A review of Morrissey’s debut solo single, taken by writer James Brown from the NME, Feb. 20, 1988. It was listed as “Single of the Week #2” behind a single by The Wedding Present…
One of the most appealing aspects of Morrissey’s songs is the anonymity of the people involved in his lyrics. ‘Suedehead’ could be about anyone: himself, his mother, a male or female lover — little is revealed apart from a sense of personality and sensitivity that few others apart from Gedge and Barney Sumner can achieve.
Stephen Street’s music has a crispness to it that The Smiths never managed. The second song, ‘I Know Very Well How I Got My Name,’ has a lushness that would have seemed too rich and competent for the Rough Trade days, and Vini Reilly’s guitars certainly sparkle in a way it’s hard to remember Marr’s ever doing. Not that ‘Suedehead’ is so very different to The Smiths — Morrissey’s voice is just as long, smooth and powerful as ever — but the overall presence of the music has stepped up and matured in a way you’d expect of someone creative enough to use big money imaginatively.
As he sings, “I’m so very sorry…” (sic) his vocals hit a pitch that turns your stomach with queasy delight. It makes you feel vulnerable and provokes emotions you’ve forgotten about. Like experiences from the raw zone, the break-ups and one night encounters, the falling in love and the confidence that comes with it.
The reason ‘Suedehead’ takes second place behind The Wedding Present is that Morrissey is romantic whereas Gedge is a realist. Morrissey writes poetry within the world of glamour pop whereas The Wedding Present still keep commercial popularity and the qualities you lose with it at arms length.