Stop him if you think you’ve heard this one before – actually, you probably have. Morrissey’s next album will consist solely of cover versions, featuring his personal take on songs by Roy Orbison, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon, among others.
California Son will feature 12 tracks and some notable guest spots. Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong features on a version of the Fifth Dimension’s Wedding Bell Blues, along with Lydia Night of the Regrettes, while Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste joins the former Smiths frontman for a run-through of Jobriath’s Morning Star Ship. Joni Mitchell’s Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow will receive its Morrissey makeover with help from Ariel Engle of Broken Social Scene.
The guest list might surprise those who assumed Morrissey had become a persona non grata following his recent comments in support of the far-right political party For Britain and English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson. Speaking in 2018, Morrissey said of For Britain: “It is the first time in my life that I will vote for a political party. Finally I have hope.”
For Britain was founded by anti-Islam activist Anne Marie Waters and has faced criticism for members’ links to neo-Nazi and white nationalist groups.
The record – which is to be Morrissey’s 12th solo album – has a distinct protest theme, although not from a far-right perspective, with songs by Phil Ochs (Days of Decision) and Bob Dylan (Only a Pawn in Their Game, featuring Petra Haden) included. Other songs Morrissey turns his hand to include Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Suffer the Little Children, Tim Hardin’s Lenny’s Tune and Loneliness Remembers What Happiness Forgets by Dionne Warwick.
Speaking of Morrissey’s interpretation of Roy Orbison’s It’s Over, the late singer’s son Roy Orbison Jr said: “We love Morrissey! Morrissey’s hair, and melancholy and poetic lyrics always reminded me of my dad. His version of It’s Over is great.”
Morrissey is no stranger to cover versions. He has previously covered Moon River, David Bowie’s Drive-In Saturday and Patti Smith’s Redondo Beach.
The record is due to be released on 24 May.