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The Malady Lingers On is a compilation of Morrissey promotional videos and was first released on DVD in 2004. This picks up where the Hulmerist compilation left off and centres around Morrissey's early nineties Your Arsenal period. While the videos are interesting and enjoyable you only get eight of them so the brevity of the collection is a salient weakness. The Glamorous Glue video begins the collection and was filmed at a blues club in Chicago in 1992 - partly in the surrounding streets/partly in the club and in the early hours. Morrissey is just singing in what looks like an empty bar with his rockabilly backing group and has a gold lame shirt and a pair of jeans on. Morrissey's new young backing group feature prominently in these videos and a big theme of these videos I think is that Morrissey has finally put the death of The Smiths behind him and found a new gang to be a part of. He seems content and comfortable in his own skin and as far as performing and his appearance went was probably at the peak of of his powers in the early nineties. Glamorous Glue is a very simple but enjoyable promo film with a dusty small town creaking sign nowheresville Americana atmosphere and Morrissey doing that thing during the guitar solo where he uses the microphone cord as a whip. I've never been that enthused about the song to be honest but like many of the others on this DVD it does seem to stand taller and gain something from listening to it through the prism of a promotional film. The next video is for Certain People I Know, a song taken from the 1992 album Your Arsenal. I've never been a huge fan of this song either although it's pleasant enough. This features Morrissey's backing group following their leader around a beach and is a bit more arty and offbeat than the first promotional film. This video was directed by cameraman George Tiffin and conceived as a sepia tinted coastal scene with a harsh industrial backdrop (scavenging seagulls and looming cranes), shot on a beach in Chicago.
It works reasonably well although legend has it that the others didn't care much for Morrissey's precise and painstaking instructions about what they were supposed to do and wear in the film and turned up at the last minute bleary eyed from a late night out and were almost edited out of the video. I think the films for the most part work well because Morrissey always recoiled at the thought of doing anything overblown and kept everything fairly simple. The promotional video for Tomorrow is probably the best thing in this collection and a great piece of work. Believe it or not it was directed by Zack Synder, the Hollywood director responsible for Watchmen, the Dawn of the Dead remake and the forthcoming Superman reboot film The Man of Steel. Synder studied art in England for a time and dabbled in music videos occasionally early in his career. Morrissey's rejected the more baroque suggestions of Synder and instead decided on a one day shoot in an ancient and beautiful hilltop village just north of Nice in the mountain air of Cote d'Azur. The film consists of Morrissey singing as he wanders deserted cobbled streets. It's a very simple idea but works remarkably well with the stunning black and white photography. It helps of course that this is one of Morrissey's better songs and probably the best in this collection. We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful is another solid song that again was plucked from the Your Arsenal Collection. The video was shot in the Dickensian ruins of an East End school in Wapping and is wonderfuly atmospheric with shadowy stone staircases and a sense of the ghosts of over a century of obstreperous children roaming through the lonely building.
Morrissey cavorts around this crumbling wreck of a building with his group and one of them nibbles on a Cornetto. A piece of pointless trivia is that Morrissey had wanted it to be one of the revived and reissued tri-colour Fab ice lollies as he was much taken with them but they couldn't find one anywhere. I believe this video was filmed very close to the streets and locations where the film To Sir with Love was shot and partly set. The fifth film here is the video for My Love Life. This is a lightweight but pretty song that I think was a one off single. It later appeared on the ho-hum World of Morrissey cash-in compilation. This is another attractive black and white film and was shot at short notice during the first leg of the Kill Uncle tour in the United States. Morrissey and his backing group cruise down sepia wide open American streets in a convertible 1976 Rolls-Royce Corniche. The video was shot in Phoenix and has a languid air as temperatures hit 110F. A nice video although Morrissey does appear to be an incredibly nervous driver! Maybe he is just a bit ill at ease driving with a camera pointed at him. You're the One for Me, Fatty is catchy but not one of Morrissey's best songs. It does capture his unique sense of flippancy though in its jaunty meditation on unrequited love and loneliness. The video was partly shot in a warehouse in Battersea with Morrissey (in a fetching red shirt!) performing the song with his backing group while we frequently intercut into a vignette involving a plump woman being invited to an urban picnic a deux by a man. This is quite silly and touching and she becomes so nervous she eats flowers from a vase. Not the greatest video or song but it does capture the early nineties incarnation of Morrissey very well.
Sing Your Life was again taken from Your Arsenal and a decent enough song although I have never rated it that highly mself. Morrissey's work around this time was somewhat blighted by his penchant for rockabilly instead of his usual pop. He grew out of this phase soon enough but it resulted in some patchy material when he gave in to it. The video for Sing Your Life was shot by Tim Broad at Camden Workers Social Club. Guitarist Mark E Nevin (who wrote the lackluster Kill Uncle album with Morrissey) performs alongside the singer and his group and everyone - including the audience - seems to be dressed in fifties fashion. Morrissey's oversized cream suit is quite stylish but probably not his best ever look. Look for a guest appearance by Chrisie Hynde as one of the people dancing in the audience. Finally, we have Pregnant for the Last Time, one of Morrissey's worst ever songs (it's another rockabilly waltzer) and so bad that even he admitted it was a stinker in an interview many years later. Morrissey thinks everything he does is brilliant so it must have been bad if he says something like that. A terrible song but the video is very good and one of the highlights of this collection. The video was filmed in Berlin and has Morrissey and his group exploring landmarks of the city interspliced with concert footage taken from the Metropole (which was one of the early dates on the 1991 tour). The video is so good it actually makes the song more bearable. The Malady Lingers On is enjoyable and a good companion piece to Hulmerist but the brief running time (about half an hour) is somewhat disappointing. You'd have thought they could have found some way to make it a more weighty collection. You can probably watch these all of YouTube now but collectors and completists will enjoy having the films in an attractive sleeve to place alongside Humourist. At the time of writing you can pick up The Malady Lingers On for less than a pound or just do what I did and borrow Ladybracknell's copy.