The Smiths

Johnny Marr - Call The Comet

Four years have gone by since Marr's last solo album 'Playland' was released. With its predecessor 'The Messenger' only a year before that, the four years allowed for what he had achieved to sink in. They were an eclectic riff laden pair of post-punk inspired albums. Marr's roots were laid bare whilst not treading on the memories of the beloved Smiths.

'Call The Comet' however, at times, overtly retreads his Smiths days. At a point where Morrissey politically alienates Smiths fans, Marr's timing, as ever, is impeccable. He discussed with both Shaun Keaveny and John Kennedy how 'Hi Hello' was a result of sitting on his bed playing guitar like his pre-smiths teenage self. There is more than a hint of 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out' about this single. Asarchetypal melancholic tropes fuse with emotive guitar licks, Marr has reclaimed the Smiths legacy for fans who are tired of having to defend Morrissey.

For anyone wanting to bridge The Smiths to Marr's solo career to friends, 'Day In Day Out' is perfect. The acoustic guitar will conjure the heady days of 'William It Was Really Nothing' before his psyche enthused jangle attacks the senses like 'The Right Thing Right' (The Messenger) and '25 Hours' (Playland).

On 'Hey Angel', that rarest of Marr things emanates from his guitar, the rock star solo. Another familiar post punk dystopian landscape is intersected with a crushing solo. It's ridden with such rage and immediacy, over the top could never be levelled at it.

Timing is everything in music. Had his former best friend not aligned himself with the far right this year, and not delivered another average album, 'Call The Comet' would have been just the third good album. In context, it has become a genuine moment for alternative music souls.

The only question left to ask is, what's next? Is there space for another helping? Of course there is but, Marr, so intrinsically linked with exploration may have to rip up the rule book once more.

Johnny Marr: Islington Assembly Hall, London

Johnny Marr’s t-shirt on sale last night reads “Johnny Fucking Marr”. Say this is in whatever tone of voice and you have your review. He is just that good.

Part of it is the seemingly effortlessness of it all. The Townsend windmills, the Rodgers’ guitar licks, the glamour of Bolan or Jagger’s androgynous swagger, it all flows from Marr like it’s the most natural thing in the world. We mortals know better.

Effectively, this gig is a road test of his new album ‘Call The Comet’ and, as ever, it seems Marr has captured national mood. He has married the fire and desolation of the UK’s progressive thinkers with the teenage angst of The Smiths. This blend of despair, rage and hope is sure fire to increase his national treasure status.

Sometimes, with established artists, delving into the back catalogue leads to reworking of songs. So often this is met with negative responses. However, Marr’s interpretation of Electronic’s ‘Getting Away With It’ via a traditional band set up is remarkable. If anything, the ecstatic highs it was designed for in 1991 are surpassed in this format.

Marr is now heading for Scandinavia, it is not to be missed.

Image Source: Tracey Welch/Rex/Shutterstock

Morrissey: Brighton Centre - Live Review

At 58, Morrissey could be forgiven for just going through the motions on the live circuit. With nothing left to prove, why should the fire still burn? As he eloquently puts, “because of you”.

There is something however, clearly more to Morrissey's colossus stage presence than the adoration of fans. None more prevalent than on 'The Bullfighter Dies'. Backed with extreme images of animal cruelty, the Manchester icon lays bare his anguish and hopes for change.

So often now, the press hones in Mozza's political views. Friday night at Brixton he professed a longing for 'free speech', and the worse was presumed. For the Brighton crowd, the lovable roguish Morrissey was the only thing on show.

'When You Open Your Legs', so embroiled in humor and melody, the crowd is either singing or laughing. After The Pretenders cover 'Back in the Chain Gang', he quips “the easiest song I ever wrote' and, when a rose is tossed at him, a one handed catch stuffs it in his pants. This is not the work of a man who has lost all sense of humour or hope, as discussed in the Guardian or the Telegraph.

Frankly, this charming man's light has not and will not go out!


Image courtesy of Jamie Macmillan &