REVIEW: Morrissey, World of Morrissey (Sire/Reprise)

- Bob Gajarsky

The oft-quoted, idolized or despised former lead singer of the Smiths, Morrissey, has returned with another bits and pieces compilation titled World of Morrissey.

World features fourteen singles, B-sides and previously unavailable (in the United States) live tracks. A disjoint collection of songs with no real common denominator, except the man on vocals, World does display the many sides of Morrissey.

"Have-A-Go Merchant" is a biting answer to the former lead singer of 10,000 Maniacs, Natalie Merchant, who would cover Morrissey's "Everyday Is Like Sunday". Morrissey was reportedly upset at their version of the song and responds in kind on this rocking track.

Was that "rock" word used? Yes, Steven has come back on track with the music most suited to his unique voice. Two of the three "new" songs - the aforementioned Natalie Merchant single and "Whatever Happens I Love You" - are definite returns to form for Morrissey. The A-side for those two tracks, "Boxers" (the current single), is very similar musically to his commercial American breakthrough, "The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get".

The three live tracks selected for inclusion here are from the album Beethoven Was Deaf, which was only available in the States via import. "Sister I'm A Poet", arguably Morrissey's best B-side, is probably the best of these live tracks.

"Moon River", the B-side to Vauxhall and I's "Hold On To Your Friends", is a slow 9 minute tour through the Mancini classic. Surprisingly, Morrissey pulls this one off quite well, in a manner similar to 1994's (U.K. import) duet with Siouxie Sioux, "Interlude".

A duet which *does* appear on here is "My Love Life" - Morrissey's plea to be one of the two people in a relationship comes off strong, countered by the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde on backup vocals. And, "The Loop" highlights Morrissey and his former rockabilly backup band at one of their peak performances.

Criticisms of the collection? The inclusion of five songs which have already appeared elsewhere on the serves no purpose other than as filler; this could have been better used by including B-sides which have yet to appear on an album.

Devotees of Morrissey have probably already purchased the other material on this album elsewhere, and won't need to get this release. However, this collection is a must-get for those fans who joined on the Morrissey bandwagon either on the strength of the Vauxhall and I or Your Arsenal albums. By helping partially fill the gap of "missing" Morrissey material, World of Morrissey can expose these listeners to truly quality music not previously available in the United States.

TRACK LISTING: Whatever Happens I Love You; Billy Budd; Jack The Ripper (Live); Have A Go Merchant; The Loop; Sister I'm A Poet (Live); You're The One For Me, Fatty (Live); Boxers; Moon River; My Love Life; Certain People I Know; The Last of the Famous International Playboys; We'll Let You Know; Spring-Heeled Jim

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