x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Plenty of treasures in Morrissey retrospective

Is the latest Morrissey compilation really the best of the artist?

Another year, another Morrissey retrospective. The former Smiths singer's solo career has already spawned numerous compilation albums, including two released in just the past three years. Spanning 1988 to 1995, this CD-plus-DVD package again plunders the maestro of melancholy's EMI/Parlophone years, but comes with the rare distinction of his personal blessing and involvement. Even the most casual fan might contest the choice of lumpen lightweight tracks such as Sonny and Ouija Board, Ouija Board over missing classics such as Disappointed or Late Night, Maudlin Street. But there are still plenty of treasures here, from the singer's shimmering post-Smiths rebirth Suedehead to the heart-tugging, Dylanesque epic Boxers. His extraordinary nine-minute remake of Moon River remains an interesting experiment, submerging an American Songbook standard in a steamy swamp of shimmering ambient rock. For serious collectors, the chief selling point here is a previously unreleased solo version of the brooding Euro-ballad Interlude, a cultish cover version originally released as a duet with Siouxsie Sioux. There are likewise few surprises on the accompanying DVD of video clips, which serve mainly to underline how awkward Morrissey is with the camera, whether wandering sullenly around British seaside towns or driving stiffly through California. But a rare TV appearance from 1990, featuring the melodramatic lament I've Changed My Plea to Guilty, is an enjoyable reminder of his unmatched flair for operatically overblown self-pity.