[sic] Magazine

Morrissey – Maladjusted, 2009 Expansion Edition

Two years later, (from Southpaw Grammar, Ed) and Moz returned with the more typical ‘Maladjusted’. At the time, Moz was so alienated he decried the usual sleeve designing skills to an in-house team that gave the record a dull and tediously bland cover that betrayed the contents.

‘Maladjusted’ as it was then, was a strong, cohesive album, made of powerful songwriting, lyrical adventure, and Moz’s wonderful lyrical melody. Moz was fast becoming a relic in the eyes of revisionist history – after all – with that many years behind him, there was no clear indication at that point that Moz wasn’t simply going to fade from the public eye like so many former frontmen of generations past into a selective, niche solo career. Around him, Oasis puttered their last relevancy, Blur and Pulp skittered to the left, New Order and Depeche Mode had long since imploded, and The Cure were mining their commercial nadir. The landscape has changed, irrevocably, and all that was left were the dogged survivors of the apocalypse.

Moz was a man adrift. Whilst neither he nor his band lacked purpose or vigour, the muscular rhythms of the title track and the assertively rebellious ‘Ambitious Outsiders’ or ‘Ammunition’ were and are, equal to anything else Morrissey’s solo career had birthed.

However, this reissue is a travesty. In an act of historical revisionism, Morrissey has deliberately excised two songs – the unexceptional ‘Roy’s Keen’ and the powerful, but somewhat regretful ‘Papa Jack’. Any exclusion is unforgivable: You cannot get away with airbrushing out of history what you are embarrassed about, and neither of these songs are worth being embarrassed about. ‘Papa Jack’ is powerful, brilliant, and touching love letter from a fading star to his shrinking but loyal constituency.

Maybe Morrissey wants to pretend he never doubted himself, or us and that he never felt that perhaps his time was up. If he must excise anything, or perhaps leave anything unsaid, the most obvious choice is ‘Sorrow Will Come In The End’, an atonal, vicious three minute attack on his former drummer that ends with the sounds of guillotines being dropped, and lyrics as juvenile as ‘legalised theft leaves me bereft / lawyer / liar’ and ‘Don’t close your eyes / a man who slits throats has time on his hands / I’m going to get you’. Moz still grinds an enormous axe about the fact that he thinks he can underpay people and mislead, and rues the demise of others considerably less rich than he is from his LA Mansion. Why he felt this song deserves inclusion in the album, when much stronger material is airbrushed out is baffling and frankly, stupid.

Of the rest of the album, ‘Trouble Loves Me’, and ‘Alma Matters’ are the type of song that Morrissey is best known for, half-revealing mysteries, poetic enigmas, songs that single-handedly destroy the cliché that The Smiths were the only good stuff he ever did and his solo work was uniform drivel. Some of it is drivel; and ‘Sorrow Will Come In The End’ is the worst song he ever recorded. The B-sides, such as ‘Lost’ are important parts of the story, and in some cases as strong as the album cuts. Their inclusion here is worthy; but they should be bookends and not shuffle out better songs that for some reason Moz wants to disown. (And if there is one album Morrissey should rework completely, it’s the inept and limp ‘Kill Uncle’).

Add bonus tracks, by all means, change the artwork and pervert the running order if you must. But for heavens sake, don’t try and rewrite what was. History will prove you wrong. There was a time when the kids reached out, and you pushed them away. And they may stay away.

If you can, find the original release with the cohesive, and much stronger running order. Pick this up for the extra songs and not for the sentiment. You can’t pretend the past never happened.



Years of Refusal

Southpaw Grammar

For more from Mark please visit The Mark Reed website