Johnny Marr: Adrenalin Baby

Punchy but pedestrian live album from former Smith.

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Recorded in London and Manchester while touring last year’s Playland album, Marr’s first solo live collection is full of jingle-jangle virtuosity and timeless new wave zing. But it doesn’t take long before he bumps up against his limitations as a lead singer, and his over-fondness for straight, shouty, Noel Gallagher-endorsed bloke-rock.

While dynamic tracks like Easy Money and 25 Hours have a nicely ragged mod-punk energy, the biggest thrill inevitably comes when Marr raids his Smiths archive, doing a passable Morrissey impression on Bigmouth Strikes Again, How Soon Is Now? and a lightly tweaked update of The Headmaster Ritual (‘same old joke since 1982’)

These all sound like polished cover versions but There Is A Light That Never Goes Out feels more like a remix in this warm, sparkly, soulful singalong arrangement. Lovely. A heavily Clash-influenced I Fought The Law affirms where Marr’s retro-rock heart lies – full of good intentions but forever looking over his shoulder at past glory.

Stephen Dalton

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.