Release Date: Feb 25, 2014
Record label: Sire
The challenge for any solo artist to step out of the shadow of their former band is one that even a performer with the outsized personality of Stephen Patrick Morrissey sometimes struggles to overcome. And it’s not that Morrissey didn’t clear that hurdle in a relatively short amount of time. But when you spend five years as the frontman of one of the most celebrated bands of all time, you should expect that specter to continue to haunt you for some time.
In his recent Autobiography, Morrissey rails against just about any criticism of his work – except those lobbed at 1991's atypically reserved Kill Uncle, which shocked him into making the next year's far more forceful Your Arsenal. Produced by former David Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson, with fits of glam flamboyance and a raw rockabilly bluntness, Moz's third solo LP made clear what Smiths fans already knew: Here was a new kind of superstar. For more proof, check this remastered reissue's must-see bonus DVD, filmed at a raucous show in Mountain View, California, on Halloween 1991.
The title of Morrissey's third solo studio album is a sly triple-entendre. It can mean "the power you command," or it can be a pun on "your arse an' all," but it's also a joke about an association football club as subcultural identity. That suggests a song that might be a key to the record—a song that's not actually on it, but one that Morrissey had used to end his 1990 videotape Hulmerist and would use as entrance music some years later.
To put out of my mind for the next six paragraphs: a near endorsement of UKIP, a call to scrap the foreign aid budget, labelling the Chinese as a "subspecies", an instant Penguin Classic. And now, twenty seven articles in the national press every minute about Cliff Richard and Morrissey. What a mismatch! What a talking point! What a National Treasure! At some point, defending Morrissey the public figure becomes too much effort, even for a ponce who used to write 'Sing Your Life' on his hands with a Sharpie before every night out.