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Directed and edited by Tim Broad, Hulmerist is a collection of Morrissey promotional films and was first released in 1990 (appearing on DVD for the first time in 2004). The films are interwoven with footage from a free concert Morrissey gave at Wolverhampton Civic Hall in 1989 - his first live performance since the demise of The Smiths so a legendary event at the time for those who cared about such things, Morrissey pirouetting onto the stage under a hail of flowers, the huge canvas of the bambi-eyed boy from the sleeve of That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore looming behind him. There are five short films - plus Morrissey performing a song from the concert - with the entire DVD running to just under a paltry 50 minutes. It's the promos (or pop videos if you prefer) that make up the bulk of Hulmerist and are of most interest. The Last of the Famous International Playboys is the first film and one of Morrissey's stronger solo songs, a catchy electronic daubed number with lyrics about dreaming of Reggie Kray from a prison cell. The twist in the video is that the prison cell is a teenage boy's bedroom (it's not much of a twist I'll grant you) and we see the boxing and crime obsessed teenager dancing in his bedroom and getting ready to go out in between Morrissey performing the song against a loud green backdrop with his backing group - which at the time included ex-Smith Craig Gannon I think. It's quite good fun and the song is great. This era probably captures Morrissey at his most handsome and he seemed to have more mystique in his younger days.
Sister I'm a Poet is a live performance from the Wolverhampton concert. It's not a great song really but Morrissey is on good form with various vocal growls and contortions, enjoying being back in the limelight again at last. He's like a boxer who has come out of retirement to get his old title back. His singing is constantly interrupted though by people jumping onto the stage and trying to hug him. It gets a bit wearing after a while but does highlight the mass hysteria he was capable of prokoving at his shows back then. Morrissey's backing group are good here too and his voice is crisp and less mannered than it would sometimes become on later solo albums. The video for Everyday Is Like Sunday was filmed on the seafront at good old Southend. I've never actually been to Southend so I don't know if it's good or not to be honest. I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt. It stars Billie Whitelaw, Cheryl Murray (a star of Coronation Street apparently) and a young Manchester schoolgirl named Lucette Henderson. Lucette plays a vegetarian Morrissey fan who has to endure a tedious and constrictive holiday by the sea with her family. She scowls at a butcher's shop window display and also at someone on the esplanade wearing a fur coat. Quite right too. The song is amazing and one of Morrissey's best ever and this promo is fun in a slightly naff way, obviously boosted by the lustrous music. Morrissey is briefly glimpsed through Lucette's telescope right at the end. He was supposed to feature more heavily in the promo but had fallen out with his manager at the time and failed to show up for the shoot.
The Interesting Drug promo is a lively pastiche of mock suffrage and gender confusion (schoolboys wearing stilettoes) with more animal liberation/rights capers. Be warned there is a brief shot of a dead clubbed seal in this that I could have done without. The buxom Miss Diane chains herself to the railings of "Hawtrey School For Boys" and then leads a raid on an animal experimentation laboratory with the pupils. This is a rather strange film but it sort of works. The song isn't my favourite Morrissey one by any means but it seems to gain something from being wrapped around a promo film. There is also footage of Morrissey performing the song in concert with that off the shoulder black shirt/jumper thing he was so obsessed with at the time. Smiths fans will note the badge Miss Diane wears when she leaves the Job Centre. It has a famous line from one of their old songs. These videos are often preposterously camp and homoerotic and are laced with some of Morrissey's flippant Carry On predilections. The video for Suedehead was filmed in Fairmount, Indiana, with Morrissey on a pilgrimage to the childhood haunts of James Dean, another important figure in his pantheon of heroes. You get Morrissey on a scooter, reading a book with the largest quiff in history, in the bath with his typewriter, in a graveyard, and very nervously riding a tractor. Morrissey is remarkably self-conscious and awkward in this video and I don't like the hat he wears either! It might have been his first ever video as this was his first solo single. Anyway, he looks very ill at ease with the camera on him. Still, the song is amazing and the video is evocative in places and has a pleasant wintry look and feel.
Ouija Board, Ouija Board is a pretty average and twee Morrissey song but the video does include Carry On matriarch Joan Sims. She plays a fortune teller with a cut-price crystal ball from whom Morrissey rakishly plunders advice. A lot of Joan Sims and Morrissey in the woods and sitting around a table with children running about. Not entirely sure what is meant to be going on here to be honest. Morrissey is wearing spectacles and singing while Joan Sims seems to be having fun and throwing herself into the part. She said actually that she was treated like a Queen during the production of this video and it was much more comfortable than making a Carry On film. It's not much of a song or video really but it is nice to see Joan Sims anyway. The last film is November Spawned A Monster, one of Morrissey's more interesting solo songs and certainly one of his most striking and eccentric videos too. It features Morrissey in a diaphanous shirt cavorting around the lonely sun drenched arid Death Valley in California with a plaster on one nipple. I think the maddest moment occurs when he sniffs a bar of chocolate. The promo underlines and belies the lyrics. Morrissey's stage personality - the creature of instinct - breaks free of the constraints of his emotional handicaps. Or something. November Spawned A Monster is Morrissey at his most, er, quirky.
Hulmerist is an interesting if dated oddity that I quite enjoyed watching. Some of the promos have a nice visual sense and some of the songs are great too. The obvious drawbacks are the short running time and the fact that you could probably find most of this online now if you looked. Oh, and the snippets of interviews with fans outside the concert are fairly tedious. This is one for fans and completists only really. Lady Bracknell very kindly loaned me her copy of this to review for Dooyoo but at the time of writing you can purchase Hulmerist new for around a fiver.
A mixture of promos, live footage and interview clips with Morrissey.