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  • Adrian's Album Reviews |

    The Smiths

    The Smiths ( 1984 )
    Reel Around The Fountain / You've Got Everything Now / Miserable Lie / Pretty Girls Make Graves / Hand That Rocks The Cradle / This Charming Man / Still Ill / Hand In Glove / What Difference Does It Make / I Don't Owe You Anything / Suffer Little Children

    None of The Smiths had great experience before joining together in this particular little enterprise, Morrissey had briefly been a member of a couple of bands, although not always as the singer. Still, upon hitching up with Johnny Marr, Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke he suddenly found himself with an outlet for his writing and dreams. And, nobody had ever quite matched lyrics like these before to what were essentially Rock songs, although quite out of step with other music of the era, especially commercial chart music. The Smiths signed to leading independent label Rough Trade, and released 'Hand In Glove' as their debut single. It failed to chart, but that was no real surprise. Morrissey felt as if it should have charted though, there was already a buzz surrounding the group, and 'Hand In Glove' with it's see-sawing harmonica and eloquent lyric mentioning the sun shining out of someone's behind was indeed quite striking! The second single was 'This Charming Man', and although it wasn't originally on this debut album, it has been present on every single CD edition, so it makes up part of the album now. Fate accompli. Is it any good then? Well..... 'This Charming Man' is two minutes, forty two seconds long. Perfect pop single length. The opening guitar figure is VERY distinctive, immediately reminds one of Sixties groups such as The Byrds with it's 'jingle jangle' nature and sound. Morrissey sings, and this is the thing. His voice is pretty, soaring, delicate, poetic. The lyrics are poetry, and good poetry at that. They speak of punctured bicycles, not having a stitch to wear. You know how it goes. A strong bass lines works throughout the song, Morrissey sings wordlessly at times, very beautifully if you allow your ears to hear it that way, without predjudice. An instant classic, and even The Smiths themselves would rarely match the perfect, concise glory of 'This Charming Man'. I may as well mention the third single, whilst i'm at it, hadn't I? 'What Difference Does It Make' isn't as good a Morrissey vocal or lyric as 'This Charming Man', but now it's Johnny's turn to shine with a catchy, snappy, bouncy happy melody. The most striking Morrissey moment here is the falsetto 'wailing' through the songs close, and very nice and entertaining it is too.

    'Reel Around The Fountain' opens the record, a six minute story that never quite catches fire musically, but the lyrics are interesting and the closing section of the song beautiful in particular thanks to the higher register of Morrissey's voice. 'You've Got Everything Now' is good, "As merry as the days were long, I was right as you were wrong, back at the old grey school, I would win and you would lose". And, that's the thing. The song isn't actually very remarkable if you forget the lyrical content. People could associate with these lyrics, associate with the image and allure of The Smiths as a group, and especially associate with Morrissey himself. "...and you're a desperate one", and nobody had ever sang songs for the desperate one's quite like Morrissey sang them. 'Miserable Lie' switches between soft, pretty delicate sections and loud, noisy guitar sections rather uneasily, 'Pretty Girls Make Graves' is mid-tempo, with the sound of Johnny Marr to the fore, and Morrissey turning in another striking set of lyrics. 'The Hand That Rocks The Cradle' is absolutely gorgeous, delicate and swoon-some, poetic and genuinely touching. And that's the first half of the album over. Pretty good, pretty good. 'This Charming Man' arrives next ( at least on the CD edition ) and 'Still Ill' follows that, with a very identifiable lyric for the 'desperate' ones, but also a lyric jam-packed full of tongue in cheek humour. There is a common misconception surrounding Morrissey lyrics, dour and miserable they are not. Not really, not exactly, and some of the lyrical imagery and scene setting is pretty much unsurpassed if you happen to be a lost romantic type. 'I Don't Owe You Anything' is a beautiful song, enough to reduce The Smiths own drummer Mike Joyce to tears on more than one occasion. 'Suffer Little Children' is the second, unquestionable blast of genius on the album alongside 'This Charming Man'. A lyric telling the story of the moors murders, a beautiful, understated music backing perfectly completing Morrissey telling the horrible tale, but telling it with compassion and sympathy. A genuinely great song, a genuine and often beautiful album.

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    Readers Comments

    Hatch hatchking@hotmail.com
    I totally agree with what you say in your review but I would give it a big fat 10! I know you're probably thinking that I'm being way too generous, but I just can't help but think about how damn good "I don't owe you anything" is! I just love it soooo much! Add to this (in my opinion one of the very best songs ever!) this charming man (amongst others), with Morrisey using his voice like some sort of heavenly instrument and you have what is my tenth favourite album of all time! Thank You!10!

    gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    Despite the rather drab and flat production this is still one of the most distinctive debut albums of the 80s . Johnny marrs layered guitar sound set the template for future generations of indie rock while morrissey was a one off - an incredible front man. Its hard to see any of todays new bands having this kind of integrity and impact . The songs are and remain jawdropping , im certain future generations will marvel at this band .

    Stephen Stephendfall@yahoo.co.uk
    "Reel Around The Fountain' opens the record, a six minute story that never quite catches fire musically" - I'm not sure it's meant to catch fire. The song is a sort of playful tease: its restraint only heightens this effect.

    Chris chrisfret2004@yahoo.co.uk
    A great start...this album always seems to be neglected due to the sheer brilliance of what was to come and admittedly the production is weak and a couple of songs struggle...however there's This Charming Man, Still Ill, What Difference..., Reel Arounf the Fountain....what more can I say? Spot on review here;8.5


    top of page Hatful Of Hollow 9 ( 1984 )
    William It Was Really Nothing / What Difference Does It Make / These Things Take Time / This Charming Man / How Soon Is Now / Handsome Devil / Hand In Glove / Still Ill / Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now / This Night Has Opened My Eyes / You've Got Everything Now / Accept Yourself / Girl Afraid / Back To The Old House / Reel Around The Fountain / Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want

    Released only months after the debut this collected together various radio sessions and married them to several excellent new songs. A good half of the songs taken from the sessions were unheard songs to boot. Prolific is the word. And, all good stuff. 'William It Was Really Nothing' was a brand spanking new single that reaffirmed all The Smiths strengths. Johnny sounds more confident in his playing here than previously though and the production is better than 'The Smiths'. Two minutes ten in length. A throwback to The Sixties! Both Johnny and Morrissey were certainly huge fans of a number of sixties pop acts and this return to the two and a half minute pop song was refreshing. 'These Things Take Time' along with 'Accept Yourself', the beautiful 'Back To The Old House', 'Girl Afraid', 'This Night Has Opened Our Eyes' and the closing 'Please Please Please...' were all previously unheard compositions. All are fantastic songs with intelligent poetic lyrics and the sound of a band unified in purpose. The other brand new songs here were 'Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now' which supports a jaunty happy musical melody with those lyrics and you can't help yourself but to smile a wide grin, really. A wonderful, brilliant song. And! That's not even the half of it! We have a session version of 'This Charming Man' that matches the beauty of the original but here the bass sounds more mellow, the vocals more beautiful though the guitar isn't quite as prominent. What am I forgetting? Oh yes....

    'How Soon Is Now' incredibly was only the b-side to 'William It Was Really Nothing'. A completely ridiculous and downright STUPID decision that cost them dearly in terms of making an immediate impact in America. They did go on to make an impact, but this song....THIS SONG! Johnny wanted to create an immediately indentifiable guitar riff that everybody would associate with The Smiths. He succeeded in spades. Morrissey matched his partners invention with one of his most remarkable and era defining lyrics. 'I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does'. And, on top of all of that, HE SOUNDS FANTASTIC! Oh, its very easy to knock Morrisseys voice if you are deaf. Knock his image, knock his lyrics for obsessing about the miserable and misery in life. He did it so well though, he invented it simply BY doing it so well. It had been done before of course, but not with such consistency. The man is a legend, and the superlative, sheer brilliance of 'How Soon Is Now' is a major part of that legend. What can I say?

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    Readers Comments

    Glenn MITCHELL glenn@mitchell1818.fsnet.co.uk
    WELL WELL WELL this album is sent from above i mean that place heaven or whatever. I think i belive in fate after all i think god must of ment for 'Morrissey' to be made because of how god damm wonderfull he's lyrics are songs like Accept Yourself and please please pleas/ and of course the most splended guitar work and lyrics on back to the old house i mean thats great it makes me cry made me cry just sooooo good the I purchased this album when i was 14 im now 16 since then i have never really stoped lovin it since the first time it blasted the most heavinly notes out of my spekers this any ill cut to the chase this album made me get in to the smiths and worship morrissey so ill disagree a straight shot 10 (one of the best albums ever if you dont own it hang your self from the nearest tree or go to hmv and they down that cash )from a big fan of this great site, Aaron

    Jamie jeffbuckley94@yahoo.com
    This was the first Smiths album I ever bought, and what a way to start! I'd recommend anyone who's gettin into the Smiths to buy this album first, simply because its hardcore but a lot easier to listen to than "A Queen Is Dead" and the other albums. The production shines on this album - play it against "The Smiths" and there is a significant improvement upon the overall feel of the songs. Highlights 4 me are "This Charming Man", "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now", and "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want". But lets face it, every song has something to offer, and for me "Hatful Of Hollow" is the Smiths album which clearly defines their sound. Rock on!

    Sara prettyblondegirl222@yahoo.com
    I can't stand How Soon Is Now? I don't understand how this was such a big hit for the Smiths, it's just an OK song. " This Night Has Opened My Eyes" a gorgeous song and my fave Smiths song.

    Hails sk8achick_lhs@btinternet.com
    i would just like to say that even though i didn't live through the 70's and 80's, i know more about them than i do 90's, i definitely lived through those. one of my absolute favourite songs by The Smiths is definitely How Soon Is Now? because it reaches out to me, and i can relate to Morrissey's lyrics, and, as a songwriter myself, i feel i can relate to him. Another one of my favourites is there is a light that never goes out because the line " and if a ten ton truck should kill the both of us, to die by your side, the pleasure, the privelige is mine" just inspires me with my songs, and if i ever met Morrissey, i would honestly tell him that i love his lyrics and they have obviuosly influenced a lot of kids from that era and of today.


    top of page Meat Is Murder 8 ( 1985 )
    Headmaster Ritual / Rusholme Ruffians / I Want The One I Can't Have / What She Said / That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore / Nowhere Fast / Well I Wonder / Barbarism Begins At Home / Meat Is Murder

    Already voices were loudly proclaiming The Smiths as a one trick pony, even with 'How Soon Is Now' being quite patently different from anything else they'd done. Johnny set about creating a whole load of new guitar sounds and styles and really expanded his playing here. He is the star of the show. The record lacks great production values again, surprisingly sounding worse than parts of the half studio/half sessions 'Hatful Of Hollow'. Still. We do have 'Headmaster Ritual'. It rolls along. Morrisseys voice with added echo sounds chilling in support of the lyrics. 'Spineless, bastards all'. And, my favourite of the lot 'please excuse me from gym, i've got a terrible cold coming on'. Now, these are lyrics :) 'Rusholme Ruffians' musically is a sheer rockabilly delight! Rockabilly! Didn't I tell you Johnny was expanding and experimenting with his playing? I did, yes! The lyrics aren't fantastic this time, so just listen to the music. Its enough. Its fantastic stuff. And! We have 'I Want The One I Can't Have'. Look, this album has a brilliant opening, what can I say?

    Hmmm. But, whats this? Signs that The Smiths were human after all? 'What She Said' would be fine if it were not for the production which pretty much obliterates Johnnys guitar lines. You've got to really focus on them, straining your ears to make them out at all. 'Barbarism Begins At Home' does have a funky groove ( funky! yes! ) but also, it really is far too long at just under seven minutes going round and round and round. The closing 'Meat Is Murder' is self explanatory. Morrissey makes his point over a six minute long track that sounds beautifully haunting in places but once again, its too long. It repeats itself uneccessarily from a musical point of view. The vocal may make you cry though. 'Nowhere Fast' is carried by its opening lyric. 'That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore' sounds great, far better production wise than anything else here but didn't make a great single. Those opening guitar lines are so damn beautiful though. I have of course saved the best til last. 'Well I Wonder' is just.....makes me cry, makes me smile, sends a chill all up and down my spine. The guitar and bass are both great. Morrissey sounds in fine, affecting voice. A hugely underrated Smiths gem. Its the highlight of the album for me. Given the lesser moments, its just as well 'Well I Wonder' is here at all. That, together with the opening three songs make the core of this for me, and ensure a strong album despite its few weak moments.

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    Jerome jewuda@gmx.de
    A good record. I don't like "Barbarism Begins At Home", it's seven minutes long and it bores me from the start. "How Soon Is Now" is also a bit too long, but not that bad. "Well I Wonder" is great, Johnny Marr's guitar playing on that one is fantastic. All the other songs are nice. I'd give it an 8

    Glenn MITCHELL glenn@mitchell1818.fsnet.co.uk
    MMMM this is a new wave a new vibe it's far more rock'y than its predocesors the songs separate there self’s from each other very much so. The first I was not that impressed but I played and I played and it grew and grew me and guess what that album that didn’t quite fit me weeks before fitted me now like a tailors suite. Songs like ‘well I wonder’ and ‘no where fast’ Yes a nine will do me fine. From Aaron.

    Chris aether12@Yahoo.co.uk
    Got 2 disagree with Jerome, "Barbarism" is a great track, the bass-line is Andy's finest moment and the track itself is quite an unusual and uncharacteristic one for The Smiths - leaning as it does toward funk/disco guitars & bass - but not for Andy & Johnny, who were/are both keen fans of that style of music, which they experimented with when they were in White Dice together I understand (that band recorded one single in the early eighties). The record as a whole boasts the excellent "That Joke" & "Headmaster", but could do without the inclusion of "How Soon" I feel, as it was not on the original release and is now over-familiar and loses its appeal from being included too many times on too many discs.

    porcupine cupidandpsyche85@hotmail.com
    You can't beat that guitar in 'The Headmaster Ritual': as opening tracks go, this is one of the best ever. Fantastic lyrics, great vocals, such wonderful music. I used to think the next three tracks on the album were too slight, but they've really grown on me. 'That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore' is up there with the very, very best Smiths songs. Johnny Marr is just incredible on this: very lush, very sexy, and that fade out is to die for! 'Well I Wonder' is a total mindblower, so beautiful, so fragile, so lovely, 'Nowhere Fast' is a extremely entertaining, and 'Barbarism Begins at Home' is just superb! Listen to that bass line! it goes on forever and I wouldn't want it any other way. The album is not as euphoric musically as the highlights on The Queen is Dead ('Boy With the Thorn in His Side', 'Bigmouth' and 'There is a Light') but this is probably my fave Smiths album overall.

    Thanos Dalalakis morakipoueisai@yahoo.gr
    just read everything you say and offcource i agree with you ,2things (i`m emotionaly connected to smiths)charge them another 1 1/2 up ,and "well i wonder" oh god this song is not well-heard

    chris chrisfret2004@yahoo.co.uk
    I would rate this a little higher...with all their albums being at the least really good, there will always be disputes over the 'best' smiths album;I feel it is difficult to pick out just one, as their repertoire is so varied;'Hatful' has the most accessable moments and 'Queen...' is the most polished and cohesive etc 'Meat Is Murder' seems to me to be the darker, more diverse set and as such is perhaps harder to love, but equally rewarding...strange then that it was their only number one album!Anyway, 'Headmaster...' is an unbelievable opener, with Marr's guitar work almost unimaginably complex and innovative (any guitarists who have tried working out how to play that will know what I mean!!!) and other highlights are, for me, 'Nowhere Fast' and obviously 'That Joke...'. It may lack a few 'killer' tracks as displayed on other smiths albums, but there isn't a bad song here either, so overall 9/10!


    top of page The Queen Is Dead 10 ( 1986 ) more best albums...
    Queen Is Dead / Frankly Mr Shankly / I Know It's Over / Never Had No One Ever / Cemetry Gates / Bigmouth Strikes Again / Boy With The Thorn In His Side / Vicar In A Tu Tu / There Is A Light That Never Goes Out / Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others

    They had no manager. Morrissey kept 'falling out' with them and finding ever incresingly inventive excuses as to why such and such a manager 'has to go'. Johnny had a workload and a half, was basically running the group from top to bottom. The tapes were held by the studios they'd been using for unpaid bills. The album was delayed. Johnny had put his very into the recording and making of this, so that pissed him off. Fortunately, it all came out alright in the end! Well, and how! There are few opening tracks are simply stunningly super fantastically stupendously brilliant (!) as the title song. That roll of drums! 'Take me back to dear old blighty...' and then THOSE lyrics! The whole thing is perfect, and if you don't like it....I don't like you! Well, i'm sorry. I'm probably being unfair. I bet your're a really nice guy/girl! You don't have to like The Smiths or 'The Queen Is Dead' to be my friend. Honest. After this epic opening title song we have the quite frankly ( hey! ) silly 'Frankly Mr Shankly'. Its dumb, its stupid. It fits perfectly and raises a smile, the lyrics are really funny, genuinely so. The guitar is fine and the production shines. 'I Know Its Over' has been covered by Jeff Buckley amongst others. Morrissey's finest five minutes and forty nine seconds as a vocalist. No question. No wonder Mr Buckley was inspired by it. Again, Johnny catches Morrisseys mood and provides a perfect, dramatic and sad musical backdrop. And, yeah, it is dramatic. Its one of the most beautifully sad songs ever recorded. Never Had No One Ever' is more of the same in terms of feel. Not quite so inspired this time but it remains perfectly fine. 'Cemetry Gates' is jaunty, happy and lighthearted. Perfect album structuring. Just you wait! Ah yes! What follows? Well....

    'Bigmouth Strikes Again'. Johnny comes up trumps, wins the lottery and in his own words not mine creates 'our Jumpin Jack Flash'. It bears no resemblance to Jumping Jack Flash at all, by the way - apart from defining The Smiths in song. Fantastic guitar throughout the track. 'Boy With The Thorn In His Side' has another of Morrisseys most beautiful ever vocals. As soon as the first syllable is out of his mouth, i'm crying tears of joy. It really is that good. And, as 'Bigmouth' was largely Johnnys show, its only appropriate that this should be Morrisseys time to shine. Both support each other in actual fact, on both songs, of course :) 'how can they see the love in our eyes, and still they don't believe us...' Possibly a dig at the music press. Some way to have a go at the press for not believing in The Smiths. 'Vicar In A TuTu' is simple, stupid, happy.... and brilliant. 'Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others' coming off the back of another emotional, perfect song 'There Is A Light', is perfect to close. Really. The lyrics are funny and whilst your wiping away the tears from listening to 'There Is A Light' gives you another emotion entirely. Yeah, this is an emotional record. This isn't easy listening and its not Green Day either. A masterpiece, and certainly The Smiths peak as both writers and performers.

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    Readers Comments

    hugues o.hugues@wanadoo.fr
    That's a big mystery to me... I never understood what's so good with this band. Okay, the sound is good (I mean the band can play), and the singer has a good voice. My problem with them concerns directly the taste. I simply can't like them. Where's the charm? the attraction? I can't take Morrissey seriously. The songs? Musically, nothing special. I must admit, something escapes me from what we call the new wave in the 80's. These Echo & Bunnymen, Cure, Go Betweens, and even REM, and also U2... okay, forget it! (I prefer the first two Jesus & Mary Chain!)

    Glenn MITCHELL glenn@mitchell1818.fsnet.co.uk
    THIS album is the best album i have ever herd next to the 'beatles' 'White album' disk 1. This just is so beautiful it actually is musical fuel u could go miles on this with out polluting our planet any more this was a great leap from the first albums as the musical depth was far more greater. 'Morrissey's' voice never had been so wonderful and his pen never sharper a marrs guitar never as productive. Thank you for giving this album a ten so yes 10 10 bloomin TEN.

    james_leicester@hotmail.com
    I love the way each song is a little observation on British society. Religion, love, death, the royal family. Its all here. Cemetery Gates its a gem and I personally never understand why The Smiths are known as a 'miserable' band.

    Jamie Edmondson jeffbuckley94@yahoo.com
    The Queen Is Dead is my fave album of all time! I get emotionally moved by "Frankly Mr Shankly" when all it is is a big joke! Thats the power of the Smiths - they can make somethin outta nothin! "I Know It's Over" is one of the greatest love songs of all time! It's a great builder, absolutely stunning! Morrisey's vocal is tremendous, second only to Jeff Buckley. "Cemetry Gates" is a great song, I like the way Morrisey uses Latin (if that's what it is!), it gives the vocal line a great edge about it which compliments the awesome guitar. "Bigmouth" - awesome guitar? Too right! Rhythm guitar's never been so good since "Pinball Wizard!" "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side" is a very emotional composition about how everyone one of us, no matter how much hatred and anger we display, have some love inside of us to share. "Vicar In A Tutu" - another "Frankly Mr Shankly" whats he on about song but who cares - it rocks!! "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" - my favourite song of ! all time! It is the ultimate declaration of love and hope, truly outstanding! The Smiths are the best band of the 80s, and one of the best bands ever. Long live the legend!

    Severed_Alliance jbayview4@aol.com
    In my opinion THE GREATEST album ever made ('Pet Sounds', 'OK Computer','Dark Side Of The Moon', 'Abbey Rd', 'The White Album', 'The Stone Roses' and some others run it dammed close in my book though !! 'The Queen Is Dead' sees The Smiths explore, observe and disect such a wide range of subjects with the same vigour as always. Starting off with the v-Sign type salute to the monarchy, Morrissey kinda replicates what Johnny Rotten did in the late 70's, but with more nous, humour, wit, verve and scrcastic poetry. Highlight tracks include... 'The Queen Is Dead' 'I Know It's Over' 'Cemetry Gates' 'Bigmouth Strikes Again' 'The Boy With The Thorn In His Side' 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out'

    Chris aether12@Yahoo.co.uk
    Ok I'm a huge Smiths/Mozzer fan but can't understand why this is usually hailed as the best Smiths record - "Hatful" or "World Won't" beat it for me every time. Maybe it's because I bought "World Won't" first, so was already very familiar with "Thorn", "Light", & "Bigmouth" already; "Some Girls" & "Frankly" are excellent, but the title track bores me, "Vicar" is filler, "Never Had" is a tuneless dirge & I cannot bear "I Know It's Over" - if you want a good miserable Smiths song there are much better ones, like "That Joke" for example, and in this case even the lyrics are predictable. Besides the singles there's not much on offer, it all seems a bit tired and substandard to me. If you are new to The Smiths I'd suggest you buy "Hatful" first.

    james gulliver gulliverjames@hotmail.com
    With the exception of two songs that are contenders for the two greatest Smiths songs ever, this is overrated. But what exceptions, I KNOW IT IS OVER is simple but beautifully subtle musically with the greatest ever love song lyric. If you can´t appreciate the lyrics you have no soul. The vocal performane by Morrissey is his most impassioned and melancholic. Sure, there is irony and wit but the song captures perfectly the exquisite agony of unrequited love. The other classic is of course THERE IS A LIGHT THAT NEVER GOES OUT. Beautifully arranged with flutes and strings highlighting the bittersweet subject matter. the lyric is again sad and resigned but morbidly optimistic with swathes of pathos and black humour throughout. An anthem to suicide it is a defiant and beautiful stand against the limitations of a particularly British character. Using a simple chord structure. The music manages to be uplifting and melodic with a an overtone of spirited resi! gnation all at the same time. Other songs such as VICAR IN A TUTU and FRANKLY, MR SHANKLY are silly and witty but essentially throaway especially with regards the music whilst I NEVER HAD NO ONE EVER and SOME GIRLS ARE BIGGER THAN OTHERS are by turns overwrought, overlong and one dimensional. The title track hits its targets with vitriol,sarcasm and humour but the music never hits its stride or develops. Obviously, any Smiths album has more depth, quality, thought, humour, passion, intelligence and musicality than 95% of the competition but in their canon this is not as strong an album as either THE SMITHS or MEAT IS MURDER.

    Andrew Taylor atbdjlep@hotmail.co.uk
    Its very easy to just push the smiths aside, thinking that they just another wish-washy pop band from the eightys without listening to them properly. Which is what I think people who hate the smiths do. The combination of Marr's simple, flowing melodies and Morrisey's smooth and charming vocals are wonderfully subtle, hiding the hard hitting lyrics of the songs. But what I have come to love about the band is that this isnt done in a spitful way. Its almsot like Morriseys offering his hash sense of reality in the kindest way he can. The album its self is probably one of the most complete album is modern popular music history, its a bit like The Stone Roses "The Stone Roses" in way that when listening it feels like every song couldn't have been wrote better or arranged any differently. Before I had this album i had never heard such a song like "I know its over." The song has desperation, sheer agony, un-controllable misery. Yet for some reason its beautiful.

    Chris chrisfret2004@yahoo.co.uk
    Hey again adrian!really like ur site- nice to read some intelligent reviews by someone who genuinly loves their music!Anyways, this has always been a little overhyped for me - its possibly not the best place for a newcomer to start. id recommend maybe one of the best of's, or maybe hatful' simply for those essemtial tracks that they contain (Is it really so strange?, ask, this charming man). However its still really great and has no filler! 10/10!

    gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    Spot on adrian . Probably the greatest album of the 80s from a band who amazingly manage to be completely original but commercially atuned simultaneously. I mean who the hell sounded like the smiths before they appeared on the scene ??

    chris chrisfret2004@yahoo.co.uk
    Still not sure on this one!I love the smiths more than virtually all other bands,think Marr a musical pioneer and Morrissey a lyrical genius, but have always found the numerous 'perfect scores' and 'ten out of ten' reviews for this a little over generous;As usual, the 'critics' seem to have latched onto the fact that this is probably the smiths album that is both most polished and well structured and features a couple of all time great songs and so proclaimed it flawless beyond reproach!Whilst I definitely agree it is briliant and ONE OF their best albums, I'm also not convinced it is a perfect record;'Vicar...' and a couple of other tracks in particular, whilst not really doing anything wrong, are hardly world beating songs and are, to me, inferior to anything on the 'Hatful Of Hollow' disc.Still, any album that closes with 'There is a Light' and 'Some Girls' has to be some record!Definitely 9/10 going on 9.5/10 on a good day though!

    Daniel Kemp Western Isles
    Your review is spot on :) I Know It's Over is my favourite song ever written - it is so full of truth and Morrissey is so incredibly genuine in his vocal delivery that it's impossible to dismiss it as 'just another' song! A most definite classic if ever there was one!

    Danny Chicago
    I must say only a fan would rate The Queen Is Dead as the best album of 1986. I was working in a record store that year in New York and I can vouch of dozens of more important musical releases that year, like Big Black, Metallica, Davis Thomas, Univers Zero, The Swans, firehose, Husker Du, Ministry, or CCCP. These bands were bending the envelope. The Smiths rehashed the sound of the 1960s with jangly guitars that would have been original in 1964 but not in 1986. The Smiths were basically a band that were part of the backlash against punk, a style that spawned tons of interesting post-punk, electronic, industrial and other adventures and basically reinvented modern music. The darker album by the Smiths was probably the first one so it must be considered their best - it illustrated their sound. They didn't create a new sound later, they merely rehashed the same type of sound on their future albums so the future ones can't be considered better. I find these reviews completely biased - merely giving fans what they want to hear rather than stimulating them to try out new and less safe sounds. The irony is that Morrissey was actually rather aware of the history of rock before the Smiths and apparently listened to the Krautrock bands of the early 1970s who were a million times ahead of anything that the Smiths would be doing in the 1980s. The Krautrock bands tried hard to avoid pop as usual (the sixties pop sound) but the Smiths were the opposite - they tried exactly to mimick pop as usual (pretty tunes, an on-stage gimmick like gladiolas and poor me persona, jangly guitars that stole from the Four Tops which was Marr's favorite band, pretty boy band look, all pure marketing which was contrary to all previous Rough Trade bands who were in many ways anti-marketing and anti-pop. The Smiths spelled the end of Rough Trade. Today music lovers seek out the more unusual 80s bands like the ones I mentioned earlier and nobody buys the Smiths anymore because they were just a fad.


    top of page Louder Than Bombs( 1987 )
    Is It Really So Strange? / Sheila Take a Bow / Shoplifters of the World Unite / Sweet and Tender Hooligan / Half a Person / London / Panic / Girl Afraid / Shakespeare's Sister / William, It Was Really Nothing / You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby / Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now / Ask / Golden Lights / Oscillate Wildly / These Things Take Time / Rubber Ring / Back to the Old House / Hand in Glove / Stretch Out and Wait / Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want / This Night Has Opened My Eyes / Unloveable / Asleep

    Much repetition here, from 'Hatful Of Hollow' and other releases. This was released in America in place of the UK compilation 'The World Won't Listen', which although containing less songs, is actually more listenable and enjoyable. I may review that as well, someday. Anyway, This 'Louder Than Bombs' does indeed add extra tracks, but suffers as a cohesive listening experience. We have some of the post 'Queen Is Dead' singles to savour though! And, 'Is It Really So Strange', which opens, was only a b-side. How come its brilliant? 'Shelia Take A Bow' is a little too happy for my liking.... :) Very bouncy and fun. 'Shoplifters Of The World Unite' was recorded as a stand alone single at a time when all of The Smiths were showing signs of strain given their self imposed heavy workload. Still, 'Shoplifters' borrows the guitar sound from 'How Soon Is Now' but is a fine song in its own right. Another great set of Morrissey lyrics! As I said before, we have repetition of songs here from past releases, so I won't go through them all again. We also have 'Golden Lights' recorded with little known Sixties singer 'Twinkle'. Its easily by far and away the worst thing The Smiths ever did. We have a Johnny Marr instrumental. Why it was never given words or vocals by Morrissey remains unclear to this day. Highlights? Well, apart from what i've already mentioned we have 'London' and 'Shakespeares Sister'. Together they only amount to about five minutes of music. Five brilliant minutes, mind you! We have the alluring 'Unloveable' and the devastating beauty of 'Asleep' to close. We also have 'Panic' one of the groups biggest hits and also one of my very least favourite Smiths songs. Still, you can't win them all, can you? <

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    Chris aether12@Yahoo.co.uk
    If u r a completist u need this disc 4 "Sweet & Tender Hooligan" as its not available on any other CD anymore. You can get a live version of "Is It Really" on "Rank" but for the studio cut off the "Sheila" single u need "Bombs". U would also need "Rank" 4 the instrumental "The Draize Train" - not available anywhere else except bootlegs. But yeah, "World Won't" is a better compilation, and as it happens my favourite Smiths album.

    baz baz@edin77.freeserve.co.uk
    i think its time you should review "the world wont listen" because i love to read your reviews over and over, and would like to see more ones on. PS and why not "rank" while your at it :P your pal baz :)


    top of page Strangeways Here We Come 9 ( 1987 )
    A Rush and a Push and the Land Is Ours / I Started Something I Couldn't Finish / Death of a Disco Dancer / Girlfriend in a Coma / Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before / Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me / Unhappy Birthday / Paint a Vulgar Picture / Death at One's Elbow / I Won't Share You

    There is something difficult about this album. Perhaps it's the fact it was released after Johnny Marr had officially quit the band? That shouldn't really affect anything, given that the recording of the album had all taken place before he'd left. Perhaps it just left a nasty taste in the mouth, especially arriving after the superlative 'Queen Is Dead' album. Could The Smiths make music of the gods, force everybody to bow down before them, and conquer the world? Uh, no. 'Strangeways' is a step back from 'The Queen Is Dead' overall, although this is possibly just because of the sheer tension within Smiths ranks at the time. Still, there's enough fine, great, super fabulous groovy songs here. Quite enough for any sane person. 'A Rush And A Push And The Land Is Ours' may not be as dramatic an album opener as 'The Queen Is Dead' was, but this is a fine, swoonsome song with lovely Mozza vocals, very playful and a weird Piano type sound, odd percussion all amidst glorious melodies! So, that's alright then, isn't it? Johnny gets into gear with 'I Started Something I Couldn't Finish', lots of guitar, here there and everywhere. Again, the vocals of Stephen Patrick Morrissey are crystal clear, playful with lots of clever wordplay lyrically. Handclaps? We've got em. The often much maligned 'Death Of A Disco Dancer' appearing as song three, when the truly emotionally brilliant 'I Know It's Over' had appeared in the same place on 'Queen Is Dead' may have contributed to this being one of the most overlooked pieces of Smiths brilliance. Yes, 'Death Of A Disco Dancer' and brilliance in the same sentence! Glorious vocal 'moaning' from Morrissey, Piano played by Morrissey himself! Ok, so he's no musician as such, and just tinkles around, but added to the rest of this spooky, and quite frankly frightening song, it all works out just dandy. Sigh. The two songs that follow 'Death Of A Disco Dancer' on side one up the 'ante' yet further. 'Girlfriend In A Coma'? Smiths by numbers, or Smiths just fabulous, groovy, outtasight! Sorry, I apologise. I don't know why i've come over all Sixties through this review. Maybe because i've put off and put off writing this review literally for months without a single clue as to how to approach it. Still, 'Girlfriend In A Coma' is ultra lovely and romantic ( yeah.... ) and 'Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before' not only spawned hundreds of N.M.E headlines, but is a damn fine tune to boot, one of the very best Smiths songs.

    'Last Night I Dreamnt That Somebody Loved Me', oooh! What can I say? This one song, THIS song, is just...... arghhhh! So lovely and sad and romantic - how many times have any of us dreamnt that somebody loved us? So, Morrissey and The Smiths, with a perfect match between lyrics evoking the feeling of being alone and wishing for romance and music sounding suitably grand and desolate. A winner in my house, certainly. The rest of this 'Strangeways Here We Come' album goes a little odd, but just about holds its head above water. 'Unhappy Birthday' benefits from great production, it sounds clear and special to this day. The song itself isn't ambitious, just this little jaunty thing with bittersweet and funny lyrics. May the lines hang heavy and deep tonight, indeed! 'Paint A Vulgar Picture' sees Johnny rescue a rather ugly Morrissey lyric with haunting guitar tones. 'Death At Ones Elbow' is just this little rockabilly song. It would have sounded pretty strange if it'd had been placed on 'Queen Is Dead' but it no doubt sounded grand played live. 'I Won't Share You' given the imminent split of The Smiths, and the listener knowing they had split, takes on an extra special resonance all of it's own. A truly beautiful song, a beautifully imperfect album. Oh, before I sign off. I really *love* the vocals all through 'I Won't Share You'. A special moment, indeed.

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    Chris calton@ualberta.ca
    Death of... has always been one of my fave Smiths tunes. Good to see credit where credit is due!

    Severed_Alliance jbayview4@aol.com
    Out of the 4 Smiths studio Albums IMO Strangeways was and still is their most underrated album, failing to match the other longivity as classic Rock n' Roll albums. Whilst varied and lyrically good, however it's pitfalls where the bands split before its release and more filler tracks than in previous albums and musically it's not as competent than 'The Smiths' (raw edged great debut album), 'Meat is Murder' (their most musically diverse longplayer) or their perenial masterpiece that is 'The Queen is Dead' 7+1/2 out of 10 for me! Highlights for me include... 'Death of a Disco Dancer', 'Stop me if you've heard this one before as well as 'A rush and a Push and the Land is Ours

    bass player edd eddie123zeppelin@hotmail.com
    they're o.k but overrated. I noticed they have a higher average than led zeppelin, absolute maddness.

    Hatch hatchking@hotmail.com
    I agree with your review as I think this album deserves no more or less than a 9. However I do resent the fact that you have referred to Morrisey as "Mozza". Please detract this awful, awful attempt to give the man a nickname. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't appreciate it either!

    elko elkedank@hotmail.com
    Actually, Mozzer IS his nickname. Strangeways is my joint favourite favourite Smiths album along with The Queen Is Dead. Although it doesn't contain the same beauty as songs like 'There Is A Light...', it has incredible songs like 'Death Of A Disco Dancer' and the heart wrenching 'Last Night I Dreamt...'. Also, all Smiths fans, you may be interested in joining my Smiths forum at www.strangeways.tk

    revol21 www.j9@hotmail.co.il
    paint a vulgar picture is a painfully beautiful, sad song and requires a much more profound analysis than yours. You talk about it in an offhand way which is strange regarding its intensity. Well, i know it is only a review and mostly i really agreed with everything you wrote, but i thing you didnt pay this song the attention it deserves. Sorry for my lame english. Guy pepper, israel.

    Gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    Was feeling a bit nostalgic so i dug this out . Years of perspective later i can appreciate that marr did the right thing by ending the band. Compared to most bands of the era this pisses all over their output ,but by the smiths standards its a slight drop in quality from meat is murder and queen is dead. The protracted lengths of "death of a disco dancer" and "last night" seemed unnecessary and points to the fact the band may not have had enough material for an album . "last night " is one hell of a song though . I used to think "i wont share you" was about marr but its actually clear morrissey is talking about not compromising himself , either way its a beautiful song. "paint a vulgar picture" is the best track and does deserve more of a mention . A sourmouthed attack on the record industry and unerringly accurate in its criticism , but who was the pop star moz describes meeting as a youth ? (rumour suggests it was marc bolan) Either way its marrs best! playing on the album. In the light of the events following cobain and buckleys tragic deaths the song tells more than a few truths. As much as i miss the band , im glad they havent reformed - some memories are better left untainted .

    Stephen stephendfall@yahoo.co.uk
    This is a great album, but suffers from a few 'filler' moments. 'Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before' has a weaker melody than The Smiths had delivered up to this point. And a few tracks ('A Rush and a Push and the Land Is Ours', 'Death at One's Elbow' and, especially, 'Unhappy Birthday') seem lacking in inspiration. Compare them to anything on The Queen Is Dead and it's clear that the songs are simply not as good (both musically and lyrically). Reflecting on The Smiths while hearing this album, my feelings are, perhaps, that 'I still love you, only slightly less than I used to'. On the plus side, few things in music are as heartbreakingly wonderful or as beautiful as 'Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me', 'Paint a Vulgar Picture', 'Death of a Disco Dancer' and 'I Won't Share You'. Re: Adrian's comment in the review about the 'rather ugly Morrissey lyric' in 'Paint a Vulgar Picture', surely it's ABOUT ugliness, from the 'sickening greed' to the 'ugly new! houses'? Anyway, it's an odd album and fascinating to speculate as to what they would have done next if they'd stayed together. The Smiths remain one of he greatest two or three bands ever, and the world is a better place because they existed. But The Queen Is Dead remains their ultimate masterpiece, whatever Moz and Marr might say.

    chris chrisfret2004@yahoo.co.uk
    Yeh spot on here adrian!Definitely a difficult and album and a 'flawed masterpiece'...much of the album actually 'ups the ante' on 'Queen is Dead' and songs like 'Girlfriend in a...', 'Last Night...' and particulary 'Stop Me...' are stunning, immaculately produced and melodically wonderful. It's a little weak at the end, but almost all the tracks are at least good and 'I wont Share You' is a lovely closer. 9/10.

    Will Petersfield
    The Queen Is Dead might be a shade better and a lot lighter in tone than Strangeways yet this is a superb record. The sense of foreboding is incredible. 9!


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