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on 21 August 2005
This is, quite possibly, the best Morrissey solo album. Indeed, there is stiff competition from 1992's heavier Your Arsenal and then, more recently, You are the Quarry, but still, this 1994 release remains something of a pinnacle within the context of his career.
Vauxhall & I was released during the period in which Morrissey still found favour amongst the record buying public - no doubt clinging to the nostalgia of the Smiths - though it was clear that the music press, particularly those at the NME, were poised for a break towards the retro sounds of Britpop, and the whole Blur versus Oasis debacle in general. This was also the period in which Morrissey found himself accused of racism due to the content of songs like Asian Rut, Bengali in Platforms and the National Front Disco, whilst his flirtation with nationalist iconography, Union Jacks and so-on, made those in the press feel slightly uncomfortable. All these factors now seem silly when looked at a decade on, and merely detracted from the greatness of this album and, in effect, soured a time when Morrissey should have been as celebrated as the likes of Paul Weller and Joe Strummer, etc. Instead, the negative press would lead him to those two difficult albums (Southpaw Grammar and Maladjusted), a bust up with his record label, and eventually, his exile from Britain.
This is a sad fact, since Vauxhall & I remains one of the best albums of the last decade, and is the one that, along with Viva Hate, remains the best introduction to the wonders of Morrissey solo. The album as a whole has a great sound to it, with Morrissey once again writing with guitarists Boz Boorer and Alain Whyte, who here craft a series of intoxicating textures for the singer to couple his wordy and evocative tales of woe. There's also a great sense of cohesion, with Morrissey using the songs to analyse a set theme, whilst sound samples are used to heighten the atmosphere... all supervised by Steve Lillywhite, who here, for the first of three albums with Morrissey, does some of the best production work of his career.
His presence gives the record an almost conceptual flow, though none of the subtle instrumental touches are lost within the mire of creativity; with opening track Now My Heart is Full capturing both Morrissey and the band at something approaching an artistic peak. The melody is stunning, whilst the lyrics give us swathes of that trademark melancholic romanticism, with evocative verses that conjure real images in our mind. There are even nods towards Graham Greene's classic novel Brighton Rock, with the chorus "Dallow, Spicer, Pinkie, Cubitt, all the jammy Stressford poets, loafing oafs in all night chemists... ah, but Bunny I loved you!!"... all adding up to create possibly the greatest four minutes and fifty-seven seconds that Morrissey has ever created.
Meanwhile, Spring Heeled Jim covers a similar subject matter as the previous track (that being street crime and wayward/misspent youth), but with a sonic-soundscape that is as far removed from anything he ever created with the Smiths (...the whole song features non-stop sound-samples from an old British crime film - the title of which escapes me - which helps to give the track an even greater sense of narrative flow!!). Billy Budd is a more up-temp number and feels like a throwback to the harder, Mick Ronson-produced sound of Your Arsenal... certainly at odds with the lulled, distorted melodies found herein, but still, a great track; bringing to mind old classics like We Hate it When Our Friends Become Successful and Glamorous Glue. Both Hold on to Your Friends and Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself offer up that trademark Morrissey sound and, along with one of the album's all-time high-points, I am Hated for Loving, shows Morrissey in a confident, reinvigorated light. The record manages to maintain a dreamlike feeling throughout, but also offers more than enough moments of pure alternative perfection, with big single of the time, The More You Ignore Me the Closer I Get, even managing to dent the UK top ten, as well as offering an early prophetic glimpse of Morrissey's views surrounding the legendary Smiths' court case, with the lyric "I bear more grudges, than lonely high court judges".
Lifeguard Sleeping, Girl Downing is an atmospheric downer that shows Morrissey making allusions to progressive-rock (something that would become more pronounced, to an extent, on the next album), whilst mumbling almost spoken-word vocals and lyrics that take their inspiration from writers like Douglas Coupland and Stevie Smith ("it was only a test, but she swam too far against the tide... she deserves all she gets") and can be seen in continuation with the summery, though, at the same time, completely threatening, The Lazy Sunbathers (with the great refrain "please, keep the noise down low..."). This of course primes us for that great closing number, Speedway, which is another harder-sounding track, with guitars that sound like chainsaws (...though I think the desired effect was supposed to be motorcycle engines) and, as ever, some extraordinary lyrics.
As stated before, Vauxhall & I represents Morrissey's best strengths as both a vocal performer and as a lyricist, and features some of his best ever songs. Although, it must be stressed that those just discovering Morrissey following the commercial success of You Are the Quarry should probably try Viva Hate and the compilation Bona Drag first - which show Morrissey working with a style that is closer to the Smiths - those looking for something that elaborates on that sound (not to mention being a little more emotionally expressive) should proceed directly to this masterpiece right here.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 April 2007
'Vauxhall And I' is widely regarded as Morrissey's best album and listening to it it's easy to see why. Not only does it include some of the great man's best ever solo tracks, this collection also works tremendously well as an album listen too. Opener 'Now My Heart Is Full' pretty much sets the standard really and many people will be able to relate to the lyrics. 'Spring Heeled Jim' is another Mozzer classic and the clever use of samples on the track ably assist Morrissey in making his point about the distainful way that most teenagers seem to view the law these days and how ridiculously light sentences are. My personal favourite on the album though is the poignant mid-tempo 'Hold Onto Your Friends' which in a fair world would have been a no1 hit just for creatiive merit alone and will be regarded by anyone that's ever been let down by someone they considered a close friend as a song that evokes mixed feelings within them. Also especially good here are 'Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself', 'I Am Hated For Loving' and single 'The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get'. If you have even the slightest interest in Morrissey you should own this album it really is that simple!
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on 4 June 2014
DON'T PANIC! Fellow Moz acolytes. The two stars given above are for this very dismal effort of a 20th anniversary, definitive remaster from Warner Bros.

The music is still the absolute best of Morrissey's solo career to date. There's not a wasted syllable or musical note on it. Wonderful from start to finish.

However, those fans thinking of diving in and purchasing this newly released edition please beware. Firstly, Parlophone/Warner Bros. have made NO EFFORT WHATSOEVER in the remastering of the original album. Indeed, having compared and contrasted the original cd release with this one, i'm honestly very hard pushed to say that there is any difference in aural quality between the two editions.

All instrumentation remains far too low in the overall sound mix, lacking distinction and clarity. The original cassette tape release has more enjoyable sound than this version.This extremely basic issue should have been addressed by the remastering drone who carried out the job. Jimmy Page's work a number of years ago on Led Zep's 'Mothership' set the standard for modern remastering. Every instrument given a brightness and clarity, along with a fullness of sound that just wasn't present or possible when the tracks were originally released.

I suppose i shouldn't be surprised that this edition of 'Vauxhall and I' is so poor. There has been a growing trend recently from Warners, Universal, etc, to churn out these so called anniversary editions of great albums, but for them to invest minimal effort in doing so.

Secondly, and lastly, there is no accompanying cd insert/sleevenotes or new essay discussing the importance of this album in Morrissey's career. NOT A THING! I actually did a double check after opening my sealed copy from Amazon just in case it had somehow dropped out. Not even a bit printed on the sleeve to indicate who the musicians were that played on the album. Even the original cassette gave this info.

Some may want to buy this for the accompanying live show on cd2. This disc is ok-ish, its worthwhile as a historical document of a Morrissey live show around that time and has tracks from 'Vauxhall and I' on it. It's also easy to understand why this hasn't had an official release until now.

So, if you're considering purchasing this as a definitive version of a brilliant Morrissey album, then i'm sorry to inform you that this release is not that version.

Please make more effort Warner Bros. next time!
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on 25 November 1999
This album is the best piece of work that Morrissey has produced certainly post Smiths but in my view inclusive of the Smiths back catalogue. Morrissey again teams up with Alan White & Boz Boorer who co-wrote on "Your Arsenal" to produce songs of stature, feeling and depth far removed from the Rockabilly style of the previous outing. There are some seminal tracks, though for me Spring Heeled Jim, is outstanding,with its wailing wall of guitars and murmur of East end voices underneath. Now my heart is full is an beautiful opener and Speedway opening with a chainsaw and ending with the hammer of reverbed drums is a splendid close to this album. The production is superb and live performances of material since have had difficulty capturing the sentiment of the album which is a perfectly pitched mix of understatement, introspection and strength.
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on 20 August 2003
I probably can't add anything to what has already been said but I concur with those who think this is Morrissey's finest hour.
Unquestionably it is.
The Smiths, undeniably produced some fine songs that worked on many different levels but their albums were prone to lapses. The occassional ditty that didn't work or self-indulgent drone. There is nothing like that here. It is one of the most consistently moving albums I have ever heard.
Morrissey is at his cutting best on Spring Heeled Jim. A song that is both satirically swiping yet similarly saddening. Why don't you find out for yourself is both resigned and defensive. And only Morrisssey could come up with a song called "Lifeguard Sleeping Girl Drowning". What is more, only Morrissey could make it work. Breathtaking.
The whole lapse into decadation and despair is inevitable according to this album. Morrissey seems resigned to it (Used to be a Sweet Boy) and moreover there is nothing one can do to prevent it (The more you ignore me the closer I get.)
In short this is an incredibly consistent and emotive album. The humourous asides exist to be juxta posed against, and to reinforce, tragedy. Blinding.
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on 7 April 2008
This is without a shadow of a doubt Morrissey's finest solo album and is in fact one of the greatest albums of his whole career. Fans often regard Morrissey's solo career as somewhat inferior to his work with the Smiths but Meat is Murder aside which is probably the greatest album ever released (subjective of course), I believe this to be Morrissey's finest work. Lyrically it's unbeatable, it's rich with feeling, its upfront, self-confessional honesty is inspiring, he reaches heights artistically and emotionally that he has proved incapable of reaching subsequently. If Morrissey was the inspired youth whilst with the Smiths by the time he releases this album he has become the inspired adult it's simply sublime.

Music, like all art, is a medium of communication and never has communication been more pure and enlightening, the humanity of this album is so rich and entrenched that it seeps into the soul of the listener and will never be forgotten. Morrissey and Marr were true geniuses when they worked together but with this album Morrissey proves that he has a genius all of his own. Simply and truly a record of immense greatness.
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VINE VOICEon 6 April 2005
Released in 1994, just as Britpop was beginning to dominant the British music scene, Morrisey emerged with his finest album to date, showing the likes of Jarvis,Damin and Noel, how it should be done. There are no filler tracks on this album. Perhaps its most familar song is the single, The More You Ignore Me,The Closer I get, the kind of song The Smiths could have done a decade earlier. Billy Bud, also deserves special mention. But the best track is the superb, Spring Heel Jim, a real gem of a song.
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on 1 February 2005
I could wax lyrical ad nauseum about this guy, but yet another hagiography won't help the casual observer. Suffice to say he is often grossly misrepresented, inspires deep devotion or absolute, unbridled ridicule, and the grey area inbetween is non-existent. However, to excite such polarity of opinion, for over twenty years, is fairly suggestive of a certain uniqueness.
'Vauxhall & I' was recorded seven years after the Smiths spluttered out, when most of the music cognoscenti gleefully believed his early solo promise had similarly petered out. Not so, oh so wrong.
I seriously commend this album to Morrissey beginners, as not only is the the best example of all his strengths (wonderful obliqueness, lyrical humour, mordancy, ambiguity, idiosyncratic cultural references, a clutch of superb tunes), it remains, with 'You Are The Quarry', the most well-produced and symbolic of the man's talents. Personal faves - Billy Budd (rumoured to be about him and Marr, though with Morrissey one is never sure) and Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself - so, as Mozza says, why don't you?
And he is awesome live - catch him if you get the chance.
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on 24 June 2003
I have recommended this collection of wonderous tunes to 'all of my friends, i dont have too many'over the years. even those misguided types who still believe morrissey to be 'that miserable git with the flowers' still have enough savvy to comprehend real quality when they witness it.
the tracks 'why dont you find out for yourself, now my heart is full, and I am hated for loving are among the most accomplished pieces of music you will ever come across. In Vauxhall and I morrissey captures the true essence of human emotion, a rare quality in the history of popular music.
Just take a few moments to look through your cd collection and ask yourself; 'How many of these am I truly proud of?'
Then put on track 6 of Vauxhall and I, and find out for yourself.
enough said.
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on 7 June 2014
It is now a consensus that this is Morrissey's greatest solo release, this I completely agree with, but I often get the feeling that if it had been the Smiths that had released Vauxhall And I then it would've gained many more plaudits than it has now.

Now My Heart Is Full, Speedway and Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself are among Morrissey's greatest recordings, while The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get was a great single and possibly his biggest hit in the US.
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