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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Mayfly

Well-Known Member
Just a couple of observations:
- more than half of the review is about Morrissey's political views and the complete polarisation around his personality. This leaves less than half of the review giving us some information about the songs. I expect this to be the template for future reviews.
- looking forward to hearing the closing track with the wrong title. Sounds like he had some inspiration for that one.
- less excited about the title track: more ranting against mainstream media - haven't we all heard it before - not sure if he also refers to alt right politics in there. I am concerned that the song will distract the reviendras' attention away from other, possibly more worthwhile, tracks. A bad move on his part.
 

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
Someone who doesn't understand the meaning of the word clinical needs an English teacher.

And I'm happy to talk to people who disagree with me unless they're abusive or batshit.
 
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A

Anonymous

Guest
Someone who doesn't understand the meaning of the word clinical needs an English teacher.

And I'm happy to talk to people who disagree with me unless they're abusive or batshit.

I fully understand the meaning of the word. However, the context in which you place it can, like much of what you post, be easily misconstrued.

"That's got to be clinical." Clinical what?

Did you mean:

a. I am observing
b. I am efficient
c. I am cold and calculating
d. I am an environment
e. I am involved in the medical study of
Morrissey
f. I am considering the situation
objectively
g. I am ill

Which is it?

If you were alluding to my state of mind e.g. that I am insane (batshit) then that would be clinically not clinical.

Previously you made the false claim that you don't ever attack people unless they have attacked you? But here you are calling me batshit without any provocation. Do at least attempt to be consistent with your lies.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Please tell me that is not the cover art of the album.
What FFS happened to album cover art - even photographic art.

I wish I could tell you that the BROWN album cover isn't the cover of the album.

I can't do that.

However, you don't have to buy the BROWN album. And I advise you not to buy it. Just wait for the deluxe version. That's what I'm doing!
 

Tbevie

Girl afraid
This review was written 9 days ago. Surely more should be filtering through by now. When do the magazine reviews usually come out? A month before the album?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
This review was written 9 days ago. Surely more should be filtering through by now. When do the magazine reviews usually come out? A month before the album?

I've lost track of when the monthly music mags come out exactly now.
The current issues are already dated 'April'. I think the new ones might come out towards the middle or end of the month so maybe any time from a week or so, and more website reviews possibly sooner.
Websites are obviously not restricted to monthly print runs.
The daily newspapers usually give their reviews on a Friday - I think either the Friday of the release date or the week before.
For High School, we also had one review (Uncut) out a week or two before anything else so not unprecedented. However, he's never had songs completely ignored by radio before this close to release date, so perhaps the whole industry is turning its back as a result of him urging people to vote for far-right political parties...
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Hello - anonymous here who posted the review (big deal!).
My expectations of M's lyrics these days are pretty low - I just don't want to cringe too much.
The first two songs we've heard surpass that wish quite considerably. The Bobby lyrics are mysterious but intriguing, the 'Love is' lyrics are actually pretty good if a little simplistic in places. Neither of these was praised by the reviewer - if the lyrics are as good as these throughout, the musical backdrops are as unusual as he claims, and there are songs that are strongly reminiscent of Viva Hate and Strangeways, I think this album could actually be pretty good (all things considered).
Mr M Maher

"Well, it could be, he went down on his knee.OR could it be, he's only got one knee." Anyway...GIT in line, buy the record, pay an over charged fee. Stefan and Morrissey.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Just a couple of observations:
- more than half of the review is about Morrissey's political views and the complete polarisation around his personality. This leaves less than half of the review giving us some information about the songs. I expect this to be the template for future reviews.
- looking forward to hearing the closing track with the wrong title. Sounds like he had some inspiration for that one.
- less excited about the title track: more ranting against mainstream media - haven't we all heard it before - not sure if he also refers to alt right politics in there. I am concerned that the song will distract the reviendras' attention away from other, possibly more worthwhile, tracks. A bad move on his part.

He's busy marrying Bill ....if one can even imagine such an outrageous thing.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
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

Suffice to write this about that. Rubbish ? No. Different, changing, and like semi recent Mozzer records, we will love it in due time , albeit with due diligence. Quarry, brilliant, Tormentors, joyously depressing. Refusal, excellent, most of it. High-school as well, excellent, but took a while to love it. After this begins to slow steady spiral , but not upwards. Though Oboe Concerto Mt. Joy, Smiler great tunes, not sure which lp though.....
Still ill over no Smiths, no 90's supreme mastery of MTV and Alt pop music...Smiths and the old Morrissey really was the best of the bunch of em....Now, sad to say, most of the, "business bastards", wouldn't know talent if it cracked em head on !
Good luck on continued successes Morrissey...your one die hard resilient pain in the systems side and their "official narritive."
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I'm a Smiths fan since 1985, and a Morrissey fan most of my life.
The review is pretty accurate. I've my advanced copy of the record for ten days now and I listened to it a lot.
is it still possible to love him and to think that he's going in the wrong direction (politicvally and, alas, even musically), or you only have to adore everything he says and sings?
Everyone can make bad moves (or bad songs).
God deosn't exist and, anyway, he's not God himself.
 

Tbevie

Girl afraid
I'm a Smiths fan since 1985, and a Morrissey fan most of my life.
The review is pretty accurate. I've my advanced copy of the record for ten days now and I listened to it a lot.
is it still possible to love him and to think that he's going in the wrong direction (politicvally and, alas, even musically), or you only have to adore everything he says and sings?
Everyone can make bad moves (or bad songs).
God deosn't exist and, anyway, he's not God himself.

Would you mind going into some detail of some of the songs. Favourites etc.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
"Darling, I Hug A Pillow" and "My Hurling Days Are Done" are probably my favourites.
Musically very reminiscent of his best stuff.
"What Kind Of People Live In This Houses" is good as well, even if the lirycs are not mindblowing.
His voice, all over the record, is at its best. I think he improved so much during the years and this is one of his finest vocal works.
I'm not so sure about the production: it's too invasive. "Jim Jim Falls" could have been a better song, without all those production tricks and the same is for the most of the songs. It's is true: he tried to push the boundaries of his style, but not everything is perfect (far from it).
"Love Is On Its Way Out" is a good songs, but with mildly weak lirycs and so are most of the other songs.
Morrissey's words changed my life, now they harly change my day.
The reviewer doen't say anything about "The Secret Of Music" because there is not much to say. it's a song that, even after many "spins", is very difficult to absorb (or even understand).
Don't get me started on the title track: musically it's quite weak and lirically... ok maybe it depends on what you think about rabble-rousing and populism...

All in all, I think (and even if I'm a music wrotier for 25 years now, it remains my opinion and not some kind of truth) this record is not bad at all, but probably contains Morrissey weakest lirycs and some overproduced potentially good song.
 

Tbevie

Girl afraid
"Darling, I Hug A Pillow" and "My Hurling Days Are Done" are probably my favourites.
Musically very reminiscent of his best stuff.
"What Kind Of People Live In This Houses" is good as well, even if the lirycs are not mindblowing.
His voice, all over the record, is at its best. I think he improved so much during the years and this is one of his finest vocal works.
I'm not so sure about the production: it's too invasive. "Jim Jim Falls" could have been a better song, without all those production tricks and the same is for the most of the songs. It's is true: he tried to push the boundaries of his style, but not everything is perfect (far from it).
"Love Is On Its Way Out" is a good songs, but with mildly weak lirycs and so are most of the other songs.
Morrissey's words changed my life, now they harly change my day.
The reviewer doen't say anything about "The Secret Of Music" because there is not much to say. it's a song that, even after many "spins", is very difficult to absorb (or even understand).
Don't get me started on the title track: musically it's quite weak and lirically... ok maybe it depends on what you think about rabble-rousing and populism...

All in all, I think (and even if I'm a music wrotier for 25 years now, it remains my opinion and not some kind of truth) this record is not bad at all, but probably contains Morrissey weakest lirycs and some overproduced potentially good song.

Thanks for taking the time to share that. Much appreciated.
 

Tbevie

Girl afraid
"Darling, I Hug A Pillow" and "My Hurling Days Are Done" are probably my favourites.
Musically very reminiscent of his best stuff.
"What Kind Of People Live In This Houses" is good as well, even if the lirycs are not mindblowing.
His voice, all over the record, is at its best. I think he improved so much during the years and this is one of his finest vocal works.
I'm not so sure about the production: it's too invasive. "Jim Jim Falls" could have been a better song, without all those production tricks and the same is for the most of the songs. It's is true: he tried to push the boundaries of his style, but not everything is perfect (far from it).
"Love Is On Its Way Out" is a good songs, but with mildly weak lirycs and so are most of the other songs.
Morrissey's words changed my life, now they harly change my day.
The reviewer doen't say anything about "The Secret Of Music" because there is not much to say. it's a song that, even after many "spins", is very difficult to absorb (or even understand).
Don't get me started on the title track: musically it's quite weak and lirically... ok maybe it depends on what you think about rabble-rousing and populism...

All in all, I think (and even if I'm a music wrotier for 25 years now, it remains my opinion and not some kind of truth) this record is not bad at all, but probably contains Morrissey weakest lirycs and some overproduced potentially good song.

Any thoughts on ‘Knockabout world’? The rumoured next song to be released. Single worthy?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
One of the catchiest and radio friendly songs, but one of the less interesting ones, in my opinion.
 
J

John John Fell

Guest
"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."

Well, in fairness, if Morrissey thinks that he can voice support for Anne Marie Waters/For Britain, then he shouldn't complain when people, be they fans or newspapers, voice their opposing views.

So this is just bollocks:

"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".

I mean, we all heard him voice his support for Anne Marie Waters during that gig he did to promote Low In High School. It was either on the live stream or that BBC gig he did. Can't remember which. So telling us not to listen to the news is absurdist. Not that I believe 100% of what I read or hear. But I heard him say what he said with my my own bloody ears during that gig...
So?
 
J

John John Fell

Guest
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.
British people wanted away from the vapid EU good for Morrissey standing by his people who I don't know... WON!
 
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