Being a fan of The Smiths post 1987 is like still being in love with your ex. You can recall fondly the glorious past but you can’t stay there forever as they keep moving on.
Mozza’s early solo output stuck closely to The Smiths template and only served to highlight the lack of other Smiths in his new band. With no disrespect meant to Rourke or Joyce (I refuse to call them The Other Two) it’s Marr’s inspiring multifaceted guitar playing that is most conspicuous by it’s absence on Suedehead, Everyday Is Like Sunday and Sing Your Life. Amazing as those records are you can’t help but wish there was a Smiths version of each of them.
So by the time Mozza’s solo career was due a comeback in its own right (2004) he came back with a Band not a backing group. The Morrissey band who made You Are The Quarry and it’s career high single First Of The Gang To Die wrote and performed as a band. Here was a song you could not imagine The Smiths going near. Morrissey’s lyrics are focussed solely on telling a story. A story of Hispanic Gang life in Los Angeles. The least Smiths thing you could tell a story about. We’re on Hip Hop’s home turf here in a land of Bloods and Crips. Mozza tells a sympathetic tale of thug life and early graves in Victorian English for his legendary Latino audience. Morrissey and his band swing for the fences and hit a home run.
An American Gangster Movie, in the form of a perfect Pop Rock song, sung in olde English for the minorities. That’s a hell of a trick to pull off. Only the cantankerous old Mozza could have done that.