Book Reviews

Published on June 22nd, 2015 | by Mike Ainscoe

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‘Morrissey’ FAQ – All that’s left to know about this charming man’ – D.McKinney (Backbeat Books)

I do enjoy the FAQ series of books. Having read a few which are of immediate interest as a dedicated fan of a band or artist, the authors often do enough to offer up something on a slightly different perspective even to major fans of a band. While his own autobiography may have been quite hard going, in the true spirit of the FAQ series, the ‘Morrissey FAQ’ is a much more accessible piece of writing. It’s nothing too excessive or complex, which for many is where ‘Autobiography’, despite being from the horse’s mouth, sadly fell short.

Where Morrissey is concerned, the ‘fans’ are clearly divided into two distinct camps, from the obsessive devotees to those who what is fashionably termed, don’t get it, those who worship him as a godlike idol reaching out to be blessed or touch the hem of his coat, and those who can’t stand the bloke, citing his miserably depressing demeanour and songs as enough evidence to condemn him. Denise McKinney clearly belongs in the latter camp and why not unashamedly profess your commitment in the same way that the man himself has made a career of wearing his emotions and opinions boldly on his sleeve.

As for the content, as expected, the bulk of the 350 pages are dedicated to the musical output; the usual album, video and song critiques (including Morrissey’s – don’t call him Moz or Mozzer, he doesn’t like it – work with The Smiths) and the ‘best gigs’ to consider as well as all checking out manner of collaborators, musical and personal influences and band members. Of course, many of the opinions on say, the albums, are subjective and open for discussion – ‘Your Arsenal’ as maybe not his best album but certainly his most rock and roll or  ‘glam’ of his early work (maybe with Mick Ronson in the producer’s chair, that’s taken as read) and ‘Vauxhall And I’ as his most perfect album might stimulate a bit of discussion down at the pub over a pint of the maudlin juice.

Like most FAQs, there’s nothing in real depth in any particular way or any attempt at detailed analysis or critique, although heaven knows his lyrics could provide a wealth of material for a psychological case conference of two. In fact, the words of wisdom of the great man are something slightly glossed over, amounting to a chapter which barely covers two pages. After all, you could always count on Morrissey for good copy, even if it’s someone else remorselessly praising him or slagging him off.

From an author who obsesses with Morrissey’s hair/quiff and sideburns (apparently at its most luxurious and at an all time greatness on Top Of The Pops in 1988, performing ‘Everyday Is Like Sunday for the record) and who thinks ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ is the ‘Freebird’ of its generation, you have to smile and allow her the indulgence – after all you can’t fault the passion or the dedication of a true disciple.

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About the Author

Mike's mellowed in his old age, discovering the delights of traditional folk and acoustic music and the constant stream of new music coming through his passion as a gig-goer, music photographer and writer. With favourite artists and favourite songs which change daily, even hourly, he adds another spoke to the Sonic Bandwagon wheel of fortune.



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