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Friday, February 8, 2013

"Morrissey & Marr", The Smiths' obsessions & miseries

Morrissey & Marr: the Severed Alliance- Johnny Rogan

It's my fault. I read almost everything that is related with music. I have all sort of lists of "best books about music", and when I see over one of them, I always end grabbing the book. "The Severed Alliance" was labelled as one of the most insightful and powerful music books ever written. Add the (as usual) vitriolic comments from Morrissey towards Johnny Rogan, and my perennial love/hate story with The Smiths, and the conclusion was obvious: it was about time I was going to get my hands over the book.

Someone should had warned me. First, because this book ends in 1992. More than 20 years have passed now since Rogan's work was published, so it now looks like a very concrete but also very incomplete account of the lives of Morrissey and Johnny Marr. Yes, The Smiths period is related with careful, extreme detail. But the fundamental pillars of the band were this two pop icons, who have had, better said are having, long careers after the seminal band called a day. Simply said, this book need and updated version (I believe there's one?). And second, and even more important, because "The Severed Alliance" is a book for obsessive Smiths fans, done by someone who is, no doubt about it, obsessed with The Smiths. Unfortunately, that's not my case, particularly not about Morrissey, a rockstar whom I have very mixed feelings, as an artist and person.

There's no better example than the first half of the book to prove my point. The Spanish version of this book has more than 330 pages. But the first 150 are wasted on the most detailed account on the childhood, teenage years and adulthood of Morrissey, with a little bit of Marr too. The research done by Rogan is impressive, but what's the point of it? Do we need to know what the yet-to-be singer and composer dreamt, thought or wore when he was 16? It is necessary to resume the history of Ireland's independence and political turmoils in such detail just to have a historical background? The answer is no. And I hate to say this, but what I will recommend you is to mostly skip this first part. It can only bore you (almost to death). If not, congratulations, you are the quintessential Morrissey's fan.

It all turns much better once The Smiths story arise. Then all the detail, opinions gathered and author's point of view converge, providing a seriously complete picture of the beginnings, evolution, triumphs, miseries and death of the band. There's also space and time to analyse every song, and Morrissey's lyrics. A clinical dissection of the band. As much as I criticised the previous part, the rest of the book make me eager to go back checking the band's albums, which in my opinion is one of the best compliments you can say of a book on a music group. And all this praise comes from someone who has never been a fan of The Smiths, and has never been affected for their myth.

And yes, as I expected, Morrissey is scary. A really scary character.  

SCORE: 5,75/10

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