Who Put the "M" in Manchester?
Live at Earls Court
First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2005, Volume 12, #4
Written by John Metzger
Impending obscurity can doom some artists, while others do everything feasible to avoid slipping into insignificance by inevitably rediscovering the drive that initially propelled them to prominence. Following a seven-year, self-imposed hiatus and several less than inspired outings, Morrissey jumped squarely onto this latter path by crafting the career-resurrecting You Are the Quarry, which, quite frankly, was a positively stunning return-to-form for the former vocalist from The Smiths. His latest offering to his devoted followers comes in the form of not one but two unique concert recordings: Who Put the "M" in Manchester? and Live at Earls Court. The former is a DVD, which features a performance held on the singer’s birthday in May 2004 in his hometown of Manchester, England; the promotional videos for Irish Blood, English Heart, I Have Forgiven Jesus, and First of the Gang to Die; a five-song set from his appearance at the Move Festival in July 2004; and a disturbing documentary titled Meet Your Meat that makes an undeniable case for vegetarianism. The latter is an album that culls music from a sold-out concert that was held in London in December 2004 at the conclusion of Morrissey’s recent tour.
Granted, there is some redundancy between Who Put the "M" in Manchester? and Live at Earls Court, and not surprisingly, it revolves primarily around the material from You Are the Quarry. This serves as a testament not only to Morrissey’s belief in his new compositions but also in the strength of the songs themselves. What’s particularly striking is how well his current batch of tunes so comfortably fits within set lists that are punctuated by classic tracks from The Smiths’ canon, such as The Headmaster Ritual, Bigmouth Strikes Again, and Shoplifters of the World Unite. Indeed, even B-sides such as Friday Mourning and Don’t Make Fun of Daddy’s Voice carry enough weight to evade becoming insufferably dull moments. On neither set are the songs’ arrangements dramatically different from their studio counterparts, but Morrissey’s playfully poignant phrasing combined with the feisty, muscular attack of his polished backing band transform both collections into something more than just souvenirs for those who attended the events. Indeed, if there were any lingering doubts as to whether Morrissey has regained the fiery passion of his youth, Who Put the "M" in Manchester? and Live at Earls Court join You Are the Quarry in dispelling them.
Who Put the "M" in Manchester? —
Live at Earls Court — ½
Who Put the "M" in Manchester? is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
Live at Earls Court is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box