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Morrissey - Swords [Album]

Morrissey - Swords [Album]


Review 5548 Views
Last Edited by: Jack Stovin October 9th, 2009.

One might assume that, in a time when single sales have reached an all-time low, b-sides won't be the top material for the artist. The reason is simple; hardly anyone will know of its existence, so why bother? That's exactly what non-album tracks are made for, record companies argue - to give the customer something exclusive, but that's just nonsense. Only people already eager to buy the singles will buy the singles eventually, and no one else.

This is, for Morrissey however no reason not to lighten up his singles with non-album tracks and live performances and consequently re-release those songs as an album too. "Swords" comes up only months after his latest commercial triumph 'Years of Refusal' that contains the b-sides of the singles he released over the last five years.

Of course releasing a compilation album containing previously released singles isn't completely new to Morrissey. The singer who sees himself being more popular than ever, thanks to the legacy the Smiths left behind, has been here many times before. In fact, 'Bona Drag,' 'World of Morrissey,' 'My Early Burglary Years,' 'The CD Singles '88-91' and 'The CD Singles '91-'95' all did the same trick before and it didn't stop him from doing it again and again. So why not hey?

One argument in favour of releasing this album, which contains b-sides from the 'You Are the Quarry' singles (8), 'Ringleader of the Tormentors' (7), 'Greatest Hits' (3) and 'Years of Refusal' (2) is the quality. Despite being left out of the initial albums, most songs are in fact quite good. Morrissey may not write as sharply and as cryptic as he once did, but songs like 'Ganglord,' 'The Never-Played Symphonies' and the Smiths-echoing 'Shame is the Name,' 'I Knew I Was Next' and 'Teenage Dad on his Estate' live up to the expectations that he always surrounds himself by. Also Morrissey might not be as good as he used to be after all these years, but he certainly does sound inspired. His original touch on both the lyrics and vocals are still on top form. By releasing three studio albums in five years, the man's obviously still eager to show his craftsmanship.

In the end though only one question remains unanswered: who is it for? For the fans who already bought the singles? Or for the people who didn't bother buying the singles despite the exclusive non-album b-sides? At worst you can it's a "semi-new album," with twenty overlooked Morrissey songs finally getting a true release. But by covering Morrissey's own compositions only, the live songs and covers are left out, as are the Morrissey penned b-side 'The Public Image' plus two songs only appearing on the deluxe edition of 'You Are the Quarry.' It's not really a proper release, especially when realizing that two tracks actually included on the album are not even mentioned on the track list.

Although Morrissey's "Swords" is, with its twenty tracks plus an additional eight track live disc, a bit long, it does have its moments but knowing that his nine studio albums were accompanied by as many compilation albums - the latest even compiled incomplete and incorrectly - he might ask himself, how much of an artistic challenge is this?

Morrissey at | Alternative Music Online

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