Kill Uncle

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Kill Uncle
Morrissey-Kill Uncle.jpg
Studio album by
Released4 March 1991
Recorded1990–1991
StudioHook End Manor, England
GenreRockabilly, glam rock, alternative rock
Length33:02
LabelHMV, EMI
ProducerClive Langer, Alan Winstanley
Morrissey chronology
Bona Drag
(1990)
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

Kill Uncle is the second solo studio album by English singer Morrissey, released on 4 March 1991 by record labels EMI and HMV. The title comes from the 1966 film Let's Kill Uncle.[1]

Recording[edit]

Kill Uncle was recorded during a transitional phase for Morrissey, having parted ways with producer Stephen Street but not yet working with his future long-term team of guitarists Alain Whyte and Boz Boorer. The album was produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley with most the music written by Fairground Attraction's Mark E. Nevin.

Content[edit]

The opening track, "Our Frank", describes "frank and open, deep conversations" that get the singer 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.[2]

"Asian Rut" tells of the murder of an Asian boy by three English boys, in which Morrissey's vocals are backed only by strings, bass, and sound effects. The song continues the trope of Morrissey writing about English racism from a unique angle, as with "Bengali in Platforms" on Viva Hate.

"Sing Your Life" has Morrissey encouraging the listener to express themselves, as he sings, "Walk right up to the microphone and name all the things you love, all the things you loathe."[3] 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" tells of an attempt to get information out of a shocked witness who cannot speak at a trial, featuring piano backing composed by Clive Langer. "King Leer" follows, a relaxed tune with sardonic lyrical puns.[4][5] "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 ends complaining this person is "somebody who wants to be with me... all the time".

"Driving Your Girlfriend Home" is a ballad in which Morrissey tells of driving home the girlfriend of an unspecified person. He reveals 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 directional instructions. Morrissey tells us "I can't tell her" the answer to her question and that the ride concludes with them "shaking hands goodnight so politely."[6]

The next track, "The Harsh Truth of the Camera Eye", is often cited as Morrissey's most misunderstood song.[7] The lyric is 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 a door slamming and a camera shutter snapping, along with piano accompaniment.

In "(I'm) The End of the Family Line", the singer rues he will never have children, an insult into the "fifteen generations... of mine" that produced him. The lyric is complemented by a subdued guitar backing, and ends with a similar 'false' fadeout similar to such Smiths songs as "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore".

The original album closes with "There Is a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends", a simple piano piece that reflects the existential longing of the album and showcases Morrissey's torch song influence. This version was replaced in the 2013 expanded edition by the recording from the At KROQ live EP.

The 2013 expanded edition of the album added the songs "East West" and "Pashernate Love", as well as changing the running order of some tracks.

Release[edit]

Kill Uncle was released on 4 March 1991 by record labels EMI and HMV.

"Our Frank", the album's lead single and opening track, reached No. 26 in the UK Singles Chart and No. 2 in the US Modern Rock chart. "Sing Your Life" was also released as a single, reaching No. 33 in the UK and No. 10 on the US.

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. This was as part of a Morrissey reissue campaign by Parlophone Records. This version of the album includes three additional tracks and is available as a gatefold CD and heavyweight gatefold LP. The picture disc single and album feature new cover artworks. 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".[8]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic2/5 stars[9]
Blender2/5 stars[10]
Chicago Tribune3/4 stars[11]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[12]
Los Angeles Times2.5/4 stars[13]
NME8/10[14]
Pitchfork6.0/10[15]
Q2/5 stars[16]
Rolling Stone2/5 stars[17]
The Village VoiceB+[18]

Kill Uncle has generally divided opinion.

In a retrospective review, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic panned the album, describing it as "Morrissey's least distinguished record" with "neither melody nor much wit".[9] Mark Hogan of Pitchfork wrote that the album "is best appreciated as a campy celebration of the decorative and artificial."[15]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics are written by Morrissey; all music is composed by Mark E. Nevin, except where noted.

No.TitleMusicLength
1."Our Frank" 3:25
2."Asian Rut" 3:22
3."Sing Your Life" 3:27
4."Mute Witness"Clive Langer3:32
5."King Leer" 2:55
6."Found Found Found"Langer1:59
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
US bonus track
No.TitleLength
11."Tony the Pony"4:11
2013 expanded edition
No.TitleLength
1."Our Frank"3:22
2."Sing Your Life"3:20
3."Mute Witness"3:31
4."King Leer"2:55
5."Asian Rut"3:19
6."Pashernate Love"2:19
7."East West"2:33
8."Found Found Found"1:58
9."Driving Your Girlfriend Home"3:18
10."The Harsh Truth of the Camera Eye"5:34
11."There's a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends (At KROQ Version)"2:20
12."(I'm) The End of the Family Line"3:27
Total length:37:56

Personnel[edit]

  • Morrissey – vocals
  • Mark E. Nevin – guitar
  • Mark Bedford – bass guitar
  • Andrew Paresi – percussion, drums
  • Seamus Beaghen – keyboards
  • Steven Heart – keyboards
  • Nawazish Ali Khan – violin
  • Linder Sterling – background vocals
  • Alan Winstanley – production
  • Clive Langer – production
  • Simon Metcalfe – engineering assistance
  • Gino Sprio – sleeve photography
  • Jo Slee – sleeve art coordinator

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[19] Silver 60,000^
United States 221,293[20]

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

References[edit]

  1. ^ David La Monaca, The Wor(l)d of Morrissey, 'Album: Kill Uncle'
  2. ^ Thompson, Dave. "Our Frank – Morrissey | Listen, Appearances, Song Review | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  3. ^ Thompson, Dave. "Sing Your Life – Morrissey | Listen, Appearances, Song Review | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  4. ^ Dingwall, John (18 April 2006). "The Worst Lyrics in the World..Ever – The Daily Record". Daily Record. Archived from the original on 9 June 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  5. ^ "LASID – King Leer". compsoc.man.ac.uk. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  6. ^ "LASID – Driving Your Girlfriend Home". compsoc.man.ac.uk. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  7. ^ "LASID – The Harsh Truth of the Camera Eye". compsoc.man.ac.uk. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  8. ^ "Press Release: The Last of the Famous International Playboys: Special Edition Single; Kill Uncle: Album Remastered | True to You". True to You. 5 February 2013. Archived from the original on 8 February 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  9. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Kill Uncle – Morrissey". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  10. ^ Power, Tony (15 September 2004). "Morrissey: Kill Uncle". Blender. Archived from the original on 23 November 2005. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  11. ^ Kot, Greg (7 July 1991). "The Smiths And Solo". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  12. ^ Farber, Jim (5 April 1991). "Kill Uncle". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  13. ^ Hochman, Steve (24 March 1991). "Morrissey 'Kill Uncle' Sire/Reprise". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  14. ^ Quantick, David (March 1991). "Better Relate Than Never". NME.
  15. ^ a b Hogan, Mark (12 April 2013). "Morrissey: Kill Uncle". Pitchfork. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  16. ^ Snow, Mat (April 1991). "Morrissey: Kill Uncle". Q (55).
  17. ^ Felder, Rachel (22 August 1991). "Morrissey: Kill Uncle". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 26 October 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  18. ^ Christgau, Robert (7 May 1991). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  19. ^ "British album certifications – Morrissey – Kill Uncle". British Phonographic Industry.Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Kill Uncle in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  20. ^ https://www.morrissey-solo.com/threads/morrisseys-record-sales.141301/

External links[edit]