If there was ever a Morrissey album that needed remastering, it’s 1988’s Viva Hate. But, sadly, if there was ever an artist that never, ever needed to reissue anything again, it’s Morrissey. It’s been three years since his last album, and he’s still, apparently, label-less; EMI has here revived Liberty, the next in a long line of rehousing classics, for this reissue, following Bona Drag’s 20th anniversary appearance on Major Minor.
Stephen Street has polished up the sound so, in the main, that 80s Smiths hangover is gone, with acoustic guitars freshened up and the bass menacing – particularly on Alsatian Cousin. The songs remain youthfully sparse: Margaret On The Guillotine, which, lest we forget, begs for a former Prime Minister to “die”, is the clearest sign Morrissey still had scissor-sharp bite. Elsewhere, however, a delicate Bengali In Platforms and the rhythmic Late Night, Maudlin Street, prove he was willing to experiment with sound and not just ape the alma mater he so defined.
Interestingly, Morrissey has left Ordinary Boys off here, which is fine, had it not been somewhat inexplicably replaced with Treat Me Like A Human Being, a short, near demo (admittedly from the same sessions), which was released as a B-side only last year. What goes on in Morrissey’s head we may never fully grasp.