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Monday, 20 November 2017

Day 2356 - In with the new - hello, dear friend (Saturday November 18th)

On Thursday night in Phoenix, Morrissey at last got to say his thank you to BRS member, Portland Jo, who sent him Blue rose cup cakes at the start of the tour, but more about that later, first..... LOW IN HIGH SCHOOL IS OUT!


Low In High School finally was unleashed on the world yesterday, and although seven of the twelve tracks were already known to us, the other five have completed the picture, and WHAT a picture it is. I have had the album on repeat for the past 30+ hours, playing the 7 inch singles whilst at home, the CD in the car, and the downloads everywhere else.

The 7 inch box set is a thing of beauty - I have never bought an album in this format before, but it is a wonderful way to own an album - I've always preferred singles to LPs. The twelve tracks of the album are spread over six clear vinyl singles, with six 7 inch album artwork cards accompanying it.
Image result for morrissey 7 inch box set

I also have the album on green vinyl, and have been given a clear vinyl copy by a friend who runs a large local radio station - along with a Low In High School Phys Ed Dept t-shirt, which is rather nice. As to whether or not I will ever actually play either of these coloured vinyls, I don't know.

My early verdict is that LIHS is everything that I could have possibly hoped for and more. It is one hell of a powerful album, and punches hard. Unlike most LPs, there isn't a single 'skip song' - I like them all. The early leaders in the race for 'album favourite' are Home Is a Question Mark and Israel. I think Israel is just about in front, but by the time I finish writing this blog entry, I Bury The Living or In Your Lap could well have overtaken both of them, in fact I have a feeling that every single track on this album will at some stage become a favourite, and that has NEVER happened before with ANY album by ANY artist. Every single song is an event. And thanks to the 7 inch box set format, every single song is a single! I genuinely feel that LIHS could be Morrissey's masterpiece.

As I reviewed World Peace Is None Of Your Business in the week it was released, I feel I should give my first impressions on each individual track of Low In High School; not for anybody else's benefit, after all, another person's review is irrelevant, but as a point of reference for myself - a diary entry, if you like. So here we go:

1. My Love, I'd Do Anything For You (Morrissey/Lopez) According to a recent interview given by producer Joe Chiccarelli, this song very nearly didn't make the cut, but thankfully it did, as in my opinion it is the best opening track to a Morrissey LP since Maladjusted. It starts with a harrowing wailing noise, which as Morrissey recently told Billboard, was made by Jesse Tobias in a darkened cellar. Rolling drums and stonking guitars then get us up and running, with Mozzer's opening line of, "teach your kids to recognise and despise all the propaganda filtered down by the dead echelons mainstream media" setting the tone for the whole album. Aside from the lyrics, the musicianship and production are also spot on. Tub-thumping.
Killer lyric: "Society's hell, you need me just like I need you" - Morrissey and us fans are in this together.

2. I Wish You Lonely (Morrissey/Boorer) The song starts with Morrissey asking the listener to put themselves in his place, to see what it is like to live his lonely, and somewhat selfish lifestyle. The song then moves onto a different theme with the line, "tombs are full of fools who gave their lives upon command". This is a thought provoking line, and quite personal for me. My dad was one of those fools now in a tomb....well, actually he's in an urn, but let's not split hairs....actually, I don't think he's even in an urn, he must have been scattered somewhere, but there's no need to go into that now. In the late 1950s he was in the RAF, doing his 'expected' National Service, and was sent to Christmas Island where the troops were used as guinea pigs to test nuclear bombs. Twenty years later, at the age of 40, he died from cancer  - he wasn't the only one. I would imagine that my dad thought that he was 'doing his bit' by signing up to the RAF, and also, he probably wouldn't have wanted to be seen as a 'coward', but that 'bit' didn't help an eleven year old me who lost his dad, and didn't help the rest of his family either. I may sound rather uncaring and harsh, but it is the truth. An intelligent person would have said no to joining a military organisation.
The song also mentions heroin, which is another thing that puts fools in tombs. When it comes to the military and hard drugs, just say no, kids.
Killer lyric: The aforementioned "tombs are full of fools"
Image result for 1950s christmas island test nuclear

3. Jacky's Only Happy When She's Up On The Stage (Morrissey/Boorer) This song would initially appear to be a story song, about an old performer called Jacky, who has split from a partner and now feels the need to show that she can fill her life without him. However, I get the feeling that this song may be autobiographical. Morrissey is forever telling us that he is only ever really 'alive' when he is on stage, so I am picturing Morrissey as Jacky, and the former partner being Johnny Marr. "Cue lights, I'm singing to my lover at night, scene two, everyone who comes must go, scene four, blacker than ever before." Could that scene four be the court case of 1996? "Scene six, this country is making me sick", and off he goes to live in America. Perhaps I'm barking up the wrong tree, but it works for me. One thing that is for certain is that this definitely isn't a song about Brexit, which some idiots have tried to suggest. It's the least political song on the album.
Next time you listen to the song, picture Moz as Jacky and tell me I'm wrong. There is ALWAYS some ping pong somewhere.
Killer lyric: "Exit, exit, everybody's running to the exit." - which I picture as the brain dead Morrissey fans abandoning him on the instruction of the left-wing media.




4. Home Is a Question Mark (Morrissey/Lopez) Oh you beauty. The crisp and powerful vocal on this song is reminiscent to that on Scandinavia - it's just velvety chocolate. Morrissey treats the listener as the one person missing from his life, and without that one person, he has no home. Some lovely raunchy lines in here, including the wonderful, "If I ever get there, would you meet me, wrap your legs around my face just to greet me."
Killer lyric: See above plus, "I have been brave, deep in every shaven cave" - does that mean what I think it means, or is it code for pot-holing?

5. Spent The Day In Bed (Morrissey/Manzur) The lead single, and the song that launched the album. To many extents it feels a little out of place amongst the many power songs on the album as it's a jaunty sing-a-long pop song made for the radio....although there aren't many sing-along pop songs that feature fake news, brainwashing, the inevitability of death and castration. Morrissey's best single in years. The opening Roxy Musicesque keyboards put a smile on the face and a spring in the step. Gustavo Manzur is a genius, and I don't say that lightly. As this song has been around for a longer period than the others, it is easy to ignore it when searching for album favourites, but time will change that, it's a very, very good song.
Killer lyric: "I'm not my type", "Time do as I wish" and "No bus, no boss, no rain, no train."

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GUSTAVO MANZUR - GENIUS

6. I Bury The Living (Morrissey/Tobias) Tombs are full of fools part deux. Quite possibly the masterpiece of the LP. Morrissey will come in for criticism from military/ex military and the media when they get hold of I Bury The Living, but there is a real, brutal, home-hitting honesty in this song, with the point of it being to get us to question the meaningless waste of human life through combat.

A distant sound of sleigh bells opens the song, accompanied by a soft violin. I am picturing a graveyard in winter. The song then bursts into life, with our main character, John, telling us that as he was just a wretched outcast with no point of view and nothing in his life, he had no other choice than to sign-up for military service. I picture John as an American, but the reality is he could be from any nation. John goes on to tell us that he carries out the vulgar and brutal instructions of the hierarchy, without question, after all, he has no choice. He doesn't accept that any of it is his fault. John decrees that he is answerable only to Jesus - it's amazing how many of those who fight wars believe in a God. John ends his tale by saying that his mother will say he died doing the job he loved, but the now dead John tells us that the bullet in his forehead wasn't the job he loved.
With John dead, the song changes mood and tempo. A family member sings (and la-la-las), "It's funny how the war goes on without our John", which hits home to us the listener that John is just another number, and his military life has been meaningless. The song then changes again, with laughter coming in - no doubt the laughter of the hierarchy, who are NEVER the ones at risk.

This song pulls no punches, and it is Morrissey making it perfectly clear that anyone who signs up to the violent life of military action is NO hero, and that if you sign-up to fight for God/Monarch/Country or because there is nothing else to do, then don't expect any poppy wearing sympathy from him. Or me.
Killer lyric: "Call me brave, call me a peace-making hero, call me anything except what I am" i.e. a cold blooded, clueless killer. Also, "I'm honour mad cannon fodder." This is strong stuff. The Meat is Murder/World Peace is None of Your Business of 2017.

7. In Your Lap (Morrissey/Manzur) I may have already mentioned this but, Gustavo Manzur is a fucking genius. The piano in this song is just pure silk. If it sounds familiar to anyone, that's because it is. It is the piece of piano music that Gustavo has been playing since 2014, when he first used it as an introduction to Trouble Loves Me. It has also been played live to lead into other songs such as Smiler With Knife and currently Everyday Is Like Sunday. It sounds like it has come from a film score.
As for the lyrics, it as a song being told by an Arab boy who is fed up with war and unrest, and just wants to get back to some good old oral sex. Our Arab boy is obviously not currently with his lover - maybe he's away fighting, or maybe even in prison, we don't get to know. In fact, this song could be his letter to his lover. It is the I Will See You In Far-off Places of LIHS.
The very last sentence of In Your Lap is beautiful, with the desire for oral sex being replaced with the simple wish to touch an arm.
Many people seem to think that all Morrissey songs are sung from the first person, and this leads to them misunderstanding him and wrongly labelling him with all sorts of ists and isms. The reality is that many of Morrissey's songs are stories - he is a wonderful story teller.
I wonder if we will now no longer get this piano riff as an introduction to other songs. I can't wait to hear In Your Lap live.
Killer lyric: "They tried to wipe us clean off the map, and I just want my face in your lap."
Killer riff: The Trouble riff.

Image result for two men head lap gay 1960


8. The Girl From Tel-Aviv Who Wouldn't Kneel (Morrissey/Manzur) Lee Harpin writing for The Jewish Chronicle recently wrote that this song was about Jewish wartime diarist, Etty Hillesum, but there is no evidence in the song to suggest this, and I reckon Morrissey just liked the title. Hillesum wasn't actually from Tel-Aviv, and it was more a case that she couldn't kneel/learnt to kneel, rather than wouldn't.
The song seems rather abstract to me, with no clear story or meaning. It's like a mixed-up dream. It has some wonderful instrumental breaks and a tango rhythm that is something never heard before in a Morrissey song.
Killer lyric: "In fear of a God who hadn't saved them after all" and "All of my friends are in trouble, there's no need to go into that now" - and he doesn't.

9. All The Young People Must Fall In Love (Morrissey/Boorer) This song has a very different feel to many of the others on the album, and I get the feeling that it was one of the many songs left over from the WPINOYB sessions. It is all about peace and love - Morrissey's Give Peace a Chance. Some great brass work.
Killer lyric: "Do you ever say what you really feel?"

10. When You Open Your Legs (Morrissey/Tobias) It's another story song, but we don't really get to know the main character, or what it is that he/she knows that deserts him/her when the subject of their attention opens the golden gates, i.e. spreads their legs. It's a very singable song, but certainly hasn't grabbed me like some of the other songs.
Killer lyric: "Everything I know deserts me now, when you open your legs."

11. Who Will Protect Us From The Police? (Morrissey/Boorer) Some people have been calling this song Ganglord Part Two, and it's easy to see why. Ganglord would have sat perfectly on this LP, and I for one would have had no complaints if it had been added, but as it is eleven years old, it was never going to happen. WWPUFTP is a strong song, and could well have been in contention as an album opener. As Morrissey hollers Venezuela at the end, the song is presumably about the Venezuelan police, but as Morrissey recently told Billboard, it could be about the police in many other countries, as police brutality is rife. The question in the title is being asked to 'Daddy', which is the name given to Morrissey by his latino fans. Daddy replies that perhaps your God will protect you, but ends up advising, run away.
Killer lyric: "Tanks on the street, attacking free speech, we must pay for what we believe".

Image result for morrissey rome policeman


12. Israel (Morrissey/Manzur) The album comes to a close with a six minute epic in praise of, well, Israel, or Is-rayyy-ell as Morrissey sings it. It is just a beautiful, beautiful song, with Morrissey's voice sounding the best it has ever sounded. It is cream. Although it would obviously appear to be a song in support of Israel, I personally have interpreted it as a song about Ireland and Morrissey's catholic faith....I know, I know, but hear me out. There are lyrics about being sent to hell and not being allowed to enjoy your body, i.e. masturbation - it's catholicism through and through, and I'm sure the very last word of the song is Eire. Ireland doesn't rhyme with hell, bell, shell, well, cell, spell, fell or tell, so Israel works far better as a title.
The gorgeous vocal is accompanied by a wonderful operatic musical composition, which includes a weeping violin... have I mentioned that Gustavo Manzur is an absolute, unbelievable, fucking genius?

Killer lyric: "You realise, if you're happy, Jesus sends you straight to hell".

Rating: A++ School's out, forever, and how lucky we are.


Our Mozzer's old friend, Alex Petriditis has also given a review for Low In High School. It is pretty much what one would expect from this 'look at me' fool. It's a shame that the MorrisseysWorld blog isn't around anymore, a parody piece would surely have been forthcoming.

With Taylor Swift, Sam Smith and Michael Ball/Alfie Boe currently occupying the top three in the Official UK album chart, and with Sia having released a Christmas album this week, I really can't see how Low In High School can possibly achieve a top 3 placing, but we live in hope. Breaking the Top 10 in this day and age is no mean feat, so any placing in the Top 10 will be deemed a success. As long as Morrissey is above Elton John, that's all that matters.

To produce an album of this quality at the age of 58 is quite incredible - most recording artists are washed-up by 35. At the age of 58, David Bowie had all but dried up, with his only recording as a 58 year old being the very quickly forgotten song, She Can Do That - not exactly the hard hitting political statement of Low In High School. In terms of longevity and artistic ability, the two artists can no longer be mentioned in the same sentence.

Image result for morrissey phoenix 2017


On Thursday night Morrissey played a concert in Phoenix. There are a number of clips on Youtube, and it looked to be a high energy gig, with a similar set to the other recent concerts....except that Rose Garden was added. Rose Garden was a thank you song for Portland Jo, as explained in my blog entry of eleven days ago. Jo's gift to Morrissey of cup cakes and a note with lyrics from Rose Garden was very thoughtful, for Morrissey to acknowledge the gift by singing the song is very special... not that anyone would ever believe it to be true, but we Dreary Deluded Dozen know, and Jo knows, and that's all that matters.


After Alma Matters, Morrissey left the stage for a while. When he returned, he didn't offer up any explanation. At the end of the concert, Moz hollered, "My Uncle lives, my uncle lives." Perhaps his Uncle is ill, and the departure from the stage after Alma was to find out how he was. Who knows.

The Phoenix concert received a rave review from Ashley Naftule, writing for Phoenix New Times. Naftule writes, "He served up one of the finest shows I've ever seen", and also rather interestingly added, "throwing in the occasional strange expression or hand gesture that feels like some kind of private in-joke" - yep, it sure is, and we're in on those gestures!

From Naftule's really well written piece, those of us not at the concert are able to get a good picture of Morrissey's mood. According to the author, Moz at one stage called himself a, "skinny little thing", referred to Trump as, "Predicament Trump", and joked, "I haven't been this wet since my wedding night."


I have now written far too much for one day. No one will have bothered to read all this. I wanted to mention a really candid face-to-face interview that Morrissey has given to German interviewer, Juliane Liebert for Spiegel.de, but it will have to wait until my next blog entry.

All heads now turn to tonight's concert in Salt Lake City, where BRS Vice President, Angie, will be in the front row with her blue rose. Will Moz accept it? Time, as ever.




And now, back to Low In High School.

*Goes off singing* You realise if you're happy, Jesus sends you straight to hell, Iis-ray-elll, Is-rayy-el. And should you dare enjoy your body, here tolls Hades welcome bell, Iis-ray-elll, Is-ray-el.


*Foot Note* This blog entry was published on Saturday November 18th at 10.45pm. I updated the heading on Monday 20th November and for some reason, the original posting date was updated to current time. This isn't the first time it has happened. It is very annoying.

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