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Meetings with Morrissey Hardcover – 30 Jul 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Omnibus Press; First edition (30 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847723764
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847723765
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 299,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"As one of his early journalist confidants Len Brown is well qualified to explore the windmills of Morrissey's mind...For Morrissey's perspective on the life of Morrissey there's no finer biography available." (Johnny Dee)
-- Classic Rock, December 2008

"Can much more be written about Steven Patrick Morrissey, bard of Manchester, the voice of a million dispirited youngsters? Apparently, yes. There have been scores of books about the former Smiths frontman, but Len Brown's 'Meeting With Morrissey' gives them all a run for their money.

"Ex-NME writer turned TV producer Brown claims to have met Morrissey 'more times than any other journalist', was the first to interview the iconic singer after the demise of The Smiths and he dismisses those other biographies, rather scathingly, as the work of stalkers or Google cut 'n' pasters.

"Brown says to understand Morrissey it's important to know that it begins and ends with Oscar Wilde. And that's where we begin here - in room 118 of the Cadogan Hotel, just off London's Sloane Square, where Wilde was arrested on charges of homosexuality and where Brown's first meeting with Morrissey occurred. That 'New Morrissey Express' interview is reproduced here but there are several previously unpublished encounters, too.

"Brown doesn't pretend to be a great friend or great confidant of Morrissey but his meetings have allowed him, on the evidence here, to get closer to the heart of the intensely private, yet outspoken star.

"As well as delving into the meanings of Morrissey's famed lyrics, Brown offers a comprehensive review of the singer's career and includes an informative A-Z of Morrissey's influences: Oscar Wilde, of course, the musicians from Bolan to Bowie to the New York Dolls, the Coronation Street actresses and the 'Kitchen Sink' characters which adorned many a Smiths single cover.

"There's not too much new here for the true obsessives, but it's still essential reading for Mozza fans; they may be happy now."
(Abigail Kemp) -- Manchester Evening News, August 30 2008

Brown has conducted more interviews with Morrissey than most, which lends the book an authenticity, not often found: `'On threadbare Manchester council estates once a year fairs would come round. It was a period of tremendous violence, hate, distress, high romance and all the truly vital things in life.''

Brown suggests such thinking, along with much of Morrissey's work, is `'realism rather than pessimism,'' and I for one, am inclined to agree. I also believe this biography is truly blessed with all the right information and reasoning. Not only does it enable the reader to both discover and embrace Morrissey through simple prose, it explores many of the artists he himself has celebrated - including Patti Smith, James Dean, Pat Phoenix, Marc Bolan, Billy Fury and the inevitable New York Dolls (of whose fan club back in the day, Morrissey was UK President!). More than anyone, the book investigates the subject's lifelong fascination with the brilliant Oscar Wilde: `'Although he was the most intelligent, he simplified everything. Therefore practically everybody could read Oscar Wilde and understand. He wasn't complicated. Yet he still left you lying on the bed... panting. It was so real and truthful.'' -- Book Review, David Marx, October 2008

Brown lifts the lid on one of the most individual performers we have today - from Morrissey's sexuality to what still drives him. Often biographies don't tell us anything new - this is an exception. Fans will love this insight into Morrissey. -- The Sun newspaper September 2008

Now my head is full As a man whose meeting with Morrissey, both formal and informal, stretch back to being the first to interview the solo Moz in 1988, and on into 2003 and his pre-You Are The Quarry resurgence, Brown has more credentials than most to hurl a book about Steven Patrick out into the market. A self-confessed Smiths diehard, he also avoids turning this into some fawning Mozfather love-in.

It's not quite bursting with unprinted interviews. Most of the text re-tells the story, with Brown's own personal experiences (of Morrissey and other events in his life) adding colour, turning these memoirs-cum- biography into a hugely enjoyable read. What we get is a portrait of a man who, to reference Oscar Wilde as Brown does, has turned his life into a work of art.

Brown takes Moz's declaration that "everything's linked, everybody takes from the artists they love" as a manifesto, tracing Morrissey's story through his literature, British film/TV and female pop influences. Ultimately (and sometimes wearily overbearingly so), it leads right back to Wilde, Morrissey's biggest love. The final chapter, tying up all the influences and parallels between the artists' lives, might get a bit much, mind. Without being brainsizzlingly new, Brown's turned out a very fair, even-handed account that happily gets you running back to those records to play detective yourself. -- Record Collector, November 2008

Renowned broadcaster and scribe Len Brown might just have written the most compelling tome in the near library of Moz biographies. His Meetings With Morrissey draws on a lifetime's worth of encounters to try and lift the veil on the enigma. Fresh insights are provided, with the body of work and sources of inspiration outlined with forensic detail. Perhaps the greatest triumph here though is the sense that Brown has teased out more of the real Morrissey - whoever he is - than any other chronicler to date. -- AU Magazine, September 2008

There is much to enjoy here; the interview material is sparkling and Brown's extrapolations on the figures who populate Morrissey's imagination, from the obvious (Oscar Wilde, James Dean) to the more obscure (TV's pioneering camp hairdresser Raymond 'Teasy-Weasy' Bessone) show an impressive grasp of Mozza arcana...one of the better books on the man who has claimed onstage to be Stinky Turner, Stan Ogden and 'Bruce Springroll'. -- Mojo, December 2008

Review

Now my head is full As a man whose meeting with Morrissey, both formal and informal, stretch back to being the first to interview the solo Moz in 1988, and on into 2003 and his pre-You Are The Quarry resurgence, Brown has more credentials than most to hurl a book about Steven Patrick out into the market. A self-confessed Smiths diehard, he also avoids turning this into some fawning Mozfather love-in.

It's not quite bursting with unprinted interviews. Most of the text re-tells the story, with Brown's own personal experiences (of Morrissey and other events in his life) adding colour, turning these memoirs-cum- biography into a hugely enjoyable read. What we get is a portrait of a man who, to reference Oscar Wilde as Brown does, has turned his life into a work of art.

Brown takes Moz's declaration that "everything's linked, everybody takes from the artists they love" as a manifesto, tracing Morrissey's story through his literature, British film/TV and female pop influences. Ultimately (and sometimes wearily overbearingly so), it leads right back to Wilde, Morrissey's biggest love. The final chapter, tying up all the influences and parallels between the artists' lives, might get a bit much, mind. Without being brainsizzlingly new, Brown's turned out a very fair, even-handed account that happily gets you running back to those records to play detective yourself.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Len Brown's book, 'Meetings with Morrissey' is a fantastic read for those with litle knowledge of the artist who are seeking to gain an insight into the influences and history of Morrissey. Len Brown obviously has a great insight into how Morrissey works given his numerous meetings with the former Smith. In 'Meetings' Brown nails down, almost completely, almost everything one would desire to know about Morrissey's greatest influences; Oscar Wilde, sixties 'sirens', James Dean, glamorous punks and the rest. Brown leaves no stone unturned when recollecting how, when and why the artist became so enthralled in subjects that have provided him with inspiration for some of his most famous songs. The stars humble beginnings with The Smiths and their untimely downfall is also retold in gorey detail, only leaving some mystery into the deeper reasons behind the bands split. Brown also manages to cover, satisfyingly enough Morrissey's solo career from leaving the Smiths right up until 2006's 'Ringleader of the Tormentors'. There can be no complaints that the author has not done his homework, sadly, however, this is where the problems arise.

As a result of Brown's deep, deep knowledge of the star through his meetings he falls into two unfortunate pitfalls that demerit the book. Firstly, Brown devotes too much time to the study of Oscar Wilde's influence on Morrissey. Anyone who knows even a small bit of trivia about the singer will know how immensely influential the Irish literary figure has been on his song-writing and career. Brown begins to repeat specific facts about Wilde over and over, certain dates, places and even an entire chapter that concern Wilde make for frustrating reading as Brown veers too far away from the books main subject.
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Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book much more than Moz's recent autobiography. Len's account of Morrissey from Smiths to Ringleader is very warm and intimate and makes you fell like you were there during their conversations. The obvious friendship between the two men is the glamorous glue that holds the book together. I actually learned some new information while reading this book, which is a rare thing.
There are a couple of pesky insects in the ointment however:
1. Len spends far too much time detailing the Oscar Wilde connection and at one point in the final chapter almost seems to infer that Moz may be a reincarnated Wilde; comparing timelines and commen events in their lives. Note: He doesn't come out and say it so perhaps I am reading too much into it.
2. I was expecting more actual interviews, more transcribed conversations. Instead there was a fair amount of interviews padded out by album reviews etc. Still it was a good read and I especially liked the interviews with Stephen Street.

I didn't mind Len's dragging his own life into the story as it made the book more human. Also, Len's intelligent approach and research helped greatly in explaining Morrissey's fascination with books, film, plays and music and how they have influenced him (as detailed in the appendix on 'Morrissey's People'). Morrissey's deep interest in death and suicide is not news to the serious fan but on a few occasions in the book he mentions cases where people have killed themselves after their mother died (e.g. Jimmy Clitheroe). Let's hope this is not an idea floating around the back of Moz's mind.
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Format: Hardcover
Meetings with Morrissey is an account of a series of interviews with Morrissey over a 25 year period conducted by former NME man Len Brown. Not alone, Brown spent the early eighties frustrated and depressed by the state of the country and the music it was producing. That was until September 1983 when he first saw The Smiths and his despair at the re-election of Mrs Thatcher and the accompanying celebration of all things crass had a soundtrack, and a voice. Consequently, this book is more social history than biography. There are other books which focus in on the split between Morrissey and Marr and the endless (and pointless) speculation on Morrisey's sexuality and it is to this books credit that it does neither. Instead, it offers an analysis of not just why The Smiths were a great band but from whence came that searing critique which lifts The Smiths work out of the annals of pop music and places it alongside other great works of art. That critique was Morrissey's. While everybody else seemed to be saying `this is brilliant', Morrissey expressed an emotional language that I didn't have to say what I really thought and felt, `this is awful'. By revisiting the interviews he conducted with Morrissey, Brown is able to shed light on the key influences upon Morrissey. The chapter on Oscar Wilde is brilliant and gets closer than anything else to explaining the sense of sexual alienation and tragedy which underpin Morrissey's best work. However, this is just one aspect of the many and interconnected cultural stimulus that is explored to great effect. From soap opera characters to French cinema Brown creates a work that is insightful on a much deeper level than simply 'what happened where'.Read more ›
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