Morrissey once sang “Re-issue, re-package, re-package” oh, so sardonically on The Smiths’ track “Paint a Vulgar Picture” (from 1987’s Strangeways, Here We Come), and I think of that song every time there’s a Smiths or Morrissey compilation, which ends up happening every few years. It’s been almost seven years since 2001’s The Best of Morrissey, and since its release Mozz has put out two albums, You Are the Quarry (2004) and Ringleader of the Tormentors (2006) plus a live album in between, 2005’s Live at Earls Court. So Greatest Hits conveniently summarizes the singles culled from these three releases, which makes up nine of the fifteen tracks.
For Mozz fans there are two new tracks, the terrific “That’s How People Grow Up” and the average “All You Need is Me.” Standards like “Everyday is Like Sunday” and “The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get” round out the collection.
This is an odd move for Morrissey, as there’s not really any need for another “best of,” the 2001 release is a great overview of his solo career drawing from singles, album tracks and a couple of b-sides that should have been singles. And at just fifteen tracks, Greatest Hits has room for some underappreciated material like tracks from 1997’s barely heard Maladjusted. However, this is all beside the point, as it’s just to drum up interest in Mozz’s back catalogue to pave the way for his ninth studio album, due this fall.
Despite these shortcomings, the music here is great; Quarry is one of his best albums, and Ringleader’s best tracks were all singles. Songs like “Suedehead” sit nicely with his new material since Mozz’s sound hasn’t changed too much over the course of his career. The album is an accurate and thorough overview of Morrissey’s output in the new millennium, but I’m still waiting the double-pack with a photograph, extra track (and a tacky badge).