Well, here we are again: a new Morrissey album looms on the horizon, this one enticingly entitled ‘I Am Not A Dog On Chain’. Uh-oh.
The disgraced Mozfather’s 13th studio record – following the weird drunk uncle dance that was last year’s covers collection ‘California Son’ – has just been officially announced. Though we already knew it was on the way after he revealed the news last summer in an interview – published on his own website – with his own nephew. He also reaffirmed his allegiance to a tin pot anti-Islamic political party, but you already knew that.
Anyway, here’s the first single from the album, ‘Bobby, Do You Think They Know?’. Other song titles from ‘I Am Not A Dog On A Chain’ include: ‘Jim Jim Is On His Way Out’, ‘What Kind Of People Live In These Houses?’, ‘Darling, I Hug A Pillow’, ‘The Truth About Ruth’. When is someone going to make a Morrissey Song Name Generator? Let’s spin the wheel, shall we? ‘No, Martin, That Doesn’t Go In There’. ‘Oh, David! You’ll Ruin Your Dinner’. ‘Simon, Take Your Coat Off, You Won’t Feel The Benefit In The Cold’. Really, this stuff writes itself.
The new song is a sort of mad gothic electro stomper that features Motown legend Thelma Houston. It sounds strange – and is, obviously – but makes a kind of sense: he and Johnny Marr bonded over their love of 1960s girls groups – the Smiths’ first recorded song was a cover of The Cookies ‘I Just Want A Boy For My Birthday. The new track is heavier than anything of that era, but does exude a camp sense of melodrama. It’s almost six minutes long and covers a lot of ground. ‘Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know?’ opens promisingly enough, with a pounding groove and hysterical organ squeals. It’s like Herman Munster’s formed a band with Rick Wakeman.
Weirdly, for a man justifiably credited as one of the greatest lyricists of all time, Morrissey churns out some absolute nonsense here. “Scag a shack, Mexican mud, little Jo in the snow,” he coos, knowingly. To which the only response can be: eh? Houston sounds in fine fettle, belting out backing vocals with what can only be described as gusto – an “oh yeah!” here, an “uh-huh!” there. But ultimately this only highlights how weird the lyrics are. When she delivers the emotional line “you ain’t fooling nobody!” it’s as if she’s accidentally been handed the script to a hot and heavy daytime soap.
Things pick up again in the final couple of minutes, when the wheels really come off and a fabulously vampy sax solo blows through the track and Houston wails, “Lord, have mercy, Bobby!” You think: what could Bobby possibly have done to deserve this? Moz repeats the bizarr-o “scag a shack” line and Houston sagely nods “huh-huh”, before she insists “you can’t hide it” as the marching piano bounces on. OK then.
It’s all bonkers, to be honest, and certainly exists in a league of its own, but ultimately the take-home is: can Moz just stick to doing other people’s songs now? And ‘California Son’ wasn’t even any good!