Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Bargain Bin Review #2: Morrissey - "Greatest Hits"

It's not often you see Morrissey albums in bargain bins. But then again, not every Morrissey album could be seen as a throwaway product.

In the grand scheme of things, copious amounts of compilation albums are not uncommon for an artist as prolific as Morrissey. As with his career in the Smiths, he has made many non-album singles and b-sides that are so string that when collated on an LP together, create an album almost (if not more so) as strong as a regular studio release (take "Bona Drag" for example).

But this 2008 compilation album is curious from the perspective that it ignores a great deal of the artist's career, only touching briefly on high spots from the 80s and 90s. It spends most of its capital on singles from his (then) most recent two albums "Ringleader of the Tormentors" and "You Are The Quarry". It takes four songs each from both these albums, three classic singles from the late 1980s, one from the 1990s ("The More You Ignore Me..." from "Vauxhall and I"), one live track from his 2005 live album and two new songs, that turned up later on his follow up LP "Years of Refusal".

As a summary of the consistently great quality of Morrissey's solo output, this is hopelessly slanted in favour of more recent work. It mostly ignores the 1990s and shines a light deliberately and unfairly on his recent work, not quite airbrushing out the older history but possibly to make the elder material look inferior against his latest music.

As a package, the lack of sleeve notes are frustrating and I expect there to be more detail within the cover to learn about the contents, especially as I'm not as familiar with every last record Morrissey has ever made. The photography on the front cover booklet makes Morrissey look almost sanctimonious, and the beefcake shot of his naked butt on the inside back cover with the scrawled pun (based on his 1992 album) "Your arse an' all" is just a little too much to bear (no pun intended).

As an album there is plenty of great music here and it makes a great listen from end to end. However, if you are looking for a thorough and balanced career retrospective this ain't it.

Take a listen for yourself below.

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