Morrissey probably doesn’t quote LL Cool J much, but if he
did, he might cop a line from LL’s 1991 album, Mama Said
Knock You Out — “don’t call it a comeback;
I’ve been here for years.”

Music Reviews

After the dismal sales and apathy that greeted his 1997 album
Maladjusted, it seemed that Morrissey had reached that stage in his
career in which great musicians –– Elvis Costello, Bob
Dylan, the Rolling Stones –– have floundered for long
periods of their careers. The back catalogue is revered, but any
new work is dismissed; the artist is charged with becoming a mere
shell of his former self.

But with You Are the Quarry, the former Smiths frontman is again
a relevant rock ‘n’ roll figure, enjoying radio airplay
and tons of press, without much change in his music. The gloom, the
doom, the melodrama, even the hair—it’s all back for
another go-around.

It’s easy to understand why audiences are embracing the
old codger again. In the past several years, mainstream rock began
to capitalize on underground and independent groups. From the
success of those bands, the next logical step for major labels was
to snap up indie acts with cult followings and assist them in
crossing over onto MTV — Saves the Day, AFI and Modest Mouse
have all enjoyed mainstream success after releasing several records
on independent labels. And if it’s indie cred that sells,
then look no further than Morrissey — calling the Smiths an
influence seems to be mandatory for bands these days.

Quarry lives up to the hype. The first single, “Irish
Blood, English Heart” is an atypically rocking call-to-arms.
And, while Moz might alienate some with his portrayal of American
society’s ills and references to 17th century British
politics on “America is Not the World,” the rest of the
album is filled with tales of unrequited love that the man is known
for. The highlight of the album, “The First of the Gang to
Die,” most likely marks the first time that a middle-aged,
effeminate Brit has tackled the issue of gang violence in L.A.

Morrissey embodies the musician whose inner turmoil will never
be known and, to a certain extent, he has made his living off of
this aura of mystery. And if Morrissey ever quoted Biggie, he might
drop this line—“Stereotype of a black male
misunderstood / And it’s still all good.”

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