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Morrissey: The HMV/Parlophone Singles 1988-1995 is a 2009 compilation spread over three discs that gives you (obviously) the HMV/Parlophone Singles he recorded in those seven years. Morrissey ordered fans not to buy this compilation because he doesn't get any royalties from it (!) but I think it's quite a nice purchase because there is a decent amount of rare stuff here scattered around. Some covers and all the b-sides from these singles - many of which are actually better than the stuff Morrissey has put on his bona fide albums. Always seems slightly perverse to hide some of your best songs away as b-sides but then he is a notorious eccentric I suppose. There are over fifty songs here although it's padded out a little by the inclusion of live versions of some of the songs that you could probably live without. The studio version of Pregnant For The Last Time (Morrissey in crap tiresome rockabilly mode) is bad enough so you don't really need a live version too. The first disc is essentially Morrissey's 1991 compilation Bona Drag with some nice extra additions. Three of his greatest ever singles - Suedehead, Everyday Is Like Sunday, The Last Of The Famous International Playboys - plus the fantastic November Spawned A Monster are excellent and highlights but it's the bonus songs that make this collection worth a look (the world already saturated with Morrissey collections as it is). "Oh Well, I'll Never Learn" is a wonderfully mournful but affecting song with the usual Morrissey themes of outsider oblivion and loneliness - trapped forever in the past mulling over old failures - but has a streak of very Morrissey-esque humour where he recalls trying to dye his hair gold at the of sixteen and it not turning out very well. I Know Very Well How I Got My Name is much in the same vein. Very strummy and languid (with Vini Reilly on guitar I believe) and you could almost imagine it's a Smiths song. Hairdresser On Fire is an excellent pop song (who else but Morrissey would take lyrical revenge on a Sloane Street hairdresser who couldn't fit the pop star onto his books?) while Disappointed is the ultimate album closer and a stompy and catchy number.
Piccadilly Palare (rife with Round the Horne style gay slang: "bona riah" etc) and Interesting Drug are okish pop songs, good but not great, while Sister I'm A Poet is rubbish! Not a huge fan of the single Ouija Board Ouija Board but the b-side Michael's Bones is a great song. It's about the Moors Murders and has very moving lyrics. "Your gentle hands are frozen and your unkissed lips are blue..." Lucky Lisp is an electronic infused pop song that doesn't replicate the success of The Last Of The Famous International Playboys while Will Never Marry and Yes I Am Blind are two of the lesser lights from Bona Drag. One of the best things here is actually a live version of the Smiths song Sweet And Tender Hooligan - a very fast and enjoyable song with Morrissey on good form. "Jury you've heard word but before you decide would you look into these mother me eyes?" East West is a version of a Herman & the Hermits song, pretty good although trust Morrissey to pick one of their most uncommercial singles! He Knows I'd Love To See Him is a slightly melodramatic and so-so entry from Bona Drag again while Get Off The Stage is a forgettable and jaunty b-side where Morrissey has a go at geriatric pop stars who won't retire and look silly in the end. He suggests that in the music industry one should gracefully bow out in the end. I believe it inspired by the Rolling Stones (who Morrissey felt were becoming undignified by going on forever). The song is of course somewhat ironic now because well over twenty years on from writing it Morrissey is still going and shows no sign of getting off the stage himself! At Amber is a decent enough b-side, a bit floaty and not a bad way to end disc one. The second disc is probably the least interesting of the three because the flipsides and extras are not so extensive or great. It begins with Our Frank (likeable single from the Kill Uncle album) and then has a couple of very forgettable b-sides in Journalists Who Lie and Tony the Pony. Morrissey's used acid laced wit seems to desert him on the former.
Sing Your Life is good rockabilly while the previously mentioned Pregnant For The Last Time is crap rockabilly while The Loop is ok but nothing special. You get Morrissey's cover version of Paul Weller's That's Entertainment, which is good but always seems slightly curious as you wouldn't imagine that Morrissey and Paul Weller are ideal bedfellows. I've always found Paul Weller tedious myself. Skin Storm is a jangly epic flipside and one of the better things here while Morrissey's cover of Marc Bolan's Cosmic Dancer is surprisingly good. This is performed live at a concert and has a great sense of atmosphere with the crowd noises. My Love Life is a nice jangly slower one from around the Boxers era while I've Changed My Plea To Guilty is melodrama Morrissey. Bit pretentious but he just about gets away with it. You also get a live version of this. Not a huge fan of the live version of Sudehead here though. It's so perfect as a studio single that it never quite sounds right live. Pregnant For The Last Time is rubbish in both formats although Alsatian Cousin is not bad here live. This is a more abrasive song from the Viva Hate era. We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful and You're The One For Me Fatty are likeable singles from the album Your Arsenal while Pashernate Love (deliberately spelled like that) is a jaunty lightweight singalong which doesn't amount to much. I believe the title was taken from a song by Bernard Bresslaw or something! There Speaks A True Friend ends disc 2. Again nothing special. A slower song. Beginning disc 3, Certain People I Know is again Morrissey in rockabilly mode. It's not bad but I can never really be bothered with this one. You've Had Her is more interesting although the following Jack the Ripper has never been one of my favourite Morrissey songs. The More You Ignore Me The Closer I Get is a single from Vauxhall & I and agreeable enough and you also get "I'd Love To", a fantastic and beautiful b-side from this era.
This is very much in the vein of the songs on Vauxhall & I, a big fluffy marshmallow sound with strings and dreamy almost whispered vocals. Familiar Morrissey lyrics too. "I lay awake and cry myself to sleep. I'd love to, but only with you..." Used To Be A Sweet Boy and Hold On To Your Friends are very pretty songs from Vauxhall & I again while Moonriver is (obviously) a cover. Morrissey makes it strange and very Morrissey-esque but I've been a huge fan of this and it goes on for ten minutes here! You get not one but three versions of Interlude, a duet between Morrissey And Siouxsie. This is an amazing song and sounds like the best James Bond theme they never did. It's nice actually to have all the versions they did. Finally, from the mid-nineties Boxers (aborted album that became a compilation) era Morrissey you get "Boxers" (lovely song with samples of Reg Gutteridge commentating!) and Whatever Happens I Love You - strange and effective song with a big brassy sound that might have made a good single. Have-A-Go Merchant is a catchy but lightweight b-side with Morrissey again fascinated by working class people who steam through life without self-reflection or much to think about, having streams of children and being oafish, while Sunny is a lovely one off single that wasn't on any album. "We're really missing you and you've only just gone..." Last but by no means least are Black-Eyed Susan and A Swallow On My Neck, two decent b-sides that are much better than some of the old rubbish Morrissey stuck on Maladjusted and Southpaw Grammar in the nineties. Morrissey: The HMV/Parlophone Singles 1988-1995 is a not a bad purchase overall if you don't have some of these b-sides and covers but obviously one primarily for Morrissey completists only. At the time of writing you can buy this for about £8.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 I Know Very Well How I Got My Name
3 Hairdresser On Fire
4 Oh Well, I'll Never Learn
5 Everyday Is Like Sunday
6 Sister I'm A Poet
8 Will Never Marry
9 The Last Of The Famous Int