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Former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr busts a long-overdue solo move

For Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

Johnny Marr's musical resume is certainly impressive -- the Smiths, Electronic, The The, Modest Mouse, collaborations with Paul McCartney, Bryan Ferry, Beck, Pet Shop Boys and plenty of others.

What's been missing is a proper solo album, which Marr finally rectified with the Feb. 26 release of "The Messenger."

"The time just seemed right now," says Marr, 49, who was born John Maher in Manchester, England and lived for a time in Portland, Ore., before returning to the U.K. last year. "I've really enjoyed everything I've done so far. All the collaborations have been great. I just think that after the last few years of a couple of bands and touring, touring, touring, and then doing that movie soundtrack (for 'Inception'), I was able to get into a different sort of frame of mind.

"I guess the important thing is I built up a lot of ideas of what I wanted to say and my impression of how I wanted it to sound. All these things just fell into place at the right time, I guess."

Marr says he conceived "The Messenger" as "a record to be played like a live band," and the gang he assembled to record it included son Nile and daughter Sonny contributing to several tracks. Given that, he's had no problem taking his new songs on the road -- and mixing them with his prior material.

"There's quite a lot of old songs that I like to sing now that just make for a good feeling in a show," Marr explains. "I feel like I've earned the right to look back at those songs, some I've done with Electronic, some I've done with the The, some of the Smiths, of course. If I like to sing them and I believe it just sounds good for the five or six minutes I'm singing them, there you go. They're there to be sung.

"But it's not like I'm someone who'd propping up their live show with their old stuff. I can play the whole 'Messenger' album live, and it sounds good."

Johnny Marr performs Friday, April 26, at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. Call 313-833-9700 or visit www.majesticdetroit.com.

Web Site: www.majesticdetroit.com

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