July 14, 2004



(I suppose all of this is another chapter in the ruinationalist saga started here and here.)

Well, after finally hearing the latest Morrissey album, I have to confess to being surprised at how compelling it is.

It’s nowhere near as plodding or cack-handed as the Streets, nor half as conservative and reactionary as Franz Ferdinand (incidentally, of the many irritating aspects of FF’s success, the absolute worst has to be their invocation in pieces on established, but older stars: I’ve seen them mentioned in broadsheet articles on both Mozza and Bryan Ferry, as if, absurdly, the patronage of a footling, forgotten-by-next-Christmas Indie combo somehow confirms the continuing relevance of these abiding icons).

Relevance, yes. Why does Morrissey suddenly seem so relevant in 2004? Perhaps because anxieties about what it is to English have more than usual currency this year, and not only because of all those denunciations of multi-culturalism, the immigration moral panics and the rise of UKIP.

As it happens, it’s difficult to imagine Morrissey finding much common cause with UKIP, if only because he is less troubled by EUro-encroachment than by coca-colonization. So there he is, on ‘Come Back to Camden’, under the cloudless white bright desert sky of LA, pining for the ‘slate grey Victorian’ skies of North London; there he is, adrift in America’s endless franchise coffee bar (which no longer need be in the States of course), longing for a cup of tea that ‘tastes of the Thames’.).

Maybe it’s possible to imagine that Morrissey is, for once, on the side of the angels in this debate. Perhaps, after all, his vision of a ‘time when to be English is not shameful’ need not, as I complained previously, refer back in time; it could be an anticipation, and one that, with the displacement of the union jack by the less threatening, less loaded St George’s flag, might not be as far-fetched as it might sometimes appeared.

Actually, and perversely, the coincidence of the anti-lad’s return with yet another English failure at football has a certain unexpected piquancy. (We should have known that England were doomed to fail this year. The only time they’ve even approached success in recent years is when the team have gone to a tournament buoyed up by a rousing song – New Order in 90, ‘Three Lions’ in 96: now if only Morrissey, and not those arch-plodders The Farm – who exhumed them, I wonder? – had done the England song this time.) Yes, Morrissey’s love of failure and ineptitude, his hapless, more-than-half-in-love-with sadness, not-quite-able-to-extinguish-hope yearnings, in fact everything Simon identified so long ago in the classic ‘Against Health and Efficiency’, has everything to do with the version of Englishness to which he cleaves. (The definitive English football song remains – and will probably always remain – ‘Three Lions’ largely because of the aching, masochistic melancholy it associates with Englishness. Where Lad meets Sad? ‘Thirty years of hurt’ is of course the key line – but just like Morrissey, the song can’t entirely relinquish hope - the next line, remember, is ‘never stopped me dreaming.’)

English failure and rock have been bound together from the start. In Lipstick On Your Collar Potter tried to bring alive the moment of cultural crisis which Morrissey’s whole career has memorialized: the double trauma for England of ’56, of rock and roll and Suez, when Presley’s tics and twitches made available not only a new pallet of pleasures , but, with them, indissoluble from them, an unassailable American hegemony; and if the future was American, after Suez, England could no longer doubt that it was the past.

This goes some way to accounting for Morrissey’s attachment to the wrought-iron, ration-book existentialism of the Fifties, the decade in which the remains of English imperial pride were sucked down the kitchen sink. The post-Beatles Swinging Sixties, when the Beatles had temporarily, misleadingly, restored English confidence; you never find Morrissey there. The cramped, netcurtained, monochrome vignettes he scratches out have their centre of gravity in an England that that never will, nor ever could leave the Fifties, (considering a Sixties cultural moment with an obvious Morrissey association - Billy Liar - will bear this out. Billy’s refusal to get on the train is as much a denial of 1960s modernity as it is of the metropolis. I choose not to go = I choose failure and unhappiness = I choose the North = I choose the past.)

Thus Morrissey, the ailing Englishman abroad, the stranded grotesque whose pale skin was not meant to be cooked in the Californian heat, thus Morrissey in 2004, turns his sights first of all, on You are the Quarry, to his adopted homeland. ‘America is not the World’ doesn’t tell us anything we don’t know – about Morrissey or about the world. ‘You know what you can do with that hamburger’: It could hardly be called biting satire, it could hardly be called witty. Yet it’s a restatement of intent, and one that finds Morrissey, perhaps as never before, in tune with mainstream opinion. Post Empire, post Iraq, Anti-Americanism has seldom been so fashionable. What makes Morrissey’s song more interesting is the, pained ambivalence on which it ends. ‘But I love you’, he guiltily confesses, as if America is, as it is for most of us, an errant lover we can’t castigate enough but which we’ll never escape (nor fully want to).

And then ‘Irish Blood, English Heart’, its companion piece, both bullish and plaintive, Morrissey’s latest rallying cry. Let’s not confuse Morrissey’s calls for a non-baneful Englishness with the BNP’s demands for the celebration of St George’s Day. Or rather: let’s not damn them because there is a certain crossover of aspirations. There’s a perfectly good anti-racist argument for allowing English ethnicity to speak its name, after all. The assumptions (expressed sotto voice, but unmistakably there) behind so much multi-culturalism weirdly duplicate those of imperialism: other people have ‘cultures’; we are normal. Only if Englishness was allowed to show itself could anglo-WASPishness be ‘de-normalised’, only then could it cease to be a transcendent judge of difference and take its place amongst the heteroglossic riot of differences. Call me sentimental, but I was heartened, around the time of Euro 2004, to see the amount of young kids, first maybe second generation immigrants, their mothers sometimes in traditional muslim garb, decked out in England football shirts. And no, I’m not celebrating a ‘melting pot’ in which all differences are subsumed into a bland stew of deracination. What I’m calling for is simply an acknowledgement that dynamic cultures are not static monoliths, but dialogues, ongoing and inexhaustible provide they resist calcification into sterile orthodoxy.

You are the Quarry is musically modest, a kind of generic Morrissey drabGlam that reminds me, on occasions, of Denim. Yet every track has a memorable tune (and there are Smiths’ albums about which that couldn’t be said). There’s nothing new here (imagine how shocked and appalled we’d be if there were). There’s definitely a Morrissey trap: Tim does very well in identifying some of its comforting but slowly lethal lineaments.

It’s not true, however, as Tim claims, that everything that went wrong with Indie began with Morrissey. Sure, Morrissey was a major player in the retreat from experimentation, in the shift in the meaning of the term Independent’ from designating a space, an open potentiality, to it being reduced, in every way, to the diminutive ‘Indie’, the most drearily formulaic genre in contemporary pop. Yet, unlike The Stone Roses or Oasis, Morrissey dramatized his anachronism; there was no danger of our forgetting that we were sandbagging ourselves up against (post)modernity, retrenching. With the Stone Roses and Oasis, we were obliged to forget this, to pretend that they were urgent, contemporary, unprecedented. The rot really started there.

Posted by mark at July 14, 2004 01:57 PM | TrackBack

I always took the "Come Back To Camden" cry as a heavily ironic one, i.e. Camden's about the last place Morrissey wants to be right now, given the equally ironic musical quotations from "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me" which go throughout the song.

The Morrissey/D Potter interface: well, Potter is on record as saying that he loses sympathy with pop music made after the '40s, and LOTC seems to bear that out rather sourly; you can tell that his heart's not really in it (there's nothing of him in the series, which in his case is fatal) - far too much dreary dialogue about Suez, not enough darkened Fulham cinemas or genuine feel of We're Breaking Out (you can't imagine either Ewan ever getting out of that office). Similarly, Morrissey isn't out of step with the '60s, but it's his selected, semi-dimmed '60s, a decade of Sandie, Cilla, Nancy S, Jane B, Motown (never Stax), Timi Yuro - in other words, a '60s where the Beatles never happened. He seems to have positioned himself as a hitherto uninvented missing link between Helen Shapiro and Marc Bolan; what if the Smiths, and not the Beatles, had happened between these two (my guess: Roses come along in '73, Oasis in '75, spot the difference)?

The most interesting aspect of the record for me was the schizophrenic swing of the final track, wherein Morrissey systematically damns everyone and everything that/who has ever stood against him/in his way - only to find, in the final verse, that he's got no one left to damn but himself, and he then proceeds to do so with especial venom ("live off the royalties" etc.). Self-hatred always betrays itself in the end. It's like Alan Bennett scripting Biffa Bacon.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at July 14, 2004 03:03 PM

haha morrissey opens album with anti-american tirade but bottles it and admits that he loves the place really = he is eminem

Posted by: pete at July 14, 2004 03:23 PM

Excellent points all, Marcello...

I absolutely agree about Lipstick on Your Collar; I think I've said before that Potter doesn't convince when trying to deal with rock and roll.

Your sixties point is absolutely right, of course, though I don't think it's necessarily opposed to what I said since, a Sixties without the Beatles quite clearly wouldn't be the Sixties... Nancy, Cilla and Sandie are very much what the Fifties would have been like if they'd been allowed to continue, if that is, as you say, the Beatles hadn't intervened to turn it all upside down.

Yes, Morrissey's is a fantasmatic fifties; a fifties given an anachronistic dusting of Glam glitter (just as his version of glam is always drabbed down by the fifties).

Self-hatred is part of the Morrissey trap, his supposed vindication and his deepest downfall.

Posted by: mark k-p at July 14, 2004 03:28 PM

re. a comment on your post here at NYLPM, the St George's flag *less* threatening than the Union flag?

excuse me?

Posted by: scott at July 15, 2004 08:32 AM

re. a comment on your post here at NYLPM, the St George's flag *less* threatening than the Union flag?

excuse me?

For sure. It's partly that the st george's flag has spread into general currency in a way that the Union Jack seldom did. The st george's flag was near-ubiquitious in Euro 2004 - to find it menacing you wd have to think that a significant proportion of the population associated it with a narrow chauvinist agenda. I don't think that's true at all.

By contrast, I remember when union jacks were everywhere - for instance in Jubliee Year 1977. Now that was frightening.

Posted by: mark k-p at July 15, 2004 10:43 AM

Yeah but George flags in 1977 would have been pretty frightening too surely?

I think the UJ was pretty much defanged by 'Cool Britannia' - the NME never worried that Geri Halliwell was promoting fascism!

As I said on NYLPM I'm surprised at your fondness for this album - with maybe one or two exceptions it's grindingly boring music and I'd really have to work to get much out of the lyrics too. Kudos for giving it such a fair hearing but I can't agree.

Posted by: Tom at July 15, 2004 10:48 AM

I'd say that seeing any flags in any year are depressing when they're not frightening. Have never felt so insecure about my own nature that I have to cling to the security blanket symbol of a country in which I had no choice about being born. Citizen of the world innit?

Then again, my flags - the St Andrew's cross and the glorious green/white/red Italian tricolour - are waaaaay cooler than either George or Union J so nyaah ploop pants.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at July 15, 2004 11:06 AM

as Tom recognises, your 1977 memories would have found the English flag fairly unappealing as well (at least as).

because some of the credit for the near-ubiquitious appearance of English flags during Euro 2004 must be taken by - let's face it - certain tabloids whipping up a patriotic fervour, that in itself adds a little frisson, an edge to all the flag-waving.

so now, sorry, but, no.

though to be fair, they're both cool these days and not really threatening overall and both fair enough, so fair dos like.

Posted by: scott at July 15, 2004 11:09 AM

iconography speaking, i must just add MC OTM on the Italian/Scottish flags 'design' appeal.

world classix: Jamaica, Japan, Brazil, Bulgaria.

i rate.

Posted by: scott at July 15, 2004 11:12 AM

There were *some* dissenting voices in 1996. Prml Scrm of all ppl found Oasis' use of the UJ teh lame--they reckoned that when Ver Who done it in the 60s they were being ironic. I think the far right organizations of the 70s used the St George thing, didn't they? And Burchill says the UJ is pop-art. => both are shit.

Posted by: at July 15, 2004 11:43 AM

Good points ...

Though association with Cool Britannia/ Britpop is of course a reason to despise the UJ forever....

I find the 'citizen of the world' thing a bit troubling actually
As for my fondness for the album: fundamentally, it's a Cultural Event in a way that most pop isn't now. And the tunes aren't half bad, y'know.

Posted by: at July 15, 2004 11:56 AM

I really don't buy it as a Cultural Event though - it's been quite well marketed and he's a hotter name to drop (thanks to Franz Ferdinand, oddly) than he's been for a while, but that's it. Any CE status is more down to the lack of big albums in the first half of this year, and the fact that magazine commissioning editors are of that certain age where the Smiths were terribly important to them.

Posted by: Tom at July 15, 2004 12:03 PM

It's no pop event at all for me, and I've hardly half-heard the single, which in all honesty didn't seem any better than 'Dagenham Dave'.

Posted by: HKM at July 15, 2004 12:07 PM

not that this should be read in any way as support for Britpop, but

Though association with Cool Britannia/ Britpop is of course a reason to despise the UJ forever....

just indicates how biased you are against that era etc., and so hardly qualified to give an 'objective' assessment.

sorry if this sounds a bit bitchy!

Posted by: scott at July 15, 2004 12:08 PM

The puzzling thing is that both La Marcello and K-punk have chosen the very worst, most ersatz morrissey-by-numbers song on the album to praise - 'Where taxi drivers never stop talking, under slate-grey victorian skies' - honestly, it's the sort of thing me and my friends used to write when we were 14 and trying to imitate Moz, only worse (at least we had the excuse that we _weren't_ morrissey). Both the godawful cheapo MIDI-synth-strings backing track and the woeful lyrics make this track in particular sound like it's been taken from Andrew Lloyd-Webber's 'Morrissey - The Musical' (and I mean this absolutely literally, based on a point-by-point musical analysis, listen and you can't seriously disagree - the keychanges, the swooping vocals, the cheap sentimental musical tricks). It's music without qualities, without quality, it's karaoke. There are some good tracks on the album, but surely not this one.
And camden, for fuck's sake - that dead alt.consumer zone of aging rockers, has-beens and never-will-be's; another example of Moz's sad LA fantasy of england. Like the flag that he doesn't want to feel ashamed of (look, if you want to feel proud of being english/british, why not choose something that isn't hyper-obvious, that hasn't already been irretrievably hijacked by crypto-fascism - chicken tikka masala, grime, george formby, whatever?...it's easy to start suspecting that the hidden message (perhaps even hidden from himself) is that, in fact, he _does_ sympathize with those that wave the flag in bitterness and hatred, or at least is too lazy or confused to differentiate himself from them.

Posted by: high court judge at July 15, 2004 12:15 PM

Morrissey going grime is a gruesome and impossible concept.

Re. "CBTC": the key changes, as previously explained, are those of "Last Night I Dreamt..." shuffled around.

Also isn't "cheapness" the POINT of this song; in other words, the Bontempi synths are exactly what are needed to represent the mood of tacky grandeur which M's trying to convey - tea that tastes of the Thames (howzabout that for alliteration's artful aid?).

And, as I have repeatedly pointed out (do try and keep up at the back!), the power of this song, and this record in general, lie in the fact that these are by a continental mile Morrissey's best recorded VOCAL PERFORMANCES. On this album, especially on tracks 3 and 4, he gets as close to the agonised, beautiful yet ultimately timorous despair of Billy Fury's singing as anyone has ever tried, including himself.

The rest of HCJ's post, alas, degenerates into standard fifth-form level incoherent ranting. Why not choose memes which aren't "hyper-obvious," including grime, which currently is the most hyper-obvious one anyone could use?

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at July 15, 2004 12:29 PM


just indicates how biased you are against that era etc., and so hardly qualified to give an 'objective' assessment.

'Bias' wd only be relevant if I'd got some vested interest or hidden agenda - I don't. I just have a view, or rather an innate nervous-system level disgust at Oasis/ Blur/ Elastica who were around at the same time as some of the most exciting British music ever, occluding it and pretending - in a much more sinister because more insidiously surreptitious way than the at times oafishly upfront Morrissey - that the English present and the future were essentially white, that is to say essentially retro. Morrissey's always nailed his nostalgic colours to the mast; Britpop never did. It was postmodern nostalgia, the nostalgia that won't admit that it is nostalgia.

I have to say, calls for 'objectivity' remind me of the old letters page in the NME. Of course writers are not objective. But then who is - God?

HCJ: that dead alt.consumer zone of aging rockers, has-beens and never-will-be's; another example of Moz's sad LA fantasy of england

well, of course the realm of has-beens and never-will-be's is Mozza's natural constituency; of course it's a 'sad LA fantasy of England', that's the point isn't it?

Morrissey no does invite misinterpretation - but his association of Englishness with failure and ineptitude isn't something, I suspect, that the BNP would relish. (It's partly, as I say, the coincidence of Mozza's return with the great summer of English sporting failure that makes the album an event).

Posted by: mark k-p at July 15, 2004 01:42 PM

...except the actual pop event of the Summer Of Sporting Failure has been "Dry Your Eyes" by your hated Streets! It was A Grand... not You Are The Quarry that shot back to number one after the Portugal defeat, after all.

Posted by: Tom at July 15, 2004 01:46 PM

If you say so, but for a lot of people it'll be 'Tipsy' or 'The Show'... but it ain't Moz and that's for shizzy.

Posted by: HKM at July 15, 2004 01:49 PM

Yeah, sorry, I didn't mean 'biggest pop event of the summer', I meant 'biggest sport-linked pop event of the summer' (ok ok some girls but nobody actually associates that with Sport Relief, thank goodness)

Posted by: at July 15, 2004 01:57 PM

NEWSFLASH: "The Show" stinks.
NEWSFLASH: "Some Girls" superstinks - a record produced by a cynic who is on record (Wire, Feb '03) as despising (a) the artists he produces; (b) the people who buy his records. Plus it is a charidee record, and therefore part of/party to a pointless Establishment (why should the Government be diverting any public money towards sport when people like Bernie Ecclestone are worth £2.4 billion?). It's the kind of record which almost makes one pine for a period of aesthetic totalitarianism, where all "popists" (and how close "popist" sounds to "fascist") are obliged at bayonet point to listen to a stern diet of Martin Carthy, Anne Briggs and Shirley Collins for five hours per day, in order to teach them some dignity.
(not strictly part of this debate, I admit, but I needed to get it off my chest)

I'm not going to get into any Britpop = BNP debate. I liked Britpop. Even if the only reason for doing so were that life for me was better ten years ago than it is now - i.e. Laura was alive ten years ago - then that would be sufficient for me. I could see the strings being pulled, I could see the car crash it was heading towards (Be Here Now! The Warm Jets! Octopus!), but I enjoyed the spectacle, as well as all the leftfield (and Leftfield!) stuff that the movement coaxed into the charts in its wake. A period where people like Tricky, Aphex Twin and Pulp were chart regulars is surely preferable to a period where useless ciphers like McFly, Busted and Rachel Stevens are chart regulars. We were better off with it than without.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at July 15, 2004 02:01 PM

how much does popist sound like fascist? not much. these records are as good as everyone says they are, sorry!

Posted by: HKM at July 15, 2004 02:06 PM

I'm not "everyone" and moreover I am correct. However, you are right to apologise for your error.

What you have to remember that records are only as good as their individual consumers say they are.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at July 15, 2004 02:13 PM

Which of course means that every consumer is, in a sense, correct.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at July 15, 2004 02:13 PM

(Not wanting to spoil an entertaining rant but Sport Relief money no more goes to sport than Comic Relief money goes to struggling stand-ups: the 'Sport' bit is just to indicate how the cash is being raised, it goes to "reducing poverty" via the Comic Relief uber-charity umbrella I'd guess.)

Posted by: Tom at July 15, 2004 02:14 PM

"I will always interpret it as being a song about a man named Cathis Clown" - Gilbert O'Sullivan on how his listeners are always right, even when they're wrong.

It is always important to take Gilbert into consideration when considering Morrissey.

Posted by: at July 15, 2004 02:15 PM

(But yes the fact that £11m so far raised by Sport Relief is a pittance in the world of high-level sport is a fact worth emphasising.)

Posted by: Tom at July 15, 2004 02:16 PM

nb: this topic came up in conversation at lunchtime vis-a-vis pissed-off doctors wondering why all that money's going to be thrown down the drain trying to establish formula one racing in london when WE HOSPITALS could do with it*, though we concluded that it was unlikely to happen.

*even though it would only go towards paying off the interest to PFI contractors!

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at July 15, 2004 02:19 PM

also, is richard x really more of a cynic than aphex twin? i wouldn't have thought so, given that it's actually possible to listen to, even enjoy, x's music.
as an individual consumer, i wouldn't touch post-94 moz with a sport relief-sponsored pole-vault thing.

Posted by: HKM at July 15, 2004 02:21 PM

anyone who can't listen to or enjoy the aphex twin is someone who can never hope to be a friend of mine.

not that that will cause you any sleepless nights enrique.

richard x is to richard d james what richard whiteley is to richard burton.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at July 15, 2004 02:28 PM


Posted by: HKM at July 15, 2004 02:37 PM


'Bias' wd only be relevant if I'd got some vested interest or hidden agenda - I don't.

i realise you don't have a hidden agenda.
i am sorry if my phrasing said otherwise; it was careless of me.

btw, your views on the Britpop era i share completely, right down to the 'occluding more exciting tunes in a somewhat insidious and faintly sinister way...oafish Mozza...postmodern nostalgia' trope. but MC is of course right also.
i think a discussion of Britpop and Noel G. wrapping his guitar in the UJ etc. is besides the point for me when all i was interested in is the flags in general.

newspapers are still spouting retrograde bollocks today about economic migrants as surely as they were in 1996, although with a little more grace than what some tabloids were allowed to imply about ethnic minority Britons in 1977 presumably (i'm not quite old enough to remember the Sun's infamous 'Lies cheating Asians told at Heathrow' but everyone knows that).
white actors on cig breaks outside the theatre can still get accosted by a couple of passing black men because the actor is wearing a St George's flag tee shirt (happened about two years ago now, i think, admittedly).

blah blah blah.

i refuse to back down from considering that, in 1977, a point i thought Tom made sense on, the Union flag and the English flag would have both been about as, frankly, potentially 'ugly' as the other.
and if that sounds combative, it's meant to be...;-)

your bee in bonnet about the fetishisation (can i even spell?!) - and i realise you fully acknowledge it - of the Union flag during Britpop/blah blah is certainly understandable (most of the people on this board are resident in the UK i think, and so it's not like we didn't all live through it, the drip drip of the media) but i think it means a bit of a blind-side when retrospectively discussing this flag thing. i think it's a great point about the inept Mozza hardly being something the BNP would cling to as a notion of Englishness, but i just cannot accept that one flag is inherently less sinister these days than the other.

they're both a fine pluralist embracing thing (if you want them to be), and leave it at that.

I have to say, calls for 'objectivity' remind me of the old letters page in the NME. Of course writers are not objective. But then who is - God?

it's called tongue in cheek...

...apologies for all the above, it's not even really inchoate let alone semi-coherent, but there you go.

Posted by: scott at July 15, 2004 02:45 PM

Mark: i realise nitpicking on one little thing makes me out to loudly be the petty pompous twat i clearly am but big love anyway.;-)

gotta agree with some other parishioners though: Mozza as pop-cultural event of summer vs., e.g., the Streets?
are you sure you didn't just convince yrself this as a hook for yet another of your (marvellous, natch) longer pieces...

Posted by: scott at July 15, 2004 03:00 PM

er, why can't there be room for both? Wasn't that the POINT?

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at July 15, 2004 03:06 PM

cos 'It's time to start cutting our hair and taking sides again, for the greater good.'!

Posted by: HKM at July 15, 2004 03:09 PM

Morrissey has always understood the value of a good haircut.

(4 quid from the barber with the funny eye who used to be in the navy)

Posted by: at July 15, 2004 03:11 PM

yeah sorry Marcello, that is the point.

Posted by: scott at July 15, 2004 03:24 PM

Do you know I used to cut that hair of that there ruffian young fellow Maurice E now there's a handy name for the ladies he he he am cognisant with apposite nomenclatures for oppositional sexualism as am former navy man and he came in d'you know all hale and pace hearty and he demanded of me prior effusions he greeted me by means via those said means being good morrow young fellow would you be kind enough to take the trouble to manure my tonsure to a fashion acceptable to ladies of good fortune and I was agreeable agreed to aforesaid pert proposal and sat him down in big deluxe handy size chair surrounded by pictures of stars renown like Curtis Tony and Mature Stewart oh my holy aunt he did a right royal rotogravure and no mistake but he sat down perfectly placidly down did he sit and I proceeded to deploy means of curlers and razorblades only used once mind you in the smog blackout we had to use said razorblades as makeshift pince-nez for fear of fatal fog 1952 why that was 2003 in old money but I gave Mr E sir name of Maurice E handy sized coiffure cut which was strictly short back and sides but my he taunted for a Tintin tomato at the front and it was Quentin Quiff and I told him that if he wished said stylograph he would have to be Percy Patient so I traced outline forescore of desired quiff length with handy emptied can of Heinz kidney soup except alas and Alan Ladd alack silly super assistant had failed to empty it fully and unfortunate Maurice E was indiscreetly drenched with lashings of soup kidney Heinz said manufacturers thereof though luckily with Heinz Food Packing it was all kidney and no soup so he ended up with squashed naughty thing all over his bemused bonce and oh my did he kick up a ferret but I refunded him 2s 6d of total 2s 11d charge less chair-sitting fee and apologised profusely offered him Roman emperor style flat cap cut cap cut in style of fashionable idol of pop days of yore Hockridge Edmund but he dashed out of my dresser in disarray and I felt a right proper nana I can tell you.

Posted by: Wally Klemmer at July 15, 2004 03:29 PM

Blimey, you go offline for an hour or so and when you come back, there's twenty more comments!

Scott, yeh, sorry for not picking up the irony.

On the Streets, yeh, fair point, it's an event. I wdn't say I hated them, Tom; it's a bit like the Scissor Sisters, I'm kind of exasperated by the univeral acclaim and don't get it myself. (Obv I can see much more merit in the Streets than in SS) I, can see too the case for considering Skinner as all that's positive abt La Moz - unapologetic Englishness, celebration of the micro-minutiae of everyday life (as opposed to American multinationalism) - without the troubling attachments to the past and to an almost exclusively white canon. BUT: my nervous system just can't run the records. I'd much rather listen to 'You are the Quarry'.

Marcello just makes Richard X sounds even more fascinating than he already was to me. A cynical, misanthropic manipulator: if so, the joke's on him, because, as HKM says, his records are really every bit as good as everyone says they are. Who cares what his 'intentions' are any way? Intentionalist fallacy!

Both 'The Show' and 'Some Girls' are brilliant records, much better, needless to say, than anything that was produced under the aegis of Britpop.

Incidentally, I find the idea of claiming that ' people like Tricky, Aphex Twin and Pulp' (the latter excepted) benefited from Britpop a little suspect, to say the least. How, exactly? It seems odd to defend Britpop on the basis of music that was peripheral to it (Pulp) or which was in every way - temperamentally, technically, sonically - opposed to it (Tricky, Aphex). If yr talking abt a copper-bottomed 100% Establishment phenomenon that wd be Britpop, with McGee and Noel hobnobbing at Downing Street. Obv Mcfly and Busted are better than Oasis and Blur.

Posted by: mark k-p at July 15, 2004 03:38 PM

people who demean albeit naff charity events the proceeds of which should already have been given to various good causes suffer from a quite pathetic myopia.

The fact that this money should already have been spent by the government should in no way occlude the fact that events like this do get hard currency to people and organisations that need it. Just because high faluting aesthetes like MC are snobbily derisive of the means, the ends aren't redundant. i wonder how much of his fat paycheck will go to charity this year?

Posted by: at July 15, 2004 03:41 PM

Hey, if you're gonna insult ppl, at least leave yr name!

Posted by: mark k-p at July 15, 2004 03:56 PM

In reverse order:

Mr/Ms Anonymous: you don't know me, so shut up until you do. High-faluting aesthete? For your information I'm a manager working for a major London hospital trust (and if you'd bothered to read my previous comments here, you might have been able to work that out for yourself) currently scrambling for excuses not to make staff redundant or not to cut urgent operating theatre waiting lists. Why? Because the pampered middle classes of this country - and if you want to fling about the term "high-faluting aesthetes" then go and fling it in their direction - are not prepared to pay realistic levels of income tax, preferring to spend the money on second cars, second houses and second holidays. Charities like Sport Relief are a coded message to these people that this sort of behaviour is excuseable. It's OK, you don't need to bother paying all these taxes, we'll go on begging for money which the Government should provide as a matter of basic routine. So don't call me myopic until you're able to see the whole picture. Sports Relief is just more fundamentally right-wing security blanket faux-comfort to make pampered people justify their self-pampering.

I care about Richard X's intentions because I cannot care about any artist who treats their audience with such unapologetic contempt (cf. Zappa, cf. Goldfrapp). It's easy to differentiate the cynical eccht-pop he purveys from the genuine love that comes through the work of supposedly cynical artists like 10cc or Steely Dan. Or, to put it a third way, Trevor Horn doesn't hate the people who buy his records and he has no manifesto about making them (he left that to Morley in the ZTT days), he just enjoys making records and in his best work that love is evident and manifest. So Richard X thinks it's all a con. Big newsflash. He's exposed the strings, as though they weren't already exposed. Can we not sweep away all this baleful bullshit and actually start to love/worship/believe in music again?

If you think that "The Show" or "Some Girls" are better records than anything that came out of Britpop, then you are being conned, Mark: these people are laughing AT you, not WITH you.

How did Tricky, Aphex Twin etc. benefit from Britpop? I'm not going to do your homework for you. Go and reread the music press of the period, go and click on the "British Top 40 Hits" link on my blogroll, work it out for yourself. Weren't you there at the time, or were you cooped up in your attic getting off on LaBradford and Third Eye Foundation (and before you start, we liked both those acts as well)? Whether subsequent musicians should have taken up more of these leftfield options is a separate issue (June 1997 onwards: discuss).

McFly and Busted are worthless, corporate crap without even the Creation/EMI blanket to cover (for) them; pallid public school imitations of pallid American music. Anyone stupid enough to think that "Crashed The Wedding" (which in another decade would have been lucky to make it onto a Nick Heyward 1985 B-side) is better than "Girls And Boys" or for that matter "Live Forever" frankly hasn't got a fucking clue about pop music and should instead go away and listen to their 9000 identikit Keiji Haino CDs and pretend they're happy.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at July 15, 2004 04:15 PM

I'm no fan of Busted, but for fuck's sake if we're talking contempt for the audience then look no further than Blur! [Blur were the first band I ever saw live, Britpop my defining moment of music fanhood, so this isn't off-the-cuff stuff] 'Following the herd/Down to Greece] etc. Now if RX *is* contemptuous, that's a shame, but it doesn't show up in his music. Anyhoo, what did he actually *say*?

Posted by: HKM at July 15, 2004 04:34 PM

Marcello, cool it, enthusiasm is admirable, but we're not on ILM, and it's possible to disagree here without going into vein-bursting, eye-bulging invective.

On Richard X: I really thought the one thing poststucturalism had done was put all this 'intentions' stuff to bed. I don't care if he thinks he's laughing at me; I don't see how I can be 'conned' about pop, it's all there in the affects it produces. 'Some Girls' and 'The Show' are exciting, thrilling: where's the deception?

As for 'reading the music press' - well, I read it and even contributed a little to the Britpop debate (some fabulous frothing-at-the-mouth correspondence on my anti-Britpop piece in the New Statesman, in which, incidentally, I positioned Tricky against Blur, Oasis and Elastica). That's precisely why I'm so puzzled.

Maybe there's a confusion over terms here. For me, Britpop is a generic designation: it refers essentially to PoMo Sixties retroists such as the aforementioned unholy trio. It doesn't mean - at least so far as I concerned - any British pop produced in the early-mid nineties.

As for LaBradford and Third Eye Foundation ... Keiji Haino, Marcello you really shd take yr own advice and get to know me a bit better before you cast these kind of aspersions. I can honestly say that I've never heard these people, I've barely heard of them.

What was I listening to in 94? Well, apart from Tricky - whose connection with Britpop you have yet to establish - the most exciting music that Britain has ever produced: jungle.

Posted by: mark k-p at July 15, 2004 04:41 PM

'Nearly God' is the connection. Alas.

Posted by: HKM at July 15, 2004 04:44 PM

Keiji Haino and Morrissey have a lot in common come to think of it.

Posted by: Tom at July 15, 2004 04:50 PM

'Nearly God' is the connection. Alas

That's a bit tenuous, isn't it? Surely NG's got more to do with early eighties pop (Terry Hall, Moyet) than with 60s/90s Britpop?

There is a Britpop connection with the becoming-irrelevant Goldie of course (Gallagher on 'Temper Temper').

Posted by: mark k-p at July 15, 2004 04:57 PM

Yeah, know -- I think a Tricky-Albarn collab was mooted, but I wz trying to suggest said tenuousness.

Posted by: HKM at July 15, 2004 05:03 PM

really, marcello, I don't think you realise how pompous and arrogant you come across as.

Firstly, just because you 'have explained' something - ie expostulated a theory concerning something - it doesn't follow that that theory becomes unassailable fact, and that any other opinion voiced on the subject is automatically invalid. Especially when the theory rests on an assertion about the conscious or subconscious intention of another party, to whose inner thoughts you are no more privy than the rest of us.

Equally, if someone disagrees with you it doesn't necessarily mean that they have failed to take in the import of your virtuosic flights of theoretical brilliance ('as I have repeatedly explained...keep up at the back') - they may just disagree with you. Personally I think Vauxhall and I is a richer, more nuanced and more interesting vocal performance than the current stage-school croon; and the lyrics, with their semi-abstract allusiveness are more accomplished too (give me 'dallow, spicer, pinkie, cubitt' over 'the flag' any day).

On my choice of examples - this is the 'professional writer' giving me bad marks for my creative writing assignment is it? - Specifically on grime: of course it's 'obvious' to us that grime represents something positive about the UK - in the sense that it's evident from our consideration of external reality. Whereas with Moz the flag is 'obvious' in the sense of its being received symbolism that doesn't require any such consideration. Of course I'm not suggesting that morrissey ' goes grime', just that if he wasn't being so deliberately lazy-minded, relying on his bankrupt stock of images, he _could_ find an england that isn't hopelessly consigned to nostalgia and loss. (anyway, camden is hardly britannia moribundia in its celebrated 'lukes london' sense, it's a teeming pit of middle-class faux-subversive metrocentric commerce)

And so on to 'it's supposed to sound crap' - this is surely just an excuse for pointless wallowing, indulgent, camp decadence. He's making weak and hackneyed music because he knows his sentiments are weak and hackneyed, and we're meant to admire the ingenuity...? He may be the quarry, but he needs to hunt himself down a bit more robustly than that to move on to pastures new.

I like a lot of the album, and I'd defend Morrissey for many things, but I'm not joining the conspiracy of indulgence for his laziness.

In short, I'm not incoherent or a sixth-former, I just don't agree with you, and I don't need to be told off, marked out of ten, or dismissed. I realise that this rush to self-important dismissal is just the flipside of depression, but it does you no credit and isn't nice, in fact ironically it's rather depressing, for those on whom you unleash your ire (usually apparent 'newcomers' who you think you don't know).

Posted by: high court judge at July 16, 2004 09:30 AM

"whom you think you don't know."

Reveal yourself, then. Who are you? Or don't you have the guts to find out who you are?

Perhaps you don't know who you are. A Bloom sans Dedalus.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at July 16, 2004 10:54 AM

A few thoughts:

HCJ, aren't he godawful cheapo MIDI-synth-strings backing track what people like about the Streets, btw?

On Busted and McFly: you'll probably never hear me say this again, but I think the NME was right abt Busted - they are what it sounds like to be a teenager. Yeh, their sound is tired and derivative, but it has a pep, effervescence and spunk that the no less derivative Blur studenting about or the boorish Gallaghers entirely lacked. So I'm sorry, even if it means that I don't know anything about pop music, I will say, yes, 'Crash the Wedding' and 'Five Colours in Her Hair' were better than 'Live Forever' or 'Boys and Girls'. (If anything, Blur, who have possibly the most supercilious and smug vocals in the history of pop, have dated more badly than Oasis).

Posted by: mark k-p at July 16, 2004 11:08 AM

"Crashed The Wedding" is Busted's 4th best single and (putting sentimental wedding-related reasons to one side) is no way as good as "Girls And Boys". And the key to G&B is the way the vocals sneer at the casual package holiday hedonism at the same time as the music is showing you in no uncertain terms the benefits of it.

I seem to be the only person who likes Busted and has no time for McFly, btw.

Posted by: Tom at July 16, 2004 11:15 AM

Maybe you're right, but I really am in no way objective about Blur cos I detest them with every fibre of my being.

Posted by: mark k-p at July 16, 2004 11:19 AM

We saw Damon Albarn in Rough Trade once, circa '95. He was wearing a woolly hat and listening to a Francoise Hardy album on the shop's headphones. He slowly turned his head to us as we approached the counter and went wink, wink. We did not reciprocate as he was clearly too stoned to scan.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at July 16, 2004 11:58 AM

Who are you? Or don't you have the guts to find out who you are?

Did you find out that you were passive-aggessive prick?

Posted by: Andreas Beyer at July 16, 2004 02:50 PM

Ah, are you the "High Court Judge" then?

I was right, I don't know you.

And do you know what? I don't think I want to know you.

Bye bye.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at July 16, 2004 03:19 PM


Posted by: Andreas Beyer at July 16, 2004 03:23 PM

Yes, very good. Now go and give the keyboard back to Mummy. Nap time.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at July 16, 2004 03:41 PM

>aren't he godawful cheapo MIDI-synth-
>strings backing track what people like about the
>Streets, btw?

In essence, isn't it the same difference as that between (ab)using a Roland 303 for making acid house, and using it as intended as a substitute-bassplayer in a rock combo?

Posted by: pinkie at July 16, 2004 03:41 PM

That's me told.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at July 16, 2004 03:54 PM

Can I point out that that last post wasn't posted by me?

I mean, are you so fucked up that you have to impersonate me on a message board? Listen, pal, if I had the time and inclination, I could identify your ISP, track you down to your front fucking door and teach you a few lessons in respect.

You want to be macho? You want a fight? OK, well email me on marcellocarlin@hotmail.com and we'll see how long you last, if you want to play that game. Otherwise just drop the pathetic pose, put up and shut up.

(PS to Mark: can you stop any other ISP from using my name to post in this comments box? I'm not in the best of moods and I don't need this shit. Thank you)

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at July 16, 2004 04:02 PM

You illustrate my point rather beautifully, I think.

Posted by: Andreas Beyer at July 16, 2004 04:04 PM

It always comes to this, doesn't it, Mark? I naively imagine that putting forward articulate, well-researched arguments will inspire useful and civilised debate.

Well, fuck it. As for now, if anyone wants to read my writing they can fucking well pay for it. Fuck this for a game of soliders.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at July 16, 2004 04:09 PM

or even "soldiers."

Posted by: fed up at July 16, 2004 04:10 PM

Glad I kept out of this one, even though I was tempted to come down on the side of Blur -- used to hate 'em but it's the fact that they sound so dated and of that moment that now appeals to me -- and up-to-the-first-album Oasis vs McFly and Busted.

But that seems kind of irrelevant now this box has turned into something else entirely.

Posted by: amblongus at July 16, 2004 05:08 PM

'Beware, I bear more grudges/than lonely oxbrifge aesthetes' ... for the sake of my rep on the court circuit, let the record show that I am _not_ andreas beyer.
Marcello does sound like a right wanker, though.

Posted by: high court judge at July 16, 2004 05:30 PM

oh it's so brave being an anonymous hard man on the internet.

Posted by: Marcello Carlin at July 17, 2004 10:00 AM

Thus speaks the man itching for a scrap on the school playing field.

Posted by: Andreas Beyer at July 17, 2004 12:24 PM

how much do we owe you for that last comment?

Posted by: high court judge at July 17, 2004 02:27 PM

£3,000 per hour + danger money.

Posted by: Andreas Beyer at July 17, 2004 04:41 PM

'Pay As U Go Carlin' they call him, LOL

Posted by: high court judge at July 17, 2004 07:05 PM

back to the whole morrissey thing (the point)...just have to take issue with the person that seems to think (or at least gives the impression) that morrissey is expressing the cheapness of whatever by having bad songs, cheesy instrumentals etc? isn't that just a desperate excuse for MORRRISSEY NOW BEING PRETTY CRAP???? he's been expressing all this same old shit (i miss london, i get annoyed by america, oh i hate everyone but really i hate.....myself) in songs for the past ten years now and it's really unjustifiable.

Posted by: lola at August 28, 2004 10:36 PM