There’s this unceremonious pattern of aging rock stars collaborating with younger, popular musicians on their way up. More often than not, these newbies are more relevant to adolescent culture, and more often than not these pairings scream of desperation. David Bowie teamed up with Trent Reznor on the ridiculous “I’m Afraid of Americans” remix project. We already knew Bowie was coppin’ Reznor’s style when he made “Earthling” so it’s not as if a collaborated remix was necessary.
And just when you didn’t think it could get any worse, enter Iggy Pop. Granted, he’s in better shape at 50-something than some college kids, but Mr. Lust For Life officially fell off the rocker when he invited jock-punks Sum 41 to guest on his belly-flop of a comeback record, 2003’s “Skull Ring.”
Leave it to Morrissey to make a questionable pairing work, teaming up with producer Jerry Finn who was responsible for - to quote Spinal Tap - “shit sandwiches” such as 1999’s “Enema of the State,” among other pop-punk gems. But remarkably, neither Moz nor Finn screw this one up.
Opening track “America Is Not the World” is a lush political-tinged anthem that has both elements of confrontation (“Hey you, you big fat pig”) and hypocrisy (he did move to LA, after all). “Irish Blood, English Heart” is a track that will undoubtedly strike a chord with Morrissey’s rabid Mexican-American audience when he sings of conflicting ethnic make-up with geographic displacement.
Typical themes associated with Moz predominate on the rest of “Quarry” ranging from isolationism (“How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?”) to antagonist-driven ignominy on “All the Lazy Dykes” when he croons “They pity how you live/just somebody’s wife.”
The track “First of the Gang to Die” - with a guitar-lick potent enough to make Johnny Marr jealous - is another nod to his aforementioned Mexican fan base, as he sings a tale of a young man named Hector who, appropriately enough, was the first of the gang to die. First he’s sporting a belt buckle of the flag in mention, then he’s referring to himself as Mozcar De La Hoya, and now, he’s giving his fans a bona fide shout out on his latest (and greatest) solo LP. It’s a good time to be a Morrissey fan.