Happy Anniversary: Morrissey, Viva Hate

Friday, March 14, 2014
Happy Anniversary: Morrissey, Viva Hate

26 years ago today, Morrissey’s first solo album hit record store shelves, a mere six months after the release of the final Smiths album, Strangeways Here We Come.

Released in 1988, Viva Hate found Morrissey reteaming with producer Stephen Street – who, not coincidentally, had only just finished producing the Smiths’ aforementioned swan song – but in place of Johnny Marr, the album’s resident guitar player was Vini Reilly, best known for his work with The Durutti Column. Although Reilly might not have had the same pop sensibilities as Marr, it didn’t really matter, since he wasn’t co-writing the songs in this case (Street was), and as a hired gun, he turned in some exemplary work.

In addition to the immortal singles “Suedehead” and “Everyday is Like Sunday,” Viva Hate also offered featured the controversial track “Margaret on the Guillotine,” a song about Ms. Thatcher with a title that was originally intended for the Smiths’ penultimate album. (As you probably know, they ended up calling it The Queen is Dead instead.) What the album no longer features, however, is the song “The Ordinary Boys,” which Morrissey decided to omit when Viva Hate was remastered a few years ago, replacing it with a song called “Treat Me Like a Human Being” that was recorded during the original sessions for the album. Also dearly departed from the track listing: “Hairdresser on Fire,” the B-side of “Suedehead,” which had previously been included on the U.S. release of Viva Hate.

As a solo debut, Viva Hate didn’t find Morrissey stepping very far away from the sort of material he’d been exploring with the Smiths, but if nothing else, it confirmed that he could still come up with memorable tunes even without Johnny Marr at his side.