Rod Liddle

Morrissey: California Son

His latest, California Sons, is an album of not terribly good songs

Morrissey: California Son
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Grade: B

Rock stars who utter something a little gamey, something a tad right-wingish, are usually coerced by the lefties into a cringing apology before you can say a-wop-bop-a-lu-bop. This is not a new thing — it happened to Eric Clapton after his ‘Enoch’s right’ outburst in 1976 (which very quickly spawned the Socialist Workers Party-led Rock Against Racism movement). The message has always been: get with the programme, right-wing scum, or we’ll hate you and your career will be over.

Credit, then, to Morrissey for refusing to resile from his belief that England is ceasing to be the England he knew and loved and that there are too many foreigners in the country. I kind of agree with him, up to a point. But the liberal bullies will have their way. Posters for his new album are already banned by Merseyrail (in that vast repository of acquired victimhood, Liverpool) and California Son has been spitefully panned in the Guardian and by the ageing adolescents at the NME. I doubt either review would have been so vitriolic if Morrissey had been Billy bloody Bragg.

My problem is that I don’t much like Morrissey’s somewhat histrionic music, either with the Smiths or since, much though I admire his singular refusal to conform. This is an album of covers of, in the main, not terribly good songs. He is fine tackling Roy Orbison — his alter ego from a previous life — and ‘Wedding Bell Blues’ captures some of Laura Nyro’s sweet lilt. But his inflection is all wrong when handling Joni Mitchell and Dylan. And why cover a Jobriath song? Still, keep annoying them, Steven.