Smiths fans will get a lot out of this, although I can’t recommend it for binge-reading on a summer holiday: it left me feeling like I’d eaten two boxes of gin chocolate liqueurs at a sitting. The first half is the best, with plenty of grindingly sour details of his childhood in Manchester and enough enthusiasm about bands I really should get around to investigating to keep me busy for the rest of the year. The Smiths’ career whips by in a flash and we descend into the grim second half: special pleading, recriminations against the press (deserved) and his band(s) (who knows?), culminating in an agonising account of the court case brought by Rourke and Joyce for royalties, which had me wishing that M had divided his book into chapters so that I could skip it.
Although this book killed what little affection I had left for the UK music press (yeah, I know) it’s awkward for Morrissey to complain about being accused of racism and then refer to a disaffected former session musician and songwriting partner’s Hollywood lawyers as “Hebrews”.
It’s uneven and has too many puns on his song titles, but it’s hard to think of any of his contemporaries who could write 450-odd pages even remotely as enjoyable. (I still haven’t got around to Mark E Smith’s book.)