5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
(insert a quote from any part of Paint A Vulgar Picture by The Smiths here)
And so the fleecing of the faithful continues without pause. Adrift in a commercial wasteland, without contract and with millions in the bank, Morrissey further cheapened his reputation with his sixth compilation in a row. Seventh, if you include the shameful "Very Best Of The Smiths".
So after "Suedehead - The Best Of", "My Early Burglary Years - The B-Sides", "The Best Of Morrissey", "Singles 88-91" and "Singles 91-95" box sets, comes this entirely superflous 20 track reissue version of "Viva Hate" with new artwork and photos taken from 5 years after the album originally came out, thrown together with eight extra b-sides from 1989 to 1994. At best it sounds like a random compilation CD someone put together for no reason whatsoever. You can't polish a turd and to all intents and purposes that is exactly what this is.
In case you haven't got the gist I strongly recommend you avoid buying this cheap and tacky ripoff.
And now to go back in time. Musically speaking this is to be treasured, because not only is it from the era when Morrissey actually made records and left the house, but most of it represents the era before Morrissey "lost it" in dated nostalgia and diminishing returns. There's three distinct things that needs to be reviewed.
a) "Viva Hate"
In a rare decision I agree with, this album regarded by Morrissey as hastily-put together without the best choice of songs. Overall the impression the album gives is that of sterility, and adrift from his former musical partners in The Smiths, he sounds lost but defiant. There's an abnormal number of slower tempo tracks, sounding as if the album was conceived in a test tube, and lyrically it can be seen as a concept album about the end of his former band. With song titles like "I Don't Mind If You Forget Me" and "Break Up The Family", it can be fair to say that this album was the start of Morrissey's first period of isolation - his former band split, his creative juices drying, and his inspiration lacking, as can be seen in the mediocre "Kill Uncle".
It's fairly clear that the split wasn't for musical reasons. In fact, it might as well bear the words "The Smiths" on the front. Vini Reilly - of the Durutti Column - performs exceptionally well, even though he and the rest if the backing are no more than hired guns supporting songs written by producer Stephen Street and Morrissey.
It's not his best album by far. The pacing is poor, a series of slow songs punctuated by the odd faster number, and ideally suited for sitting in your bedroom miserable as hell. By Morrissey standards then, its an absolute corker, and long before he disappeared into some world of bequiffed Mod teddy boys, wheelchairs, boxers, wrestlers, gangsters, and other marginalised English trivia.
As an album then, "Viva Hate" is, despite its weaknesses, a strong and promising start to a best-uneven solo career. If you must buy it, get the original 12 track version second hand somewhere. There's more than enough copies doing the rounds.
b) "The extra tracks"
Bluntly put - these are mostly rubbish and I can see why they didn't make any album in its own right. The chronology of this makes it sound like some cheap, shoddy compilation, which is, oddly enough, exactly what it is The songs themselves are generally flimsy b-sides, bolstered only by the best-solo-song ever Morrissey has recorded in the shape of "I've Changed My Plea To Guilty", and taken from a variety of line ups, sessions, and even includes live leftovers. Quite why, for example, EMI chose this bunch of rubbish, over say the 7 or 8 leftover songs from the "Viva Hate" sessions themselves - most of which were mercifully released as b-sides over time - and stand far above the actual selections here, is a mystery.
In short, if you don't own the singles and absolutely positively must own these songs then by all means buy this CD but be aware that you are getting royally shafted in the process.
c) "The reissue"
Thanks EMI. Reissue. Repackage. Put them into different sleeves. Extra track. All that's missing on this CD is the tacky badge, but then again, it does come in a tacky box, so that's almost good enough isn't it.
Overall, "Viva Hate" is great. But the extra tracks and tacky reissue are cheap, uneccessary, and leave a bad taste in the mouth. Avoid
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 28 November 2003
Viva Hate stands up as Morrissey's best solo work to date. At this early stage in his solo career, Morrissey still retained his dry, arch, sense of humour and his sense of Englishness. Sadly his relocation to LA and obsession with America has greatly marred his writing in recent years.
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 18 July 2012
Because of the iconic reputation that The Smiths had, it was obvious that whatever Morrissey did next he would be slated for it. However, Viva Hate resembles a fresh sound and a change in direction for Morrissey. As I mentioned in a review of Strangeways, Here We Come, The Smiths always had the same sort of sound, which they then refined from album to album. With The Queen Is Dead and Strangeways, The Smiths had reached their creative peak and I don't think they could have refined their work into anything new. However, the break-up of the band lead Morrissey to create his own sound that is somewhat similar, but entirely different from The Smiths.
The opening track Alsation Cousin contains some great guitar work and Morrissey's voice and lyrics are still strong. Little Man, What Now is a good track, and a nice transition into the epic Every Day Is Like Sunday. That song should really have been a bigger hit than it was, for Morrissey's voice really soars and the inclusion of strings was a clear change from his previous sound. In addition, the song was incredibly lush and sent shivers down my spine when I heard it.
Bengali In Platforms, while slated for being racist, I always found was a compassionate number addressing the difficulties that immigrants face. The whole "life is hard enough when you belong here" racist thing is a joke. It is a blunt, yet truthful statement and of course somebody who has an entirely different way of life and culture doesn't belong in a completely opposing culture. That is common sense. I really liked the song anyway.
The strings return into the drmatically short, cinematic ballad, Angel, Down We Go Together. It is a standout track and a great way to introduce the following, dramatically long, epic ballad that is Late Night Maudlin Street. For me, Maudlin Street is Morrissey's strongest lament since I Know It's Over, and they are both equally matched in their various strengths.
Suedehead follows and is the highest charting single from this album. I like the opening guitar, especially the jangly sound that reminises the sound of The Smiths without replicating it too exactly. Break Up The Family is for me, the weakest track, perhaps just because it has to be great to follow up Maudlin Street and Suedehead, and it just isn't great enough.
The Ordinary Boys I have noticed, often gets slated, but I think it has a great message for outsiders and Morrissey's voice is wonderful in this track. I Don't Mind If You Forget Me is a catchy, throwaway number, but it is a good listen and probably the most upbeat song on the album. Dial-A-Cliché is a lush sounding number and starts winding the album down towards the closing track, Margaret on The Guilotine. The final track shows Morrissey's most biting lyrics and the instrumental outro is a wonderful, smooth exit to the album, cut short with the sound of a guilotine. That sound actually made me jump a little when I first heard it.
As I said before, this is a rejuvinated album that stands just as strong as anything that The Smiths did. The reason this album works is because of the split. All four members regard the making of Strangeways as the highpoint of their carreer. If it all stayed happy like this, there wouldn't have been the tension in the band that lead to the creation of such great records. Therefore, Viva Hate is by far a superior album to anything that would have been made had the Smiths not split, because it was born out of a very tense and hard time for Morrissey, as he knew he needed to prove himself or lose his carreer and thankfully, he made it.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 27 June 2004
Released in 1988 - and immediately written off by the newly baggy loving critics as an attempt by Morrissey to ape the style and sound of the recently defunct Smiths - Viva Hate has retained something of an unjust, negative reputation as illustrating the singer's initial career false-start and, is undeservedly considered to be a weaker effort than later joys, Your Arsenal, Vauxhall & I, and the recent, You Are the Quarry. But why is this? Viva Hate remains one of my favourite albums of the 80's, and is still - as far as I'm concerned - the perfect introduction to the wonders of Morrissey-solo.
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?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 April 2010
Viva Hate was Morrissey's debut solo album, The Smiths split in the autumn of 1987 and this excellent first offering from Mozzer followed 6 months later. Viva Hate reunites Morrissey with producer Stephen Street (who produced The Smiths final studio album "Strangeways here we come"), and the two combine with excellent guitarist Vinni Reilly to brilliantly craft together some superb songs, notably "Suedehead", "Everyday Is Like Sunday", "Late Night, Maudlin Street" and "I Don't Mind If You Forget Me". Viva Hate gives us a hint as to how The Smiths would've sounded if they carried on for one more album, and as with most Smiths albums there are no weak songs here and Morrissey is lyrically in a league of his own.
This re-packaged version could've been so much better if it had all of the b-sides from the 1988/89 era, instead of random tracks that have little or no connection to Viva Hate. Songs like Will never marry, Sister I'm a poet (from Everyday is like Sunday), & Hairdresser on fire, I know very well how I got my name, and Oh well I'll never learn (from Suedehead) would all be at home with the original 12 Viva hate tracks. EMI could've had a 5/5 here, sadly a missed opportunity to improve an already excellent album. Thank heavens though for the eery yet brilliant Michael's Bones (from Last of the famous international playboys), a wise inclusion here.
The original album reached number one in the UK charts (something The Smiths achieved only once), and put Morrissey the solo star firmly on the map. There have been many solo albums from Mozzer since 1988, but few have reached the heights Viva Hate scaled 20 odd years ago. This album really has everything, well-produced elegant songs, features superb musicians and showcases Morrissey at his peak. Definitely recommended, especially if you've got into The Smiths recently and want to explore further with Morrissey's solo catalogue.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2006
A Morrissey fan for the best part of a decade now, I still rate this piece of work as one of his finest. From the slightly dated intro of 'Alsatian Cousin', through to the undeniably 'serious-Moz-fan-only' epic 'Late night, Maudlin street'; the unmistakably unique Morrissey sound prevails with impressive consistency. Neither commercial nor particularly difficult in sound, Viva Hate is in my view the greatest introduction to his solo era.
I can see why fans at the time were somewhat disappointed with Mozza's departure from the classic Smith formula, but in many way's, this is why I have great love for Viva Hate…it was certainly a brave move at the time in question.
Political, yet not overtly so, comedic, and yet typically engagingly dark...it ticks all the right boxes for me. 'Break up the family' is worth the price of this album alone in my opinion, and the purity of Morrissey's voice within this long player is often why I head back to this one time and time again.
In short, an absolute must for the obligatory Morrissey record collection!
His first solo effort since the break up of The Smiths, 'Viva Hate' had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, as lead single and instant Moz classic, 'Suedehead' was to prove Stephen Patrick was well up to the challenge. For the most part, this album is a triumph including all of the ingredients that go to making a great Morrissey record. The great mans lyrics are full of his trademarks Ie; passion, wit, humour, intelligence, anger, romantic nostalgia and of course controversy..
Apart from the classic first two singles 'Suedehead' and 'Everyday Is Like Sunday' my favourite track is the short but powerful 'Little Man What Now'. Being an incredibly sentimental person myself, the lyrics about an old pop or film star being 'reduced to a few pages in a faded annual' really touched me. Other highlights from the original album tracklist include 'Break Up The Family', the romantic and sad 'Angel, Angel, Down We Go Together' and the somewhat controversial 'Bengali In Platforms'. Things do taper off a little towards the end of the original set as none of the last three tracks ('I Don't Mind.. to Margaret') are Morrisseys best. Of the extra tracks added here, best are the hilariously witty 'Girl Least Likely Too' and the sombre and dark 'Ive Changed My Plea To Guilty', the rest of the extra tracks being somewhat of a mixed bag. So then, not the mans very best collection but pretty essential nevertheless.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2007
I'm still listening to this album 20 years after first buying it. I agree with other reviewers who say the extra tracks shouldn't have been added/cover shouldn't have been changed. Best track for me? Late night, Maudlin Street (I'm listening to it now) - 'Yes you found love, but you weren't at peace with your life' - AAAAAHHH, the perversity of youth.
Morrissey, in a rare interview with Jools Holland, was asked a question about when he's performing. He answered "I don't perform, seals perform"
A brilliant man!
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 17 July 2002
Hard to describe Morrissey's much-maligned solo debut album. Generally well-received on it's first release, "Viva Hate" has since been met with a slightly less warm response.
In it's defence, it does contain the two great singles, "Suedehead" and "Everyday Is Like Sunday", which easily rank alongside the best of The Smiths. Similarly, "Late Night, Maudlin Street" is a true epic, an emotionally exhausting autobiographical journey and one of the album's stronger tracks.
As if to match the album's mixed reactions, it's also very mixed stylistically. The harsh, caterwhauling guitars on "Alsation Cousin" and "I Don't Mind If You Forget Me" contrast greatly with the pleasantly soft, lilting acoustics of "Margaret On The Guillotine" and "Bengali In Platforms".
Lyrically, Morrissey is as good as ever. The much-maligned "Bengali In Platforms" may seem rather insensitive in these PC days, but is more of a naive and innocent, "common man's" observation. Certainly more so than the racist terrace-chant the criticism would almost have you believe.
To be fair, at least it gets your attention. The original album ends with the incredibly weak "Dial-A-Cliche" and the frustratingly empty "Margaret On The Guillotine". Both of which close the album with a pathetic whimper, disappointing after the strong start.
As for the extra tracks, an assortment of b-sides mostly from around '89-'91. Well, they seem a rather pointless inclusion to be perfectly honest. Generally unremarkable, there are still a couple of neat tracks there, "At Amber" and "Let The Right One Slip In" are quite effective, as is "Girl Least Likely To" and the great live version of "Disappointed".
Overall then, a rather mixed collection of tracks, and evidence of the new territory Morrissey was moving into at the time. On first listen, "Viva Hate" seems to pale in comparison to Mozza's Smiths work, but it's a grower and rewards with repeated listenings.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2002
Even though I've already heard most of the extra tracks,this cd is worth getting because these songs are rare & were recorded during Morrissey's early years.The best of the extra tracks are 'Girl Least Likely To' which was a b-side to the single 'November Spawned a Monster'.The song contains one of the best lyrics Morrissey has ever written,about a girl who wants to get published.In fact,all the extra tracks are b-sides,& excellent ones at that.
As for the main tracks on Viva Hate,this was the cd that proved Morrissey could still attract an audience after the demise of The Smiths.The best tracks are 'Everyday is Like Sunday','Late Night Maudlin Street','Suedehead','The Ordinary Boys'.Then there is the song that will remind us of the Margaret Thatcher years,'Margaret on the Guillotine'.
And just as a reminder to diehard fans,the picture on the cover of the cd is an older picture of Morrissey back in the days when he had his famous quiff.What a lovely memory.