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like the latest fax from Mount Sinai, then drops down because no one else really likes it very much. The consumer has proved remarkably impervious to that doleful voice. So did Nevin, who wrote the Number One-selling ‘Perfect’ consider it a challenge to his songwriting abilities to counter the notorious Morrissey Effect? '

‘Well, I wasn’t that aware ofit really . . . until the record came out!’ he laughs. ‘We were hoping, because obviously you think it would be nice for it to carry on and appeal to people who weren’t normal Morrissey fans. But the climate in music being what it is at the moment, it’d be unlikely for them to buy Morrissey records in their thousands, because it’s just beyond trends. The people who are going out for the first time and buying records, I just don’t think that Morrissey fits into that whole scene at all. It would be nice, but it doesn’t upset me that much.’

Perhaps, then, for all the vilification Kill Uncle and its Stephen Street-produced predecessor Viva Hate have suffered at the hands of the critics and public, they could be sleepers, lying dormant for years before being accepted as classics.

‘If people listen to Kill Uncle a few times, they can think it’s great. Loads of people have said that to me. The thing is that The Smiths were such an important band, and it was such a great collaboration between

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Morrissey and Johnny Marr, that I think people don’t want a Morrissey record, they want a Smiths record, and it’s not. They were a brilliant band, and Johnny Marr is a great guitarist and a great songwriting partner, but they’re not together now, so why harp on about it? You can’t put The Beatles back together. and I think you probably can’t put The Smiths back together, but ifyou could I think it would probably be a mistake now, because people are bound to be disappointed.’

My growing suspicion that Steven Morrissey needs collaborators in more than just a technical sense, that they serve a deeper need than as tunesmiths, is winded when Nevin confirms that, no, Morrissey can’t apparently play a note of music himself.

‘He’s not musical in the way that the word is usually used. He doesn’t play an instrument and I don’t think he wants to, because I think were he to understand music theory even in the slightest sense then he would realise that a lot ofthe things he does don’t actually make sense, and I think the fact that they don’t make sense makes Morrissey unique. So I think it would be a disaster if he learnt to play an instrument. I think he knows that more than anybody.’

Morrissey plays Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Thurs 16.

There’s a touching anecdote in Sandie Shaw’s autobiography about the time in October 1987 when she was invited to the Wool Hall studios near Bath to help out on the recording of Morrissey’s solo debut album Viva Hate. While he hunched self- consciously over the microphone gasping out ‘Late Night Maudlin Street’, she finished up her vegetarian supper. To her shock, he emerged from the booth and suggested they take in a disco. ‘That’s hardly your style,’ she said. ‘I didn’t know you could dance.’ ‘Neither did I’, he replied, enigmatically.

The evening was not an unqualified success, although Morrissey did jive Sandie round a Bath dancefloor to the strains of ‘Sheila Take A Bow’. The sad thing about it of course was that, months after the Smiths split, Morrissey was shyly launching a solo career and trying a few dance steps, while back home in Manchester, groups, DJ 5 and clubbers alike were making sure that he was destined to be an outsider, a man out oftime, the only pop star from the city who couldn’t dance.

Three and a half years on, and Morrissey has drifted even further from the central area of pop into a distinctly gloomy and solitary suburb. The rave-rock sound he described as ‘the suffocating wave of Manchester monstrousness’ has permeated every nook and cranny of popular consciousness. To a songwriter who prides himself on meaning and emotion in a song’s content, the welter of cut-ups, samples and repeated mantras is ‘the revenge ofthe daft’, but they’ve left him out on a limb, and becoming more marginalised with every release.

The latest ofthese, the Kill Uncle LP, will do little to pull him out of the rut. His solo releases have demonstrated that

. Morrissey songs fall neatly into

three categories. The playful English music-hall songs, so

often pointed out as being proof

ofhis sense of humour, are

getting weaker, if ‘King Leer’ is

anything to go by. The homo-erotica is still a strong fixation, exemplified by ‘Asian Rut‘, another paean to a wrong-side-of-the-tracks sweet and tender hooligan, reminding us that Morrissey’s concept of God is a young and tousled James Dean, with Joan Sims as

= his wife. By far the bulk ofthe

material though is devoted to alternately romantic/grim J

The List 3— 16 May 9