyric: " Tyke full of gripe, whipper snapper scurvy, urchin made of acne, get that thing away from me".
3. I'm Not a Man. On the album 'Your Arsenal', the song 'I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday' started with Jean Cocteau inspired radio interference. This song starts with a minute and a half of emptiness, although it ISN'T emptiness, there is a constant background noise, which sounds to me as though it may be a burning fire. Accompanying the fire(?) are eerie noises that shoot in from different directions. The beauty about Morrissey songs is that they can be interpreted in many ways, and my interpretation is that the fire sounding noise is a cremation taking place. When the eerie noises and fire die out, a dreamy song starts and Morrissey enters the frame to explain that if the definition of 'a man' is somebody who wears a "wife beater vest" or is a "warring caveman" etc etc, then that is not him, and he is therefore "not a man". Jobriath once screamed "I'm a man" as he looked for acceptance as a male, but Morrissey goes the other way, and is happy to distance himself from any such stereotype. We already know that Morrissey is NOT a man, he is a humasexual, and here is the song to prove it. It is easy to imagine 'I'm Not a Man' being used in a film where the main character challenges the stereotyping of sexuality. The song ends with a lot of screaming guitars which will no doubt provide the perfect cue for Moz to exit stage left for a shirt change when he sings this song live. I'm Not a Man is quite simply an INCREDIBLE song. Killer lyric(literally): "wolf down, wolf down T-bone steak, wolf down cancer of the prostate".
4. Istanbul. If track 1 is a protest song, track 2 a surreal song and track 3 an 'I' song, then Istanbul is the first 'story song' of the album, and it's a cracker. Morrissey tells the story of a man who is looking for the son he gave up, on the dark back-streets of Istanbul. Nobody tells a better story than Morrissey, and 'Istanbul' is right up there with all his best story songs from the past thirty years. Killer lyric: "Moonlight jumping through the trees, sunken eyes avoiding me"
5. Earth is the Loneliest Planet. This song sees Moz in observational mode, declaring that "earth is the loneliest planet of all", and pointing out that "humans are not very humane". Backed by flamenco guitars, an organ, accordion, harps and Kristeen Young's beautiful haunting voice, the song is anything but lonely, and actually skips along quite joyously. Killer lyric: "but you fail as a woman and you lose as a man, we do what we can and earth is the cruellest place you will never understand."
6. Staircase at the University. Another death story song as a student throws herself down the university staircase because of the pressures being put on her to achieve "three As", "and her head splits three ways", but there is nothing remotely morbid about this song as the lyrics are set to a rather celebratory trumpet led backing track. It's the Dagenham Dave/ You're the one for me, Fatty of the album and people will either love it or hate it. It wasn't a favourite of mine to start with, but it has now become a 'turn up to full volume and bop around the room song', which just goes to show that you should never make a judgement on a song until you've listened to it at least half a dozen times. There are a number of catchy sing-along lines including the bellowing, "if you don't get three A's" and the clap-along "cramming, jamming, pack 'em in ramming", but the lyric of the song has to be the humorous, "and if you break your legs, then don't come running to me". There is also a quite delicious flamenco guitar solo at the end. Love it, love it, love it. Killer lyric: "if you break your legs, then don't come running to me".
7. The Bullfighter Dies. The seventh song in, and the death count reaches four. The Bullfighter joins Cassady, the Istanbul son and the university student in the morgue, and before the album finishes, there will be plenty more joining them. As with the poor university student, the bullfighter is sent on his way with a rather celebratory tune, and for me, this 2 minute pop song is one of the absolute highlights of the album. If I had one criticism, it would be that the song could have been more frantic, as it is when performed live, in fact, it could've been cut down to one minute thirty.... or if you took out the 22 second musical intro, it could've been the ultimate 1 minute pop song. Killer lyric: "Gaga in Malaga"
8. Kiss Me A Lot. This song is nothing like the self loathing 'Let Me Kiss You' from 'You are the Quarry'; this flamenco inspired 'Kiss' is full of trumpets, maracas, electric guitars and a confident, self-assured Moz on a rampant kissing rampage.... at his age! This is the most upbeat song on the album, without a whiff of death anywhere, and it's bloody awesome. Killer lyric: "I don't care when or where, I only care that the two of us are there."
9. Smiler With Knife. Death returns, and if my interpretation of this song is correct, it would appear to be a premonition in which Morrissey sees a smiling, but nervous assassin coming for him. Morrissey tells his assassin, "you're just in time" before inviting him to "press the blade against my skin" and "slam in one shot", all because our hero is "sick to death of life". Morrissey also assures his assassin that "you'll be ok". I don't like this song at all, not because of the structure, but because of the lyrical content; it feels too real. Morrissey's premonition includes the line, "If such things weren't meant to be, then they would never come to me", well let's hope he's wrong. Killer lyric: All of them apparently.
10.Kick the Bride Down the Aisle. The organ music intro to this song is SO Nicoesque that you almost expect Nico herself to start singing, and I dearly hope we see more of this in future recordings. 'Kick the Bride' is yet another highpoint of this marvellous LP, and just as in 'Earth is the Loneliest Planet', it has the added bonus of a chorus that marries together the voices of Morrissey and Kristeen Young. We can only hope that one day the recent petty fall-out between these two highly talented individuals is mended, and they record a proper duet together. This song has witty lyrics, great trumpets, church organs, harps, harmonies, great production.... it has EVERYTHING! Killer lyric: "she just wants a slave to break his back in pursuit of a living wage, so that she can laze and graze for the rest of her days".
11. Mountjoy. When the album track listing was first announced, it was debated as to whether this song was about the Dublin prison or the 1970s snooker player. It turns out it is the former, which is hardly surprising given Morrissey's previous with the subject of prisons, although Moz DOES apparently like his snooker, so I suppose it could have been a song about good old Doug! The acoustic guitar hook that runs throughout 'Mountjoy' is reminiscent of one of Noel Gallagher's torch songs, or dare I say it, George Michael's 'Faith', and it helps make this a very simple, but beautiful song. Morrissey tell us about "The Joy", and even takes on the role of an inmate, informing us rather amusingly that, "I was sent here by a three foot halfwit in a wig" - he really, really doesn't like judges! Morrissey also informs us that whether or not you have a bob or two, " we all lose, rich or poor", and there is also the poignant line, "We never say aloud the things we say in our prayers, cos no-one cares". Killer lyric: "We all lose, rich or poor".
12. Oboe Concerto. Having listened to World Peace is None of Your Business for five days solid, it is impossible to say which of the songs on this wonderful LP is the best one, and of course over time my opinion will change anyway, but for now, the go-to song at the start of each day is Oboe Concerto. I have never taken heroin, but when you lay in the sun, close your eyes, and inject Oboe Concerto into your ears via your headphones, you can feel the song sweeping through your veins as it hits all the right spots. The outside world just disappears. This song is as good a song as any other Morrissey has ever written, and is the perfect song to bring the main album to an end, especially as it is another song about death. This time it's the turn of the best oboe concertos and the older generation to meet their maker. There is nothing better than a Moz song with a sample of dialogue in it, and this one kicks off with a bit of Mrs Shufflewick, who announces "and he spoke with his voice, while he talked with his mouth". The song also kicks off with the killer of all bass lines which has a resemblance of Eminem's 'Stan' about it. Oboe Concerto is not dissimilar in structure to Death of a Disco Dancer, which as it happens to be one of my absolute favourite songs of all time, is probably why I love Oboe Concerto so much. DDD's "love peace and harmony" are replaced here with "round, round, the rhythm of life goes round", but this is NOT the Smiths, this is the next world, and thankfully, it IS our business. Killer lyric: It's a three way tie; "there's a song I can't stand, and it's stuck in my head", "the older generation have tried, sighed and died which pushes me to their place in the queue" and "round, round, the rhythm of life goes round".
The following tracks on on the Deluxe version only:
13. Scandinavia. This song has been around for such a long time, that it feels odd to be writing about it. It is a simply amazing song, in which Morrissey declares his love of the Nordic countries and announces, "I'd be happy to die in Scandinavia." If this album were a game of Cluedo, then Morrissey's death of choice would not be "Colonel Mustard with the spanner in the ballroom", but "Smiling Assassin with a knife in Scandinavia". When I listen to this song, I am instantly reminded of the many stunning live renditions given over the past couple of years, none more so than the one in Chile in 2012, and if this album had been released in that year, there is no doubt that 'Scandinavia' would have been one of the 12 main tracks and not an extra. Killer lyric: "I kiss the soil, I hug the soil, I eat the soil, and I praise the God who made yer".
14. One of Our Own. Oh Morrissey, so much to answer for... Why oh why is this song not on the main album? It was criminal that 'Friday Mourning' didn't make the cut on 'You are the Quarry', and the omission of 'One of Our Own' from the main 12 tracks of this album is another crime. 'OOOO' is a song about somebody taking a bullet for another; perhaps a gang member or more likely as there is a military drum used, a song about a soldier. Whoever the song is about, it is another story song, and also yet another death song, which is quite apt as it has an absolute killer hook of a piano tune running all the way through it. Killer lyric: "I have no use for tomorrow".
15. Drag the River.There is something very calming about 'Drag the River', thanks in the main to the sound of lapping water and the soothing guitars that run throughout. The song would initially appear to be about a girl contemplating suicide by jumping into the river, but the song isn't that straight forward, and at one point we seem to have Morrissey staring into the river, with him declaring that he is sure he heard a girl beckoning him to "join me, join me". As with 'Neal Cassady Drops Dead', my interpretation is that 'Drag the River' has a touch of the surreal about it. Killer lyric: "an abhorrent torrent crashing as it pours"
16. Forgive Someone. After recent events, this song could easily be about Kristeen Young and Tony Visconti, but of course it isn't, and after all, Morrissey's life has been so full of "mess" that no doubt there are many people that 'Forgive Someone' could be about. Personally, I would like to think that this song is a 'ping' song for Johnny Marr, as Moz bellows "our truth will die with me", but the more I listen, the more I think the song may not actually be about anybody in particular. 'Forgive Someone' is yet another song that deserves to have made it onto the main album; it is no wonder Morrissey felt the need to produce this deluxe edition, after a five year wait, he simply had too many mind blowing songs that warranted release. Killer lyric: "shorts and supports, and faulty shower heads, at track and field we dreamt of our beds, in the bleachers you'd sit with your legs spread, smiling 'here's one thing you'll never have'".
17. Julie in the Weeds. I don't much like the name Julie; it's such a rubbishy post war name, but it suits this song, which with it's skip-along tune, has the feel of a title song from an arty black & white post war kitchen sink film. Killer lyric: "all the pain of youth, it will not trouble you."
18. Art-Hounds. The first noticeable thing about this song is the hyphen in the title between 'Art' and 'Hounds', which Morrissey was so keen to make a point of in the only live outing to date of this song at Brixton in 2011... Yes, 2011; THREE years ago! As with Scandinavia, if this album had been released in 2012, then Art-Hounds would undoubtably have been in the main 12, and not sat here as track 18. Art-Hounds is about 'lovey' art critics who have no real idea about art, and although the song focuses on the art-hounds who visit "european hushed museums", it could just so easily be about the critics who have no understanding of Morrissey's art. There are a couple of changes from the 2011 version of this song; firstly, Morrissey's various illnesses over the past three years has apparently seen his daily pill intake increase from 30 a day, to 32. In the 2011 version of Art-Hounds, Morrissey sang, "I take 15 pills to send me to sleep and 15 pills to shake me awake", whereas now it is "16" at each end of the day. I bet Moz smirked to himself as he made the lyric change, and if we'd had to wait another year for this song, the pill intake may have increased even further! The other lyric change from 2011 is penis related. In 2011 Moz sang, "and below the belt is shrivelled and small, it knows a thousand woes"; this line still exists in the 2014 version but it is also joined by "and below the belt is shrivelled and small, it functions only as a word." Three years on, Art-Hounds is as good as ever, in fact, it's even better. Killer lyric: The obvious would be "My life is opera", but it is only right to finish my review by choosing "If you cannot stand this fake world, take my hand", which we gladly do, as Morrissey leads us into his world; MorrisseysWorld... which also leads me rather nicely onto the origin of the title of this mesmerizing new album. NO other review will mention this, but legend has it that the title of the album was inspired by a tweet sent by @MorrisseysWorld, which read, "Barack Obama, world peace is none of your business". If such a tweet did ever exist, it could only ever have been a coincidence.... couldn't it?
Rat Rating from Lanzaratty: Three straight As.
Posted by TRB at 10:42
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