Morrissey – Kill Uncle


Artist: Morrissey

Genre: Rock
Title: Kill Uncle
Released: 1991
Label: Sire
Format: CD
Musicians: Morrissey – vocals, Mark E. Nevin – guitar, Mark Bedford – bass guitar
Andrew Paresi – percussion, drums, Seamus Beaghen – keyboards, Steven Heart – keyboards, Nawazish Ali Khan – violin, John Deacon – bass guitar (tracks 2, 4 and 8)
Linder Sterling – background vocals
Producer: Alan Winstanley and Clive Langer

Kill Uncle is the second solo studio album by English singer Morrissey. It is generally considered Morrissey’s most unconventional album, probably due to its mature torch song (“There Is a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends”) aspects combined with quirky music and lyrics that range from ironic and tongue-in-cheek to some of his more introspective.

Kill Uncle was recorded when Morrissey was in a transitional phase. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kill_Uncle

1. “Our Frank” – On “Our Frank”, Morrissey’s lyrics describe “frank and open, deep conversations” that get him nowhere and leave him disheartened.The song features some uncharacteristic production for the singer, with Morrissey’s voice being overdubbed and echoed. The bass line is also interesting.
2. “Asian Rut” – I find this track as one of the worst on the CD. The music itself is disturbing, but it must be pointed out that it was supposed to be. I first thought that it was a quasi racist song, but I found out that while the song does indeed deal with racism, it is actually against racism. It turns out “Asian Rut” is a tale about the murder of an Asian by three English boys in which Morrissey’s vocals are backed only by strings and bass, plus sound effects, lending an eerie quality to the somber narrative. The song continues the tradition of Morrissey examining English racism from a unique angle. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kill_Uncle
3. “Sing Your Life” – This is one of the better songs on the CD with a subtle rockabilly flavor. The strings from the first two tracks are present in the song as well, and they rise and fall in a fashion similar to “Our Frank”. The song has Morrissey instructing the listener on how to make a song, as he sings, “Walk right up to the microphone and name all the things you love, all the things you loathe.” Ironically enough, a rockabilly version of the song also exists, recorded live at KROQ in Los Angeles.
4. “Mute Witness” – “Mute Witness”, the fourth track, features piano backing composed by Clive Langer. The song is a somewhat farcical tale of an attempt to get information out of a witness who cannot speak at a trial.
5. “King Leer” – The upright acoustic  bass carries this song, which is kind of a silly song with its use of puns.
6. “Found Found Found” Langer – “Found Found Found”, another Langer track, is the only heavy song on the album. I’m all about heavier songs, but this one is not all that good in my opinion especially when you add over-compressed dirty bass.
7. “Driving Your Girlfriend Home” – In this ballad, Morrissey tells of how he’s driving the girlfriend of one of his friend’s home. He reveals that she asks him, “‘How did I end up so deeply involved in the very existence I planned on avoiding?'” and that “She’s laughing to stop herself crying.” These outpourings are interspersed with driving instructions, and Morrissey tells us, “I can’t tell her” what he feels about her and that the ride concludes with them “shaking hands goodnight so politely.” In a surprise twist of fate, I can realistically relate to this song. Too bad the music is somewhat annoying and strange in my opinion.
8. “The Harsh Truth of the Camera Eye” – This often cited as Morrissey’s most misunderstood song ever recorded. I find this song to sound like a track to a horror film about evil clowns (clowns are evil anyway). It turns out that the lyrics are describing the “pain because of the strain of smiling” and the dichotomy between one’s public image and private personality. The music consists of a carnival-like synthesizer and features sound effects like that of a door slamming and a camera lens snapping, along with piano accompaniment. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kill_Uncle
9. “(I’m) The End of the Family Line” – This song sounds like the same structure as the previous one and just as depressing. The singer rues that he will never have children, an insult into the “fifteen generations … of mine” that produced him.
10. “There’s a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends” – This is just a terrible sounding song in my opinion.
11. “Tony the Pony” – This song is only on the US version of the album. While it is more upbeat, it is equally stupid.

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Verve – A Storm In Heaven (Vernon Yard Recordings)

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Artist: The Verve
Genre: Post -rock, Shoegaze, Space Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Brit Pop
Title: A Storm In Heaven (Vernon Yard Recordings)
Released:1993
Label: Hut Records
Format:CD
Musicians: Richard Ashcroft – vocals, bass, guitars, percussion, Nick McCabe – guitars, piano, Peter Salisbury – drums, percussion, Simon Jones – bass, backing vocals,
Additional musicians:Simon Clarke – solo flute, horn arrangements, Kick Horns – trumpets, saxophones, Yvette Lacey – chorus flute, Roddy Lorimer – horn arrangements
Producer: John Leckie
Engineer: John Cornfield
Mix Engineer: John Leckie

The Verve were an English rock band formed in Wigan in 1990 by lead vocalist Richard Ashcroft, guitarist Nick McCabe, bass guitarist Simon Jones and drummer Peter Salisbury. Guitarist and keyboard player Simon Tong became a member at a later date.

Beginning with a psychedelic sound, by the mid-1990s the band had released several EPs and four albums. It also endured name and line-up changes, break-ups, health problems, drug abuse and various lawsuits, you know, the usual stuff. The band’s commercial breakthrough was the 1997 album Urban Hymns, one of the best-selling albums in UK Chart history.  Soon after their commercial peak, the Verve broke up in April 1999, citing internal conflicts. The group’s rise was the culmination of a long, arduous journey that began at the dawn of the decade and went on to encompass a major breakup, multiple lawsuits, and an extensive diet of narcotics”. The band’s original line-up reunited in June 2007, embarking on a tour later that year and releasing the album Forth in August 2008, which spawned the hit single “Love Is Noise”. Amid revived tensions, the band broke up for the second time in 2009.

1993’s A Storm in Heaven was the band’s full-length debut, produced by record producer John Leckie (of Simple Minds, Radiohead, The Stone Roses, XTC and The Fall fame). During this period the band played a number of gigs with Oasis who, at the time, were relatively unknown. The band then played on the travelling U.S. alternative rock festival, Lollapalooza, in the summer of 1994. The tour became notorious for the events of 11 July – Ashcroft was hospitalised for dehydration after a massive session of drinking and Salisbury was arrested for destroying a hotel room in Kansas in a drug-fuelled delirium. However, the band were performing again the very next day. Ashcroft later recalled: “At the start, it was an adventure, but America nearly killed us.”
You can read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Verve

A Storm in Heaven originated during the band’s four-week stay outside of Llandudno, Wales. According to producer John Leckie, the band worked until “4 a.m. every night…they were quite a nocturnal band…they didn’t get much sleep. They smoked a lot of dope.” Drummer Pete Salisbury’s percussion was inspired by Dr. John, the Night Tripper’s Gris-Gris album, while the brass section from the Kick Horns on “The Sun, The Sea” and “Butterfly” was influenced by Fun House (The Stooges album). Like the band’s prior EPs and singles, most of the songs on this album are bathed in heavy layers of delay (echo) and reverb, used on both the guitars and the vocals, to give a disorienting psychedelic overall effect.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Storm_in_Heaven

The problem is that this CD  is slightly thin sounding, but more than that , the guitars are clipped in several spots and the vocals get lost occasionally.

1. “Star Sail”- The timing of this tune is similar to Jane’s Addiction only a bit slower. This makes sense seeing that the Verve’s first American gig was at Lallapalooza with Jane’s Addiction. Unfortunately the vocals get lost at points.
2. “Slide Away” – This is one of my favorites on the album. I just like the structure and the lyrics are great.
3. “Already There” – This song sounds almost shoegaze flavored, but with positive lyrics. The energy picks up about half way through with power choruses, but sadly, this song was poorly recorded in my opinion. Guitars are clipped.
4. “Beautiful Mind” – This tune is definitely psychedelic, but a bit over-done on the echo making it hard to follow and the lyrics unintelligible. One of my least favorite tracks.
5. “The Sun, The Sea” – This has the hard rock, Verve sound familiar from the time of Urban Hymns. I like the bridge of this song, not that it is anything special, but just very appropriate in my opinion. Again, the guitars sound clipped here.
6. “Virtual World” – This tune is more post-rock than anything else and more mellow, but the singing is annoying in my opinion and the instrumentation is not notable either.
7. “Make It ‘Til Monday” – This sounds like filler material to me and rather messy.
8. “Blue” – This is a straight psychedelic rock sound with a nice drive to it. Good tune in my opinion.
9. “Butterfly” – To me this song sounds like psychedelic rock meets delta blues. It’s kind of interesting and I’m not sure what to make of it exactly, but I don’t dislike it. The lyrics pertain directly to the so-called butterfly effect.
10. “See You in the Next One (Have a Good Time)” – To me, this is just an OK ballad. The song is built on a subdued piano motif played by McCabe and atmospheric acoustic guitars played by vocalist Richard Ashcroft.

It’s too bad the production on this CD is not that great.

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The Sun And The Sea: https://youtu.be/lmeJPGjOqI0

10,000 Maniacs – Blind Man’s Zoo

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Artist: 10,000 Maniacs
Title: Blind Man’s Zoo
Released: 1989
Label: Elektra
Format: Cassette Tape
Musicians:Jerome Augustyniak – drums,Robert Buck – electric guitar, acoustic guitar,Dennis Drew – organ, piano,Steve Gustafson – bass guitar, Natalie Merchant – vocals, piano, pipe organ. Additional musicians: Jevetta Steele – backing vocals, Jason Osborn – arrangement, orchestral direction, Krista Bennion Feeney – first violin, Mitsuru Tsubota – second violin, Louise Schulman – viola, Myron Lutzke – cello, Dennis Godburn – bassoon, Robert Wolinsky – harpsichord, Scott Kuney – classical guitar
Frank Luther – double bass
Producer: Peter Asher
Engineer: Frank Filipetti

This is the fourth release from 10,000 Maniacs. The vinyl version was pressed on high quality audiophile vinyl. As you can see from above, my version is on tape (which incidentally, I  transferred to CD). Continue reading