The Big Issue : Edition 463
THE BIG ISSUE 18 – 31 JULY 2014 33 THE WORD-SMITH animals and paedophilia: they are both rape, violence, murder”. Those wanting to hear Morrissey complain about the injustices of the world – or his world – get plenty with Autobiography. The memoir is as singular as its amorously ambiguous author; alternately charming and frustrating readers with its lyrical turns of phrase, meandering quality and avoidance of paragraph breaks. Rarely detailing the writing and recording of his classic songs, Morrissey instead vents about small-minded schoolteachers, small-minded record label bosses and small-minded politicians. He dedicates 50 straight, patience- testing pages to his 1996 court battle over performance royalties with former Smiths rhythm section, Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce. It’s a battle he lost, and is still bitter about (“If you come across any Smiths CDs, don’t buy them, because all the money goes to that wretched drummer,” he once joked). The fallout from the case is at the heart of Morrissey’s refusal to get the band back together. In an era of reunion-festooned summer festivals, he remains ever the smirking contrarian. “I would rather eat my own testicles than reform The Smiths, and that’s saying something for a vegetarian,” he quipped in 2006. “What’s the point?” he wondered in 2009. “Just to satisfy other people’s nostalgia?” That defiance rings with some irony when, in Autobiography, Morrissey lovingly details how he rallied his adolescent heroes the New York Dolls to reform in 2004, proudly presiding over their performance “like a stage parent”. Smiths fans may well wonder why he can’t see how his own band’s reunion would spread as much joy. But with Morrissey likely to take his stubbornness to the grave, that leaves them instead with this year’s release, World Peace Is None of Your Business. Since You Are the Quarry (2004) marked Morrissey’s ‘comeback’, each outing has been anticipated as a return to form, but they rarely have been – routinely polished to modern-radio sheen and ‘rocking’ in a fashion that doesn’t suit the singer’s trademark doomed romanticism. World Peace Is None of Your Business is too patchy to be wholly praised – the dreadful ‘Neal Cassady Drops Dead’ dares rhyme ‘babies’ with ‘rabies’ – but it largely provides a sympathetic setting. ‘Staircase at the University’ and ‘The Bullfighter Dies’, in particular, deliver a baleful Smiths-y jangle that will sate fans. The one moment that World Peace Is None of Your Business truly taps into something, though, is when it dares to become a projection of the singer’s solipsism. ‘I’m Not a Man’ is ego super- sized; mounting a proggy, eight-minute hymnal to the glory of Morrissey. As he celebrates his persona (Wise-ass, smart-ass, workaholic, thick-skinned) and politics (I’d never kill or eat an animal), he’s as quotable as ever. And it’s still nice to hear that in song. by Anthony Carew » World Peace... is out now.