This week one of Morrissey’s arguably finest albums was released in a “Definitive Master” edition. 1992’s Your Arsenal was the full-length album debut of Moz’s new band featuring Boz Boorer, who would stick with him the rest of his career to date and become an important collaborator. The album was a ferocious change of pace after his previous album Kill Uncle failed to generate the same hits Morrissey had in his solo period from Viva Hate through the singles and b-sides that made up the Bona Drag compilation. The beginnings of a harder rock sound were starting on “Glamorous Glue” and “You’re Gonna Need Someone on Your Side”. The singalong catchiness that drove many of The Smiths’ hits was there on “Tomorrow” and “We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful”. He managed to drum up controversy on the misheard and misunderstood “The National Front Disco”. The lonely soul torch ballads were even here in the form of the second half’s “Seasick, Yet Still Docked” and “I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday”. Even the rockabilly that survived Kill Uncle thanks to Boz worked perfectly this time on “Certain People I Know”. This time around the music was far more deliberate. Many of these songs were among the first I heard when I was re-introduced to Morrissey’s solo music in the 2000’s after (and yes I’m ashamed) ignoring his post-Smiths tunes aside from “The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get”. This album plays like a greatest hits album with no filler.
So this is the “definitive version” then. When I did A to B comparisons to the original CD, I have to say I prefer this mix much better. The remastering (whether it was cleaning up or an actual new mix created) definitely brings out the clarity in the instruments and Moz’s voice. The overall feel definitely benefits. Purists have complained quite a bit about Morrissey’s previous reissues, as most of them have either contained bonus tracks from the wrong era, removing songs that weren’t as popular and replacing with b-sides, and resequencing the running order. In the case of Southpaw Grammar I think this did the album justice. But here the sequence is left alone. The only difference is that the US mix of “Tomorrow” replaces the UK mix. To my ears, this is the superior mix, as the vocals are more prominent and the instruments really stand out, like a layer of murk was lifted.
The real reason though to get this edition is the DVD that is included. The DVD is Morrissey at the Shoreline Amphiteatre, Mountain View CA, October 31st, 1991. Ok but this was *before* Your Arsenal. Why not a show from the Your Arsenal tour? Well this show is special because it shows the transition from the Kill Uncle phase to this one and was just after forming the band that would play on Your Arsenal. Gold lamé shirt and all. The band gives extra oomph to the songs, and even plays the new (at the time) “We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful”, which is pretty much as it appears on the album months later. The quality of the video is that of a decent VHS from a collector’s stash. It is definitely not HD. The audio is fairly flat as though direct from the mixing board, but still very listenable. And all of the madness of a Morrissey show is caught on multiple cameras. Be warned – songs are interrupted when fans rush the stage one or two at a time to tacklehug their idol. He usually smiles it off. Sometimes it takes the wind out of him. At one point he dances with one of the fans that makes it up there. There’s no Smiths songs at all. At this point he was still avoiding the past and playing his solo material, but there was still plenty to choose from already. Despite not being the utmost quality, this will receive multiple viewings from me.
Big thumbs up on both the remastering job and the bonus material – already adding to a definite must-have album!
Now can someone explain why Parlophone is spelled “PARLOPHON” on the cd and dvd? I know Sire released the US edition, but from photos I’ve seen, the UK version also misspells it. Odd. (Note: The US Edition does NOT have the Parlophone logo – or any – on the front cover where it appears on the UK edition)
Get your copy of Your Arsenal – The Definitive Master HERE
Check out the many great videos from this album:
“We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful”:
“You’re The One For Me, Fatty”:
“Certain People I Know”:
“Seasick, Yet Still Docked”:
“We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful” – Live from the Your Arsenal DVD mentioned above