The Smiths

By Marius Messinese

WHEN: 1984-1987

CULPRITS: Morrissey (Vocals, Piano), Johnny Marr (Guitar, Keyboards, Mandolin, Bass, Harmonica), Andy Rourke (Bass, Cello), Mike Joyce (Drums, Backing Vocals), Craig Cannon (Bass, Rhythm Guitar, 1986)

ALBUMS: The Smiths (1984), Hatful of Hollow (1984), Meat Is Murder (1985), The Queen Is Dead (1986), Strangeways, Here We Come (1987), Louder Than Bombs (1987)

HOW: The first time I’ve heard about The Smiths was on some “50 essential albums” list of a French magazine in 2002. The Queen Is Dead ranked 48. I was at this time of my life in my quest of having good musical tastes so I tried hard to find all those 50 albums. I bought it some months later and give it a listen with enthusiasm. Meh. I didn’t like what I was hearing, it lacked manly power (!!), Morrissey’s suave voice was hard to appreciate after a first listen, at least in my case, and I guess I was too young to fully appreciate the lyrics. Years pass and one night Alain Delon on the sleeve of The Queen Is Dead won’t stop yelling at me: “Play me! Play Me!” OK, OK, you certainly deserve another try. This time again, not a particularly good listen — I really enjoyed the eponymous song though.

The revelation  came not so long ago; I guess it was in May of this year, discovering my favorite Smiths song, “The Headmaster Ritual.” From that moment I had a totally different vision and understood all the catchiness and true essence of The Smiths. I came back to all their releases, and they became one of my top 5 bands. Funny how things can change.

WHY: First of all I must say: I love The Smiths entire discography, and there’s very few artists in this category. Every single they’ve released is a pop gem. And believe me, I don’t use to word “gem” lightly. Their songs are gems because they catch perfectly the atmosphere of the UK at the time with a great sense of humor.

I must confess Morrissey’s lyrics are really among the greatest I know, and his neo-romantic, full-of-emotion voice is at first disturbing, then you get used to it, and you’re in love with it.

Johnny Marr is in my opinion the greatest pop guitarist, because of his shimmering sound and for his ability to find catchy melodies that go perfectly with Morrissey. Dare I say … poetry!

Behind this hypnotizing guitar-voice combo you’ll find one of my favorite rhythm sections, Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce. Rourke is my favorite in The Smiths — his sound enhances the whole poppy perfection and his bassline are always on the top; plus he can get really funky (“Barbarism Begins at Home“). Mike Joyce is just perfect and solid behind the drums. Together they are the best band making pop. To me, they are the definition of pop.

SONGS: I try to sum up here the essence of The Smiths. The songs come from all their studio releases, I only excluded Rank (1988) — being a live album it doesn’t seem to fit in.

I also did my best not making a “singles list,” as you probably know how hard it is to find a Smiths song that’s actually not a single. Of course you’ll find here classic Smiths songs because they simply cannot be avoided, but you’ll also find poppy B-Sides and juicy non-single material. I must have missed a lot of essential Smiths songs, but hey, 80 minutes is the rule! So here’s 80 minutes with the Smiths. Hope you’ll enjoy this perfect introduction!

LINK: Click on the list below to hear THE SMITHS for free on!


Marius Messinese is a 22 year old creator from France, making funky and colorful shirts who loves to have everybody on the streets wearing great clothes ans listening to quality music. He spends all of his time finding new songs and artists and all of his nights listening to them.

~ by Patrick Gosnell on December 10, 2009.

One Response to “The Smiths”

  1. love love love

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