“ Genre: Music / Stage / Screen / Author: Simon Goddard / Hardcover / 544 Pages / Book is published 2009-07-23 by Ebury Press „
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Being a fan of Morrissey and his former band, The Smiths since the 80's, I was quite keen to read this book when it was given to me by a friend who is also a fan and he told me that he thought this to be the definitive book about Morrissey and The Smiths and contains all you need to know. Indeed this 'Mozipedia' which is a humorous take on an encyclopedia, certainly looked packed with plenty of information in its 532 pages as I thumbed through it briefly before settling down to read it.
Morrissey is perhaps one of the most original voices in the history of popular music. With The Smiths, he led the most influential British guitar group of the 1980s, with his enigmatic wit and self-deprecating style defining a generation. As a solo artist, he has also continued to be original and at times controversial. Whilst worshipped by some and vilified by others, there is no doubting his unique ability.
The 600 entries in this 'Mozipedia' are listed in alphabetical order in one of six categories:
1. The music of Morrissey and The Smiths - all songs, albums, compilations and video collections.
2. The life of Morrissey - biographical information, schools, youth, etc.
3. The influences of Morrissey - books, authors, films, actors, singers, groups, art, etc.
4. The who's who - all musicians, producers, band members that worked with Morrissey and The Smiths.
5. The world of Morrissey - specific places that are relevant to his life and referenced in song.
6. The tao of Morrissey - everything that didn't fit into one of the previous categories, such as his thoughts on cats, football, tea, etc.
As the book is split into these sections, it makes it an easy to read book and it is also easy to find particular items of interest. Some passages are longer than others but you can dip in and out of this book rather than read it from cover to cover. Although I started at the beginning I did find myself dipping in and out of other parts further into the book.
I did begin this book with an open mind and did not expect too much from it as I have found in the past that many of these types of books are not very readable, or they contain the information you already know and little of what you don't.
What sets this book apart for me is the fact that this is written by a true fan, Q journalist Simon Goddard. His passion for the subject material shines through and makes the text a very interesting read, telling the story behind every song Morrissey has recorded, either as a solo artist or with The Smiths. Goddard is also the author of 'Songs That Saved Your Life' a book about the songs of The Smiths published in 2002.
It was also interesting to hear that this is the only Smiths book to earn the approval of the band's founder member and guitarist Johnny Marr.
If there is anything to criticise here it could perhaps be said that Goddard is too much of a fan and finds it hard to be negative at all, by apologising for some of Morrissey's more controversial comments, but even this did not spoil my overall enjoyment of this book.
The information included here is concise but it still flows, making the text interesting to read and not just a set of lists and facts. There are also sections with photographs of Morrissey and The Smiths as well as photographs of various things mentioned in the book, such as Morrissey's influences, with an interesting amount devoted to the New York Dolls. Another interesting inclusion is the references to and also the passages on some songs that were never released.
Whilst this book could be the ultimate biography on Morrissey, what made it particualrly interesting for me is that it explains what us fans get from the singer's work and his music and lyrics. I identified a lot with the early Smiths lyrics of the 80's and it is also interesting to find out influences for certain lyrics etc.
Morrissey's cultural love of often obscure books, music, films and certain social groupings are all referred to here.
Overall, this book will obviously only appeal to fans of Morrissey and The Smiths. As a fan myself, I thought I knew quite a bit about Morrissey but I was wrong. Whilst the back cover's statement tells us "everything and anything you ever wanted to know about Morrissey" I found that even after reading this and discovering so much I didn't know, what is really evident is how Morrissey still remains something of an enigma. And I can't help but think that is a good thing.
Morrissey without the enigma, just wouldn't be Morrissey, as this man who can be so personal in his songs and yet so allusive when it comes to himself will always be a compelling fascination for his fans.
A good read I can recommend for all fans of Morrissey and The Smiths.
What do you buy a Morrissey / The Smiths fan who has pretty much everything...the Mozipedia.
This hefty book (coming in at 544 pages) is the one-stop place to find out anything you want to know about Mozzer and his life up to now.
The book has been carefully and painstakingly researched with a clear layout, running in alphabetical order, as you would expect from an encyclopaedia. This provides background on every single song, influences, family, record labels and collaborator...after reading it there is nothing I cannot think of which has not been included.
Obviously topics demand much more coverage than others e.g. Johnny Marr - as you would expect and there are a few photos showing some of the iconic portraits of the man himself, The Smiths and the original photos which made up the artwork of some of the classic albums.
Before you buy this, you have to be a pretty big fan and it is not something you can sit down and read from cover to cover.
As a section of the book explains, Morrissey fans (or as he calls them 'the audience') are an extremely dedicated breed and although they may know much of what is in here, there is plenty in here to make this a worthwhile purchase.
Mozipedia is just as it says in the title, an encyclopaedia of Morrissey and The Smiths, written by Simon Goddard. It's hardcovered and the cover does look very attractive with a lovely shade of blue.
The book is split alphabetically into things and people that are related to Morrissey and The Smiths. This includes songs and albums. Each item has a passage explaining how they are related and also a few interesting tidbits that I learnt a few things from. Some items are a lot larger in length than others, which is to be expected as some things affected Morrissey and The Smiths more than others. For example, New York Dolls, Morrissey's favourite band take up 7.5 pages, whereas Anthony Newley takes up little over half a page.
It is well written throughout, keeping the information concise but it still flows, it isn't just a series of points listed, it's nicely written in text. One complaint I do have is that he has left out a few things that really should have been included, such as Peepholism and Joe Slee. I found this to be quite a strange omission considering the book is well researched otherwise. Some of the passages could have been longer though but in general Goddard gets across all the basic information and load on top of that too to keep the die-hards interested. It is generally expansive, there are many items I didn't expect to see but they are there, slightly related to Morrissey and The Smiths but interesting nontheless. A nice addition are the passages on a few songs that were never released, they are quite interesting and well researched. Goddard draws on many sources, such as interviews and books. It is also obvious he was in contact with many people directly in touch with the Smiths and Morrissey, including producers and former band members.
Inside there is are four sections with pictures. There are lots of nice pictures of Morrissey and The Smiths as well as lots of pictures of different things mentioned in the book. There are many pictures on Morrissey's influences such as Shelagh Delaney and New York Dolls. This is a good touch and breaks the text up nicely. On other pages, there aren't any pictures but this is good as it doesn't clutter the pages up. Also, the text is on standard paper whereas the picture sections are glossy paper, making the pictures a much better quality. All the pictures are captioned which is good if you don't know what they are.
Overall, this book will obviously only appeal to Morrissey and The Smiths fans. I consider myself, being a fan, to be knowledgable on them but I did learn many things reading this. I found it was best to dip in and out on this book. I would pick it up, open at a random page and read something that takes my fancy. It is also good if for instance I'm listening to a song and I want to know a few more things about it, I can look it up easily in this book.
The book doesn't have tour information. For example it doesn't have lists of tour dates The Smiths and Morrissey have done and it has no information on the tracks played on the tours either. I feel this would've been a nice addition at the back of the book away from the main body of information. I would have been interested to know where certain incidents took place and what the most played tracks are for example. The book does however have a complete "mozography", listing everything he has ever released and the track listings on them.
I got this book off amazon for £14.99 which I felt was a reasonably fair price. I saw it in the shops for much more so amazon is probably the best place to get this.