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Music Review

Morrissey: 'Greatest Hits'

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Morrissey: 'Greatest Hits'
Released on Monday, Feb 11 2008

It's curious that someone as smug and snooty as Morrissey finds it acceptable to wheel out a 'best of' collection at this stage in his career. Following his (brief) reconciliation with the NME and universal praise for his You Are The Quarry and Ringleader Of The Tormentors albums, Mozza started flogging records at a rate not seen since his post-Smiths pomp. If he fancied a break from recording - he is nearing 50, after all - it would have been more than acceptable. Instead, he's decided to keep himself busy by cobbling together a selection of his solo hits. With a couple of retrospective records already under his belt, this smacks of arrogance and feels like a cash-in - something we'd normally expect Moz to be sneering at rather than associating with.

Musically, this Greatest Hits can't be knocked. Like any decent compilation, it reminds us of the artist's many past glories, while also providing plenty of scope for discussion: should this really have been included instead of that? For those who only discovered the sour-faced crooner in 2004, there's the addition of his mournful 1988 classic 'Everyday Is Like Sunday' and the glorious, rousing sing-a-long of 1990's 'Last Of The International Playboys'. For completists and the hardcore, there's a live cover of Patti Smith's 'Redondo Beach' and two new tracks, 'All You Need Is Me' and current single 'That's How People Grow Up'.

However, despite these obvious attempts to lure in the punters, the heavy weighting of tracks from his two most recent albums - eight of the 15 in total - shows a lack of courage, rendering this LP almost as pointless as the recent Libertines hits collection. A quick hunt round the HMV sale could get you his 1997 hits compilation Suedehead and both his recent studio albums for little more than the cost of this album - and you'd end up with three times as much music in the bargain. There's no quibbling with the thrills and spills of the punchy, vitriolic 'Irish Blood, English Heart' and the creepy, haunting bellow of 'The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get', but it's questionable as to whether all four singles from Ringleader... justify an inclusion on any Morrissey retrospective.

It's tempting to attribute this release to Moz's enduring self-doubt: after all this time, is he still desperate to prove his solo career lives up to his Smiths-era glories? If so, he needn't worry any longer. If nothing else, this album highlights the fact that Morrissey's recent collaborators are now equal to Marr, Rourke and Joyce as sound-trackers of his self-indulgent misery. The crunching riffs and snapping cymbals on the newbies are as valuable and significant as Marr's groundbreaking guitar sounds. For the tunes alone, therefore, this LP deserves a very big four stars. However, for its lack of soul and the whiff of record execs rubbing their hands with glee, it probably merits two. So, in the end, we've plumped for something in the middle.

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