Personnel: Morrissey (vocals); Michael Farrell (various instruments); Alain Whyte (guitar, background vocals); Jesse Tobias, Boz Boorer (guitar); Gary Day (bass guitar); Matt Chamberlain (drums).
Recording information: Forum Music Village Studios, Rome, Italy (2005).
Despite his status as one of the most iconic and enduring figures in alternative rock, Morrissey's solo output has been somewhat uneven, artistically speaking. But from its faux-classical album cover to its churning musical surfaces to its array of both bleak and celebratory themes, the artist's 2006 release, RINGLEADER OF THE TORMENTORS, shows that the subversive spirit driving Morrissey's unique perspective, arch posturing, and witty, literate lyrics is still alive and kicking.
To boot, the album is produced by Tony Visconti, the masterful hand behind some of T. Rex and David Bowie's best efforts. Visconti's touch is evident on "I Will See You in Far Off Places," a heavy, rocking opener that moves with a sense of menace. This is contrasted by the beautiful "Dear God Please Help Me," a chamber-pop ballad orchestrated by legendary film composer Ennio Morricone. That song and the album's first single, "You Have Killed Me," are surprisingly joyful and life-affirming, at least for Morrissey, that is. (Fans needn't worry, however, the old morose Moz is still here on tunes like "Life is a Pigsty"). All told, RINGLEADER is one of Morrissey's most vital statements in some time.
What the critics say...
Rolling Stone (p.62) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "[V]eteran glam-rock producer Tony Visconti helps Morrissey achieve the delicious sensuality of early T. Rex and David Bowie..."
Entertainment Weekly (p.60) - "[The album] feels more like an elegiac memoir. Harrowingly beautiful violins abound..." -- Grade: B
Q (p.121) - Ranked #47 in Q Magazine's "100 Greatest Albums of 2006" -- "Unusually for the notoriously distant observer of modern life, getting physical was the main preoccupation."
Uncut (p.94) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "Morrissey is quite consistent..."
Magnet (p.105) - "Morrissey regains his knack for conversational hooks and his wry, literate sense of humor....The songs are brisk and effortless, wedding glam theatricality to the lad-mag Vespa aesthetic of Morrissey's strongest work."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.p.89) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "ROTT is possibly his most ecumenical solo album, his most welcoming and loveable."
- I Will See You In Far Off Places
- Dear God, Please Help Me
- You Have Killed Me
- Youngest Was The Most Loved, The
- In The Future When All Is Well
- Father Who Must Be Killed, The
- Life Is A Pigsty
- I'll Never Be Anybody's Hero
- On The Street I Ran
- To Me You Are A Work Of Art
- I Just Want To See The Boy Happy
- At Last I Am Born