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“I’m Writing This To Say…” 10 Artists Who Drove Morrissey To Compose Letters

Recent rumblings about Morrissey reportedly compiling a Ramones best-of collection have inspired many members of the press to make sure that everyone knows how ironic this supposed assignment is, since his negative opinion of the band was so strong in 1976 that he wrote a letter to Melody Maker on the matter, calling them...well, we'll get to that. In the interest of equal opportunity, we just wanted to make sure people realize that Morrissey was inspired to break out his writing utensil of choice on a regular basis in his pre-Smiths days, offering others his opinions of many artists, some of which - believe it or not - were actually favorable.

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1. Sparks


“Today I bought the album of the year, I feel I can say this without expecting several letters saying I’m talking rubbish. The album is Kimono My House by Sparks . . . Every track is brilliant—although I must name ‘Equator,’ ‘Complaints,’ ‘Amateur Hour’ and ‘Here In Heaven’ as the best tracks, and in that order.” (New Musical Express, June 14, 1974)

2. Aerosmith


"Aerosmith are one of those American dance-a-rama scenic bands with enough punch to see the Stones on pensions and enough make-up to last them through the winter. Their music is that of a confused struggle, with vocalist Steven Tyler sounding as though he is using the microphone to brush his teeth. They are as original as a bar of soap and have as much to offer Seventies rock as Ena Sharples. Aerosmith are just another street-corner rock 'n' roll band, using notorious Zeppelin riffs in an effort to steal our love and devotion. But when one ruminates over the fact that Toys In The Attic is the band's THIRD album! Thanks, but no thanks, Aerosmith. I'll stick with the New York Dolls for my rock 'n' thrills." (Melody Maker, September 6, 1975)

3 & 4. New York Dolls and Jobriath


"Anything that aims to change the day-to-day routine of the rock world is carefully observed before admitted. What a shame the New York Dolls and Jobriath were a little too fond of their satins and silks because I am sure that they both had enough—and more, to please the media." (Sounds, December 27, 1975)

5. Sex Pistols


"I pen this epistle after witnessing the infamous Sex Pistols in concert at the Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall. The bumptious Pistols in jumble sale attire had those few that attended dancing in the aisles despite their discordant music and barely audible lyrics. The Pistols boast having no inspiration from the New York / Manhattan rock scene, yet their set includes, 'I'm Not Your Stepping Stone,' a number believed to be done almost to perfection by the Heartbreakers on any sleazy New York night and the Pistols' vocalist / exhibitionist Johnny Rotten's attitude and self-asserted 'love us or leave us' approach can be compared to both Iggy Pop and David Johansen in their heyday. The Sex Pistols are very New York and it's nice to see that the British have produced a band capable of producing atmosphere created by The New York Dolls and their many imitators, even though it may be too late. I'd love to see the Pistols make it. Maybe they will be able to afford some clothes which don't look as though they've been slept in." (NME, June 18, 1976)

6. The Ramones


"The Ramones are the latest bumptious band of degenerate no-talents whose most notable achievement to date is their ability to advance beyond the boundaries of New York City, and purely on the strength of a spate of convincing literature projecting the Ramones as God's gift to rock music. They have been greeted with instant adulation by an army of duped fans. Musically, they do not deal in subtlety or variation of any kind, their rule is to be as incompetent as possible. For a band believed to project the youth of America, New York - suburban life, anti-conformism, sex and struggle, or whatever, they fail miserably. And in the sober light of day their imperfections have a field day. The New York Dolls and Patti Smith have proved that there is some life pumping away in the swamps and gutters of New York and they are the only acts which originated from the N.Y. club scene worthy of any praise. The Ramones have absolutely nothing to add that is of relevance or importance and should be rightly filed and forgotten." (Melody Maker, July 24, 1976)

7. Patti Smith


"Horses by Patti Smith has virtually no competition as the most exciting rock album of the year and it shows more potential than just about any other release in recent memory. There is no 'beat on the brat' nonsense. Patti is intriguing without being boring and every track is laced with her own brand of sardonic humour." (Sounds, September 25, 1976)

8. The Cramps


"The Cramps are worth their weight in gold for making the Police seem like a great big sloppy bowl of mush. The Police, hardly dabbling in degrees of the unexpected, presented a farcical imitation of their Rock Goes To College thing . . . The Cramps were enough to restore faith in the most spiritless. They have it all, and their drummer is the most compelling in rock history. Back to the Cramps or perish. It is written." (Sounds, June 30, 1979)

10. Iggy Pop


“Dear Iggy! Always there when we... don't quite need him. Opening with 'Search And Destroy', Iggy's out to squeeze a bit more mileage out of the ol' legend. Everyone screams so loudly. In fact that they probably didn't hear Iggy's dire vocals, and the doleful heavy metal bash coming from his new band - a notably faceless crop of Egyptian mummies. Iggy's taut torso is not on display tonight, but he proves his credentials by indulging in his tiresomely cute King Kong antics as he slowly climbs up the amps to squeals of delight. King Kong? Little Ig looks as fearsome as a well-laundered Klondike Annie. This year Iggy models the jaded gigolo look, a style for which the voice must always be out of tune, it seems. The new Iggy is really into crowd participation and insists that every song ends with a running 'la-la-la'. One would imagine that the next step for him would be the Golden Garter or, better still, retirement." (Record Mirror, July 18, 1981)

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