Under the Influence

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It's clear an era has passed when the man who trilled "hang the DJ" is helming his own mix album. But Morrissey has a three-decade history of serious record-buying and rock criticism behind him, so if his mixing skills don't compare favorably to DJ Skribble, his selector abilities are far superior to 99 percent of the turntable-owning public. DMC, the organization that crowns the best DJs in the world during annual mixing championships, continued branching out beyond hip-hop and dance music with a new series, Under the Influence, which presented famous artists letting fans get a peek at their record collection. Very few devout Morrissey listeners (there aren't many other sorts left) will be surprised by the majority of the inclusions: overwhelmingly punk- and N.Y.C.-based, with the New York Dolls, Nico, Patti Smith, the Ramones, and the heavily Morrissey-boosted Klaus Nomi all getting slotted for tracks. He also tweaks the noses of trainspotters with some seriously obscure cuts, many in the mode of the faded, inwardly obsessed performer that Smiths fans will recognize as Morrissey characters. Unfortunately, the disparate styles are far less easy to reconcile than the thematic tug. Complicating the mix especially are tracks from rockabilly eccentric Charlie Feathers, '60s rocksteady unknowns the Cats, British film playgirl and breathy pop vocalist Diana Dors, and Manchester new wave act Ludus. Suffice it to say that the mix is scattershot and the inclusions not quite revelatory, just a series of songs that Morrissey can safely claim as his own and so illustrate how his influences have informed his performing career. One transition series that works: Nico's "All That Is My Own" into Patti Smith's "Hey Joe" into Klaus Nomi's "Death" to end the disc in typically overwrought fashion.

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