The best Mozza album you’ve never heard

Kill_uncle
Funny, sad, moving and controversial, Kill Uncle is everything a Morrissey album should be. Shame that cos of a rather silly post-Smiths backlash that so few of his legions of fans have heard it then.

Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before, but Morrissey hasn’t always been regarded as one of England’s national treasures.
Back in the early ’90s, he was hated by the music press. The post-Smiths backlash started when Mozzer released his ‘difficult’ second album, Kill Uncle, and spiralled out of control when he flirted with right wing imagery for the follow-up, Your Arsenal.
OK, so we admit that waving a Union Jack around is a bit dodgy, but how can you criticise Mozzer for making Kill Uncle – one of his most enjoyable and diverse records. Funny, sad, moving and controversial, it’s everything a Morrissey album should be.

The closing sombre ballad, There’s A Place In Hell For Me and My Friends, could well be Stephen Patrick’s finest solo moment. Backed by a piano arrangement that’s worthy of any state funeral, Mozzer ponders the afterlife. Honestly, when the drums kick in, it’ll make your quiff wilt.
Clocking in at a paltry 33 minutes, Kill Uncle is Morrissey’s shortest album. On its release in 1991, it was accused of being lightweight, but compared to some of Mozzer’s later efforts (the experimental Southpaw Grammar and the patchy Maladjusted), it’s a delicious, quirky pop treat.

Produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley (Madness and Elvis Costello) – Morrissey had severed his alliance with Stephen Street – it includes rockabilly (Sing Your Life), raga-violin (Asian Rut and Our Frank), Roxy Music keyboards (Mute Witness) and strange music hall accompaniment (The Harsh Truth Of The Camera Eye).
It’s not just the music that’s wildly eclectic – Morrissey also creates a weird and wonderful array of characters including a deaf and dumb thalidomide victim and ‘a tooled up Asian boy’ who’s out to avenge the murder of his best friend. Corrie scripwriters take note.

One of the highlights, the guitar-heavy rocker, Found, Found, Found is rumoured to be about Mozzer’s friendship with Michael Stipe.
For Kill Uncle, Morrissey teamed up with two new songwriting partners – Clive Langer and Fairground Attraction’s Mark E Nevin. The end result was a varied album that never failed to surprise – a long-lost Mozzer classic.
Cherish it like your favourite, er, uncle.

Morrissey – Kill Uncle 1991 (EMI)

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18 Responses to “The best Mozza album you’ve never heard”

  1. Earl Graphite Says:

    You are so right about this album! It’s an amazing journey (even if only 33 minutes!) through myriad characters and moods. I’ve never grown tired of this one. Each listen just as fresh as the first, some 14 years on. I never could understand why this album got such a bad wrap.

  2. Roger Says:

    If this album is ‘funny and sad’ it is because it is a very threadbare collection of songs. It is by some distance M’s worst post-Smiths album. Don’t waste your money

  3. Kissmyshades Says:

    “Sing Your Life” is okay. “I’m The End of the Family Line” is a good tune. “There’s a Place In Hell For Me and My Friends” reminds me of a solo stab at “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want”, but I think that may be because it’s very short (1.40-something) and understated (no drums, so quite how it’ll make your quiff quilt is uncertain – see above). Maybe it’s more like an ironic version of “Asleep”.

    Other than those three songs, it’s a disappointing album, and time has done nothing for it.

    As for Morrissey fans not having heard this – what nonsense. It got to number 8 in the charts, and anyway, we’ve heard of everything he’s ever done and bought it all (sometimes twice).

    If you’re really serious about lost treasures by former 80s artists, then you could do worse than “Boomslang” by Johnny Marr and The Healers (Morrissey’s musical collaborator in The Smiths). It’s by no means a classic (about 5 out of ten, perhaps), but it does get it right on at least half of the songs, is excellent in parts and, musically at least, is a mile better than “Kill Uncle”. And it didn’t chart.

  4. Adam 1.0 Says:

    I’d still rank it next to Maladjusted as his dodgiest solo work but I have to admit my undying love for Mute Witness and solid admiration of Our Frank.

  5. Pop Junkie Says:

    We’ve prompted a lively debate…. which is the point of the website – so thanks for all of your comments…..
    There’s nothing like winding Morrissey fans up – I am one, so I should know….

    As regards Kiss My Shades’ comments on ‘There Is A Place…’, we can distinctly hear drums on the track! Towards the end, a funereal drum beat kicks in – go back and listen again! How’s that for a Pop Junkie?
    Mozzer’s worst album? Hmmm – have you heard Maladjusted or Southpaw Grammar lately?

    Pop Junkie

  6. south Says:

    The Johnny marr comment is dead-on; it’s an excellent album. We all have bought the albums numerous times — this one is simply a bit of a dud.

    I think this site is about making money via amazon.com links — think about it!

  7. south Says:

    P.S. Southpaw Grammar is AWESOME!
    Maladjusted isn’t as good, but I do think it’s leaps and bounds past Kill Uncle.

  8. McNelson Says:

    I remember being distinctly unimpressed by this album when I purchased it on cassette from WHSmith in Great Yarmouth. It remains the only Morrissey album I subsequently have not purchased on CD. If I recall, ‘Our Frank’ was ok but my particualr highlight was ‘Driving Your Girlfriend Home’. I did cringe at the lyrics on ‘King Lear’ though, they we’re absolute poop. 3/10 in my unwarranted opinion.

  9. Rafael Says:

    Although this isn’t Morrissey’s best record, I find myself going back to it time after time. I really enjoy the vocals on this record much more than on some of his later work. ‘Mute Witness’ is an excellent song, as is ‘Sing Your Life’. ‘Found, Found, Found’ has, as many of his earlier songs do, a very poignant message. I’ll never write it off my personal list.

  10. Chris Wuchte Says:

    This is the last Morrissey album I’d rank as a great lost album. It’s a disappointing collection of songs that’s not helped by a very sterile, bland production. I’ve always found it interesting that two of the worst albums made by two of my favorite artists (this one and “Goodbye Cruel World” by Elvis Costello) were both produced by the team of Langer and Winstanley. I can’t help but feel there must be a connection.

    Even though the songs themselves had their flaws, when played live they seemed much better than the studio versions. Perhaps a more visceral, less polished production would have suited things better.

    As for a true lost Morrissey album… I guess I’d probably go with Southpaw Grammar. Not that it’s great, but I just think it was an attempt to do something different that got pegged as being Morrissey’s reponse to grunge. I wouldn’t go with Maladjusted — when I listened to it recently it aged very badly, only slightly better than Kill Uncle.

  11. Ashley PopJunkie Says:

    Think we would be doing you a dis-service if we didn’t alert you to the very sparky debate about Kill Uncle that this post has sparked over at http://www.morrissey-solo.com/article.pl?sid=05/09/26/1614226&threshold=-1 It is well worth checking out what has become a very impassioned debate.

    Next week on PopJunkie – Meat is Murder – the album the Queen is Dead should have been… Perhaps not.

  12. Robert From Boston Says:

    The arrangements from the musicians that played on this Morrissey release were amazing. The piano work on “There is a Place..” is a good as any Smiths song because of its beautiful haunting melody that sounds perfect with Morrissey’s vocals. Also the passion of his vocals in ‘Asian Rut’ were very much overlooked. The song order does swing from one extreme to the other but that is why this album still sounds great today. Every song is a world of its owm. Just hearing the dancing tiptoe of “King Leer” or the words in “Mute Witness” will definately put a smile on your face. And in the closer “Tony the Pony”,{not one of Moz’s favorites but it is mine} Morrissey sings with Robert Plant like soprano wales that were lacking on a few of his more recent solo efforts. This is truly one Morrissey’s best for sure!

  13. D.B. PARKES Says:

    I’M A BIT SAD IN THE MOZ DEPARTMENT ..BUT..BEING AS OBJECTIVE AS I CAN..THIS DOES HAVE SOME LOVELY MOMENTS OF HEARTFELT INTROSPECTION. THE EARLY SOLO WORKS WERE STILL VERY MUCH BORN OF THE SMITHS AND THEIR ENVIRONMENTS (THE NORTH..YOUTH..AN APART-NESS..AN INTENSE YET FRUSTRATED SEXUALITY ETC). THE LATER SOLO WORK IS INFUSED WITH A PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT(LONDON…AN INSTITUTIONALISED APART-NESS..A MORE ACTIVE SEXUALITY-REAL OR IMAGINED..).KILL UNCLE INHABITS A NETHER REGION BETWEEN THESE TWO RIFE WITH DOUBT AND GENUINE BEMUSEMENT. HE HAS COME TO TERMS WITH THE NON-EXISTENCE OF J.MARR IN HIS CREATIVE UNIVERSE AND IN ALL KINDS OF WAYS IS SAYING “WHAT NOW?” MISGUIDED IN PLACES? LACKING FOCUS? ..YES! BUT ,JOURNALISTIC CLICHES ASIDE,IT REMAINS DEEPLY AFFECTING ON A NUMBER OF TRACKS..

  14. threetoedsloth Says:

    King Leer is always the song that people hold up as the worst Morrissey song ever, but I’ve always kind of liked it. It’s interesting. It’s certainly better than Found Found Found – a terrible song in my opinion.

  15. Darren Says:

    MOZZA was something special back then! I got into him when he first went solo and straight away went out and bought the entire SMITHS catalogue. My favourite album will always be ‘Viva Hate’ followed by ‘Kill Uncle’ (the weird days) after that, he got a bit too commercial, lost his weirdness and now he’s just mediocre. Still, an amazing career and definately one of pop’s finest!!!

  16. georgethe23rd Says:

    Bizarre lyrics, particularly on King Leer: “I tried to surprise you/I crept up behind you/with a homeless chihuahua/you gushed for an hour/you handed him back and said/”You’ll never guess/I’m bored now”. The rare mention of the word “chihuahua” is worth the admission price alone.

  17. alexander moxley Says:

    Kill Uncle is without question the lowest point in Morrisseys entire output. I sill remember the dissapointment I felt when first playing this on its release especially after the unequalled consistency of what had preceded it (Hand In Glove through to The Last Of The Famous…). Hats off to the guy for being a true artist and pushing onwards though. Vauhall and I and the recent You Are The Quarry have shown he still has much to contribute. Johnny Marr said something in an intervew a number of years back, that Morrissey still writes great lyrics but it’s the musicians that he works with that disappoint. He would say that…but he’s right though and Kill Unkile is a sad testimony to it.

  18. Kendo the fun & the fair Says:

    Personally (isn’t it always?) love Mute Witness, Sing Your Life, End Of the Line…. there is a place is ok..

    But weak. very weak.

    I thought Viva Hate (Suedehead, Everyday & Maudlin aside) was nearly as poor.

    You want jems??

    Vauxhall & I.

    Or Even Billy Braggs Bloke On Bloke EP. Basically Smiths sans Morrissey.

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