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The Best of Morrissey
With the break-up of the Smiths in 1987, one could have concluded that Morrissey would be just another casualty signifying the end of the '80s. This album is truly an overview of this pop icon who is a champion of the underdogs. His legions of hardcore fans have adapted his mantras and personal philosophies as their own, holding them close to their heart. This is however not the first best of album from Morrissey's solo endeavours. Like the Smiths, compilations are a common feature in Morrissey's solo career, including works such as The World of Morrissey and Suedehead: the Best of Morrissey . unlike those however, Morrissey hand-picked certain songs to be included. Previous compilations were done often without his permission during his stormy relationships with past labels. The obvious titles are on this album, such as "Suedehead" and "Everyday is Like Sunday," alongside more interesting romps inside the mind of a man who has at times been considered a bit fragile with emotions. He is not the shrinking violet, misanthrope hiding in his mother's basement who the world did not love enough. On the contrary, his music suggests a person who whole-heartedly embraces the vast array of human qualities and does not pretend to be ashamed of them. To see his lyrics as morose or depressing misses the pointentirely as he describes the human condition in ways which are only now entering the minds of those in our pop culture world. Songs such as "We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful," he shows us the hypocritical side of mankind, the part of us all that we hate. Then in "Alma Matters," he croons about his unfortunate life choices, but stands firmly beside them: "It's my life to wreck my own way." However, he does not discount the entire human race as useless, as he sings about the importance of friendship in "Hold On To Your Friends." He also brilliantly captures the longing for love of his not-yet-found-significant-other, by urging the person in question to hang on in "I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday." This song would make even the most cynical person want to wish upon a star for his/her beloved. Sonically, this compilation captures the peak performances from his band mates and does not take a backseat to the lyrics. The underlying soundscape has a '50s rockabilly flare about it, exemplified by "Sing Your Life." There are some grittier guitar driven tracks that have a more raw modern twist, such as "Glamorous Glue" but also whimsical moments as in "Certain People I Know." Other featured songs contain bits of sampled dialogue that weave through the guitars and give the mix a desperately chaotic feel. In addition, there are some early tracks such as, "Hairdresser On Fire," that contain a string section which also add a bit of romanticism and serene beauty into the millieau. As a whole, the songs in this compilation effortlessly flow into one another without losing their individual qualities that make each one special. It goes well for listening in times of self-contemplation or when the introverted side of ourself once again decides to join the realms of the masses. Obvious songs that were excluded from the album such as "Ouija Board, Ouija Board", "Billy Bragg" and "Picadilly Palare" though missed, may have detracted from the album rather than add to it. This collection is the perfect introduction to those who have not yet had the Morrissey experience. By the time the last track, "Disappointed," rolls around, and he sings "This is the last song I will ever sing," you will pray that it isn't so. Then the cheeky manipulative side of his personality emerges: "No, I change my mind again." You'll be glad that he did.