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Tommy Gunnarsson - The Smiths and Morrissey: Every Album, Every Song

  by Fiona Hutchings

published: 23 / 5 / 2022

Tommy Gunnarsson - The Smiths and Morrissey: Every Album, Every Song


Pennyblack’s own Tommy Gunnarsson takes on The Smiths and Morrissey’s entire back catalogue. in his first book Fiona Hutchings rolls up her sleeves and dives in.

The On Track series of books are a completist's dream. It promises every album, every song and all in the correct order. This series of books could easily be a series of dry indigestible lists of albums, singles and reissues. Special editions, limited runs applicable to only certain countries and the like can easily further complicate and confuse the reader and leave one with less of a book and more a Daliesque back to front list that makes no sense. Thankfully Tommy Gunnarsson skilfully avoids this nightmarish scenario. Each album is introduced with some context and history alongside who played what and when. Individual songs are only written up once and their appearance in other places refer the reader to that write up rather than attempting to find something new to say each time. It’s fair to assume that anyone undertaking writing an On Track book must be a fan of the band and/or artist. In order to make remarks on every single piece of music recorded you don’t just need the technical and chronological knowledge, you need the affection and warmth of a fan. It’s a finely balanced scale however; tip too far into fan territory and you risk becoming sycophantic - something surely no self-respecting Moz fan would entertain. Gunnarsson is certainly a fully paid-up Smiths and Morrissey fan. He attended the latter’s first ever Swedish gig in 1997, co-founded the fantastically named Swedish and Nordic Smiths and Morrissey fan club, Unlovable Boxers, a few years later, and was the president of the club for its lifetime. The praise for the songs he loves isn’t sickening and he explains his dislike of other tracks equally unself-consciously. Gunnarsson’s writing manages to be fresh and interesting in part because he shares a few carefully chosen memories. So much has been written about both the band, Marr and Moz, the court cases, bust-ups and sackings, that bringing a different perspective to the table is no easy feat. If you’re a die-hard fan wanting to triple cross-check your collection to be sure that it really does contain everything, or a more casual fan who wants to be a bit more knowledgeable about both a spinal band and a defensive singer-songwriter, his book will serve you well.

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A Life in Music (2022)
Tommy Gunnarsson - A Life in Music
In her series, 'A Life in Music', in which she speaks to Pennyblackmusic staff about how music has affected and influenced them, Cila Warncke talks to our Swedish writer Tommy Gunnarsson.

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