Back in March 1994, Morrissey released what many believe (myself included) to be his best ever solo LP in the shape of Vauxhall And I.
Chock-full of great tunes and witty lyrics, not to mention some of his best ever ballads (and I include his work with The Smiths in that observation), it was preceded a month before its release by The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get - which gave him his first Top 10 single in the UK for 5 years, as well as his only ever entry in the Billboard Hot 100.
And deservedly so, for not only is it one of his best singles, it was accompanied by a couple of more than half-decent b-sides:-
mp3 : Morrissey - The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get
mp3 : Morrissey - Used To Be A Sweet Boy
mp3 : Morrissey - I'd Love To
The cover star was of course Morrissey,taken by his old associate Linder Sterling. However, the photo used inside is unaccredited, and is of heavily tattooed male torso - including the word 'Moz' across the midriff. The photo would appear to be that of Jake Owen, an ex-professional boxer who was Morrissey's bodyguard at this particular point in time....and strongly rumoured to be his lover.
When the LP hit the shops a month or so later, it was a bit disappointing to initially discover that Used To Be A Sweet Boy was also included among its tracks, meaning only 9 of the songs were entirely new. However, if the quantity was somewhat lacking, fans were more than amply compensated with the quality on offer.
Strangely enough, only one more single was taken from Vauxhall and I and arguably, it was one of its weaker tracks.
Hold On To Your Friends still holds the distinction of the Morrissey single that charted lower than any other - #47 in May 1994. Matters were not helped by the fact that only one song was added to the various formats (7", 12" and CD single) in the shape of a rather pointless cover of a song that dated back to 1961:-
mp3 : Morrissey - Hold On To Your Friends
mp3 : Morrissey - Moonriver (extended version)
This time the cover photo of Morrissey is credited to 'Jake', as is the inner photo of what is a close-up of someone's hand caressing someone else's hand. Make of it what you will.....but no one has ever confirmed one way or another whether Morrissey and Jake were lovers. One thing I will say is that his friendship and relationship with Jake Owen (even if it was purely professional) did coincide with a period when the great man wrote some of his most enduring and gorgeous love songs (albeit there weren't that many new songs all in...)
But I still maintain that his version of the Henry Mancini song, which has been covered by dozens of other artists, including the likes or REM and The Divine Comedy (as well as just about every easy-going MOR singer you care to think of) is very very ordinary to the point of dullness. And at 9mins 39 secs in length, it could have done with some paring-down.