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Morrissey / Vauxhall And I: 20th Anniversary definitive master

Morrissey / "Vauxhall and I": 20th Anniversary Definitive Master

Rob Puricelli reviews Morrissey’s 2CD ‘Definitive Remaster’ of Vauxhall And I


In the interests of full disclosure, I am not a Morrissey fan.

But it’s not as simple as that, I’m afraid. You see, I was always appreciative of The Smiths. So many great tunes, tapping into the more angst-ridden aspects of my psyche. And as lead singer of said band, Morrissey was one quarter of the collective and whilst he had his outspoken moments, the band were the most important thing. After the split, Morrissey became numero uno and he seemed – to me anyway – to become increasingly vocal and patronising on a great many things. To hear his rants and raves, surly political faux pas and general pomposity, simply put me off giving any of his musical endeavours the time of day.

I guess I just didn’t like the fact that I seemed to hear just as much, if not more, of his politics as his music. Also off-putting, was the passion and vociferousness of his fans. I had a friend who almost turned into a female Doctor Jeckyll if I dared to question Mozza’s greatness. It really was a curious and uncomfortable thing to witness. And she wasn’t alone. I’ve found this time and again when discussing Morrissey.

Therefore, when I was asked to review this album, a 20th anniversary remaster and reissue of what many regard as his finest solo work, I knew that I had to overcome this somewhat irrational dislike of the man and really try to focus on this as objectively as I could.

gate

Gatefold card sleeve, but no liner notes, or any booklet at all

What we have here is a two-disc package, the studio album on one CD and a second CD containing the audio of a 1995 live performance at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Both discs are housed in a simple cardboard gatefold sleeve with no booklet, no liner notes and just three distinct images, and the only noticeable change to the original being a slightly different font being used on the cover. It really is a very sparse and, I have to say, disappointing package. Some press releases indicated that this new edition might be a tad more sumptuous, but unless I’ve been sent a special “cut-down” review version [you haven’t – Ed.], this is anything but sumptuous. Maybe the vinyl version has more? The remaster of the original album is purported to be “definitive”, whatever that means in this day and age of repeated re-issues and remasters, and the work has been performed by Bill Inglot, a veteran of the art of remastering, having worked on titles ranging from the Bee Gees to Booker T. & the MG’s. That said, the audio does sound rather good, but I don’t have the original to compare it to.

As for the original album, the songs are more subdued and melancholic (if that’s entirely possible for Morrissey) than the preceding, Mick Ronson produced Your Arsenal. Many attribute this tone to the fact that Ronson – and other noticeable friends of Morrissey’s – passed away before this album was conceived. What I can say is that, with repeated listens, this is a fine collection of reflective songs, all of which seem to address particular emotions or states of mind. It is little wonder he is the darling of teenage angst. I found myself listening more frequently, with many of the tunes remaining stuck in my head than I would’ve originally given them credit for. I think it is safe to say that I have found a new affection for Morrissey, or more to the point, his music. Note to self: Ignore everything else, just listen to the music.

discs

CD two offers previously unreleased 1995 live performance.

The live CD sounds equally good but I would’ve preferred content across a Blu Ray or DVD. That would’ve been more fitting of a 20th anniversary edition. But for fans, I am sure this previously unreleased live audio is still a great thing to have.

All in all, Vauxhall and I is a well crafted, beautifully rendered body of work that sounds excellent in this iteration and if you don’t own a Morrissey solo album, it is a damned fine place to start your collection. However, as milestone-celebrating reissues go, the overall presentation and packaging is disappointing. As much as I shouldn’t let it, this rather detracts from the excellence of the musical content within.

Review by Rob Puricelli / Vauxhall And I is out now.


front

2CD Deluxe Edition (2014 remaster)

Vinyl Edition (2014 remaster)


Track listing

Disc: 1

  • 1. Now My Heart Is Full (2014 – Remaster)
  • 2. Spring-Heeled Jim (2014 – Remaster)
  • 3. Billy Budd (2014 – Remaster)
  • 4. Hold On To Your Friends (2014 – Remaster)
  • 5. The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get (2014 – Remaster)
  • 6. Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself (2014 – Remaster)
  • 7. I Am Hated For Loving (2014 – Remaster)
  • 8. Lifeguard Sleeping, Girl Drowning (2014 – Remaster)
  • 9. Used To Be A Sweet Boy (2014 – Remaster)
  • 10. The Lazy Sunbathers (2014 – Remaster)
  • 11. Speedway (2014 – Remaster)

Disc: 2

  • 1. Billy Budd (Live At The Theatre Royal Drury Lane)
  • 2. Have-A-Go Merchant (Live At The Theatre Royal Drury Lane)
  • 3. Spring-Heeled Jim (Live At The Theatre Royal Drury Lane)
  • 4. London (Live At The Theatre Royal Drury Lane)
  • 5. You’re The One For Me Fatty (Live At The Theatre Royal Drury Lane)
  • 6. Boxers (Live At The Theatre Royal Drury Lane)
  • 7. Jack The Ripper (Live At The Theatre Royal Drury Lane)
  • 8. We’ll Let You Know (Live At The Theatre Royal Drury Lane)
  • 9. Whatever Happens I Love You (Live At The Theatre Royal Drury Lane)
  • 10. Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself (Live At The Theatre Royal Drury Lane)
  • 11. The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get (Live At The Theatre Royal Drury Lane)
  • 12. National Front Disco (Live At The Theatre Royal Drury Lane)
  • 13. Moon River (Live At The Theatre Royal Drury Lane)
  • 14. Now My Heart Is Full (Live At The Theatre Royal Drury Lane)

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28 responses to Morrissey / Vauxhall And I: 20th Anniversary definitive master

  1. bob says:

    Great review Rob and I loved this album, but unfortunately I will not be buying this as I can no longer separate the vile man from his music. The final straw of many final straws came this week with Morrissey blaming his support act Kristeen Young for causing his tour cancellation.
    How low can you go? Very low if you are Morrissey it seems.

    ps also the packaging looks a little cheap.

    • Dan says:

      And of course Bob wasn’t actually there, doesn’t actually know the ins and outs of the matter, doesn’t have access to Morrissey’s medical records, and therefore is rushing to judgement on the basis of a pre-exisiting prejudice. There’s a place for people like Bob: morrissey-solo.com

  2. Matthew James says:

    This is the barest of “definitive” editions I have ever seen. It only makes sense to buy this release for the live disc, which is good but by no means essential. I read a review on Amazon that claimed the Vauxhall and I disc was not remastered. Indeed, it’s hard to tell the difference from the 1994 CD. It sounds as if, in the remastered version, the vocals are slightly louder and more prominent but that’s it. I was surprised how quiet the CD was compared to the loudness characteristic of recent releases–usually a good thing, but here perhaps evidence of the lack of effort. The sound of this album is distinctive–others have criticized it for being “muffled,” whereas I would call it muted and dreamy–and thankfully that isn’t lost. The press release claimed Bill Inglot was remastering Vauxhall, which makes sense because it’s a Rhino release in the States, but there is NO information on the sleeve or disc stating who mastered it and where! While on the one hand I’m glad there were no modifications to the tracklist and running order, this goes to the other extreme of putting together a package that is an impoverished version of the original. I wish I would have passed on this. You can never have it all with Morrissey, but we know that already.

  3. Martin Power says:

    Bought last week and the remaster definitely adds clearer and slightly louder vocal track over the 1994 original. But what a let down – Compare this to any decent reissue and the paucity of this release is glaringly obvious. Morrissey may feel that less is more but to me it seems a sense of couldn’t be bothered which is a shame. The live cd is worth it though

  4. Stan Butler says:

    Not just his finest solo effort, but the best thing he has ever done.

  5. Paul Kent says:

    Mind made up, then – stick with what I’ve got and give this a miss!

  6. Robert says:

    I didn’t hear much of a difference but if someone wants to check out the album for the first time, save your bread as the original cd is a common in the cheapo bin. Nearly all of his solo albums can be found for under $4 at any used cd/vinyl record store in the states. Or just buy it off of Amazon for a $1-2 and don’t waste money on this poorly executed release.

  7. Metal Mickey says:

    Nice review, which reiterates the point I always make, that “V & I” tends to be regarded as Morrissey’s best album because it’s his one that comes closest to The Smiths, in terms of sound, consistency, and quality of songwriting. I’m more of a “Viva Hate”/”Bona Drag” fan myself (and “You Are The Quarry” remains a late highlight), but “V & I” would always be my recommendation to anyone considering dipping their toes into Lake Mozzer…

    As always though, I’m bewildered (and disappointed) by the apparent lack of effort and care that goes into Moz’s re-releases, which without fail seem to fall into the “Will this do?” file.

    But that’s the thing with Morrissey, he comes as a package, and you take the whole thing, infuriating as it is, or nothing at all…

  8. Roby says:

    the Morrissey reissues has the cheapest packaging in the market, what a shame, and this comes with a bonus disc while others neither

  9. Stan Butler says:

    The Southpaw Grammar and Maladjusted reissues were nice, but I haven’t been enticed to buy anything after those.

    The Viva Hate substitute track fiasco put me off anymore reissues and anyway Vauxhall and I has always sounded fine to me.

    Remastering is often hit and miss and it’s the extra material that persuades to buy reissues (which I do a lot). With Morrissey you are just buying the same thing over again. The deluxe version of the new album is pricey enough so I’ll save my pennies for that.

  10. Jonnie Weste says:

    Hmmm, this review is greatly lacking in one thing: not a single song is named from either disc. With no disrespect intended–it’s nice that Mr. Puricelli has found a new respect for the man–but if these songs are so memorable to him, couldn’t he take a moment to mention at least one of them by name? I’ve never read a credible review that failed to take notice of the actual songs that make up its whole.

  11. bob says:

    And there is a place for people like you truetoyou.net.

    • Dan says:

      LOL – touched a nerve, did I, bob? (And for the record, my opinion of TTY is exactly the same as my opinion of So_Low: the former is unquestioningly Pro, the latter unquestioningly Anti. I prefer genuine balanced discussion with no infantile underlying agenda).

  12. bob says:

    I wouldn’t believe a single thing that came out of morrissey’s mouth. His whole career is based on lies. Eg claiming to be celibate, as we now know it was lies. Numerous times claiming to never ever form friendships, yet in his wretched book he goes on about lifelong friends. Even now it goes on, claiming not to be homosexual but humansexual. Pleaseeee. He must really think his fans are stupid to believe that this late on in the game.
    Morrissey is coming out of his latest drama even worse than his other dramas. He really is a despicable misogynistic coward.

    • Dan says:

      Yeah, as I said, bob – theres a place for people like you at So_low.

      Morrissey only ever claimed to be celibate during The Smiths, I thought? His autobiography makes clear that is/was no longer the case. Not that his personal life is any of the general public’s business. Why not copy and paste your lastest rant onto So_Low, I’m sure the usual suspects will welcome it warmly.

  13. Dan says:

    Bob – I’m happy to let you have the last word. I know you So_Lowists love that because you often confuse having the last word with being right. :D

  14. bob says:

    Well then you thought wrong as he claimed to be celibate long after the smiths, I know.

  15. bob says:

    What you really mean is that you know that your argument is very weak so you are using your get out card. Easy, but cheap.

  16. Craig says:

    Whilst this is a disappointly bare bones package the extra disc is definitely worth a purchase for long time fans. If you’re new to Morrissey then as mentioned above you can just pick up an original issue for pennies instead. As the first completely untouched reissue we have much to be thankful for !
    Viva Hate’s reissue was simply crazy, a masterclass on how to wreck the opening salvo of your solo career.

  17. Tim says:

    Actually, the concert isn’t that exciting for Morrissey fans, as six of the tracks were previously released on Southpaw Grammar singles and an RSD thing (I think). And of course, the last two tracks of the concert – Speedway and Shoplifters Of The World Unite – are missing :(

  18. Rebekkah C says:

    Personally I never ‘got’ The Smiths (great lyrics, but musically very repetitive & vastly over-rated imo) and I love this album precisely because it so spectacularly UNLIKE The Smiths. I think half the problem with the perception of Morrissey is the number of articles that start from a sneering, unashamedly anti-Morrissey stance, followed by the absolute certainty of a puerile Comment War (see Bob/Dan here). But although it makes for tiresome copy, the fact that Morrissey inspires these little pockets of borderline-unhinged vitriol makes him an even more fascinating and even romantic character imo; the worst thing in the world is mediocrity, after all. And the fact that despite the occasional naysayers, his concerts still sell out all over the world and he comes second only to David Attenborough in the BBC’s “Living Icons” poll (beating Bowie and McCartney, not to mention Alan Bennett and Stephen Fry) demonstrates the kind of popular affection in which he’s held. As for Morrissey’s “politics” – there are plenty of militant vegetarians in the world (Paul and Stella McCartney to name but two) and plenty of people who despise the institution of the British monarchy and aren’t afraid to say so in the strongest possible terms – the Sex Pistols were doing it more than 35 years ago, for heaven’s sake – so what’s the big deal? This is 2014 not 1977. I’m not aware of any other political pronouncements or interventions Morrissey has made so they can’t have been that newsworthy. And in any case, there are far more obnoxious, more self-aggrandising culprits among rock stars-who-fancy-themselves-as-politicians: Bono, anyone? Why do articles about Morrissey’s music always end up reviewing the man and/or the partisan idiots who spend their days bickering about him on the internet – lazy journalism? Enough already! :)

  19. bob says:

    So what you are saying is that Morrissey can be as vile and as unpleasant as he likes about almost everyone, especially women (read his book) but nobody is allowed to express an opinion on his often offensive and idiotic ramblings? I was a HUGE Smiths fan but will not ignore racism, and nor should anybody, Morrissey says writes and sings racist things. And as for blaming Kristeen Young for causing his tour cancellation…. that is surely for his insurance purposes, because for sure he will now find it very difficult to get tour insurance given his history over the last years.
    Of course it could also be because he is a misogynist, read his book, the man obviously hates women.
    I suggest you go back to truetoyou,net if you are looking for a Morrissey love in. The rest of us live in the real world and can increasingly see this man for what he is.
    But you are right on one thing, the album is good.

  20. James C says:

    I am a Morrissey fan but don’t unconditionally love everything he releases on record or by mouth. But by and large I love his music with The Smiths and solo. He has always been prone to some awful songs (mostly through the Kill Uncle era) but Vauxhall and I is the album that made me a fan, and the recording featured on the bonus CD was my first ever Morrissey gig, so for me this is a must have. Tim, above, is right though, several tracks were released as B sides for The Boy Racer single in 1995 and the Suedehead (Mael mix) 10″ for RSD 2012, never mind that 10 tracks (including Speedway, excluded from the CD) were broadcast on Radio 1 at the time. At least the album itself hasn’t been toyed with, although the additional material from the time is amongst his best and could’ve been a welcome inclusion – I’d Love To, Moonriver, the Boxers EP, Interlude and even the tracks on the Sunny single.

    • Craig says:

      I was aware of the live tracks on the Boy Racer singles but the Mael mix B Sides had slipped my mind. Still, having an almost full excellent gig on one disc will get far more plays by me than a few b sides scattered across 3 singles.

      • James C says:

        True but it is still a shame that the last song of the set (Speedway) isn’t included, especially as it is really the only song excluded. As I recall Shoplifters was the only encore and was abandoned almost straight away due to a large stage invasion so no loss there.

  21. Tracey says:

    Finally received my copy yesterday. Really disappointed that Speedway and Shoplifters were left off of the live disc. Speedway is a V&I track, so leaving that off doesn’t seem to make much sense. I believe that version has been broadcast by the BBC previously (and is currently available on youtube). Even with Shoplifters being cut short due to a stage invasion, as James C mentions above, leaving that on the CD for that very reason seems exactly like something Moz would be in favor of.

  22. southsider1 says:

    Absolutely LOVE this man and album!

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