Morrissey's comeback continues – new albums and tour on the way

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mozza.gifThis morning I was reading The Observer’s “Sunday Best” supplement which they published to publicise their new digital archive (yes, the Sunday paper lasts me several days).
It has an interview Lynn Barber conducted with Morrissey in 2002, as he toured the States. Mozza was in that period when he didn’t even have a record deal, and, thanks to his unwillingness to play the game, looked increasingly unlikely to attain one.
“They all ask me how much I’m willing to compromise, and I say ‘Nothing’… If you saw me at those meetings, you’d feel really pitifully sorry for me,” said Moz.
Fast forward five years and Billboard are reporting not one, but two new releases in the pipeline for the next year. No confirmation on who the latest record deal will be with, but apparently a studio record and a greatest hits collection are planned, to be followed by more touring.

I find this interesting. Morrissey is undeniably an icon of British music, and yet he was in the wilderness for many years from the late 90s into the early 00s, coming to people’s attention only when his rather ugly court case with ex-Smiths drummer Mike Joyce hit the news. And yet it seems his legend only grew while he was being labelled “truculent” by the judge in that case, or while he was “in hiding” – if relaxing in an LA pile qualifies as such.
His return to the live scene has caught the imagination of music fans across generations. Nowadays you’re as likely to see teenagers and early twentysomethings at Morrissey shows as you are ageing Smiths nostalgists. The knock-on effect saw him release his most successful album to date, 2004′s You Are The Quarry, while the follow-up, 2006′s Ringleader Of The Tormenters hit number one.
I wonder if other established acts should consider taking some “time out”, and let people forget them so they can then be rediscovered. There’s surely something to say for making yourself more elusive. Easy for me say of course, as it’s a pretty big risk; but I can’t help thinking of Duran Duran here. They’re continuously telling interviewers that they’re not an 80s band – they’ve been around constantly since their heyday in various incarnations, they had a couple of huge hits in the 90s, etc. But there’s something a little icky about their attempts to remain relevant, which currently extend to getting Timbaland and Timberlake on board to work on their new album.
Look back at that 2002 Morrissey interview and, on the topic of record company attempts to make him more palatable to the mainstream, he says: “One company said, ‘Yes, we’ll sign you, but we’d like you to make an album with Radiohead’ – which doesn’t mean anything to me.”
And yet you know that, free of live gimmicks such as booking Broadway theatres, Morrissey gigs are always going to sell out. Would it be the case if he’d always been with us, and hadn’t spent some time in the wilderness?

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  1. brad Malmberg says:

    except that the new duran material is amazing

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