TITLE: Viva Hate
YEAR RELEASED: 1988
CHART ACTION: #48 US, #1 UK
SINGLES: Suedehead (#5 UK), Everyday Is Like Sunday (#9 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Hairdresser on Fire was originally on the US version
LINEUP: Morrissey, Stephen Street, Vini Reilly, Andrew Paresi
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First LP post-Smiths finds Morrissey in fine voice, writing obtuse lyrics as always, and working well with guitarist Reilly from the Durutti Column
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: How would Morrissey survive without the brilliance of Johnny Marr and the Smiths musicians? Well, very well thank you.
Early singles showed that Morrissey still had the gift for wordplay and melody, and this album shows the same. While not as consistently brilliant as early Smiths albums, it solidified Morrissey as someone whose artistry could change and evolve. He’s still mopey, but it’s a different kind of mope. In fact, some of the arrangements fit his words more snugly than later Smiths songs.
As with the Smiths, a few cuts find Morrissey languishing and being overly long and dramatic. It’s a great statement by him that he had it, and had more of IT than anyone in the Smiths when all was said and done.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Margaret on the Guillotine” is about Margaret Thatcher, and got Morrissey in a bit of a sticky wicket in some circles.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. “Hairdresser on Fire” was on the US release originally. There was a version with bonus tracks, and a new version that swapped out “The Ordinary Boys” for “Treat Me Like a Human Being”.
GRADE: A-: It’s a little inconsistent, but the highlights are terrific!