‘The Morrison Project’ Is a Slew of Ambitious Collabs Between Billy Morrison & Friends

My journey in the music business began in 1988 as a college DJ and morphed into music journalism shortly thereafter. I’ve loved thousands of records during this time, but it takes a lot for me to be utterly gobsmacked. The Morrison Project by Billy Morrison captivated me from its first listen and will continue for decades to come. 

The British guitarist, singer, and songwriter — best known as Billy Idol’s rhythm guitar player for the past 15 years and the former bassist of The Cult —has created 12 original songs of pure adrenalin with a roster of guests who bring this album to another level. The guest appearances include Billy Idol, Ozzy Osbourne, Al Jourgensen, Corey Taylor, Steve Stevens, Linda Perry, DMC, Tommy Clufetos, John 5,  Steve Vai, and more. 

The Morrison Project was produced by Billy Morrison, mixed by Barry Pointer, and mastered by Dave Donnelly. All the songs were recorded at various studios in Los Angeles and were written by Billy Morrison in collaboration with his guests. This is his third solo album and his first since 2015.

“One of the greatest things about writing this album was being able to let my guest singers do their own thing,” Morrison said. “I would send them the track with no guidelines and just had them do whatever they felt. I think that gave those songs an energy, and a life force that would not be there if I had tried to get involved in their lyrics or their melodies. And I loved everything they all did!” He added, “With the songs that I sing on this record, I wanted to write from an observational standpoint about the state of the world, the news outlets, the information flow (or lack of it), and the general sense of disease that seems to be all-pervading right now.”

“Drowning,” the captivating lead track, sets the standard for what lies ahead on The Morrison Project. It immerses the listener into a pool of sonic excellence. The song was released on February 20th as the first single/video and portrays Morrison’s frustration during the COVID-19 pandemic. Morrison said, “I had reached a point two or three years ago where the information flow was so constant, so extreme and so polarizing to me that I couldn’t take it all in. Too much news, too many pundits, and opinionated idiots. I felt like I was drowning in negativity. My previous solution was to numb out, get loaded, feel nothing, so this time I wrote the song as a cathartic way of dealing with what I was feeling at the time.” 

The second song and single, “Crack Cocaine,” features the incomparable Ozzy Osbourne on vocals and Steve Stevens on guitar. It was co-written by Morrison, Osbourne, and Stevens. The song is about dependence – not to the specific drug mentioned, but a relationship. The trio appears in the video with Paris Jackson playing the glamorous/romantic interest, with the visual artist RISK and actor Jeff Hillard having cameos.

“Crack Cocaine” marks the first new song with Ozzy on vocals since the release of Patient Number 9 in 2022. That magnificent album garnered two Grammy Awards for Best Rock Album and Best Metal Performance respectively. 

The next threesome — ”It’s Come To This,” “The Ayes Have It,” which features Al Jourgensen and John 5 with Roy Mayorga on drums, and “Dystopia” — are frenetic, rebellious, and heavy-hitting. The attitude and anarchy are palatable. 

“Incite the Watch” follows with Corey Taylor and Steve Vai. Don’t let the beautiful melody fool you, because it will punch you in the face later on. “Puppets on a String” keeps the momentum going, while “Just Like a Movie” (featuring D.M.C. and Persia Numan with Erik Eldenius on drums) could have been on the Judgement Night soundtrack. “The Sound of Freedom” describes frustration with government; something many of us have felt over the last few years. 

Billy Idol and Steve Stevens join Morrison and company on “Mr. Dream.” The narrator climbs into the consciousness of someone deep in slumber and asks for trust under his spell. Ummm… Freddy, is that you? “We Are the Dead” is the perfect follow-up with eeriness and soaring guitar solos. “Chasing Shadows” features incredible vocals via Linda Perry and closes The Morrison Project with style and grace. It’s heart-wrenching, haunting, and beautiful. 

The Morrison Project is habit-forming. It has me picking it up again and again, much like Ozzy’s paramour in “Crack Cocaine.” Listening to this album regularly may cause side effects such as fist pumping, several rebel yells, and sore necks from aggressive head-banging. In other words, you need to have this record.