Best Tracks: The Never Played Symphonies; Munich Air Disaster 1958; My Life Is A Succession Of People Saying Goodbye
A ‘B-sides’ album released in 2009, Swords is comprised of tracks recorded during the sessions of Morrissey’s three studio albums from the 2000s: You Are The Quarry, Ringleader Of The Tormentors, and Years Of Refusal. On Ringleader, Morrissey gave up approaching the topic of his sexuality with subtlety, opting instead for such lines as: There are explosive kegs between my legs, and: I entered nothing, and nothing entered me, ’til you came with the key. This uncharacteristically heavy-handed approach, coupled with Tony Visconti’s production – which made the record sound like it had been recorded in Phil Spector’s prison cell- made Ringleader the worst album in Morrissey’s catalogue (yes, including Kill Uncle). It’s unsurprising, then, that the weakest tracks on Swords come courtesy of these sessions, with the tediously lengthy Ganglord, tuneless Sweetie Pie, and dull Christian Dior being the biggest offenders.
In contrast, the tracks from the You Are The Quarry sessions provide most of the highlights – hardly a revelation given that Moz and Co. had 7 years’ worth of material to draw upon – and The Never Played Symphonies, and Munich Air Disaster 1958, deserve more than their statuses as humble B-Sides. Incidentally, every single one of the good tracks on Swords was written by Morrissey and Alain Whyte, the man behind the vast majority of Morrissey’s best work over the last twenty years. With Whyte now retired from Morrissey duties, it will be interesting to see how strong any future output will be if Moz makes any more albums.
Good in places, awful in others, Swords is a somewhat bloated collection that could’ve done with trimming down a bit. In times gone by, both with The Smiths and with his early solo work, Morrissey had enough quality songs to warrant such a release as this. Alas, he hasn’t any more.