Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • Viva Hate [Sire, 1988] B
  • Bona Drag [Sire/Reprise, 1990] B+
  • Kill Uncle [Sire/Reprise, 1991] B+
  • Your Arsenal [Sire/Reprise, 1992] A-
  • Vauxhall and I [Sire/Reprise, 1994] Dud
  • Maladjusted [Mercury, 1997] Dud
  • You Are the Quarry [Attack, 2004] *

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Viva Hate [Sire, 1988]
From my pinnacle of disinterest I can attest that this solo move is neither here nor there. Vini Reilly doesn't have a unique sound like Johnny Marr, and autonomy does encourage the camp grandiosity of a guy who tries to make "I love you more than life" live: though he may think it's funny for "Late Night, Maudlin Street" to go on for 7:40, in fact it's as boring as you'd expect despite the great line about his revolting nakedness. But the Smiths rarely if ever came up with a hook as must-hear as "Everyday Is Like Sunday"'s and in general the monotony factor has decreased. The artiste is no longer a kid, and he likes it that way. Essential for acolytes, educational for the rest of us, just like always. B

Bona Drag [Sire/Reprise, 1990]
To Anglophiles, Anglos, and young alternative rockers who've never known another world, Morrissey's solo singles are fraught with paradigm, but to the rest of us they're a chapter in the life of a great twit. Less secure in his delusions of grandeur and worthlessness than when he was top of the pops, he hides behind the bitchy jokes his followers consider beneath him. At least half of these fizzle-prone chart charges will amuse and excite the curiosity-seeker. That any of them could be conceived as pop hits is why there are still Anglophiles. Inspirational Verse: "This is the last song I will ever sing (yay!)/No I've changed my mind again (boo!)." B+

Kill Uncle [Sire/Reprise, 1991]
What kills the faithful is the anonymously supportive production, never distinctive enough to threaten (or challenge) a fading superstar in the throes of permanent identity crisis. But though they do meander into the insufferably ruminative self-pity that never used to bother Smiths fans, the songs start out plenty striking, guitar signature or no guitar signature. Tart as a grand aunt, louder on the gay subtext now that he's no longer an antipinup, Morrissey isn't just another English eccentric. He exemplifies what's made eccentricity a staple export of that once-proud nation for generations. Good show. B+

Your Arsenal [Sire/Reprise, 1992]
Most consistent solo set to date from talented singer-songwriter who made his name fronting popular British cult band the Smiths. Highlights include the plaintive "Seasick, Yet Still Docked," the kindly "You're the One for Me, Fatty," the cynical "Glamorous Glue," the cynical "Certain People I Know," the cynical "We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful," and the satiric (we hope) "National Front Disco." A-

Vauxhall and I [Sire/Reprise, 1994] Dud

Maladjusted [Mercury, 1997] Dud

You Are the Quarry [Attack, 2004]
Less miserable than bitter, as he's always better off admitting ("First of the Gang to Die," "I Have Forgiven Jesus") *