|1. Alsatian Cousin|
|2. Little Man, What Now?|
|3. Everyday Is Like Sunday|
|4. Bengali In Platforms|
|5. Angel Angel Down We Go Together|
|6. Late Night, Maudlin Street|
|8. Break Up The Family|
|9. The Ordinary Boys|
|10. I Don't Mind If You Forget Me|
|11. Dial A Cliche|
|12. Margaret On The Guillotine|
|13. Let The Right One Slip In|
|14. Pashernate Love|
|15. At Amber|
|17. Girl Least Likely To|
|18. I'd Love To|
|19. Michael's Bones|
|20. I've Changed My Plea To Guilty|
The album hangs well together, with Steven Street proving a good song-writing partner (the best he has had since the split from the inimitable Johnny Marr). Vinni Reilly's guitar work is tremendous.
However this album has been let down by bonus tracks. For the most part they are utterly forgettable and date from later in his career. Even the inclusion of the splendid Disappointed is a mistake as the live version chosen is so ropy.
Everything about this version smacks of, "Re-issue! Re-package! Re-package! / Re-evaluate the songs / double-pack with a photograph / Extra Track (and a tacky badge)" as Morrissey himself complained on The Smiths Paint a Vulgar Picture. Shame on EMI for this abomination. And why mess with original cover art, which was atmospheric and in keeping with the mood of the album? The new cover is vile.
If you can get hold of the original release, without the extraneous nonsense then do so. If not, then, like me, you'll probably stop the CD after track 12.
The original 12 track album opens with the sublime Alsatian Cousin, which finds Morrissey in a rare, hard-edged mode, as electric guitars wail away, wracked with distortion (this was the era of My Bloody Valentine, the Jesus and Mary Chain and the Pixies after all) as those heart-wrenching opening lyrics ("were you and he lovers, and if you were then say that you were") ably set up the sense of emotional over-kill that the singer was going for. It's an intense moment, brining to mind the musical ferocity of a song like The Queen is Dead, but complementing it with the kind of ambiguous emotional narratives found in tracks like I Know it's Over, I Won't Share You and Last Night I Dreamt... It also points the way to later wayward formula-experiments in both style and attitude scattered throughout the remainder of this record.
From here we press on through the nice throwaway, Little Man What Now?, into that utterly classic single, Everyday is Like Sunday -- the only song I can think of that truly encapsulates the boredom and malaise of everyday life ("trudging slowly over wet sand, back to the bench where your clothes were stolen"). The guitars are exquisite, the strings divine, and I still have a crush on that sullen girl from the video over 15 years on (shocking really, I was 5 when this came out!)... Oh, and did I mention that it's better than anything by the Smiths? because it is. Bengali in Platforms is a condensation of the Buddha of Suburbia, and although the lyrics are, to an extent, deeply provocative ("life is hard enough when you belong here"), it is in no way as bombastic as later songs like The National Front Disco. In fact, it's rather sweet... filled with vibrant guitars and some lovingly warm contradictions ("he only wants to embrace your culture... and to be your friend forever").
As previously noted, the guitar is a standout instrument throughout Viva Hate, with Morrissey employing the talents of the Durutti Column's Vini Reilly, who brings his trademark bouncy-calypso alternative sound to a number of the tracks, most obviously that other great single Suedehead and the acoustic-space-rock epic, Late Night-Maudlin Street. This is another one of those all time great Morrissey songs, sounding like Scott Walker (echoing Angel, Angel Down we go Together - which is brilliant) singing Astral Weeks. Some have argued that Reilly's playing, though perfect for these slower tracks, is somewhat at odds with the more rocking numbers, like the above-mentioned Alsatian... and the later, I Don't Mind if you Forget me... though I would have to disagree. The slower songs bring to mind the pastoral elegance of Durutti Column tracks like Jacqueline, In the Dawn and the Missing Boy, whilst the more up-tempo numbers can only show that Reilly, as a guitarist, is easily on par with the likes of G&R's Slash or Eddy Van Halen.
Admittedly, Dial-A-Cliché isn't going to convert anyone, figuring as perhaps the blandest thing Morrissey has ever put his name on... As for Margaret on the Guillotine however, I think it's great. The lyrics are largely uninspiring, though they do have a direct honesty about then; while that guitar is simply fantastic. Plus, everyone loves a Thatcher bashing... even if Elvis Costello's brilliant Tramp the Dirt Down (from the underrated Spike LP) pretty much covered this very same subject matter the year before. Doh!! Still, Viva Hate is an album that demands re-assessment... and with You Are the Quarry doing well in the charts, and Morrissey finally performing some gigs in the UK, what better time to do it?
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