(Planet Me)
Friday, April 06, 2012
MORRISSEY - "Viva Hate"

Viva Disappointment...in this 24th Anniversary Edition. 24 years after it came out, Morrissey's spectacular but flawed debut gets a sad and unhappy reworking.

Originally, EMI wanted to release a deluxe, unsurpassable 3 disc set of this : the album as is, remastered. The six b-sides, 10 circulating demos, and extra, unreleased material on the other. And, on a DVD, finally, Morrissey's first ever solo live performance, and his last with Andy Rourke, Mike Joyce, and Craig Gannon. (Also perhaps, notable for being the first time a band performed a show where the singer was being sued by every other member of the band, individually, at the same time).

Morrissey had a better idea. Re-release the album. Change the covers. Delete one song, and replace it with a poor, unfinished demo. And slice off the beginning and end of "Late Night. Maudlin Street", just for effect.

And frankly, it stinks.

Why does an artist feel the need to revise and butcher his existing work? Why would he? What possible motive is there? Is it an Artistic decision? Or financial?

You can't airbrush out history. You cannot pretend these songs do not exist. And when you replace the beautiful, and immaculately constructed "The Ordinary Boys", with the forgotten for 20 years, and forgettable, "Treat Me Like A Human Being", I wonder, does this make this record better? Of course not.

From the off, "Viva Hate" is a flawed record. The song selection omits some of the better songs and relegates them to b-sides : "Hairdresser on Fire", "Sister I'm A Poet", "Will Never Marry", "Disappointed", - all easily the equal of anything on the album itself, all absent. In their place, the moribund, and dirgelike "Bengali In Platforms", the tired and delicate "Dial-A-Cliche", or the frankly histronic "Angel, Angel, Down We Go Together".

In it's original form, "Viva Hate" was a strong record, albeit with an uneven running order and a sense of inert depression : it could've been a much stronger, better record, more muscular and lively, with a different running order. But not exactly by taking "The Ordinary Boys" off and replacing with not-even-good-enough-to-be-a-b-side of "Treat me Like A Human Being" is baffling.

In no way is this anything other than a mutilated re-presentation of the album, with material missing and songs removed, and substandard, unfinished material in its place. A wasted opportunity. A squandered moment where Morrissey could have given the world what it wanted, which was a full and bountiful selection from Morrissey's astoundingly impressive debut indian summer. Instead, he gave us a castrated and unsatisfactory record that actually devalues the original record and makes "Viva Hate" less than it was originally was.

This reissue of "Viva Hate" (complete with the worst font of Morrissey's career)is a worthless document in an artistic sense. One single added unreleased track has been thrown in for a quick cash grab, thus leaving a vast quantity of archive material on the shelf for no good reason whatsoever. Compared to what it could have been that fans have been hoping for - it's a undeserving release, a lost opportunity, one that's exploitative of the fans. Utterly pointless.

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