I was all set to write a scathing review of Moz’s latest Greatest Hits CD, his fifth if you count Bona Drag and World of Morrissey. I don’t understand why we need another one. I was ready to quote another one of Moz’s now all-too-ironic lines from “Paint A Vulgar Picture,” but after a few listens of this Hits CD, something happened— Moz got to me. It was those classic songs and his distinctive voice that brought me back to the moment he single handedly changed my life as a teenager in San Antonio, so many years ago.
So I kept listening, song after song, on this Greatest Hits, and I found myself thinking aloud “‘First of the Gang to Die’…that’s a good track” and then comes “Irish Blood English Heart” and another one, Moz’s cover of Patti Smith’s “Redondo Beach.” I started to hear a link between each of the tracks past and present. The old and the new flowed so smoothly together, I was actually impressed. It’s been ages since I heard any of the songs off of the Tony Visconti produced Ringleader of the Tormentors. I can tell Moz is fond of that one; four tracks are showcased from that album, which was recorded in his new home of Italia.
Okay, I get it—these are amazing songs, most of them recent hits that may have been hidden away on recent releases. I can understand the desire to showcase tracks like “In the Future When All’s Well” on a singles CD. But there are so many songs missing from this compilation. Why not add the collaboration with Siouxsie Sioux, “Interlude.” That amazing duet has never been issued on this side of the Atlantic, it’s more worthy of inclusion on an American Greatest Hits album. And what about “Sweetie Pie,” the rare duet with now exiled Kristeen Young? “Sweetie Pie” is one of the weirdest and vividly experimental tracks Stephen Patrick ever put to wax. That is a song every Moz fan, young and old, needs to experience.
I was all ready to argue how unfair it was to subject broke American fans to shilling out serious money for another Hits CD. But Decca probably noticed that we are in the middle of a horrible recession. At least they were cool enough to include a bonus disc of live songs from a show at the Hollywood Bowl for die-hard disciples. Nice addition.
Okay, I’ll give you props for the bonus disc. Ah, but wait, there’s more—kudos on the most excellent remastering job. Because of the clear sound Greatest Hits sounds like the ultimate Morrissey mix tape featuring the `best’ of classic and modern Moz. (Ahem, a recommendation, maybe next time have the fans vote on a song or two, to be added on hits compilation 7.)
Of the two new tracks, also bonuses for the fans, I prefer “All You Need is Me.” Although I do adore Kristeen Young’s “November Spawned A Monster”-esque howls on “That’s How People Grow Up;” “All You Need is Me” is vintage Morrissey, when he croons, “There’s a soft voice singing in your head/ Who could this be? I do believe it’s me.” Is this a message to his fans, critics…all of the above? Who cares, “All You Need is Me” a song worthy of inclusion inside the classic Morrissey canon.
Moz sings “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.” And he’s right, for now, I reach for my copy of his new compilation disc. I am looking forward to the digitally remastered versions of all of Moz’s back catalogue, especially Kill Uncle, his most vilified yet underrated classic. Until then I will continues spinning his newest, Greatest Hits CD, a reflection of the man himself. Morrissey caught and connected to his glorious past with two feet shuffling as he croons toward the memory of the future unknown. With that voice we’ll follow him just about anywhere. How many artists can you say that about?
The Smiths – Singles
Morrissey – Bona Drag
Pulp – Hits