TheMidlandsRocks: "I Am Not A Dog On A Chain" album review (February 2, 2020)

First review of the new album...

Looks like it came out a few days ago. General vibe is 'quite good music, not great lyrics',a bit like the High School reviews . Criticises 'Bobby'which, for those of us who really like the song, suggests we may feel differently to this journalist about the rest of the album too...

Morrissey – I Am Not a Dog On a Chain review. - TheMidlandsRocks.com

By Angri Peters - February 2, 2020.

Writing a Morrissey review is a near impossible task today. If I’m positive, a wave of people who loathe his politics will descend upon me for implicitly endorsing a rising wave of Islamophobia. If I am critical, I will be set upon by people who refuse to accept that anything he does is less than genius (yes, even “Roy’s Keen”) amid claims that I must be part of some Guardian-led media plot to destroy him. For transparency, I love The Smiths. If I could rewrite history and make a single album of Morrissey’s finest moments (“Boxers”, “Now My Heart Is Full”, “Every Day Is Like Sunday” and a few others) then I reckon it would rank up there as one of the finest albums of all time. His politics have never put me off his solo material; his solo material put me off his solo material. It just never consistently hit the highs I knew he was capable of. I opted to review this album because I heard he’d changed direction and I was interested. In fact, the review should occur without any reference to his politics at all. That’s right. Judging it by its own artistic standard!

What I did like was that the album defied expectation. This was not another Morrissey album. The first thing the listener hears is something like Altern-8. Likewise, the second track “Love is On Its Way Out” begins with what sounds like the menu screen of an 8-bit platformer set in a spooky mansion. Then the choruses of both kick in with Andreas Johnson’s “Glorious”. That’s pretty much a formula for the more diverse parts of the album. That kept me intrigued. However, that doesn’t mean that any of these songs had the soaring, stomach-churning, tear-jerking, heart-tugging splendour of the aforementioned classics or indeed any of the so-so hits of previous years. The production was doing all the work. Producer Joe Chicarelli (Beck, The Killers) said that Morrissey has “pushed the boundaries yet again – both musically and lyrically”. It’s true that he is out of his comfort zone, but is he pushing our boundaries as listeners? If you only listen to Morrissey, then yes. But if you’ve heard electronic music, synths, strings, slightly wonky guitar and backing vocals before….then no. The difficulty is that any attempts at doing something contemporary on the album already sound a bit dated and old. Listen to single “Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know?” Thelma Houston adds additional vocals- but to what end? A normal sounding Morrissey tune ends up with the sort of intermittent “the kids like this, don’t they?” interjections that pensioners tend to think make something contemporary. You might as well have stuck Bubbler Ranx on there. It’s Morrissey doing 90s “My Father’s Eyes” Eric Clapton.

Even the few moments of nostalgic whimsy don’t really land. “What Kind of People Live in These Houses?” is a classic Morrissey sounding moment, and along with “Darling, I Hug A Pillow”, they could have been from the Viva Hate era. All the hallmarks of what we liked appear (obvious rhymes, jangly guitars, suburban daydreaming) but without any real payoff. “Once I Saw The River Clean” is almost literally “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” but produced by Bronski Beat. “My Curling Days Are Over” features some beautiful lines and the lushest production of the whole album (example “Time will mould you and craft you/But when you’re looking away it will slide up and shaft you”), all wrapped up in a Fiction Factory-meets-The Sundays crooner. This is maybe the sole shining moment, albeit one that hangs around a minute or so too long.

And while I’m trying not to get caught up in Morrissey bashing, he introduces the musical equivalent of Piers Morgan: “I Am Not A Dog On A Chain” (“I use my own brain…I do not read newspapers/They are mischief makers/Listen to what’s not shown/And there you will find the truth”) You started this Morrissey, not me! It’s a cockney walkabout tune where a grown man complains that you can’t even voice support for far right political parties with overt racist agendas without someone from the left mentioning it. It’s not even a clever song. It’s just a man (probably wearing a suit jacket and jeans together) ranting about how you have to be brave to speak the truth (or “be a bit racist”) and not just listen to what the papers say – as if those are the only two options! It’s the noble rallying cry of a silent majority who have forgotten that we’re having Brexit, we’ve got the Tories in power, and two of the biggest newspapers in the country are The Daily Mail and The Sun. Oh how unrepresented you must feel, Moz! How brave you are to say what millions think on a daily basis on the internet and in pubs and in bus queues and in taxis and… I could go on. He may not be a dog on a chain, but he certainly responds to dog whistles – and this song isn’t about rising above or showing strength. It’s the embodiment of what surrounds it: a man who is out of touch with culture complaining that he’s out of touch with culture, whilst trying to remain relevant to culture itself.

So there you go. I reviewed it on its own merit – but like Christmas dinner with Granddad- someone has to bring up how you can’t say anything nowadays without offending someone. And when people respond, he’ll get a cob on. However, against the tide of lefty woke twitter assassins, I disagree that Morrissey says these things to draw attention to his music. I’m starting to think that he says them to distract us from it.

Midlands Rocks album
 
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NealCassidy

FREE SPEECH
So the album is on the theme of ... free speech!
 

Hovis Lesley

Well-Known Member
It does seem a bit early for reviews. And why is this one so isolated? He wrote it 5 days ago and there hasn’t been another review since.
I would say it’s about right to have promo copies circulated now, to ensure reviews appear in next month’s paper publications (such as Mojo).
 

Eldritch

Well-Known Member
Disappointed there was no mention of ‘The secret of Music’. How can you not have an opinion on a song that takes up almost 8 minutes of the album.

Well, we don't know how many minutes of it are atmospheric nonsense in the same way as the first minute of I'm Not a Man.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
With just over a month to go and with so many tickets left unsold I think he's going to need better reviews than this.
 

ordinaryboy86

Well-Known Member
You know, Moz could have kept "Your Arsenal" in the can, unreleased, for 18 years, released it NOW, and these jokers would rip it apart, just because of the current partisan divide...I don't take these reviews seriously...neither should anyone else.

good music is good music, forever. Stop being a petty wee twat. Why don’t you go listen to YA & CS or LIHS back-to-back and hear the difference for yourself.
 

Hovis Lesley

Well-Known Member
From 1983 till 2011 I stood along side him. Then, thankfully I saw the error of his ways. You?
Since 1992: I bought Kill Uncle, from a second-hand record store in Haight Ashbury. I can’t say it was the best of baptisms, but Our Frank and There is a Place ... kept me interested. Shortly after, I purchased Your Arsenal from Tower Records. Never looked back. Formerly, I was a Stone Roses, Inspirals and New Order fanatic.
 

Ketamine Sun

<><><><><><><>
Pretty positive review until the reviewer starts getting political and it falls apart badly. Hope this isn’t what most reviews will be like.
You are a music journalist, not a political one.

Music journalism is on its way out!

As this so-called music review shows..

Music journalism is dead.
 

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
Morrissey, like most politically naive people, by default supported the Tories in the last general election. Morrissey and millions more supported the ego that is Farage. His praise for Farage has been the subject of fierce debate within this forum despite the fact that Morrissey did say amongst many other things that Farage would "make a good prime minister". A "good prime minister" that actively advocated blood sports. How does Morrissey qualify that? He never, ever did. He's an arch moron. The action of the Brexit Party had a significant effect on the result; a result that Morrissey, in his ivory tower, is probably pleased with. He now has his England. He gave no thought for the people of Scotland or Northern Ireland.

In short he did significantly more than support a marginal, crank party like For Britain.

Farage is the only thing that saved Labour from annihilation in December. His party split the Tory vote & helped us keep some seats by a terrifying low amount of votes.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
From 1983 till 2011 I stood along side him. Then, thankfully I saw the error of his ways. You?
I think realistically, you can only see the error of your own ways. Other peoples ways make perfect sense to them.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Farage is the only thing that saved Labour from annihilation in December. His party split the Tory vote & helped us keep some seats by a terrifying low amount of votes.
Some talking heads predicted Farage's party would have that sort of impact, but in the event they only got 2% of the popular vote. It wouldn't have made very much difference if they had not existed.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Imagine spending 9 years posting on Morrissey Solo when you don't like him anymore.

That's got to be clinical.

I think it a better proposition that never having liked him at all, eh Karen. Do close the door in the way to your next troll fest.

You seemed to have got bored (no attention span) and left your sentence unfinished. Clinical what? I think we can all assume what you meant but as you have been unclear yet again I thought it best to seek clarity.
 

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
Some talking heads predicted Farage's party would have that sort of impact, but in the event they only got 2% of the popular vote. It wouldn't have made very much difference if they had not existed.

It did make a difference to Labour, in some constituencies we won by a couple of hundred votes. In those constituencies The Brexit Party had a couple of thousand. If The Brexit Party votes had gone to The Tories then we would have lost those seats.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
I've been a Morrissey fan for 4 minutes. I've heard songs 6, read 2 comments and hear rumours that he was in band years ago.

I've got loads of baseless opinions and I just love to chunter. I love it when people agree with me but disagree and I'll troll you mercilessly for days then block you.

Politically I'd describe myself as boiled cabbage.

IG: Karen. Luv Yuz.
 
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