From Patti Smith to New York Dolls: Morrissey picks his 13 favourite albums ever
Back in 1982, four lads from in and around Manchester formed one of the most influential British bands ever, The Smiths. In fact, they would establish and lead the British independent music scene. One man at the front of that band would divide opinion as easily as he threw theatrical shapes; the imperious Morrissey.
Fronted by the enigmatic lead vocalist, The Smiths were destined for greatness with their one of a kind guitarist Johnny Marr, bass player Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce, all providing more than ample support. Here, we look at the former frontman’s favourite albums of all time.
The Smiths rise was fast and furious, pioneering the Britpop genre of the era while releasing four studio albums to critical acclaim in the process, championing literary integrity and poetic license at the centre of their jangle-pop tunes.
Blending numerous different genres from post-punk to synth-heavy pop music, Marr’s relentless guitar combined with Morrissey’s baritone vocal and lyrical content seemed an unbreakable combination… until the group disbanded in 1987 amid growing unsavoury tensions between the members. As quickly as it had begun, it was over.
The break-up didn’t end Morrissey’s creative spark and, amid numerous different stylistic changes and a major comeback to boot, the singer has since recorded, released and toured 12 studio albums as a solo artist.
Of late Morrissey has proved to be an even more divisive figure. The singer has transitioned from the anti-establishment, self-deprecating figure who actively avoided all the cliched stereotypes of rock music in the 1980s, to controversial celebrity aligned with the far-right politics and a certain vision of English national identity has been one that has ruffled more than a few feathers.
As Morrissey’s career—and legacy— becomes swamped with never-ending controversy amid his questionable political stance and outspoken opinions, it’s easy to forget the highly influential role Morrissey has played in the solidity of indie rock and the expression of masculine emotion.
Having once embarked on a career in music journalism, Morrissey has always been a keen student of the music that has existed before, around and in front of him. When sitting down with The Quietus a few years ago, the singer picked out 13 albums that have had an effect on his creative vision.
Having included the likes of Jeff Buckley and Roxy Music as part of his list, the former Smiths frontman went on to cite the Velvet Underground twice as an inspiration. “Talking of the modern poet in modern music and listening to Lou Reed as a part of The Velvet Underground, we are really listening to the WH Auden of the modern world,” Moz once said in an interview with Desert Island Discs. “Once again, not existing in print poetry but in recorded noise.”
Elsewhere, he added Damien Dempsey record Seize The Day, which comes as little surprise having once described himself as one of his biggest admirers while in conversation with True To You: “I’m the world’s biggest Damien Dempsey fan, but every night he kept saying exactly the same things on stage, so one night I met him walking offstage and jumped on his back. He enjoyed that… and… so did I …”
The former head of the UK’s one and only New York Dolls fan club, Morrissey, of course, had to add in their self-titled record. It was an album that would vastly impact Morrissey’s life and career. He also paid tribute to the rest of the New York contingent which would populate the bedroom walls of a young Stephen Morrissey.
As well as two entries from the Velvet Underground (The Velvet Underground & Nico, White Light/White Heat) Morrissey also picks Nico’s Chelsea Girl, Patti Smith’s seminal album Horses and the iconic Iggy & The Stooges record Raw Power. It’s a testament to Moz’s undying adoration of the mystique of the Big Apple.
See Morrissey’s full list, below.
Morrissey’s favourite albums of all time:
Jobriath – Jobriath
Jeff Buckley – Grace
The Smoking Popes – Born To Quit
Damien Dempsey – Seize The Day
Roxy Music – For Your Pleasure
The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & Nico
The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat
Sparks – Kimono My House
Iggy & The Stooges – Raw Power
Nico – Chelsea Girl
Patti Smith – Horses
Ramones – Ramones
New York Dolls – New York Dolls
Below, we’ve pulled together that impeccable list, which, despite your love or hatred for the divisive figure of Morrissey, is a cracking list of records into one brilliant playlist.
Morrissey added: “Did you ever hear Born To Quit? It’s by the Smoking Popes. I thought that album was extraordinary, the most lovable thing I’d heard in years.”