photo & text by nacrowe
i want to start by stating emphatically that the BIZARRE statements and actions of MORRISSEY over the past few years has been completely DISORIENTATING and beyond DISAPPOINTING. the idea that he is sympathetic to the XENOPHOBIC and REGRESSIVE objectives of far right RACIST groups like UKIP is a DISGRACE and his legacy will be affected because of such associations.
and he will deserve such.
which is a real pity, because growing up i was in essence raised on THE SMITHS and the early cycle of MORRISSEY records, especially the BONA DRAG (HMV, 1990) compilation. a vintage poster of this album cover was adorned proudly in my childhood bedroom and i still have a copy of the corresponding HULMERIST (EMI, 1990) videocassette that included various music videos from this record. so that is my basic bias when it comes to me and the BONA DRAG record: i did not like this record growing up, i absolutely LOVED it.
as with THE SMITHS' catalogue, the lyrics of MORRISSEY are a world unto themselves, with oblique references BRITISH KITCHEN SINK dramas and independent cinema history, as well as writers, poets and actors, all of whom seemingly convey an alternate vision of MASCULINITY. lyrically and visually there is an ascetic at play against the tropes of 1970s ROCK N ROLL that sought to wipe away the sorry old vestiges of CHAUVENISM, pompous complexity and stale FANTASY elements that came from that period and matriculated out into the 1980s INDIE ROCK scene. the MASCULINITY presented through MORRISSEY was one of a more empathetic, coy, bookish and inherently vulnerable model that effectively spoke to a new generation of music fans and alienated minorities, especially the gay community. the fact that MORRISSEY has betrayed this image in later life and revealed himself to be strident anti-immigration conservative with a quixotically revanchist view of ENGLAND is made so much more galling and ultimately hurtful due to its incongruity with his previous image. again, its beyond DISORIENTATING and DISAPPOINTING.
concerning the track list, honestly, everything on here is stellar. as i've written before, my brother and i were basically raised (and most likely indoctrinated) on THE SMITHS/MORRISSEY, THE STRANGLERS, THE KINKS and THE BEATLES, especially in our early years growing up in SOUTHER CALIFORNIA before we moved to NIGERIA in 1996. i can still remember watching the "INTERESTING DRUG," "THE LAST OF THE INTERNATIONAL PLAYBOYS," "NOVEMBER SPAWNED A MONSTER" and "OUIJA BOARD, OUIJA BOARD" music videos on VHS (we didn't have MTV) back when it came out during first grade. other notable tracks include "HAIRDRESSER ON FIRE," "PICCADILLY PALARE," "SUCH A LITTLE THING MAKES SUCH A BIG DIFFERENCE" and "LUCKY LISP." of course i had no idea about the playful coded language behind "PICCADILLY PALARE" (or the title BONA DRAG itself) for the majority of my years listening to it going into my late 20s. for me the draw of MORRISSEY is as much about his crooning singing style and conviction to the material as the words themselves. even if i wasnt privy to the actual meaning of his words, they seemed to be executed with intense sense of intention. i believe that it is that INTENTION and AUTHENTICITY that made him such a compelling figure with a certain purity that seemingly allied him with the concurrent stateside HARDCORE movement, which ironically promoted similar ideals regarding VEGANISM, NONVIOLENCE and COMPASSION. again, it is this authenticity and intention from which he created his art that made his fall that much harder to stomach for diehard fans like myself.
i should also mention the two transcendent tracks on BONA DRAG, which at the very least maintained the quality of his SMITHS catalogue and are among his most celebrated compositions, i.e. "SUEDEHEAD" and "EVERYDAY IS LIKE SUNDAY." taken together those two tracks are the anthems of my youth and the soundtrack to countless drives with my father as a young child. through the music video for "SUEDEHEAD" i was introduced early to JAMES DEAN, which further led me to MARLON BRANDO, MONTGOMERY CLIFT and the golden era of AMERICAN cinema. i dont know whether my cinephilia is rooted in this song, but it definitely got me on that path. in my household "EVERYDAY IS LIKE SUNDAY" was essentially our collective "STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN," that interior sense of bliss that comes with blocking out the whole world and sticking to your guns. it is probably the best composition MORRISSEY ever wrote, solo artist or frontman of THE SMITHS. it is such a great song that it hasnt been ruined by overzealous MORRISSEY fans flailing pathetically about at live shows. if anything, i feel a sense of transcendence every time i hear it. it is very much a temporary reprieve from my corporeal existence, even if it is depicting the need for personal catharsis that would come with nuclear apocalypse of a lonely, seaside beach town that is past its prime.
it should be noted that producer STEPHEN STREET and guitarist VINI REILLY (THE DURUTTI COLUMN) are the key collaborators on the stateside BONA DRAG compilation, which included key tracks from MORRISSEY's debut VIVA HATE (SIRE, 1988) album as well as various non-album singles. STREET would famously discard his longstanding working relationship with MORRISSEY after a dispute over the royalties and writing credits surrounding VIVA HATE. it is hard to blame him.
if you are going to listen to one MORRISSEY album, BONA DRAG is it. i believe it is required listening for anyone interested in POST PUNK, NEW WAVE, INDIE ROCK or ALTERNATIVE ROCK, even in spite of the fact that MORRISSEY is a complete asshole.
parodies by nacrowe
depending on your persuasion regarding DEER GOD RADIO, this episode is either the best one we ever did by far, or it was a complete disaster. i like to think its the former as THE SMITHS are one of my three favorite bands of all-time (the other two in my holy trinity are DEVO and JANE'S ADDICTION).
i was basically raised on the work of MORRISSEY and JOHNNY MARR by my parents and have been a fan since early childhood. TOM FERRIE of THE NOWHERE FAST SHOW and a co-founder of MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC is a certifiable super-fan of the band and upon seeing the "bat signal" of my social media promotions, swung by for the show. basically we talked the entire time about THE SMITHS, just none of it on air. so this is a playlist of THE SMITHS, the solo work of MORRISSEY and MARR, as well as collaborative projects (all MARR) with the likes of THE THE, MODEST MOUSE, BRIAN FERRY, THE CRIBS and ELECTRONIC making it arguably one of the strongest ones to date.
just no commentary. at all. just the playlist unbroken pure and simple.
maybe i should redo this show in the future? nah, no reason to ruin a perfect thing.
cover by nacrowe
taking a brief break from his extended LOCKDOWN SPECIAL series of shows in which he plays one song from every record in his vinyl collection, host TOM FERRIE brought along his friend and very special guest host BOZ BOORER (MORRISSEY, THE POLECATS) for a new show called OMFUG in which they play and talk about classic ROCKABILLY, AMERICANA and COUNTRY vinyl singles. Boz broadcasting from London and Tom from Staten Island.
as always, past episodes of THE NOWHERE FAST SHOW as well as other MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC shows like DEER GOD RADIO, MAKE HER SPACE, THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW and CLASSICAL-ISH WITH NUTMEG are available here at the DEER GOD website.
and if you haven't done so already get the FREE PHONE APP for IOS/ANDROID and enjoy listening to MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC 24/7 at your convenience!
photo manipulation by nacrowe
i always find it interesting how as a child you are able to identify quality in the art you are taken by without regard for things like context. as a pre-teen having just arrived in NIGERIA, i saw NICHOLAS RAY's iconic REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (WARNER BROS, 1955) and, like everyone else for several generations, was immediately hooked on JAMES DEAN and his emotional performance as a troubled young person attempting to find his way in a hostile new environment.
it felt like my situation. in the world of REBEL the locale was SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA hooliganism with knives, fast cars and macho posturing. for me it was living on a remote compound surrounded by the racist redneck offspring of TEXAS and LOUISIANA oilmen where the weapons were words and micro-aggressions against our AFRICAN hosts. it was hard to deal with.
after watching REBEL i quickly sought out ELIA KAZAN's cinemascope epic retelling of JOHN STEINBECK's CAIN and ABEL-inspired EAST OF EDEN (WARNER BROS, 1955) which similarly found DEAN's character a trouble miscreant in search of identity. the film finds his character seeking out his mother, the owner of a gambling-and-lord-knows-what-else establishment on the wrong side of town, who is the polar opposite of his preaching, holier-than-thou father, only to be rejected.
what i found compelling about the work of DEAN, then and now was his ability to capture the emotional integrity of a scene. in true METHOD ACTING fashion his acting was more about being, it was more about reacting. i appreciate tons of other actors that have followed his lead over the years including JOHNNY DEPP, DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, SEAN PENN, EDWARD NORTON, JOAQUIN PHEONIX and DENNIS HOPPER as well as his peers like MARLON BRANDO and MONTGOMERY CLIFT. what separates those two perfect touchstone performances was his intensity.
because of that he has been my favorite actor since childhood.
photo by nacrowe
this december 2017 episode of the NOWHERE FAST show that i was lucky enough to be asked to document has been a standout highlight of my time collaborating with KRISTIN and TOM over at MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC who have continually supported DEER GOD since its inception. and for that we are grateful to them.
this show was amazing because it showcased rare half-century old ROCKABILLY vinyl singles from obscure (and in many cases defunct) record labels that were curated and commented on by special guest BOZ BOORER of THE POLECATS and MORRISSEY fame. i mean seriously, what a treat that was.
being a total SMITHS/MORRISSEY fanboy i brought a relatively obscure live concert VHS tape to show BOORER and he graciously gave me some contest of how crazy the security was that night. for me that moment was made returning home stateside worth it.
it still blows my mind that TOM would be gracious enough to find a reason to have me around that night and again, we here at DEER GOD appreciate the station and their ongoing mission to engage the local arts community of STATEN ISLAND.
that being said, you should check out past episodes of NOWHERE FAST which are all archived HERE on this website. yessir, all 74 of them!
when i used to go on interviews for high school teaching gigs i would almost be guaranteed to be asked if given the choice what book i'd want to teach. my answer was always ALAN SILLITOE's novel about working class masculinity SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING (1958) of which the legendary KARL REISZ film was based.
british kitchensink dramas of the 1960s tended to deal with working class-related themes such as class and domesticity, which for me makes them far more interesting and real than their american counterpart films. there is rawness to the subject matter as well as the production, as it is obvious these were made quickly at low cost.
but what drew me to both to the film and the book was this idea of exploring the performative nature of masculinity. in working class midlands england in the post-WWII period, where this films takes place, the main character ARTHUR SEATON struggles to come to terms with how to transcend his repetitive factor job and womanizing ways. for he doesn't get any satisfaction from his work and the only avenue for being dominant was swooning the bored housewives of what he deemed "slow husbands." its as if his conquests was more of a badge of honor to his male mates than an expression or projection of his will. essentially this behavior was a ironically a form of impotence.
i'm almost certain this dynamic, as well as the geographical and cultural similarities of nottingham (where the film takes place) to manchester are what drew a young MORRISSEY to transpose the line "why don't you ever take where it's lively and there's people" into THE SMITHS' iconic song THERE IS A LIGHT THAT NEVER GOES OUT. just saying.
i saw this idea of male identity defined through work almost everywhere growing up but especially in the arab world, where at times you would see young men of immeasurable means doing dangerous things out of sheer boredom. this was in kuwait and since their financial, social and political connections were bulletproof, it was as if they had to develop a new pissing contest to set themselves apart. as a foreigner it was fascinating to watch and mock but at some level i really pitied them and their circumstance. it was like they were neglected and were in a dead-end.
this book and film present to me a dead-end scenario that is transcended through hard fought self-reflection. and for me that concept is one meaning that both the novel and film explore effectively: the need for self-analysis apart from your circumstances.
we couldn't be more excited to be filming a show on the 29th at GRAN TORINO in brooklyn that is being headlined by legendary POLECATS/MORRISSEY guitarist BOZ BOORER and his backing band THE BOZMEN (a.k.a. SCREAMIN' REBEL ANGELS). this will be such a treat.
rounding out the bill will be THE DIXONS and JOHN HOWIE JR AND THE ROSEWOOD BLUFF as well as dj sets by JODI HAM & TOM FERRIE of MAKERPARKRADIO.
promises to be a memorable night.
check out this interview TOM had with BOZ on his NOWHERE FAST radio show on MAKERPARKRADIO back in december of 2017 linked HERE.