Kill Uncle

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"King Leer" redirects here. It is not to be confused with King Lear.
Kill Uncle
Studio album by Morrissey
Released 4 March 1991
Recorded Autumn 1990/Winter 1991, Hook End Manor, England
Genre Jangle pop[1]
Length 33:02
Label HMV, EMI
Producer Clive Langer, Alan Winstanley
Morrissey chronology
Viva Hate
(1988)
Kill Uncle
(1991)
Your Arsenal
(1992)
Singles from Kill Uncle
  1. "Our Frank"
    Released: 11 February 1991
  2. "Sing Your Life"
    Released: 1 April 1991
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2/5 stars[1]
Blender 2/5 stars[2]
Entertainment Weekly (A-)[3]
Pitchfork (6.0/10)[4]
Rolling Stone 2/5 stars[5]
Robert Christgau (B+)[6]

Kill Uncle is Morrissey's second solo album, released on 4 March 1991 by EMI and HMV Records. It is generally considered Morrissey's most unconventional album, probably due to its mature torch song ("There Is a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends"), aspects combined with quirky music and lyrics that range from ironic and tongue-in-cheek to some of his more introspective.

Recording[edit]

The album was recorded when Morrissey was in a transitional phase. He had parted ways with producer Stephen Street but had not yet started working with his future long-term team of guitarists Alain Whyte and Boz Boorer. As such, the album, produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley with most music written and guitar work done by Fairground Attraction's Mark E. Nevin presents Morrissey singing to an unfamiliar style of music.

Music[edit]

"Our Frank", the album's lead single and opening track, reached #26 in the UK and #2 on the US Modern Rock chart. Morrissey's lyrics describe "frank and open, deep conversations" that get him nowhere and leave him disheartened. The final verse, however, sees Morrissey singing "Won't somebody stop me from thinking? From thinking all the time. So deeply, so bleakly..." which critic David Thompson interprets as indicating that the conversations he so dreads are in fact with himself.[7] The song features some uncharacteristic production for the singer, with Morrissey's voice being overdubbed and echoed.

"Asian Rut" is a tale about the murder of an Asian by three English boys in which Morrissey's vocals are backed only by strings and bass, plus sound effects, lending an eerie quality to the somber narrative. The song continues the tradition of Morrissey examining English racism from a unique angle, first established with "Bengali in Platforms" on Viva Hate.

"Sing Your Life", the third track on the album, was released as a single, reaching #33 in the UK and #10 on the US Modern Rock chart. A drum loop, featuring bass drums and toms but no snare drums, repeats itself throughout the track. The strings from the first two tracks are present in the song as well, and they rise and fall in a fashion similar to "Our Frank". The song has Morrissey instructing the listener on how to make a song, as he sings, "Walk right up to the microphone and name all the things you love, all the things you loathe."[8] A rockabilly version of the song also exists, recorded live at KROQ in Los Angeles after Morrissey started working with new guitarists Boz Boorer and Alain Whyte.

"Mute Witness", the fourth track, features piano backing composed by Clive Langer. The song is a somewhat farcical tale of an attempt to get information out of a witness who cannot speak at a trial.

"King Leer" follows, an upbeat tune which has come under some criticism for its use of puns.[9][10]

"Found Found Found", another Langer track, is the only heavy song on the album. Morrissey sings that he's found "someone who's worth it in this murkiness" but again gives the song a twist at the end, complaining that this person is "somebody who wants to be with me...all the time".

In "Driving Your Girlfriend Home", a ballad, Morrissey tells of how he's driving the girlfriend of one of his friends home. He reveals that she asks him, "'How did I end up so deeply involved in the very existence I planned on avoiding?'" and that "She's laughing to stop herself crying." These outpourings are interspersed with driving instructions, and Morrissey tells us, "I can't tell her" what he feels about her and that the ride concludes with them "shaking hands goodnight so politely."[11]

The next track is "The Harsh Truth of the Camera Eye", often cited as Morrissey's most misunderstood song ever recorded.[12] The lyrics are describing the "pain because of the strain of smiling" and the dichotomy between one's public image and private personality. The music consists of a carnival-like synthesizer and also features sound effects like that of a door slamming and a camera lens snapping, along with piano accompaniment.

"The Harsh Truth of the Camera Eye" is followed-up by "(I'm) The End of the Family Line". The singer rues that he will never have children, an insult into the "fifteen generations...of mine" that produced him. The lyrics are complemented by a subdued guitar backing, and the song features the kind of false fadeout that first appeared on such Smiths songs as "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore".

The album closes with "There Is a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends", a simple piano piece that again reflects the existential longing of the album and showcases Morrissey's torch song influence.

Remaster 2013[edit]

On 5 February 2013, Morrissey announced the reissue of the album along with a remastered version of his 1989 single, "The Last of the Famous International Playboys", both to be released 8 April 2013.[13] This was as part of a Morrissey reissue campaign by Parlophone Records.[13]

This version of the album will include three additional tracks. It will be available as a gatefold CD and heavyweight gatefold LP. The picture disc single and album will both feature a new cover.[13]

The press release mentioned that "the album has a revitalised quality, which accentuates some of its more subtle, experimental qualities and nuances; in particular, some of the more unusual musical styles which Morrissey explored for the first time".[13]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics by Morrissey. All music composed by Mark E. Nevin, except where noted.

No. Title Music Length
1. "Our Frank"     3:25
2. "Asian Rut"     3:22
3. "Sing Your Life"     3:27
4. "Mute Witness"   Clive Langer 3:32
5. "King Leer"     2:55
6. "Found Found Found"   Langer 1:59
7. "Driving Your Girlfriend Home"     3:23
8. "The Harsh Truth of the Camera Eye"     5:34
9. "(I'm) The End of the Family Line"     3:30
10. "There's a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends"     1:52
Total length:
33:02

Personnel[edit]

  • Morrissey – lyrics and vocals
  • Mark E. Nevin – guitar, composer
  • Mark Bedford – bass
  • Andrew Paresi - percussion, drums
  • Seamus Beaghen – keyboards
  • Steven Heart – keyboards
  • Nawazish Ali Khan – violin
  • John Deacon - bass (Tracks 2, 4 & 8)
  • Gino Sprio – photography
  • Linder – background vocals
  • Alan Winstanley – producer
  • Jo Slee – art coordinator
  • Clive Langer – producer
  • Simon Metcalfe - assistant engineer

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Thomas, Stephen (1991-03-05). "Allmusic review". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ Farber, Jim (5 April 1991). "Kill Uncle: Music Review:Entertainment Weekly". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 23 August 2009. 
  4. ^ Hogan, Marc (12 April 2013). "Morrissey - Kill Uncle". Pitchfork. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  5. ^ "Morrissey: Kill Uncle : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". RollingStone.com. 1991-08-22. Archived from the original on 2009-10-26. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  6. ^ "CG: Morrissey". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  7. ^ Thompson, David. ""Our Frank" review". allmusic.com. 
  8. ^ Thompson, Dave. "Sing Your Life - Morrissey : Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  9. ^ "The Worst Lyrics In The World..Ever - The Daily Record". RailyRecord.co.uk. 2006-04-18. Archived from the original on 2011-06-09. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  10. ^ "LASID - King Leer". Compsoc.man.ac.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  11. ^ "LASID - Driving Your Girlfriend Home". Compsoc.man.ac.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  12. ^ "LASID - The Harsh Truth Of The Camera Eye". Compsoc.man.ac.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  13. ^ a b c d "Press release: The Last Of The Famous International Playboys: Special Edition single; Kill Uncle: Album remastered". True to You. 5 February 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2013.