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Morrissey, Teen Chic

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Great pop is made by fans, and there is perhaps no greater fan than Morrissey. During his teenage years, the Smiths front man wrote dozens of letters to British music magazines like NME and Melody Maker praising (and trashing) bands in outsize, almost campy prose. This week, Morrissey extends his fan-boy résumé by releasing (and writing the liner notes for) Lonely Planet Boy, a compilation of the mostly out-of-print music of his childhood idols, the failed glam band Jobriath. Here are some excerpts from his letters to the editor, culled from Internet archives of Morrissey’s juvenilia:

On Sparks, to NME, June 14, 1974: Today I bought the album of the year, I feel I can say this without expecting several letters saying I’m talking rubbish. The album is “Kimono My House” by Sparks . . . Every track is brilliant—although I must name “Equator,” “Complaints,” “Amateur Hour” and “Here In Heaven” as the best tracks, and in that order.

On Aerosmith, to Melody Maker, September 6, 1975: Their music is that of confused struggle, with vocalist Steven Tyler sounding as though he is using the microphone to brush his teeth. They are as original as a bar of soap and have as much to offer Seventies rock as Ena Sharples.

On the New York Dolls, to Sounds, December 27, 1975: Anything that aims to change the day-to-day routine of the rock world is carefully observed before admitted. What a shame the New York Dolls and Jobriath were a little too fond of their satins and silks because I am sure that they both had enough—and more, to please the media.

On the Cramps, to Sounds, June 30, 1979: The Cramps are worth their weight in gold for making the Police seem like a great big sloppy bowl of mush. The Police, hardly dabbling in degrees of the unexpected, presented a farcical imitation of their Rock Goes To College thing . . . The Cramps were enough to restore faith in the most spiritless. They have it all, and their drummer is the most compelling in rock history. Back to the Cramps or perish. It is written.


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