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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Day 1036 - Noboe Concerto

There have been another couple of visits to The Twitterdilly Arms by Our Mozzer, and yet again, I managed to miss him.

Whilst I was playing cricket yesterday evening; a match in which I scored 24 runs before being caught wildly flashing my blade through the covers, OM sauntered into the Twit Arms and asked, "Favourite songs on my little album?" He followed this up with, "I just wondered which ones you loved and which ones you thought were OK and which you despised-"

These days OM aka @MorrisseyParody only has 678 followers on twitter, and so he doesn't tend to get many people responding to his tweets, but a few of the old regulars were in the Twit Arms last night, and gave their replies. Here are some of them, with OM's responses:

Angela Reyes (@vulgar1mkela): "@MorrisseyParody oh my I love them all; bull fighter dies, kiss me a lot, istanbul. I love I'm not a man." OM thanked Angela.

Brian George (@MOZISMYSHEPHERD): "@MorrisseyParody I can only hope that Oboe Concerto is the song I am hearing when I shut my eyes for the final time." OM replied, "It might be the song you're hearing when I shut my eyes for the final time."

Jjazmine (@Jazissey): "@MorrisseyParody Top 5 One of our own, I'm not a man, smiler, Kiss me a lot, Julie in the weeds."

Elouise (@Avirtousvamp): "@MorrisseyParody If I must choose, Earth is the Loneliest Planet and Neal Cassady Drops Dead."

brokentheoriginal (@Broken1andonly): "@MorrisseyParody 1 Staircase at the University 2 Oboe Concerto 3 I'm Not a Man 4 Kick The Bride Down The Aisle 5 Kiss Me a Lot. I adore Staircase; it is the song that thrilled me like I Know It's Over once did. It stood out a mile. How did you pull a Smiths classic out of the hat after almost 30 years? I'm referring to the stinking pop of Staircase - it's your most transcendent song for a long time." OM replied, "I'm glad you like it, Broken. It was written about a c*** who got three As. Hash tag oldfriend"

JG (@loughtonlil): "@MorrisseyParody like all, despise none. love Julie, Earth, Bride, Istanbul, the Joy; maybe because I lived near there, Staircase." OM replied, "Istanbul is the umbilical cord from Years of Refusal. I snipped the cord and the album almost died."

Emotional Air Raid (@AIRRAID25): "@MorrisseyParody Smiler With Knife is a hot contender as favourite & of course Kick The Bride. Oboe Concerto is really beautiful."

Nervous Juvenille (@Boyafraid1): "I definitely don't despise any but I kind of wish 'Art-Hounds' and 'Drag The River' were on the album," OM replied, "Had the album been released a few years earlier, Art-Hounds would have been. There are 20 more songs; some better." (Ed - 20 more? *Does an impromptu jig*)

JG (@loughtonlil): "@MorrisseyParody Can I ask what prompted a song about Mountjoy?" OM replied, "It's a song about the Hants construction firm, as I told Rat some weeks ago. Inspired when they ballsed up my conservatory."

You've got to hand it to Moz, he knows his building firms!

LizzyCatMoz (@LizzyCatMoz): "I adore the album, it is a masterpiece! Congratulations." OM replied, "Thank you Lizzy. I'm glad you like it. Which are your favourite songs?" Lizzy being Lizzy  didn't list any of her favourites, but instead offered, "My least favourite is Neal Cassady but I may change my mind after more plays."

StanB (@stanbass) Finally, a new release where 'bonus' tracks aren't 'bogus' tracks. The new Mozzer album is sublime." OM replied, "It's the finest collection of songs since 'the best of Wings."

OM also asked, "Would anyone care to know my favourites?" EARS replied, "I would be intrigued to know", to which OM then replied, "@AIRRAID25 World Peace, Mountjoy and Smiler."

Here are the rest of Our Mozzer's highlights from yesterday:

"I'm the man that history forgot."

"My home is you may leave me a message about the album on today's post. I shall read them all." (Ed - it has now been 20 hours since OM posted that tweet, and just HeatherCat, JG and Marcus Markou have taken OM up on his offer. Is NOBODY else interested in letting Morrissey know what they think of his new work of art? I also asked on my blog entry of yesterday for EVERYBODY who is still regularly reading my blog to leave a short message, just to say that they are still following the whole phenomenal MW journey, but in addition to the three aforementioned commenters, only Jjazmine, EARS, GWO and Manc Lad responded. The Deluded Dozen would appear to be decreasing rapidly! Many people fell out with Broken, but they did NOT fall out with Our Mozzer, so why are they staying away? It would appear that despite LizzyCat having been previously banned from the BRS by Broken, her ban is now up, as OM yesterday tweeted to her saying, "you are welcomed her back." Will others return? Time to get out of these brackets.)

"Will Dread Sheeran beat me to the number 1 spot?"


And then he was gone. The second very brief appearance in The Arms was made this morning, with OM retweeting a tweet of mine, in which I mentioned  Oboe Concerto and an interview that producer Joe Chiccarelli has given to OM then tweeted, "@TheRatsBack @artfitpro I gather this one (Oboe Concerto) is your favourite." I wonder if Morrissey's producer, Joe Chiccarelli (@artfiitpro) has any idea that he has been tweeted by the real Morrissey? Somehow, I doubt it.


Joe Chiccarelli's interview with is really insightful, including the recording process in France; although he makes no mention of the air-raid siren going off on Wednesday Feb 5th, as mentioned by Fifi on FTM. Joe explains that the song Oboe Concerto doesn't actually contain an oboe; it is actually Boz playing the clarinet. I suppose Clarinet Concerto doesn't quite have the same ring to it, but I am guessing that Morrissey decided to call the song Oboe Concerto as a sexual reference. Joe also reveals in the interview that Kiss Me A Lot was originally intended as a B-side, and that he (Joe) wanted The Bullfighter Dies to be more "rock", but Morrissey refused, telling Joe that he had "missed the original intent of the song".  Here are the highlight's of Joe's interview, including his track by track break down of WPINOYB:

"He (Morrissey) has a vision,” Chiccarelli says. “I didn’t know he would be so actively involved in every aspect of the process. I mean every aspect, down to the mixes. Even if he wasn’t in the studio, he’d send me a note: like, ‘At two minutes and thirty-two seconds, please bring up the guitar on the right, it’s not cutting enough.’ Or, ‘In the bridge, my voice needs a different treatment.’ His sensibility and style might be more akin to an old-school crooner, and we think of those people as artists who work with an arranger or a producer: they’d go into the studio, do their vocals and then they’re done. That’s not how he is, he’s very involved.”

"World Peace is None of Your Business”
We were recording in February, and the Ukraine was just exploding; the importance of the song was really evident to everybody. After I heard it for the first time, I thought, “Bravo, Moz.” With a lot of the rhythms, he was very specific. Matt Walker really understands him, and Matt will come up with parts. And the guitar solo on the song is outrageous, it’s wonderful. The first time Jesse played it, it was like, “Wow!” We probably spent a day per song on tracking. A typical day was: we’d all have breakfast together, come in at 11:00, we’d get the band in the studio, do guide vocals and build the song. By dinner time — 8:00 p.m. or whatever — we would have something that was close to the framework of the song.

“Neal Cassidy Drops Dead”
Gustavo had the basic feel of the song in his demo, with those big rock guitars. That weird sort of washing machine sound that comes in at the end, that was part of his demo. I was fascinated with how he took Gus’s demo and turned it into this song about the Beat poets. I jokingly called the part about “babies with rabies,” “the rap section.” Moz looked at me and said, “It’s not really rap.” He’s very quick-witted, he’s very colorful. But I thought of the “babies/rabies” thing as a poem. If you come from the punk rock school, it’s about pushing the limits and seeing what you can get away with. He’s a master of words, he’s a novelist more than anything.

“I’m Not a Man”
He wanted the rhythms to sound “thuggish,” as he put it. He wanted it brutal. I thought, “We have to bust out of this groove at some point, and have some release!” All those intro pieces, all those sound effects pieces, those were all his design. I suggested that we trim down the amount of time in the intro before “I’m Not a Man.” He said, “No, it’s fine.” He would come up with concepts for the instruments that he wanted. Regarding the lyrics: my personal opinion is: there are a lot of stupid things that we do in the name of “manhood.” I have to tell you, I remember when we cut that track and hearing those words for the first time, I almost cried. I thought, “No one has ever said this in such a bold way.” I was blown away by that song. That might be my personal favorite on the record. As producer, there were plenty of times where I was like, “Moz, can’t we cut the intro down, this song is seven minutes long!” Or, “Couldn’t we change the beat here?”  All those are things that you think of as a record producer, because you want to invite as many into the music as possible. Part of the job is: you’re acting as a fan, but at the same time you’re acting as the most objective, removed person possible. At the same time, I felt like, “This is so powerful, that perhaps the consistent beat almost becomes invisible, and keeps you more focused on the lyric, and it makes the song all the more important.” Honestly, it took me a little bit of time to warm up to the issues that I had with the track but now, I get it. I get the intention.
Part of this job is, I have to trust the artist. There’s no point in me working with an artist if I can’t (1) buy into their vision, and go along with and help them execute that vision and (2) have the trust that vision is the right thing for them as an artist, and that it will be something that people will want to hear. Obviously an artist like this has a track record, so with him, it’s about “Okay, how can I make this the most interesting recordings possible.” As the songs started to evolve, and I noticed the theatricality of them all, I realized I had to basically add the flavors. I had to add the colors that the songs demanded, in some cases I had to make them stark.

It’s a very, very, tricky, complicated beat. It’s not a drum loop. Matt was very clever, he used drums from different drum kits. A lot of the songs needed big drums sounds. This one needed a very dry, ’70s kind of sound with very funky tones. Moz’s direction was that he really wanted it have the feeling of the streets of Istanbul. The previous tour, I think they did a few shows there, and they got to experience the city. Moz was very clear: he insisted that it had to have the chaos and the clanking and the madness and the intensity that the city has. There were times that I questioned that on the beat, “It feels a little overly complex, can you chill it down?” I think we even tried that at one point, but we went back to it because the herky-jerky quality of it helped the sense of unevenness of a cobblestone street.

“Earth is the Loneliest Planet”
His direction, many times, on songs like “Smiler With Knife” and a few others, would be something like, “This song is about death,” or “It’s about murder, and it’s kind of ugly.” He’d pull me aside – he liked to give the guys in the band their space – and say, “Have him play violently.” I loved the spoken word videos promoting the album. I thought it was a very unique way to present the songs. I thought it was great: it just gets into the lyric, the message, the story.

“Staircase  at the University”
[The lyrics include "'If you don't get three A's,' her sweet daddy said/'You're no child of mine and as far as I'm concerned, you're dead.'"] I went through that: I got a scholarship, and my parents were like, “You’re not going to coast by, just because you got a scholarship!” I went to Catholic school, so I understand guilt. Who can’t relate to this song? Everybody at some point in their life gets that torture from their parents, to different degrees. It’s so universal. This one was maybe, in some ways, a little more difficult to put together [in the studio]. There were those long musicial sections that Moz really wanted in there. So I had to figure out what to do, to keep your interest. There’s one section where the strings are featured more, one section where the guitar is featured more. There were definitely challenges. Gustaov’s nylon string guitar solo was great. I don’t think anybody in the organization knew what a great nylon string guitar player Gustavo was. He’s the keyboard player; I think everyone knew he could pick up the guitar and play, but it was kind of a surprise when he started soloing, how fluid it was.

“The Bullfighter Dies”
On the lyrics, “Hooray, hooray/ The bullfighter dies/ And nobody cries/ Nobody cries/ Because we all want the bull to survive!”  Only he could say that! That was one of the ones that, the tracking of that was very simple, very quick. I think we did maybe one or two overdubs, but next to nothing. Moz insisted that we keep it bouncy and light and simple and innocent so that the message could survive without all the layers of production and all of the intensity. I had mixed maybe half the album, and I kind of felt like the song almost felt trite, in contrast to what I’d done before it. I’d done a mix that was much more tense and “rock,” and to me sounded more like a complete pop song. He just sent me back a note saying, “No, it’s way too ‘rock.’ You missed the original intent of the song.”
Then I did the next version, and he said, “Ok, you’ve got it now.” Never did I see him waffle. He knows what he wants, he has a vision. He was great to work with. He would share the intention of the song with myself and the band, and then he’d let everybody go and do their thing. He’d leave everybody their own space to have their own input, to own the song, but was very, very clear about how he wanted the end result to hit you.

"Kiss Me a Lot”
The chorus is sweet, the verses are darker. That one wasn’t gonna make the album, it was a B-side. All of the sudden, when we put the album’s sequence togehter, he felt like there needed to be a little bit more energy, a little bit more lightness. It was his idea to have Gustavo sing the “Bésame mucho” apart. I remember him asking Gus, “How do you say ‘Kiss me a lot’ in Spanish?” It’s “Bésame mucho!”

“Smiler with Knife”
We used an acoustic piano that’s been distorted, and there’s also some backwards piano fills that have been treated through a guitar amp. So, some of the sounds that sound like guitar on that song is actually piano. Jesse is playing with an Ebow, there’s also Ebow on [bonus track] “Julie and the Weeds.” Jesse is really good with an Ebow.

“Kick the Bride Down the Aisle”
I thought it was outrageous, but I would expect nothing less. That’s one of the ones that sort of came to life in the studio. We didn’t know what to do with it, originally. All of the sudden one day, it sort of materialized, and I remember Moz saying, “This is really good, this has to be on the album.” We cut 18 songs, I think. There were always two or three songs that were in question, but this is one of the ones that rose to the top in the studio. Some of the rhymes are just incredible.

That was one of Boz’s songs, and I believe the demo was just simply two acoustic guitars. I think started that with just Boz playing an acoustic guitar and Moz singing a vocal. Boz went back and did the second acoustic guitar. The drums were programmed. Moz really wanted them to sound like the metal of a prison door, to evoke the concrete, the unhappy inmates. When he sung that, most of us were in the control room then, and most of us were like, “Wow, what a story.” That and “I’m Not a Man” are probably my favorites. A lot of these vocals on the album are those initial vocal takes. He was able to deliver the emotional intention of the song up front, early in the process.

“Oboe Concerto”
The sample at the beginning is a guy named Rex Jamison, a comedian from the Britain from the ’60s and ’70s, and he had a character not unlike Dame Edna, it was called “Mrs. Shufflewick.” Boz, or maybe Donnie the tour manager, had a bunch of videos of this guy’s performances and we were all kind of obsessed with him. He was hilarious. He did this character for some time, maybe twenty years or more. One day Moz decided to use it, and I remember him looking for this one particular line in the video. So, we cleared [the publishing on] it. There’s no oboe on the song, it’s actually a clarinet. Boz is a great guitar player, but he picked up the clarinet on that song. That solo in the middle was one take. He’s really good at it.  I have to say, the band is a great combination of having [musical] skills but also understanding the artist. They’re really good at communicating with each other and Morrissey, and they know what he’ll like. They have a great understanding and respect for him.

That will do for today. HMV have announced that they now have WPINOYB available in vinyl, which is really good news for Morrissey's challenge for the Number 1 spot. I bet Dread Sheeran doesn't have vinyl! Not every record shop has got vinyl copies of WPINOYB though. I received a tweet from @Vinyl_Boutique today to say that they don't they have any copies yet! Morrissey's very own oboe player can't get any stock for his record shop. You couldn't make this up; although sales from Boz's shop wouldn't count towards the chart position, so perhaps Moz won't let him have any! Oh, if only I had more time, it would make for a fantastic parody piece. I could have had Moz making Boz work all night in the pressing plant, desperately trying to get enough vinyl copies produced so that WPINOYB could challenge Dread for the No.1, and then have Boz being caught trying to sneak a few copies for his own shop, only to have Moz catch him. Those 'work free' parody writing days were happy days; but they didn't last.

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  1. I've always appreciated the irony of Oboe Concerto featuring a clarinet instead of an oboe. Big thanks to Joe for his fascinating comments about recording the album. A few behind-the-scenes tidbits from an article in Les Inrockuptibles were posted on twit today. It mentions that Moz's drink of choice while recording in France was champagne. Who else do we know who was very fond of champagne during that time? No doubt just a coincidence...

  2. Great interview, really enjoyed reading the details shared by Joe.
    Interesting to see the choices of favourite songs from the album, in particular from Our Mozzer. As usual he livened up the Twit Arms last night.

    The time I had to listen to the album today has been devoted to the bonus tracks.I was Lucky enough to hear Art-Hounds live at Brixton. The studio version sounds quite different to how I remember it, I like it even more now.
    This album is so fresh & vibrant. It really is very special.

    1. Listening to the whole deluxe album on random play, which I know one shouldn't but I like to, it's clear that the bonus tracks fit seamlessly with the main album tracks. A really superb gift to us by TRM.

    2. Indeed, I feel the songs all sit in harmony together JG.

  3. I got a good laugh at the "rap section" of NCDD comment, it might not be real rap but its a good flow which is "A rapper's ability to rhyme to phat beats in a skillful manner" according to urban dictionary. The rest of the interview was very insightful thanks for sharing it, Rat.
    OM was in this morning, I took it that he wasn't in the best of moods, said to Boy George that MW was over...which was discouraging. I always get sad when he says things like that surely he knows we care. Soon after he was gone.

    1. It was very discouraging. I always hate to hear that the end is near.

  4. I am still here and finally gotten to post, which has recently been difficult to do in my house as the noise from the tablet when I use it drives my dog wild. It either causes her to run wild in the hall or hide. She is outside now, so I will use the time to give my opinion now. I have not had a chance to really listen to it, but as with all Morrissey songs, I tend to like the last one I've listened to the best, as that is the one that sticks in my head--much as the lyrics say in Oboe. At the moment, that is the one I liked best, not because it was last, but because of the lyrics. Not that I disliked the others, Smiler, The Bride, Bullfighter, were all great and every time I listen to them, I pick up on something new. I am glad Ratty explained some of what to look for in the songs in today's blog. I have always found OM songs to be fine crafted, with his voice woven into the music. Thank you, it is a beautiful CD and ask this question again in a few weeks, after I've had time enjoy it. #BRS

  5. Quite enjoying: World Peace Is None of Your Business, Istanbul, Earth is the Loneliest Planet, Kick the Bride Down the Aisle (too close to home - thematically, I'm reminded of William, It Was Really Nothing), Mountjoy (oh, I'm feeling that today), Oboe Concert and I really like the ambient opening of I'm Not A Man (but then I would).

    Not A Man, comrade harps

    1. Art-Hounds is stunning. So glad that one evolved from the concert version which seemed a bit half-hearted.

  6. Funny that there is Noboe in the ‘Oboe Concerto’. I thought there would be after Boz tweeted that he had bought an oboe.
    Loving ‘Neal Cassady Drops Dead’. Rats, you should blog about ‘Howl’. That would make an interesting read.

    1. yep detective GWO when a drunken Boz purchased the Oboe I too thought it would make an appearance

  7. Current favourites are Istanbul, World Peace is None of Your Business, Oboe Concerto, Earth is the Loneliest Planet & Drag the River.

    I have just recently come across this blog and would like to thank Rat for creating it and maintaining it. I would also like to thank OM. The album is remarkably beautiful.

    1. Welcome, and thank you.

    2. Welcome, Vanessa. Glad you mentioned Drag the River - I've rarely seen it mentioned as a favorite yet it is one of the songs I treasure the most on the album. I find it hauntingly beautiful and it has captivated my heart.


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