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But long before Morrissey was a pop star, he was a practiced and accomplished fan, and it’s this discernment and familiarity that make his later (Patti) Smith tributes a more reasonable fist. The two have much in common in their reference set, most clearly their poetic sensibility – Rimbaud and Ginsberg feature heavily – and in their vocal style. When, in 2005, Morrissey released Smith cover, ‘Redondo Beach’, as a double A-side (B/W ‘There Is A Light that Never Goes Out’) to promote Live At Earl’s Court, what’s odd – if one looks past the arrangement – is how comfortably Morrissey’s phrasing nestles into Smith’s melody. There’s less than expected to choose between Morrissey’s lilt and croon and Smith’s more ragged vocal style.
Umm…how did I not know a Morrissey cover of Redondo Beach existed until now? It works surprisingly well, and although it’s (of course) not as good as the original, Morrissey’s vocal is much more accessible than Patti’s, which draws your attention to the song’s lyrics more fully.